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Speaker Profile – Denise Keehner

Denise Keehner

Assistant Secretary

Maryland Department of the Environment






Denise Keehner is an Assistant Secretary at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the former Program Manager for the Wetlands and Waterways Program at MDE. She joined MDE in 2016 after a 35 year career at USEPA Headquarters, retiring in 2013 as the Director of the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.  At MDE, Denise oversaw the implementation of Maryland’s Tidal Wetlands Program, Nontidal Wetlands Program, and Waterway Construction Program.  Over the past several years, Denise has been involved in decision making on several particularly difficult and challenging issues, including the issuance of the Clean Water Act 401 Water Quality Certification for the Conowingo Dam, permitting for the removal of Bloede Dam in Howard County Maryland, permitting of the Eastern Panhandle Pipeline project (AKA the “Potomac Pipeline”), and, most recently in the denial of wetland/waterway permits for the Shugart Valley Solar Project in Charles County Maryland.

During her long career at USEPA, Denise wrote several of the foundational regulations controlling the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, and use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); helped launch the implementation of the Corrective Action Cleanup Program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); oversaw the review of critical uses of the fungicide methyl bromide to control those uses in order to protect the stratospheric ozone layer; developed public health advisories for mercury in fish in collaboration with the FDA; managed the implementation of the national Water Quality Standards Program and led the effort to develop nutrient standards for the State of Florida; managed the development of pesticide ecological risk assessments and assessments of pesticide fate and transport to water to help inform pesticide registration and reregistration decisions; and, led the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watershed (OWOW) as it oversaw national implementation of the Clean Water Act TMDL Program, the Clean Water Act Listing Program, the Wetlands Program, the National Estuaries Program, and the Ocean Disposal Program.  Denise is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and holds a BA in biology.