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A Better Partnership

Dennis J. Donohue

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2192

    f. +1.616.752.2500


Dennis Donohue is Warner's Resources, Environment and Energy Practice Group chair and practices in the area of environmental law, including mining and resource development. He has unique experience in applying his expertise in the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, wetlands and mine permitting to help companies obtain the regulatory and social licenses needed to successfully develop sustainable resource development projects. In addition, Dennis's environmental permitting and enforcement experience across a range of regulatory programs, including programs governing remediation of contaminated property and sediments, enables him to assist clients in managing a broad spectrum of environmental risk, transactional due diligence and compliance issues.


  • Wayne State University Law School J.D. 1992 magna cum laude
  • University of Michigan B.A. 1988


  • 1992, Michigan


  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 1992
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Past Chair, Mining and Mineral Extraction Committee of the Environment, Energy and Resources Section
  • State Bar of Michigan Environmental Law Section
    Past Chair, Natural Resources Committee; Co-Editor, Michigan Environmental Law Deskbook; Past Section Council Member; Past Chair, Surface and Groundwater Quality Committee
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association
    Board of Trustees (2010-2013); Past Chair, Environmental Law Section
  • Canadian Bar Association
    Environmental Law Section
  • Ontario Bar Association


  • Successfully represented major international mining company in obtaining permits for first primary nickel-copper mine in United States
  • Currently representing mining companies on three mining projects in Michigan and Minnesota
  • Represents investors and banks on due diligence associated with financing of mining projects
  • Assisted in the drafting of new mining regulations in Michigan
  • Represented a resource development company on proposed cellulosic ethanol plant
  • Counseled international mining company on strategies for managing legacy contaminated properties
  • Represented tannery in negotiating consent judgment with State of Michigan to address extensive groundwater/surface water interface contamination at the former Whitehall Leather site in Whitehall, Michigan
  • Represented an electric power cooperative on water use and permitting issues associated with construction of a proposed new clean-coal baseload electric power plant in an existing limestone mine
  • Represented tannery in developing a sediment remediation strategy and negotiating a consent judgment addressing remediation of contaminated sediments in White Lake, Michigan, a federal Great Lakes Area of Concern
  • Represented international mining company in developing sediment remediation plan and negotiating a consent judgment addressing contaminated sediments in Deer Lake, Michigan, a federal Great Lakes Area of Concern
  • Represented development company in successfully addressing a high-profile NPDES stormwater discharge permit case
  • Counseled international paper company on various NPDES and compliance issues and strategies
  • Counseled sand and gravel mining companies on NPDES and groundwater discharge permit compliance issues
  • Assisted in development of periodic amendments to Michigan's environmental cleanup statute
  • Represented paper company in successful challenge to NPDES permit limits
  • Represented and counseled numerous companies on various environmental enforcement and compliance issues

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers' Grand Rapids Water (2022, 2019, 2017 and 2013) and Environmental Law (2021 and 2016) Lawyer of the Year
  • Top Lawyer in Environmental Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-21
  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental, Mining and Water Law, 2011-Present
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2013-20
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Order of the Coif
  • Note and Comment Editor, Wayne Law Review



  • "Managing Obstacles to New Mining Projects In Regions Impacted by Past Mining Operations," (Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation 2013 Annual Institute)
  • Author or co-author of articles for the Environmental Law Journal (State of Michigan)
  • Author or co-author of articles for the American Bar Association's Environment, Energy and Resources Year in Review
  • Author or co-author of articles for the Michigan Environmental Law Deskbook, and A Guide for Michigan Business (Michigan Chamber of Commerce)
  • Co-author and Editor, The 100 Biggest Mistakes of Environmental Compliance and How to Fix or Avoid Them (Michigan Chamber of Commerce)
  • Editor of Michigan Administrative Law Quarterly


Professional Affiliations

  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • American Exploration & Mining Association
  • Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada
  • Current Chair, Michigan Manufacturers Association Mining Committee
  • West Michigan Air and Waste Management Association
  • Michigan Water Environment Association
  • Michigan Wetlands Association

Community Affiliations

  • Grand Rapids Historical Society

Speaking Engagements

  • "New Waters of the United States Rule", Michigan Aggregates Association, February 2020
  • “Testing Your Mettle: Environmental Review and Permitting for Modern Mining Projects,” Society of Mine Engineers Minnesota Conference, April 2016
  • Great Lakes Economic Forum, "Digging Deeper – The Future of Mining in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region," 2016
  • “Great Lakes Copper-Nickel Mining Update: Opportunities and Obstacles,” American Exploration and Mining Association Annual Meeting, December 2015
  • “Natural Resources Permits and Administrative Challenges: Eagle Mine as a Case Study,” State Bar of Michigan, Environmental Law Section, February 2015
  • Michigan Bar Association Environmental Law Section, "Mining in Michigan" Webinar, 2015
  • Michigan Manufacturing Association, "Waters of the United States Regulatory Update," 2014
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute, "Managing Obstacles to New Mining Projects in Regions Impacted by Past Mining Operations," 2013
  • Michigan Wetlands Association Wetlands Update, May 2013

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