LaJuana Wilcher speaks at national clean water law seminar

by Mandy Hicks

Attorneys Sarah Jarboe and LaJuana Wilcher at Arthur Bryant's barbecue in Kansas City, Mo., during the
Attorneys Sarah Jarboe and LaJuana Wilcher at Arthur Bryant’s barbecue in Kansas City, Mo., during the National Clean Water Law Seminar.

Attorney LaJuana Wilcher, who practices in environmental law, is part of a select group of speakers at the National Clean Water Law Seminar, an annual program hosted by National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The seminar is held in conjunction with the Consent Decree Workshop, providing an intensive one-stop knowledge shop for the essential legal, regulatory and enforcement issues affecting clean water agencies. The seminar is set for Nov. 1 and 2, with the Consent Decree Workshop following on Nov. 3 and 4.

LaJuana will speak during a session on Key Principles in Administrative Law, which will discuss the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA and its state counterparts define what constitutes a “rule,” and prescribe procedures for agency rulemaking, and set standards for judicial review of agency actions. This panel will cover the nuts and bolts of the APA’s requirements, discuss how rules are made and challenged, and talk about several recent cases involving the APA.

In recent years, EPA has been criticized for trying to avoid the APA’s requirements and making major policy decisions through informal communications from regulatory agencies. Oftentimes referred to as “rulemaking by guidance,” this approach can include outlining new requirements through guidance documents, memos, or other “non-binding” communications, but can also occur when EPA pressures states behind the scenes to take certain actions that are actually driven by EPA’s regulatory preferences. This primer will provide an overview of the APA as it relates to matters of greatest relevance to NACWA members including rulemaking by guidance and how APA challenges have helped define “final agency action” for purposes of judicial review.

The NACWA’s Law Seminar, the only conference of its kind, focused specifically on the legal and regulatory challenges facing the municipal clean water community. The Seminar program will span a wide range of critical issues impacting clean water utilities, with many of the top clean water attorneys and professionals in the country providing valuable analysis and insights that will be relevant to any attorney or public agency manager working on municipal wastewater and stormwater issues.

About LaJuana Wilcher

LaJuana Wilcher is a Partner at ELPO. In 1989,  she was nominated by the President George H.W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water in Washington, D.C. In that role, she was responsible for EPA’s water policy and regulations, including implementation of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. She is the only woman in EPA’s history to have been confirmed in this position.
LaJuana worked on environmental law issues in Washington, D.C., for almost 20 years. She was a Partner in the DC offices of Winston & Strawn and LeBoeuf, Lamb Greene and MacRae LLP, where she served as legal counsel for NACWA and numerous municipalities in federal Clean Water Act litigation, permitting and enforcement matters. She has also served as a group facilitator, expert witness and legislative counsel on various CWA matters.
Returning to private law practice in her home state of Kentucky in 2002, LaJuana was a partner at ELPO until being tapped by Kentucky’s Governor to be Secretary of Kentucky’s Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet from 2003-2006.
LaJuana has developed and taught environmental law and policy courses at Vermont Law School and Vanderbilt University Law School. She was awarded NACWA’s Special Recognition Award in 1993 and State Public Service Award in 2006. She has been selected as a Lifetime Honorary Member of American Water Works Association and has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America every year since 2009. She speaks frequently throughout the country on environmental law and leadership issues.
LaJuana was a founding Board Member of America’s Clean Water Alliance (now the U.S. Water Alliance) and Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park, and is a Supervisor of the Warren County Conservation District. She owns and operates Scuffle Hill Farm, growing grass-fed Angus cattle, hay and horses.