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Resources, Energy and Environment Law

Intro

Environmental rules impact every business. We know the people who write the rules and we know the people who enforce them. We’ve handled land acquisition, land management, zoning and permitting for many industries, including the first new hard rock mine in Michigan in several generations. Where the rules didn’t exist, we helped to write them. There is power in strong connections and strong capability—the power to get things done—from the top down or the ground up.
 
Staying ahead of environmental regulations means knowing what compliance looks like from every angle. We understand state and federal enforcement agency requirements and where those requirements impact your business. From developing new products to disposing hazardous waste, we have the experience to address and plan for regulatory compliance issues of any size or magnitude.
  
When some of the world’s leading companies come to the Upper Midwest, they come to Warner Norcross + Judd for trusted legal and strategic counsel. We know the local landscape and the obstacles and resources on the trail. We navigate from the halls of the legislature, to the city hall, to the desks of the regulatory administrators. When you face a journey through unknown territory, you hire an expert guide. You know the destination and we know the way.

Warner has the largest group of resources, energy and environmental attorneys in Michigan and the Upper Midwest. Meet our team.

Chair

Dennis J. Donohue

+1.616.752.2192

Email

Related Practices

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Professionals

Order list by:
Photo of Charles Ash
Charles Ash
+1.616.752.2490
Photo of Jared Belka
Jared Belka
+1.616.752.2447
Photo of Jeffrey Bracken
Jeffrey Bracken
+1.517.679.7412
Photo of Kurt Brauer
Kurt Brauer
+1.248.784.5182
Photo of John Byl
John Byl
+1.616.752.2149
Photo of Ashley Chrysler
Ashley Chrysler
+1.616.752.2217
Photo of Troy Cumings
Troy Cumings
+1.616.752.2731
Photo of Daniel DeWitt
Daniel DeWitt
+1.616.752.2208
Photo of Dennis Donohue
Dennis Donohue
+1.616.752.2192
Photo of Daniel Ettinger
Daniel Ettinger
+1.616.752.2168
Photo of Scott Hubbard
Scott Hubbard
+1.616.752.2157
Photo of Marianne Hunderman
Marianne Hunderman
+1.616.752.2488
Photo of Steven Kohl
Steven Kohl
+1.248.784.5141
Photo of Lynn Philp
Lynn Philp
+1.616.752.2494
Photo of Christopher Predko
Christopher Predko
+1.616.752.2190
Photo of Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
+1.616.752.2128
Photo of Eugene Smary
Eugene Smary
+1.616.752.2129
Photo of Margaret Stalker
Margaret Stalker
+1.616.752.2767
Photo of Scott Watson
Scott Watson
+1.616.752.2465

Services

Resources

Helping clients obtain permits and other approvals to build and operate resource extraction projects has made Warner the premier law firm in Michigan for issues involving mining and oil and gas exploration. These projects often involve potential impacts to archaeological, historic or cultural resources. We offer unique experience and insight regarding the many federal, state and tribal laws and regulations that come to bear on these issues, and provide practical, proactive legal guidance to help clients avoid delays and conflict. And our long record of success in defending resource projects in litigation makes us the first call when dealing with resource disputes.

Navigating the complexities of environmental and tribal cultural resource review have long been an important part of development projects and their ability to procure federal authorizations or funding. These reviews also play an important role for projects with no direct federal involvement. Warner has the knowledge and experience to coordinate and implement cross-disciplinary efforts needed to complete modern environmental impact reviews.
 
We represent mining and other natural resource development companies with such reviews and defend them in litigation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and other state and federal laws. We couple this expertise with our understanding of federal and state cultural resource laws, Native American treaty rights and successful tribal engagement and outreach strategies, which can be important elements to successful permitting and operation of resource development projects.
Client Success Story

In the case of the first U.S. nickel and copper mine to be opened in more than 60 years, our clients didn’t have a lot to go on. It had been so long since a similar project had been attempted, there were no rules on the books — and so they turned to Warner. We worked with state agencies to set guidelines, the governor’s office to write laws, and then went to work defending and refining those laws until they were unassailable.
 
Years after coming to us with little more than a shovel and a good idea, our client is now successfully operating one of the country’s most ambitious industrial projects to be seen in more than half a century. Securing the Warner legal team was the first step — and the difference between building a mine and digging themselves into a hole.
 
