Environmental Hearing Board Chief Judge & Chairman Thomas W. Renwand Retires After 27 Years Of Service; Steven Beckman Named Chief Judge; Sarah Clark Added To Board

After a prestigious 27-year career with the Environmental Hearing Board, Chief Judge and Chairman, Thomas W. Renwand retired on February 3, 2023. 

He was the longest-serving Chairman in the Board’s history, having been named by Governor Rendell as Acting Chairman in April 2007 and appointed Chairman and Chief Judge in 2009. 

Judge Steven C. Beckman has been named Chief Judge and Chairman following Judge Renwand’s retirement.

Judge Sarah L. Clark was appointed to the Environmental Hearing Board by Governor Tom Wolf in October 2022 and began serving on November 19, 2022, after confirmation by the Senate.

Established in 1970, the five-member Environmental Hearing Board is the first level of appeal of decisions and actions of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Judge Renwand

Under Judge Renwand’s chairmanship, the Board made significant advancements in its management of cases and filings, having been one of the first courts in the country to develop a fully electronic docket and adopt mandatory electronic filing. 

This allowed for greater transparency and accessibility by the public to all documents filed with and issued by the Board. 

During his tenure on the Board, Judge Renwand authored precedent-setting decisions in the field of environmental law and on issues such as prehearing procedure, expert witnesses and discovery. 

In 2018, he was awarded the prestigious Administrative Law Award of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in recognition of his work and service to the citizens of Pennsylvania. 

In reflecting upon his time at the Board, Chief Judge Renwand states, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania and to work with the best people in state government.” 

Chief Judge Steven C. Beckman, reflected upon his service to the Board: “Judge Renwand was central to the operations of the Board during his time as Chairman and Chief Judge and did an outstanding job of ensuring the Board fulfilled its important role of addressing environmental issues in Pennsylvania. In addition to his leadership role, he authored several major environmental decisions over his years of service on the Board and those decisions are an important part of his legacy.  

“Finally, on a more personal note, Tom was a great colleague who could always be counted on to provide a good sounding board and wise advice to his fellow judges. l relied on that often and will miss that aspect of his service to the Commonwealth most of all.”

Chief Judge Renwand will be remembered for his leadership and compassion and for being a strong protector of due process.  

Judge Bernard A. Labuskes, Jr. stated: “I would be hard pressed to name anyone who has done more to advance environmental jurisprudence in Pennsylvania than Chief Judge Renwand has over his nearly 30 years as a Judge on the Environmental Hearing Board.   He also had the ideal temperament to be a judge.  He liked to start his hearings by saying, ‘Welcome to the friendly confines of the Environmental Hearing Board,’ and he put those words into practice every day. 

“He patiently and carefully considered the views of all sides and treated everyone with dignity and respect.  We didn't disagree often but when we did we were able to publish our respective positions while remaining the very best of friends.   I will miss him.”  

Judge Michelle A. Coleman, who served alongside Judge Renwand for the past 27 years, remembers him as a great collaborator: “He heard our ideas and always provided positive feedback.” Senior Counsel Maryanne Wesdock, who served as law clerk to Judge Renwand, stated, “Chief Judge Renwand loved serving on the Board.  He was a strong advocate for ensuring that all parties received due process and he treated everyone with compassion and fairness.  It was a great privilege and honor to work with him.” 

Prior to his tenure on the Board, Judge Renwand was a partner and trial attorney with the Pittsburgh law firm of Meyer, Unkovic and Scott. He began his legal career in Erie with Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C.

Judge Renwand is a 1980 graduate of the University of Akron School of Law where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. He graduated with honors in 1977 from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

A successor to Judge Renwand’s seat will be appointed by nomination of the Governor and confirmation of the Senate. 

Judge Sarah Clark

Judge Sarah L. Clark was appointed to the Environmental Hearing Board by Governor Tom Wolf in October 2022 and began serving on November 19, 2022.

She was appointed to fill the Harrisburg seat vacated by Judge Richard P. Mather, Sr. following his retirement.

In January 2019, Ms. Clark was appointed Director of Legislative Affairs for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation after serving in the same role at the Department of Environmental Protection since February 2015.

Prior to joining the Wolf Administration, she served on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, first as Legal Counsel, then as Executive Director.

She received her J.D. and a Certificate in Environmental Law, Science and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she interned in the Environmental Law Clinic.

For more information on the EHB, visit the Environmental Hearing Board website.

[Posted: February 13, 2023]


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