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Nessel Announces New Environmental, Natural Resources & Agriculture Chief

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the promotion of Assistant Attorney General Polly Synk to Division Chief of the department’s Environmental, Natural Resources & Agriculture (ENRA) Division.  Synk will assume the position upon last week's retirement of Robert Reichel.

“Polly is a passionate advocate for the environment who brings a wealth of regulatory, negotiation, and litigation experience to this role.  Her leadership will strengthen our department and the protections it provides to all of Michigan’s natural resources,” Nessel said. “It is important that we have the best of the best serving the residents of our state, and Polly is one of the best.” 

Synk received both her undergraduate and law school diplomas from the University of Michigan.  After working on Capitol Hill and some time in private practice, Synk joined the department full time in 2005.  In that time, she has led the PFAS Litigation Project to hold manufacturers of PFAS accountable for the damages occurred from contaminating Michigan’s environment. She has also secured high-value settlements exceeding $1 billion in work and damages on matters including the 2010 Enbridge Oil Spill, the Dow Chemical settlement for impacts to the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and Saginaw Bay, and the PFAS case against Wolverine Worldwide in Kent County. The PFAS Litigation Project most recently secured a settlement with Asahi Kasei North America and has five active suits at this time. 

“It is both an honor and a privilege to serve in this new role,” Synk said. “The Department of Attorney General is an important line of defense in the protection of our state’s most prized natural resources.  This commitment to protecting our people and our state will continue to be the guiding force in the work we do on behalf of the people and the state.”

Reichel is retiring after 39 years with the Department, having served nearly four decades in the departments managing environmental and natural resource litigation.  Throughout his tenure, Reichel has been at the forefront of landmark environmental initiatives lead by the Attorney General’s office, including leading the department’s battle against invasive species in litigation seeking to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and requiring more protective ballast water regulation.  He also spearheaded the Attorney General’s ongoing litigation against Enbridge to compel removal of Line 5 from the Straits of Mackinac. Appointed in 1983 Reichel served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Protection Division and subsequently the Natural Resources Division, before serving as Section Head, First Assistant, and, ultimately, Division Chief in the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Division. He has also been a member of the Attorney General’s Opinion Review Board since 2009. 

“Bob Reichel has forged a remarkable career of public service,” said Nessel.  “Throughout his tenure, he has made critical accomplishments on Asian carp litigation and protecting the straits from Line 5.  His work has been an essential component of our defense of the Great Lakes, and he will be missed.”

ENRA is responsible for representing the state in all environmental and natural resource matters, in addition to other duties.  This includes representing multiple state agencies and commissions including the Department of Environmental Quality; Department of Natural Resources; and Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.   


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