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Title: Senior Counsel Location: Houston Age: 45 Breath of Fresh Air What makes Donna H. Carvalho such an asset to ConocoPhillips Co.? Her air-quality experience and her liberal arts degree. “I think I sometimes bring the ability to explain environmental concepts in a less scientific way, a practical way,” she says. Carvalho, an environmental lawyer widely sought after for her 15 years of experience in air regulations, is not an environmental engineer. She has a degree in social sciences and good writing skills, which was how she got her start in regulatory analysis at Pennzoil Co. For nine years she interpreted regulations and legislation for Pennzoil’s environmental, safety and health-affairs department. She then weighed her options. “The only way to advance was to go get an engineering degree or a law degree. A law degree seemed easier,” she says. Pennzoil moved her into the legal department as soon as she earned her J.D., which was a first for the company. Carvalho spent seven years there, specializing in the Clean Air Act of 1990 and other pollution regulations affecting the company’s properties. She left for pre-merger Conoco Inc. in 1999, hoping to broaden her experience. The lawyers there were divided among specific businesses, handling all environmental issues. Shortly after she received her list of refineries, she was also assigned to craft the company’s 2001 consent decree regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Petroleum Refinery Initiative to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act. The resulting decree covers four facilities, with an estimated compliance cost of $110 million. After Conoco’s 2002 merger with Phillips Petroleum, Carvalho was tapped again to work on the company’s subsequent consent decree involving 12 facilities. That decree, which Carvalho and her colleagues began negotiating in August 2002, was lodged in January of this year. The estimated compliance cost to the merged company is $525 million over approximately 10 years. Tom Myers, lead negotiator on the 2005 decree, works regularly with Carvalho as health, safety and environmental manager for U.S. refining at ConocoPhillips. Myers says she can bridge the gap between lawyers and nonlawyers. “Her ability to translate the type of issues we deal with and communicate those to parties that may not be as familiar with our issues is another strength of Donna’s,” he says. Cully Farhar, program manager for the 2005 consent decree, says Carvalho’s tirelessness and her ability to translate between legalese and engineer-speak were instrumental in the process. Unlike many lawyers, she doesn’t just ask him to cut to the chase, he says: Carvalho keeps asking questions until she can grasp the details, and then puts her advice into the same technical terms so he can understand. Farhar says, “She’s got a tremendous ability to deeply understand technical operating issues and then apply her legal background to the situation.”

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