Robert Dreher

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Division

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Why He Matters

Dreher and his colleagues may soon reach national prominence if the Justice Department discovers foul play in the lead up to the BP oil disaster of spring 2010.

A seasoned environmental lawyer, Dreher brings three decades of experience to to the DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). He has represented environmental organizations, federal agencies, tribes and businesses in a variety of environmental matters. Though he has never presented oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, Dreher has worked on a number of high profile cases, some of which were appealed all the way to the high court. Dreher spent four years as an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Defenders of Wildlife, general counsel and vice president (2006-2010); Georgetown University, deputy executive director of Environmental Law & Policy Institute (2004-2006); Troutman Sanders LLC, attorney (2000-2004)
  • Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A.; Brown University, M.A.; Yale Law School, J.D., 1981
  • DC Office: address, (202) 514-2701

Path to Power

Dreher earned his B.A. from Harvard College, and went on to earn an M.A. in American civilization from Brown University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1981.

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The Issues

Whether working for the government, a nonprofit organization, or in private practice, Dreher has spent his entire legal career defending environmental interests.

Many of Dreher's big cases, and indeed a large part of environmental litigation in general, relate to the proper use of public lands. These cases usually originate in suits filed against the federal government under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which Dreher has called "the Magna Carta of U.S. environmental policy" and the country's "environmental conscience."

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The Network

While working for the Clinton administration, Dreher served under two-term EPA head Carol Browner, an attorney who is now director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

AtJustice, Dreher works forIgnacia Moreno and with John Cruden and other ENRD colleagues.


Campaign Contributions

Dreher was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton, donating $1,000 to her campaign in June 2007. Once Barack Obama had wrapped up the Democratic nomination in June 2008, Dreher donated $500 to his campaign, followed by a $1,000 donation in October.


Additional Resources

  1. Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno Announces Environment and Natural Resources Division's Senior Leadership, Department of Justice press release, March 5, 2010.
  2. Dreher, Robert G., Testimony Before the Task Force on Updating the National Environmental Policy Act, Committee on Resources, United States House of Representatives, Nov. 17, 2005.
  3. Sierra Club et. al v. James G. Watt, Secretary of the Interior, et. al, Civil No. S-83-035 LKK, United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, April 18, 1985.
  4. Dreher, Robert, NEPA Under Siege: THe Political Assault on the National Environmental Policy Act, Georgetown University Law Center, 2005.
  5. Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (2004), The Oyez Project.
  6. Border Fence Construction: San Pedro Riparian NCA, In the Courts, Defenders of Wildlife.
  7. Cohn, Meredith, "Landmark Environmental Law Comes Under Fire in Senate," States News Service, June 7, 1995.
  8. Gamboa, Suzanne, "Chertoff waives laws for border fence," Associated Press, Oct. 22, 2007.
  9. Kenworthy, Tom, "Courts mow down development strategy," USA Today, Oct. 10, 2006.
  10. Norton, Gale, Interior Secy. v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, et al. On The Docket: U.S. Supreme Court News, The Oyez Project.
  11. Rober Dreher, Donor Lookup, OpenSecrets.org
  12. Achenbach, Joel and Jerry Markon, "Obama administration moves to distance itself from BP on oil spill response," Washington Post, June 1, 2010.
  13. Graham-Silverman, Adam, "People on the Move," Congressional Quarterly, Oct. 27, 2000.
  14. McElhatton, Jim, "Judge rejects greens' bid to halt border fence," The Washington Times, Dec. 20, 2007.
  15. Lisa, "Knee-Deep in the Endless Muddy," Miami Review, June 14, 1991.
  16. Kalen, Sam, "Standing on its last legs: Bennett v. Spear and the past and future of standing in environmental cases," Florida State University Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, 1997.