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Edward (Ned) B. Witte

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9518414.287.9518
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  • Biography
  • Representative Experience
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Ned Witte is a shareholder in the Environmental Strategies Practice Group. He has represented publicly- and privately-held clients in the service and manufacturing industries as well as governmental bodies in a wide range of environmental matters across Wisconsin, nationally and globally.

In September 2015, Ned Witte was name the 2016 Best Lawyers® Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Milwaukee.

Ned has extensive experience in environmental due diligence and liability allocation in real estate, financing and corporate transactions, defense of government- and private party-lead enforcement actions and, conversely, enforcement of environmental contractual rights against third parties, the development and redevelopment of environmentally sensitive and contaminated properties, including Brownfields, coordinating Superfund site response activities, including as chair of steering committees, siting and permitting of manufacturing facilities and renewable and traditional energy projects and financial reporting of environmental liabilities under Sarbanes Oxley and related SEC standards. Ned provides guidance to his clients regarding compliance with myriad environmental laws, remediating contaminated properties, climate change and energy policy, including the Federal Clean Power Plan (CPP), meeting the requirements of water, wetland, and stormwater permitting standards and regulations, and working through complex land use challenges.

Ned has built trust with his clients by providing practical business advice. Ned establishes and maintains positive relationships with his clients’ technical environmental experts, government regulators and opposing counsel. Ned’s philosophy of teamwork and communication serves his clients’ interests by attaining their objectives on budget and in a timely manner.

Representative Experience

Superfund

In addition to representation of lead parties and serving in chair positions for steering committees at Superfund sites in states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Delaware, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and California, three CERCLA sites that are reflective of Ned’s work in this area are:

Ned represented the lead Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) at the NL Industries/Taracorp smelter superfund site in Granite City, Illinois. Part of this work included negotiating the terms of institutional controls on residential properties over 100 square blocks affected by smelter-generated lead deposition, including use of the Uniform Environmental Covenants Act.

Ned represented a manufacturer in the negotiation of a consent decree to favorably resolve his client’s liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) at a site in South Central Wisconsin where the U.S.EPA had completed certain response activities and thereafter commenced cost recovery and contribution civil claims against the company under 42 U.S.C. 9607 and 9613(g)(2) based on the presence of hazardous substances in a community drinking water system. The Consent Decree did not require the client to perform any further response actions at the site and afforded full protections from contribution actions by other PRPs.

Ned has represented a co-PRP in the El Monte Operable Unit of the greater San Gabriel Valley Superfund site. Work on this matter has included coordinating with the co-PRP and jointly retained environmental consultant for design and construction of a plume containment and groundwater remediation system to include extraction, treatment and reinjection of contaminated groundwater in the shallow zone and treatment and conveyance of deep groundwater to the municipal drinking water system pursuant to the provisions of California Drinking Water Program Policy 97-005 (Guidance for Direct Domestic Use of Extremely Impaired Sources). Challenges to implementation of the objectives of the system have included the detection of “Emerging Contaminants” potentially resulting from failure of capture by adjacent remediation systems and unprecedented drought conditions in Southern California.

Transactional

Ned represented a Michigan based purchaser of an auto parts manufacturer in Grant County, Wisconsin. Ned counseled the purchaser regarding naturally occurring elevated concentrations of lead identified during the phase II investigation, including interpretation of state of Wisconsin guidance.

Ned served as lead environmental counsel to a California investor owned utility in structuring the environmental due diligence and transfer in ownership of hydroelectric watershed properties collectively comprising 140,000 acres of land.

Representing a seller in an asset purchase transaction, Ned coordinated the sale of multiple manufacturing facilities and a national network of service centers for a leading United States manufacturer of elevators and escalators, including pre-sale environmental site assessments and compliance audits, “triage” of conditions identified by these reviews, and the negotiation and allocation of known and potential environmental liabilities in the deal documents.

Enforcement/Compliance

Ned represents a school district in northeast Wisconsin where a high school was constructed on property that was the prior site of a sand and gravel pit utilized for landfilling of PCB-containing paper sludge. Ned is co-leading a cost recovery action against the corporate successor-in-interest to the paper company that disposed the sludge utilizing the Wisconsin Local Government Negotiation and Cost Recovery Procedure (Wis. Stat. §292.35).

