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Michael F. Vaccaro Honors Attorney Fellowship Program in our Philadelphia (Region 3) Office

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The Office of Regional Counsel

The mission of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is as big as the outdoors.  EPA protects public health and the environment by, among other things, enforcing federal environmental laws throughout the United States.

EPA works closely with state and local governments, citizens, environmental groups, and regulated industries to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Superfund statute, and laws regulating hazardous waste, toxic chemicals, and pesticides. EPA is involved both in public health emergencies (e.g., Hurricane Katrina response, BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, lead in Flint, MI drinking water), and in day-to-day environmental issues such as cleanups of Superfund hazardous waste sites; reducing pollution of stormwater runoff; and enforcing air and water quality standards throughout the U.S.

EPA’s Region 3 includes the mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  Our jurisdiction includes environments as diverse as urban waterways like D.C.’s Anacostia and Potomac rivers; the forested Allegheny Mountains; West Virginia’s coal country; the Chesapeake Bay; and current and former industrial sites throughout the region.

EPA Attorneys are involved in nearly all aspects of the Agency’s mission, including administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement of environmental laws; drafting and interpreting EPA regulations, policy and guidance; oversight of state environmental agencies;  and counseling on government contracts and grants, bankruptcy, employment, corporations, property.   For example, attorneys at EPA Region 3 have recently worked on a wide variety of matters, including:

  • Administrative penalty actions against producers of mobile source “defeat devices” under the Clean Air Act;
  • Stop sale orders issued under FIFRA to producers/distributers of cleaning agents for unsupported claims that their products can destroy the COVID-19 virus;
  • Superfund cleanups of contaminated industrial areas, including cleanups of unused urban “brownfields,” returning this property to productive use for the benefit of the community;
  • Working with Baltimore, D.C., Pittsburgh, and other cities to develop multi-year, multi-million-dollar programs to end the discharge of untreated sewage overflows into waterways;
  • Criminal prosecution of demolition contractors who flout Clean Air Act asbestos regulations, endangering the public and their own employees;
  • Administrative litigation against landlords for failing to notify tenants with small children about lead paint hazards. 

Fellowship Description

The Michael F. Vaccaro Honors Attorney Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to practice law in a major governmental environmental organization, and to receive extensive training in and exposure to environmental law and policy work in the public sector. The Fellowship recipient will work in the Office of Regional Counsel on particular matters arising under:

  • the major federal environmental statutes, such as
    • the Clean Water Act,
    • the Clean Air Act,
    • Superfund, and
    • the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • other federal statutes relevant to EPA Region 3 operations, such as
    • the Ethics in Government Act,
    • the Civil Rights Act, and
    • the Freedom of Information Act 

These matters typically require the application of emerging law and policy to significant environmental issues in Region 3. The Fellowship will also include an opportunity to manage environmental enforcement cases.

Fellow is expected to commit to a two-year term. The salary will be at the GS-11 level or, in unusual circumstances where appropriate qualifications exist, at the GS-12 level.  Find out more about federal government general schedule (GS) pay scales.

Applicant Qualifications

The Michael F. Vaccaro Fellowship is open to U.S. citizens with excellent academic credentials and a strong interest in an environmental career or the public sector, and who are:

  • graduates within the past two years from an accredited law school, or
  • current judicial clerks (one or two years out of law school), or
  • current third year law students at an accredited law school, or
  • JAG attorneys completing their initial tour of duty following completion of law school.

A law school graduate who has been employed as an attorney, other than judicial clerks and JAG service, will not be considered.

Application Process

Currently, we are not accepting applications.  However, if you are interested please check this page and periodically for updates.

Questions regarding the Vaccaro Fellowship may be directed to one or more of the following:

  • Allison Gardner, Deputy Regional Counsel for General Law, (215) 814-2631
  • Donna Mastro, Deputy Regional Counsel for Enforcement, (215) 814-2777
  • R3


View a listing of other EPA offices around the nation with an Honors Attorney Programs.