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Robert W. Hargrove

Director EPA's NEPA Compliance Division
Posted April 2013

Robert W. Hargrove was first attracted to ESF by a love of the outdoors. "I wanted to be a forester," he said, "but I never worked a day as a forester."

Instead, he became a driving force in the field of environmental planning and policy thanks in part to Dr. Peter Black's water conservation class, which brought the students to a public hearing sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service.

"I found it eye opening," Hargrove said. "Until then I didn't have a clue about policy issues. I saw the presentation and watched the process and became interested in policy development."

Hargrove graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in resources management and began his career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Office as an environmental reviewer and project manager for the Wastewater Treatment Construction Grants Program in the Environmental Impacts Branch (EIB). During his career, he has been promoted numerous times and in 1996 he assumed responsibility for the region's strategic planning, risk assessment and pollution prevention efforts.

Since that first public hearing more than 30 years ago Hargrove has run more than 300 public hearings and said he still finds them "scary and entertaining and interesting."

Hargrove has been director of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Compliance Division in EPA headquarters since 2004. He is now responsible for overseeing the implementation of the EPA's NEPA Compliance Program and the review of other agencies' environmental impact statements in relation to the NEPA and the Clean Air Act.

ESF students have benefitted from Hargrove's expertise over the years as he has been returning as a guest lecturer since 1997. That was the year Black was named Distinguished Teaching Professor and Hargrove sent the professor a note of congratulations. In it, he reminded Black of the less-than-stellar-but-passing grade he received in Black's class on environmental impact law. In appreciation of that grade, he offered to come in as a guest lecturer "as payback."

Since that initial offer, Hargrove has returned to the ESF campus repeatedly over the years to talk with and mentor students.

"ESF students like to get the perspective of someone who is actually doing the work," he said. "It's good to get the theory (in class), but what does it mean to do an environmental impact statement? What do you need to do it?"

During his tenure with the EPA, Hargrove has received several awards for his performance, including awards for implementing the plan for the environmentally sound dredging of New York/New Jersey Harbor, for the Superfund removal action at the Radium Chemical Co. Site in New York, the mitigation of adverse air quality impacts associated with the Jonah Infill Project and the successful negotiation of innovative water treatment approaches for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.

Hargrove was presented with the 2012 Graduate of Distinction-Notable Achievement Award during 2012 December Convocation ceremonies.

ESF Alumni Have an Impact