Rising 3L Erin Potter shares her experience as 2012 Honors Law Clerk in the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) at the EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
OECA (oh-ee-ka) pursues enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws and regulations and provides compliance assistance to areas that yield environmental benefit or reduce risk to human health. I am assigned to the Water Enforcement Division (WED) which focuses on the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act as it applies to municipalities, industries, and other point sources or public drinking water systems as defined by the statutes.
I am working primarily on the municipality side of enforcement — or as folks here in OECA WED would say, “the human waste side, not the non-human waste.” Before this summer, I had some minor exposure to the Clean Water Act through my Environmental Law class and undergraduate internship experiences, but no real exposure to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Through the meetings, memo writing, and research, I am quickly learning the mechanics of each law. I am also participating in a workgroup focused on the underground injection control (UIC) part of the Clean Water Act as it relates to energy extraction. This is proving to be a very interesting and valuable learning opportunity. The internship program also includes twice-weekly seminars on all the different aspects of the EPA and how the agency carries out its function and duties.
As a native Virginian, there is some sense of familiarity to D.C and my parents are happy to have me a couple hours away rather than a couple days away. I am taking the opportunity to re-visit many areas of D.C. I saw in middle-school and high-school. My outings have included a Maryland Crab Festival, visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, walking around the Capitol Building and Supreme Court, and touring the Mall, monuments and Holocaust Museum with my fellow Tulsa Law D.C. interns. My calendar is quickly filling with additional networking opportunities, visits to more museums, and visits with family. However, I know the end of summer will be here before I know it!
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