Keith A. Matthews

Matthews, Keith A.


Washington, D.C. +1 202 736 8299

1501 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
+1 202 736 8299

Admissions & Certifications

Keith A. Matthews


KEITH MATTHEWS, counsel in the Environmental practice group, is a former Director of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD) in the U.S. EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and has 20 years of private sector and government experience in environmental law related to chemicals regulation, biopesticides, and genetically engineered organisms (GMOs). Keith provides clients with counsel and advice grounded in his extensive knowledge and experience with a wide range of statutes, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Air Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), the Atomic Energy Act, the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and SBREFA.

As Director of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, Keith was responsible for and led all activities relevant and related to the Federal regulatory program for biochemical and microbial pesticides, genetically engineered pesticidal organisms, and pesticides produced by genetically engineered plants. During his tenure, BPPD conducted the first ever comprehensive evaluation of all transgenic genetically modified corn plants registered by EPA and, at his direction, implemented a regulatory scheme granting longer registration periods for constructs with greater durability. During this time, BPPD registered the first blended refuge products, the first fusion protein PIPs, and expanded approvals for “natural refuges” for cotton PIPs. Keith’s training in chemistry and molecular biology, combined with his extensive practice experience in FIFRA and FFDCA enabled him to lead BPPD to ensure public safety while imposing the minimum regulatory burden appropriate under the law. Keith brings this comprehensive approach to his law practice -- understanding the science that ultimately underlies legal issues, having an intimate familiarity with environmental regulations, and being keenly aware of the limits of statutory authority.

While Director of BPPD, Keith was closely involved with numerous matters arising under NEPA and the Endangered Species Act. Many of these matters required inter-agency deliberations between EPA and Federal partners. Endangered Species Act jurisprudence is in a rapidly evolving state that requires broad understanding of the scope and interaction of court decisions, changing agency policies, and the science behind species and habitat degradation. Keith’s broad and longstanding experience with application of the ESA in many different regulatory contexts related to chemicals enables him to provide clients with legal advice and advocacy that incorporates a broad perspective on how this statute should be applied in specific situations.

Prior to taking on a leadership position in the Office of Pesticide Programs, Keith was a staff attorney and then Assistant General Counsel in EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), where he provided legal counsel to a number of Agency clients, including BPPD, the Office of Air and Radiation, the Office of Environmental Information, and the Office of Research and Development. Keith specialized in serving as the lead attorney on highly technical issues of first impression under FIFRA, TSCA, and the Agency’s Air Program. He was the sole attorney providing legal advice to the Office of Pesticide Programs in responding to a petition by Greenpeace to cancel all transgenic GMO registrations. EPA’s response to the petition resulted in the accompanying case in U.S. District Court being dismissed as moot. Keith also provided primary legal counsel to the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA) in EPA’s certification of the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) transuranic radioactive waste repository in Carlsbad, New Mexico. This action is the only instance of EPA’s regulating a Federal radioactive waste facility and, hence, raised numerous novel legal issues. EPA’s certification of the WIPP was challenged in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was upheld in its entirety. In addition, Keith also provided primary legal counsel to ORIA in promulgating radioactive waste disposal standards applicable to the high-level radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The Yucca Mountain rule also was challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was upheld in nearly all respects. Keith was the primary attorney providing advice to the Office of Pesticide Programs in a number of instances where unapproved varieties of GMO foods were found in commerce. These situations required substantial interactions with regulatory officials and counsel from numerous Federal agencies. Keith also provided almost exclusive legal support to the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) in responding to a petition to regulate formaldehyde under TSCA. EPA determined that the regulatory approach sought by the petition was not supported by science and undertook a rulemaking to regulate formaldehyde in a manner more in concert with its then-existing TSCA authority.

Keith also was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Environmental Science and Engineering Fellow, and served as the only AAAS fellow ever selected to work with EPA’s Office of General Counsel. In that role he applied his broad understanding of molecular biology to a comprehensive legal assessment of the scope of EPA’s authority under FIFRA to regulate the introduction into the environment of plants producing transgenic pesticides.

In addition to his legal training at the Georgetown University Law Center, Keith earned an M.S. in Biology from the California Institute of Technology, where he conducted graduate work in molecular developmental neurobiology.

