May 2015 Alumni Highlight

Phillip Musegaas’ (’05) - Tribeca Film FestivalPhillip Musegaas’ (’05) career as an environmental attorney recently took a unique and somewhat unexpected turn.  Activist, environmentalist, attorney, expert – these are all words often associated with Phillip’s career. However, he recently added “cast member” to his resume.  As the former lead counsel in Riverkeeper’s challenge to the Indian Point nuclear power plant’s relicensing application for seven years, Phillip was able to provide firsthand expertise throughout the film “Indian Point”, a documentary about the controversial plant on the Hudson River north of Manhattan. The film was directed and written by Ivy Meeropol, and Phillip was featured extensively.  On April 17, he joined the former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Greg Jaczko, as well as local activists and journalists for a question and answer session with the filmmaker at the premiere of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

For nearly ten years, Phillip served as the Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper in New York.  While at Hudson Riverkeeper, Phillip focused his attention on reducing sewage pollution, restoring native fisheries, and as mentioned, advocating against the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.  His tally of wins for the environment is extensive during his time spent as lead attorney at Riverkeeper.  Notably, he won a landmark federal court victory against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and also negotiated a settlement with ExxonMobil regarding the remediation of a massive oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Phillip was also appointed to several task forces, including as a citizen advisor convened by the then Mayor Bloomberg to address climate resiliency challenges in New York City post Hurricane Sandy.

Phillip grew up in Kansas City, and prior to his start as an attorney, he was a professional chef in both Washington state and California.  From there he went on to receive his B.A. in Geography from the University of Washington. During his time at undergrad, he heard Bobby Kennedy speak about environmental concerns and discuss the environmental litigation clinic at Pace.  After that, Phillip knew that if he was going to attend law school, it was going to be at Pace. He knew that he wanted to be an environmental attorney and he knew that Pace was the place to develop this passion into a successful career.

After he was accepted into Pace, Phillip moved to New York solely to attend the Law School and graduate from the environmental program.  In 2005, he not only graduated from Pace with an environmental certificate, but with honors.  Of his time at Pace, Phillip notes that Professors Nick Robinson and Ann Powers were especially inspirational both in their environmental advocacy and teaching. 

Recently, Phillip left the Hudson Riverkeeper to join the Potomac Riverkeeper Network as the Legal Director.  At the Potomac Riverkeeper, Phillip continues to advocate for clean waters with a focus on protecting the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and all their tributaries within the Potomac Watershed.  His work focuses on a variety of water pollution issues from urban sewage to agricultural runoff. 

Phillip currently resides in Washington, D.C. and in his spare time he enjoys cooking, hiking, and kayaking.