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A Better Partnership

Eugene E. Smary

Of Counsel | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2129

    f. +1.616.222.2129


Gene Smary is engaged exclusively in the practice of environmental and resources law. He counsels clients on environmental compliance, due diligence associated with real property and corporate transactions, mediation of disputes, contaminated site remediation and redevelopment, metallic mineral mining and permitting, and power plant siting and permitting. He also has experience in legislative and regulatory policy matters, as well as cross-border environmental and infrastructure matters.


  • University of Notre Dame J.D. 1975 cum laude
  • University of Notre Dame M.A. 1969 Government and International Studies
  • Aquinas College B.A. 1967 Political Science


  • 1976, Michigan


  • Supreme Court of Michigan
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan

Clerk Experience

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, Honorable John A. Danaher

Bar Associations

  • International Bar Association
    Chair, Section on Energy, Environment, Resources and Infrastructure Law (Jan. 2017-Dec. 2018); Chair, Environment, Health and Safety Committee (2011-12)
  • American Bar Association
    Chair, Section of Environmental, Energy and Resources(2002-03); International Liaison (2008-Present)
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Chair, Environmental Law Section (1990-91)
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association
    Chair, Environmental Law Section (1995)
  • Canadian Bar Association
    National Environmental Energy and Resources Law Section (Associate Member)
  • Canadian Bar Association - Ontario Division
    Environmental Law Section (Associate Member)

Teaching and Lecturing

  • Adjunct Associate Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Law School (1997-2002), teaching a course in Environmental Law for Transactional Lawyers


  • Represented large and small governments, statewide trade associations and corporations in a variety of sectors — including chemical, automotive, construction, aggregate mining, metallic mining, mineral refining, office furniture, food products, oil and gas and leather tanning — on environmental issues and strategic policy guidance
  • Represented foreign governmental proponent on United States legal issues relating to a proposed new international bridge between Ontario and Michigan
  • Represented large multinational resources company in the permitting of the first new underground “greenfield” mine in Michigan (and the United States) in many decades, and in the successful defense of the subsequent legal challenges
  • Represented a large rural electrical cooperative and coordinated the successful legal permitting strategy for a proposed new “clean coal” power plant
  • Assisted in advising on significant environmental and resources legislation development, including:
    • Michigan's Non-Ferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Law and its implementing rules
    • Michigan's Environmental Audit Privilege and Immunity Law
    • Michigan's Environmental Remediation and Brownfield Redevelopment Law and its implementing rules
    • Michigan's Water Withdrawal Law

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law and Natural Resources, 1991-21
  • Named the 2012 Grand Rapids Environmental Lawyer of the Year by The Best Lawyers in America
  • Named a Top Lawyer in Environmental Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-20
  • Ranked as "Other Notable Practitioner/Foreign Expert (Based Abroad)" Environmental Law - Canada in Chambers Global Guide, 2013-2014
  • Listed in Euromoney’s Guide to the World's Leading Environmental Lawyers, 2005-Present
  • Listed in The International Who's Who of Environmental Lawyers, 2005-Present
  • Listed in The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, 2005-Present
  • Named as one of the Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-2007
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers 2006-Present
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell (1986-Present)
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Life Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation
  • Note and Comment Editor, Notre Dame Law Review



  • Coauthor, “Hydraulic Fracturing: Growth, Regulation, and Challenges in the United States,” Environmental Law and Management, 2014
  • Coauthor, "Managing Obstacles to New Mining Projects In Regions Impacted by Past Mining Operations," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation in the Proceedings of the 59th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2013)
  • Coauthor, "United States Regulatory Framework," The Law of Climate Change in Canada, Canada Law Book, 2010, edited by D. Mahony
  • Coeditor, Michigan Environmental Law Deskbook published by the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan in 2010, and co-author of the chapter on environmental remediation
  • Coauthor, "Michigan's New Non-Ferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Law," Michigan Environmental Law Journal, 2006
  • Coauthor, "Environmental Privilege and Immunity Law–The Michigan Experience," Michigan Environmental Law Journal 1998
  • Coauthor, "Brownfields Redevelopment," published in 1996, 1997 and 1998 editions of Wiley Environmental Law Update


Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Environmental Lawyers (Inaugural Class of Fellows)
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
    Environmental Quality Committee Member
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association
    Member Representative; Mining Policy Committee Member
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
    Trustee, representing American Bar Association (2006-11)
  • Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada
  • American Exploration and Mining Association
  • Notre Dame Law Association
    National Board Directors (representing Michigan alumni) (1999-05)

Community Affiliations

  • Gilda's Club of Grand Rapids
    Board of Directors (2000-02)
  • Grand Rapids Historical Commission
    Commissioner (1998-04), Chair (2002-04)
  • Grand Rapids Historical Society
    Board of Trustees (2000-09)
  • World Affairs Council of West Michigan
    Board of Directors (2012-Present)
  • Western District of Michigan Historical Society
    Board of Directors (2013-Present)

Speaking Engagements

  • "The Keystone Pipeline Decision - U.S. and Canadian Perspectives," American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources webinar, December 11, 2015
  • "Combustion: Energy, Resources and Environmental Issues Igniting International Law," Canadian Council on International Law 43rd Annual Conference, November 13-15, 2014, Ottawa, Ontario
  • "Hydraulic Fracturing: United States Perspectives and Developments," 26th Annual CBA NEERLS - DOJ Meeting, November 6-7, 2014, Ottawa, Ontario
  • "Hydraulic Fracturing: Growth, Regulation and Challenges in the United States," United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA) in Association with the University of Edinburgh, June 20-22, 2014, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • "Cross-Border Update--Has Anything Changed Since February 2013?," Insight/ALM 11th Annual Canadian Oil Sands Summit, February 12, 2014
  • "Reading Tea Leaves and Other Tall Tales:  US Politics and Keystone XL," 25th Annual Meeting of CBA NEERLS - DOJ Meeting, November 7, 2013, Ottawa, Ontario
  • "Managing Obstacles to New Mining Projects in Regions Impacted by Past Mining Operations," 59th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, July 18-20, 2013, Spokane, Washington
  • “Reading Tea Leaves and Other Tall Tales: U.S. Politics and Keystone XL,” TD Securities Energy Conference, July 9-10, 2013, Calgary, Alberta
  • "The US Election Results - Will Demand Be Impacted?," Insight/ALM 10th Annual Canadian Oil Sands Summit, February 5-6, 2013, Calgary, Alberta
  • "U.S. Laws/Events That Could Impact Demand," Insight/ALM 9th Annual Canadian Oil Sands Summit, February 14-15, 2012, Calgary, Alberta
  • "The Convergence of Mining Law and Environmental Law," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation/International Bar Association, International Mining and Oil & Gas Law, Development, and Investment Conference, April 4-6, 2011, Rio de Janeiro
  • "Comparison Overview of CERCLA and the EU Environmental Liability Directive," International Bar Association Annual Conference, October 8, 2009, Madrid, Spain
  • Frequent lecturer and panel mediator on a variety of environmental and resources issues to civic, academic, governmental and professional organizations in the United States, Canada and other regions of the world

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

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