Ned acted as lead counsel in advising a Fortune 100 company in the identification and disclosure of conditions of noncompliance with federal Clean Air Act (CAA) standards at five of the client’s facilities, including the absence of any permits where CAA Title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits were necessary. Utilizing the voluntary disclosure protocols under the United States Environmental Protection (U.S.EPA) “Audit Policy”, Ned negotiated a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) with U.S.EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) that provided for a penalty of $0 based upon cost-effective compliance alternatives proposed to U.S.EPA. In the CAFO, U.S.EPA acknowledged an otherwise potentially assessable penalty of $1.5 million in the CAFO. (U.S.EPA Docket No. HQ-CAA-2008-6001).

Representing the parent company of a multi-state, publicly traded company with internationally known racetracks, casinos and an online wagering company, Ned structured the environmental compliance audits of four racetrack properties and operations in multiple states and the subsequent implementation of an environmental compliance program.

Brownfields

Ned served as lead environmental counsel in advising a passenger train service corporation in regard to the proposed reuse of a Superfund site that included a closed railroad yard with industrial levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a mixed residential/ retail/transportation development.

Ned has represented a Wisconsin municipality in the Fox River Valley in establishing an action against a party associated with an abandoned manufacturing facility that was deemed to present a fire hazard and was therefore the subject of a raze order. With Ned’s assistance, the municipality was able to assert the claim that the adverse party had created, exacerbated and continued nuisance conditions on the property by the party’s actions, including by allowing “scrappers” to damage and remove fire suppression infrastructure from the property.

Siting

Ned lead a team of environmental lawyers in assembling and preparing the narrative for the successful applications for two, approximately 50-mile 345-kilovolt transmission lines in North Central Wisconsin designed to relieve congestion and add transfer capability in the area. The applications were the first prepared pursuant to Wisconsin Law providing for joint applications to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. (PSC Dockets 137-CE-122 and 137-CE-123).

In late 2014, the Board of Health of a county in East Central Wisconsin passed a motion that a wind energy system consisting of eight, 2.5 MW wind turbines constitutes a “human health hazard” pursuant to state law, as implemented at the county level. Ned represented the owner of the wind farm in developing and presenting a response challenging the legitimacy of the county body’s actions based on applicable Wisconsin law in this pending matter.

Admitted To Practice

Wisconsin

Professional Associations

American Bar Association
Milwaukee Bar Association
State Bar of Wisconsin (Environmental Law Section)

Activities

Chair, American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy & Natural Resources (SEER) Media Relations (Special Committee on Marketing and Communications Committee)

Vice Chair – Communications of ABA SEER Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems Committee

Member, Vermont Law School Environmental Advisory Committee (2012-present)

Chair and Gift Chair, Vermont Law School Class of 1989 25th Reunion

Vice Chair - Technology, American Bar Association, Section of Environment

Energy and Natural Resources In-House Counsel Committee (2012-2014)

Co-Chair, Vermont Law School Dean’s Development Council (2008-2011)

Member, Board of Zoning Appeals, Village of Bayside, Wisconsin (2003‑2005)

Village Trustee, Village of Bayside, Wisconsin (1997-2003)

Co-Chair, Milwaukee Bar Association Environmental Law Section (1998‑1999)

Member, Vermont Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors (1995‑1998)

Chairman, Milwaukee Pollution Prevention Partnership (1997‑1998)

Chairman, Greater Milwaukee Toxics Minimization Task Force (1994-1997)

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Past Member, Board of Directors)

Riveredge Nature Center, Newberg, Wisconsin (Past Member, Board of Directors)

Teacher, 8th and 9th Grade Latin, 7th Grade English, Applewild School, Fitchburg, Massachusetts (1983-1986)

Honors

Johnson Controls, Inc. 2008 Merit Award for Customer Satisfaction and Employee Ingenuity, Volatile Organic Compound Emission Reduction Team

2015 Recipient of Wisconsin Law Journal’s “Leaders in the Law” Award

Recognized by Chambers USA (Natural Resources & Environmental, 2010 ‑ 2016)

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (Environmental Law 2006 – 2016; 2016 Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Milwaukee)

Recognized as a Wisconsin Super Lawyer (2009 – 2012)

AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating (2011 – present)

Wisconsin Top Rated Lawyer in Environmental Law & General Practice (based on Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating) 2013

Recipient, Vermont Law School American Jurisprudence Award in Law of Water Resources, Fall 1987

News & Publications

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Education

Masters of Studies of Environmental Law, Vermont Law School, magna cum laude

Juris Doctor, Vermont Law School, cum laude

Bachelor of Arts, University of Vermont

Milwaukee
833 East Michigan Street
Suite 1800
Milwaukee, WI
53202-5615
414.287.9518414.287.9518
414.273.5198414.273.5198
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414.287.9626414.287.9626
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