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This Week's Federal Player: Walter Benjamin Fisherow

This Week's Federal Player: Walter Benjamin Fisherow

Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com

The Parnership for Public Service via The Washington Post

“They are against the top law firms in the nation and Ben is like the general in the war room. He’s motivating people, helping them along and inspiring them,” Justin Smith, an assistant section chief in DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said. At the same time, Fisherow’s leadership style is hardly authoritarian. “He’s the one that will make a little comment on the side in a stressful situation that will give you a belly laugh,” Smith said.

Fisherow’s success is also notable because he took on an industry that has historically had strong ties to government. Fisherow used his considerable skills as a negotiator to convince both the administration and the polluters to accept cleaner coal-burning alternatives.

“He did it repeatedly. He personally led the settlement negotiations for most of the cases. When you are handling a negotiation, you not only represent the government at your best, but you have to be willing to listen to the people on the other side of the table and to find common meeting ground that can be the basis of a settlement that avoids further litigation,” Catherine McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the Environmental Protection Agency, said.

“They don’t come better than Ben. He has a presence. He commands respect,” Bruce Gelber, chief of the DOJ’s Environmental Enforcement Section, said.

It’s not just Ben Fisherow’s presence that commands respect. It’s his track record as an enforcer of federal environmental laws, which is unsurpassed across government.


This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and washingtonpost.com. Visit www.ourpublicservice.org for more about the organization’s work.


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