Other Representative Experience
  • Represented numerous large mining projects and companies in the Upper Great Lakes region
  • Participated in the acquisition, contracting, leasing and zoning matters for more than 70 separate mining sites in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan
  • Served as lead counsel for a pipeline company during construction of a natural gas pipeline across Michigan
  • Represented international and regional aggregates and construction companies in connection with accidents and injuries associated with operations, spills or other environmental occurrences, and alleged torts involving our clients
  • Participated in the sale, acquisition or financing of mining and construction companies and mineral resources
  • Provided mineral title examination services for mining projects
  • Assist in the zoning, water and air permit, and other special issues involved with acquiring, starting, operating, or selling asphalt and ready-mix plants and aggregate mining and processing
  • Represent clients in administrative and judicial hearings including hearings before township, city, and other local municipal organizations, in trial courts, and before appellate courts including the Michigan Supreme Court

Energy

Continued emphasis on renewable energy means more competition — and opportunities — for firms in this growing industry in Michigan and across the nation. Warner has been keeping pace with these developments and assists independent power producers, energy-component manufacturers and their supply chains with legal advice on a number of fronts. We follow projects from start to finish, from environmental due diligence and site acquisition all the way to tax incentive procurement and governmental regulatory compliance and permitting. Our practical advice has jumpstarted renewable energy projects throughout the state.
 
We are familiar with the unique aspects of the many forms of renewable energy, including wind, biomass, thermal, solar, photovoltaic, wave and geothermal, and have extensive experience assisting developers with the myriad of legal issues associated with wind energy developments and biomass facilities.  
 
Our Resources, Energy and Environment Practice Group (REEG) includes a dedicated cross-section of attorneys with experience and expertise in a wide range of legal issues for companies working in the renewable energy sector, including wind energy developers, biomass producers, and energy-component manufacturers.
Client Success Story

Warner assisted a regional electric power cooperative in the bidding and environmental permitting of a clean coal baseload electrical power plant in Northern Michigan, and successfully defended the air pollution control permit for the plant in litigation.
 
Other Representative Experience
  • Managing real estate issues including purchase and lease agreements as well as siting,  zoning and permitting issues associated with wind energy facilities, biofuel producers and other forms of energy development
  • Issues before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), including issues involving renewable energy producers and their interactions with regulated utilities
  • Contract negotiations between energy suppliers, producers and consumers, including power purchase agreements and other long term energy supply contracts
  • Compliance with federal statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  • Sale of renewable energy certificates
  • Sale of green goods such as carbon offsets
  • Transportation issues associated with moving large equipment throughout the state

Environment

The environmental law attorneys at Warner have a long and distinguished record of advising industrial, commercial, institutional and municipal clients in virtually all areas of environmental law. We regularly counsel clients in manufacturing, including special expertise in the automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical and paper industries. In addition, we have provided permitting expertise to municipalities, major retailers and petroleum wholesalers with respect to a wide variety of compliance, enforcement and acquisition issues.

We remain on the cutting edge of environmental regulations. For example, we counsel manufacturers on how to comply with product content regulations and work with businesses facing new rules governing the disposal of hazardous materials, such as lawn chemicals and outdated pharmaceuticals.
 
What was once an unregulated ingredient used in the manufacturing process of consumer goods is now a widespread crisis that warrants front-page news. Many companies find themselves in difficult situations with PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS) contamination lawsuits, and we have extensive experience in defending organizations facing devastating penalties and damaging media coverage for what used to be an acceptable manufacturing practice. We also counsel clients at dioxin and 1,4-dioxane contaminated sites.

Our clients rely on us to reduce risk and exposure to environmental liabilities and to develop cost-effective compliance strategies within the regulatory framework. We represent Fortune 100 clients at many of the most significant contamination sites in the region, and our work has resulted in landmark decisions in state and federal courts, as well as precedent-setting administrative rulings:
Client Success Story

A landmark piece of legislation which passed in 1973, the Clean Air Act (CAA) has undergone numerous changes over the decades. Staying on top of those changes and navigating the ensuing complexities has proven difficult for many companies — too difficult for some, which have shuttered their doors when faced with compliance issues. Working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Warner negotiated the first cement industry, multi-facility resolution of Clean Air Act compliance for LafargeHolcim, resolving issues at facilities across the country while retaining the flexibility to respond to business needs.
 
