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Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator, Enforcement and Compliance Ass...

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2013 Energy & Natural Resources / Environmental Protection Agency

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

photo of Jody Brannon
July 15, 2013

Although Giles has little time for kayaking (or pampering her grandson), her passion for America's waterways partly fuels her desire to apply her legal and policy paddles to violators of environmental laws. Arriving in D.C. in spring 2009 after a four-year stint as director of the Conservation Law Foundation's Rhode Island Advocacy Center, she delved into the boatload of issues surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline project, among other cases. Giles takes the greatest pride in enforcing strategies that "reduced serious violators of safe drinking-water standards by 65 percent" and fining oil firms after spills off Alaska and Louisiana. Giles was insistent that an outside monitor be hired as part of the $25 million in fines levied after the 2006 Alaska oil spills. Giles, 58, grew up around Buffalo, N.Y., and helped pay for her studies at Cornell, where she received her B.A., by working as a climbing instructor. She received a law degree from the University of California (Berkeley) and a master's in public policy from Harvard. She later served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and worked for both Massachusetts' environmental protection agency and EPA's mid-Atlantic district. Giles says she expects technology advances to help reduce pollution and increase compliance, perhaps allowing her to ply more placid legal waters.

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