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Patricia J. Beneke

Visiting Scholar

Patricia J. Beneke served as the North American Regional Director and Representative for the United Nations Environment Programme from 2014 until early 2017. In that capacity, she worked to implement UN Environment’s global program by fostering cooperation on international environmental issues in the United States and Canada.

Previously, Ms. Beneke served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for nearly 20 years, specializing in energy policy, water resources, mining and oil and gas issues, and environmental matters, particularly with respect to public lands.

In addition, Ms. Beneke was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science in 1995, serving in that capacity until 2000. There, she played a leadership role with respect to several river basin and ecosystem restoration efforts (California Bay-Delta, Florida Everglades, and the Platte River).  She was also heavily involved in water resource issues and efforts to provide quality science for natural resource decision-making, with overall responsibility for the programs and projects of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Prior to this, she served as the Associate Solicitor for Energy and Minerals at the Interior Department.  Early in her career, Ms. Beneke was as an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a trial attorney specializing in litigation under the National Environmental Policy Act at the Department of Justice.  Ms. Beneke has also engaged in private practice.

Ms. Beneke is an adjunct professor teaching natural resources law and policy at Georgetown University Law Center and the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy. She has also taught in this capacity at Harvard, Columbia and the University of Virginia law schools.  Ms. Beneke serves on the Board of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.  She holds a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and a B.A. degree in Political Science from Iowa State University.