Greg Sopkin, a former Colorado Public Utilities Commission chairman, has been appointed as the Denver-based regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sopkin will oversee EPA's environmental protection operations in a six-state region that includes Colorado.
“Greg’s experience in public service and familiarity with the western region make him a great fit to lead the Region 8 office,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a Wednesday press release.
“I look forward to working with Greg to advance the agency’s mission and protect human health and the environment for our mountain west residents.”
Sopkin succeeds Doug Benevento as regional EPA chief. Benevento, who was appointed to his regional post in October 2017, was named EPA's senior counselor for regional management and state affairs in March.
Sopkin served as the Colorado PUC's chairman from 2003 to 2007, under Republican Gov. Bill Owens, according to the website of Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer LLP, a law firm for which he is listed as a team member.
During his tenure on the PUC, he "presided over numerous Phase I and II electric rate cases as well as integrated resource planning cycles; investigated service outages; guided the redrafting of the Commission's electric, gas and transmission rules; implemented a renewable energy initiative; and oversaw transmission line disputes, the electric price response pilot program, high cost fund administration and the Qwest deregulation case," according to the firm.
He has spent the majority of his career working in public service and legal practice in Colorado, according to the release.
Sopkin will oversee the EPA's Region 8, which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota, in addition to 27 tribal nations.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser applauded the appointment Wednesday.
"I appreciate Gregory Sopkin’s deep commitment to public service," Weiser said in the EPA's press release. "The protection of our land, air and water depends on sound leadership at the EPA Region 8 office. Having a Coloradan with a background steeped in law and government administration will be valuable as we take on important issues in the future. I look forward to working with him."
Sopkin "brings a long and distinguished record of public service to this new responsibility, and I know he will serve our region well," former Colorado Governor Bill Owens said in the release.
Sopkin is the former vice chair of the Energy Bar Association State Commission Practice Committee and a former co-chair of the Video Programming & Distribution Committee of the Federal Communications Bar Association.
He is also a member of the Energy Bar Association Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group, as well as a member of the Federalist Society's Executive Committee, according to the law firm's website.
He received his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1991 and his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in 1988.