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About ORC

Filing Administrative Cases

For Information on all administrative cases filed in Region 5, contact the Region 5 Hearing Clerk

What we do

ORC is attached to both the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC).

ORC provides legal advice to the Regional Administrator and other senior managers of Region 5 on all matters relating to their official responsibilities.

ORC represents the Region in judicial and administrative enforcement actions against regulated entities within the jurisdiction of Region 5. In judicial actions, ORC attorneys share responsibility with attorneys from OECA and the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the latter of which represents U.S. EPA in a federal district court. In all enforcement cases, ORC attorneys work closely with other Federal departments and agencies, State and local officials, and industrial and public interest groups.

ORC is also responsible for the defense of Regional officials for actions taken pursuant to their responsibilities under the statutes and regulations governing their programs. In these actions, ORC attorneys work with OGC and DOJ in litigating and negotiating these cases.

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How we're organized

ORC employs approximately 105 attorneys. ORC is divided into two "multi-media" branches. Both branches are equally responsible for all enforcement, defense and legal counsel activities arising under the federal environmental laws as amended.

One or both of the branches also maintains primary responsibility for the Region's various priorities, and for other non-media specific matters, such as matters involving

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ORC Staff

Acting Regional Counsel -Bertram C. Frey

Acting Regional Counsel

Bertram C. Frey
Acting Regional Counsel

Secretary: Mary Ortiz

As Acting Regional Counsel, Bertram C. Frey is responsible for review of enforcement cases, and defensive litigation for air, water, safe drinking water, pesticides, toxic substances, oil pollution, hazardous waste and Superfund matters in Region 5. Mr. Frey also reviews financial law, tribal law, labor law and personnel law matters for the region. Complete biography, published articles, selected speeches, and testimony (PDF) (16pp, 225K)

Mr. Frey currently serves on the advisory board of the Legal Institute for the Great Lakes and is former chair of the Environmental Commission of Highland Park, Illinois (2005-2008). Mr. Frey also served two terms as chair of the Environmental Law Section Council, Illinois State Bar Association (2008-2009 and 1999-2000).

Mr. Frey has published numerous articles on environmental law topics including: international environmental law, environmental self-audits and self-audit policy, environmental enforcement, public water supply (legal issues), underground storage tanks, the public trust doctrine as a vehicle for environmental protection, and antibacksliding provisions of the Clean Water Act.

Prior to his service with the U.S. EPA, Mr. Frey served as a law clerk to two former Presiding Judges of the Illinois Appellate Court, 5th District, the Honorable Charles E. Jones and the Honorable John Karns. Mr. Frey received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in 1969 and his law degree from the Washington University School of Law in 1974. Mr. Frey is admitted to the bar in both Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Acting Deputy Regional Counsel - T. Leverett (Rett) Nelson

Acting Deputy Regional Counsel

T. Leverett (Rett) Nelson
Acting Deputy Regional Counsel


Rett Nelson has been a lawyer with the Office of Regional Counsel in Region 5 for almost 30 years. For the past 4 years he has served as the Associate Deputy Regional Counsel, focusing on enforcement and permitting matters, and on environmental justice.

In addition to his work at U.S. EPA, Mr. Nelson taught environmental law at Loyola University in Chicago from 2003 to 2014. He is also a past Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at the DePaul University College of Law. Mr. Nelson is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association and is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Inc.

Mr. Nelson is a member of the Bar in both Colorado and Illinois. He concentrated on environmental law in obtaining his law degree from the University of Colorado. He received his B.A. (cum laude) from Carleton College. Before law school, Mr. Nelson worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, in Denver.

Regional Judicial Officer - Ann L. Coyle

Regional Judicial Officer

Ann L. Coyle
Regional Judicial Officer
(312) 886-2248
US EPA, Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Mail Code: C14-J
Chicago, IL 60604

The Regional Judicial Officer (RJO) serves as the Presiding Officer in adjudicatory proceedings governed by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and conducts hearings and other administrative legal proceedings not subject to the APA.  The RJO prepares recommended decisions and orders in APA and non-APA adjudicatory proceedings that become final decisions of the EPA unless they are modified by the Regional Administrator (or her delegate).  The RJO may serve as an agency neutral or fact-finder in matters of significance to the Region, such as hearings on RCRA Corrective Action Orders and CERCLA Liens.  The RJO also can preside over public hearings held in connection with EPA’s regulatory activities.

The RJO, as the Presiding Officer, is bound by EPA’s rules pertaining to ex parte discussion of proceedings; thus, any communication with the RJO that could involve the merits of a proceeding must only be made in the presence of or, if in writing, served upon all parties to that proceeding. 

A copy of each document filed in a proceeding must be served on the RJO as long as the RJO is the Presiding Officer.

Ms. Coyle has served as Region 5’s Regional Judicial Officer since June 2012.  In addition to serving as the RJO, Ms. Coyle is an Assistant Deputy Ethics Official for Region 5.  In that capacity, she provides written and oral advice on questions arising under the ethics statutes, the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch and related regulations and supervises the Confidential Financial Disclosure reporting system in the Region.  She also is a regional Freedom of Information Act law expert.  Prior to becoming the RJO, Ms. Coyle was an EPA enforcement attorney for 14 years, primarily in Region 5’s Office of Regional Counsel, but also for two years in Region 10’s Office of Regional Counsel.  Before attending law school, Ms. Coyle worked as an environmental consultant in Fairfax, Virginia.  Ms. Coyle graduated from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia School of Law.

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