  • Keith Matthews, New Genetically Engineered Foods Disclosure Law Enacted, International Law Office (Aug. 2016)
  • Diane McEnroe, Keith Matthews, Sarah Goldstein, and Deepti Kulkarni, Five Things to Know About the Bioengineered Food Labeling Bill, Law360 (July 2016)  
  • Keith Matthews, Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Cry Endotoxins: Future Prospects of an Essential Biotechnology, BNA Daily Environment Report (June 2016) 
  • Keith Matthews, Are Genetically Engineered Foods at a Crossroads?, Food Manufacturing (May 2016)
  • Keith A. Matthews, Regulation of Biopesticides in the United States – What Foreign Companies Should Know to Register Their Products at U.S. EPA, India Law Journal (2015)
  • Keith A. Matthews, Regulation of Biopesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency, American Chemical Society (2014)
  • Martha Marrapese and Keith A. Matthews, The Importance of Agricultural Biotechnology in the Response to the Effects of Climate Change, 29 Natural Resources & Environment 39 (2014)
  • Wozniak, C., McClung, G., Gagliardi, J., Segal, M., and Matthews, K.A., Regulation of Genetically Engineered Microorganisms Under FIFRA, FFDCA and TSCA, in Regulation of Agricultural Biotechnology: The United States and Canada, Chris Wozniak & Alan McHughen eds., (2012)
  • Mendelsohn, M., Kough, J., Vaituzis, Z. & Matthews, K., Are B.t. Crops Safe?, 21 Nature Biotechnology 1003 (2003)
  • Keith A. Matthews, Regulation of Transgenic Plants Under FIFRA, American Association for the Advancement of Science Environmental Science and Engineering Fellows Program 1991 Reports (1991)
  • Clark, H. & Matthews, K., Iraq/Kuwait Economic Sanctions: Trade Relations on a War Footing, 25 Int'l Lawyer 391 (1991)
  • Stein, R., Mori, N., Matthews, K., Lo, L.-C., Anderson, D.J., The NGF-Inducible SCG-10 mRNA Encodes a Novel Membrane-Bound Protein Present in Growth Cones and Abundant in Developing Neurons, 1 Neuron 463 (1988)
Memberships & Activities

Keith is a long-time member of the American Bar Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

News & Achievements

Recent speaking engagements include:

  • “What is a GMO Anyway?,” BNA Energy and Environment Blog Podcast, 14 September 2016.
  • “Mandatory Disclosure of Bioengineered Foods – Legal Issues and Practical Considerations,” Food and Drug Law Institute Webinar, 31 August 2016.
  • “Overview of the Regulatory Landscapes Facing New Genetic Technologies,” BIO World Congress of Industrial Biotechnology, 19 April 2016.
  • “Intellectual Property Principles Relevant to Agri-Tech Commercialization,” USDA-LARTA Commercialization Assistance Program, Commercialization Training Workshop, 15 December 2015.
  • “The ‘Right to Know’ and Genetically Engineered Foods,” ABA SEER Pesticides, Chemical Regulation and Right to Know Committee and CropLife America Joint Meeting on Hot Topics in Pesticide Law, 14 October 2015.
  • “TSCA:  Sea Change on the Horizon,” Panel at the Green Chemistry Clearinghouse Green Chemistry Conference, 29 September 2015.
  • “Regulation of Biopesticides and Genetically Engineered Plants in the United States,” Ag Innovation Showcase Special Content Session, St. Louis, Missouri, 14 September 2015.
  • “GMO Mythbusters,” Natural Products Association Webinar, 17 June 2015.
  • Policy Roundtable Lunch Discussion: “The Price of Reform: Models for Financing a Toxic Substances Control Act 2.0 (TSCA2.0),” American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and Environmental Law Institute, 05 February 2015.
  • “Preemption of State Authority in TSCA Reform,” Environmental Law Institute Membership Seminar, 27 January 2015.
  • Advanced Learning Seminar on Pesticides and Biopesticides Regulatory Issues, Informa Conferences, 22 July 2014.
  • “The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program in the United States,” Informa Conferences, 22 July 2014.
  • “Overview of the Regulatory Landscape Applicable to Biopesticides and Biostimulants,” GAIN Insight into Agri-Tech, 19 June 2014.
  • “Crop Biotech Regulatory Challenges,” North Carolina Biotechnology Center Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase, 20 May 2014.
  • “Testing of Chemical Substances and Mixtures: TSCA Section 4 and Proposed S. 1009,” American Chemistry Council GlobalChem Conference, 03 March 2014.
  • “International Chemicals Regulation,” Organization for International Investment 2013 General Counsel Conference, 15 October 2013.
  • “Biopesticides: Registration and Regulatory Trends,” American Chemical Society National Meeting, 10 September 2013.
  • “Regulation of Plant Biotechnology,” Informa Life Sciences, Plant Biotechnology USA, 07 August 2013.