Ned Witte is shareholder in the Environmental Strategies Practice Group. He represents clients in the service and manufacturing industries as well as government bodies in a wide range of environmental matters across Wisconsin, nationally and globally.
In September of 2015, Ned Witte was named the 2016 Best Lawyers® Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Milwaukee. Attorneys honored as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high ratings for their abilities, professionalism and integrity based on exhaustive peer-review surveys. Ned has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system. He has been included in the 2010-2017 editions of Chambers USA: America’s leading Lawyers for Business. He is listed in Best Lawyers (since 2006). In addition, Ned was also selected for inclusion in the Wisconsin Super Lawyers lists (2009-2012). Ned was honored by the Wisconsin Law Journal as Leader in the Law 2015.
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, creation and trading of credits to meet nutrient (e.g. phosphorus) discharge criteria, meeting the requirements of water, wetland, and stormwater permitting standards and regulations, and working through complex land use challenges.
In 2017, the acting Assistant Attorney General for Wisconsin Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Division recommended Ned to serve as neutral mediator for a dispute concerning wetlands fill violations. Ned successfully resolved the financial restitution for damages and penalty dispute between the state and the individual defendant.
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.
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.
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.
Ned represented 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 successfully self-directed a cost recovery action against the corporate successor-in-interest to the paper company that disposed the sludge and to recovery $1.9 million towards the remediation costs utilizing the Wisconsin Local Government Negotiation and Cost Recovery Procedure (Wis. Stat. §292.35). Ned is currently overseeing another matter utilizing this statute.
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.
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. After structuring a settlement agreement to address costs of demolition, asbestos abatement and environmental repair, the site was selected by the National Basketball Associations for a development league (D-League) franchise affiliated with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, effectively opening for the 2017-2018 season.
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
American Bar Association
Milwaukee Bar Association
State Bar of Wisconsin (Environmental Law Section)
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center (Member, Board of Directors 2017-present)
Co-Chair, State Bar of Wisconsin Environmental Law Section (Board of Directors, 2016-present; Secretary 2017-present) 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)
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 ‑ 2018)
Listed in Best Lawyers (Environmental Law 2006 – present; 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)
Recipient, Vermont Law School American Jurisprudence Award in Law of Water Resources, Fall 1987
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