Adjunct Professor of Law
Eric Schaaf served as the Regional Counsel for Region 2 of the United States Environmental Protection Agency from 2002 through 2021; in that capacity, he was responsible for the legal aspects of all EPA programs in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Eric first joined EPA’s Office of Regional Counsel as a staff attorney in 1984. Prior to being appointed Regional Counsel, Eric served for five years as the Deputy Regional Counsel and prior to that, he served for over 10 years as Chief of the New York/Caribbean Superfund Branch.
In his work with EPA, Eric has dealt with the full range of environmental statutes administered by the Agency, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (also known as “Superfund”).
Eric has led many EPA enforcement negotiating teams which have addressed such diverse matters as the cleanup of the Passaic River, PCBs in New York City schools and controlling spray drift of pesticides in Puerto Rico. Eric led the team that developed the first EPA National Enforcement Priority Strategy to address air toxics and served on the three-person national Strategy Implementation Team that oversaw implementation of the strategy across all ten regions of the Agency. He also participated in the negotiations that led to the cleanup of contaminated sediments in the Hudson River.
Eric was responsible for the legal aspects of EPA Region 2’s response to Hurricanes Sandy and Irene as well as EPA’s response to the World Trade Center disaster. He oversaw the legal aspects of EPA’s efforts to assist in the recovery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as several earthquakes, including impacts affecting the power sector. Eric also was active in the Agency’s efforts to identify opportunities to address climate change using existing federal authorities as well as implementation of Region 2’s climate change adaptation plan and efforts to incorporate sustainability principles into various aspects of the Agency’s work.
A graduate of Fordham University School of Law, Eric has taught the Climate Law & Policy course there, as a member of the adjunct faculty, since January 2017; he has also taught the environmental law survey course. In addition, Eric has served as guest lecturer at various schools, including Columbia Law School, the Environmental Law Center of Vermont Law School, New York Law School, and Rutgers University.
Eric is a member of the Environmental Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association and since 2004, he has been one of the organizers of the biennial conference, Key Environmental Issues in U.S. EPA Region 2. Before coming to EPA, Eric was an associate at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York City, where he participated in both general litigation and corporate practice.