Professor David M. Uhlmann has secured confirmation to serve as assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at the Environmental Protection Agency. 

David Uhlmann, Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice
David M. Uhlmann

The US Senate confirmed Uhlmann in a 53-46 vote on July 20, more than two years after President Biden nominated him.

Uhlmann is on leave from Michigan Law so that he can lead federal criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement of the environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, hazardous waste laws, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“I am honored that President Biden nominated me to lead enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws and grateful to the United States Senate for its bipartisan confirmation vote,” Uhlmann said. “In my role as EPA assistant administrator, I will do everything I can to seek justice for communities scarred by pollution and to ensure that companies who meet their environmental obligations are not at a competitive disadvantage with polluters.”

Uhlmann is an internationally recognized expert on environmental law, leading authority on criminal enforcement of the environmental laws in the United States, and highly regarded advocate for environmental stewardship and corporate sustainability programs.

At Michigan Law, he is the Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice and the director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program. In addition, he leads the efforts of nearly 400 Michigan Law students participating in the Environmental Crimes Project, the first comprehensive empirical study of criminal enforcement under US pollution laws. 

Uhlmann previously served for 17 years as a federal prosecutor, including seven years as chief of the Environmental Crimes Section at the US Department of Justice. In that role, he led prosecution of environmental and wildlife crimes nationwide; coordinated national legislative, policy, and training initiatives regarding criminal enforcement; and chaired the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Policy Committee.

He earned a reputation for prosecuting polluters aggressively and fairly, presided over expansion of the environmental crimes program, and strengthened relationships with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners.

His work as lead prosecutor in United States v. Elias is chronicled in The Cyanide Canary. He received numerous Justice Department and EPA awards for his precedent-setting prosecutions, including the first environmental justice criminal trial.