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Vinson & Elkins LLP

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Ronald Tenpas

Vinson & Elkins LLP


Ron Tenpas is one of the country’s preeminent environmental litigators. A former Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ron represents clients in civil and criminal investigations related to alleged environmental violations, imports and other matters. He also represents companies and trade associations in commenting on proposed regulations and in litigation challenging new regulatory provisions.

In counseling clients, Ron draws upon 12 years of experience in the Justice Department. As AAG, a title he held from 2007 until 2009, he managed a 700-person division that included 400 lawyers. He oversaw civil and criminal litigation arising under more than 150 environmental and natural resources laws.

In addition, as AAG Ron defended the government when the government was sued in connection with its own use of natural resources. Ron also advised Cabinet and White House officials on policy and litigation risks associated with the environmental laws. Under Ron’s watch, the Justice Department secured what was at the time the largest criminal penalty under the Clean Air Act.

Before he was appointed AAG, Ron served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Maryland and the Middle District of Florida. He investigated and tried white-collar matters related to healthcare fraud and public corruption.

A Rhodes Scholar and editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review, Ron served as a clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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