Other Representative Experience
  • Warner was the first law firm in Michigan to obtain a clean closure certification from the Michigan regulators for a commercial hazardous waste disposal facility
  • Warner served as primary counsel in a landmark Superfund liability case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a favorable outcome for our clients
  • We have secured more than $1 billion in economic incentives for brownfield redevelopment projects in Michigan cities
  • We played a key role in drafting important environmental legislation and administrative rules in Michigan, including amendments to the brownfield incentive law, Michigan Business Tax Credits, solid waste management legislation and the state’s primary pollution cleanup law

Economic Incentives

We are well-versed in state and federal grants, loans and other incentives available to energy producers, purchasers and manufacturers, and we oversee and coordinate the acquisition of wind energy developments. REEG is also involved in Michigan’s development of a state plan to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP). And, we’re experts in finding money for renewable energy projects.
 
The energy industry is changing quickly and Michigan’s commitment to it will only fuel that growth. REEG will help you identify options, procure real estate, secure financial incentives, obtain permits and ensure the smooth and profitable operation of your business while keeping you informed of your legal options as you contribute to the state’s economic revival.
 
Redeveloping contaminated properties — “brownfield” properties — is good for the environment and good for communities. However, it’s also a complicated business balancing the costs against the benefits. We’re able to help clients purchase such sites, address contamination to meet regulatory standards and generate incentive packages to offset costs. When it comes to total dollar value, Warner has completed more brownfield redevelopment projects than any other firm in Michigan, creating over 1,000 jobs and securing more than $1 billion in incentives for projects including the largest such redevelopment in the state. This is just one example of our ability to turn eyesores into assets, improve skylines, meet bottom lines and ensure that everyone benefits.
Client Success Story

From the Harbor Shores Development on the shores of Lake Michigan and Michigan’s largest brownfield project, to the redevelopment of the most challenging abandoned industrial site in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Warner has helped clients reposition hundreds of sites across Michigan and beyond. We have negotiated and secured well over $1 billion in financial incentives and helped return contaminated and blighted sites to productive use for all manner of industrial, commercial, residential and mixed uses.
 
For more economic incentive-related success stories, please visit our Economic Incentives Practice Group page.
 
Other Representative Experience
  • Production and investment tax credits for wind energy developments
  • Securing state and federal grants and other economic incentives — including incentives for energy- component manufacturing and biofuel and battery production — available only to energy-related companies
  • Provided economic and environmental services to a Holland Township co-packer to facilitate its expansion.
  • Assisted a developer in obtaining more than $10 million in brownfield incentives for the construction of a LEED-certified private college apartment facility serving a Big Ten school in Michigan.
  • Assisted a food co-packer in obtaining more than $4 million in property tax abatements, MEGA MBT Job Creation tax credits and CDBG funds for the construction of a new plant and associated wastewater facilities in West Michigan, and in securing a wetland permit that included reclaiming over 20 acres of wetland for offsite mitigation.
  • Assisted the Shiwassee Regional Chamber of Commerce in securing and monetizing financial incentives for a complete rehabilitation of the former Owosso Armory. At over100 years old , the Armory sat vacant and unused for more than a decade after the 144th National Guard Unit moved to a modern facility. Of note, also serving as a community center, Grand Funk Railroad and Alice Cooper played the Armory. Federal Historic and New Markets Tax Credits were paired for the first time in the NTCIC “Small Deal Fund” initiative focusing on mains streets, and a host of state and local incentives rounded out the package.
  • Facilitated the expansion of Michigan’s largest soybean processer by securing a financial incentive package totaling almost $30 Million, allowing it to invest $130 Million in Gratiot County, create more than 70 new jobs and provide the capacity to process almost 50% of Michigan’s soybean crop.

List of Services

Our attorneys roll up their sleeves and take on complex environmental regulatory challenges every day. Some of our more specific resources, energy and environment services include:
 

Case Studies

Testimonials

Events

Oct 2018
24
October 24, 2018

Managing Compliance Risks in the Automotive Industry

MSU Management Education Center

Warner Norcross + Judd and OESA will be presenting “Managing Compliance Risks in the Automotive Industry,” on October 24, 2018, at the MSU Management Education Center in Troy, Michiga...

Jul 2016
13
July 13, 2016

State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Real Property Law Section 2016 Summer Conference & Annual Meeting

Boyne Mountain Resort

Warner Norcross & Judd Partners John Byl and Scott Watson will host environmental roundtable discussions at the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Real Property Law Section Summer Conference. Furthe...

Feb 2016
15
February 15, 2016

Climate Change: Local Solutions to Global Problems

Aquinas College Performing Arts Center

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm When it comes to climate change, the local can impact the global!  Former Mayor Heartwell draws on his decades of work creating a more sustainable Grand Rapids and in...

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