Spokane native to be first woman U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane native Vanessa Waldref has been confirmed as the new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Waldref, an environmental lawyer for the Justice Department, is the first woman to hold the role. President Joe Biden nominated her on the recommendation of Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Waldref is a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Environmental Defense Section, where she defends rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and handles Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act issues. She previously spent seven years handling civil and criminal cases as an assistant U.S. attorney in Spokane, including successfully defending an ecosystem restoration project in the Colville National Forest that involved rebuilding roads, improving fish habitat and thinning trees.

In 2018, Waldref helped win a $3.2 million fraud settlement from a major contractor on the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Restoration, following a whistleblower complaint that alleged the contractor was not directing subcontracts to women-owned or other disadvantaged businesses as required by the Department of Energy.

A graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown Law, she has also worked in private practice in Spokane and in Washington, D.C., and she has taught administrative and environmental law at the Gonzaga University School of Law. Her sister Amber served for eight years on the Spokane City Council.

The Senate confirmed Waldref by voice vote on Thursday. She is expected to be sworn in soon.

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