Ned Witte is a shareholder and Market Team Leader for Godfrey & Kahn's Environmental Strategies Practice Group. He represents clients in the service and manufacturing industries as well as individuals and government bodies in a wide range of environmental matters in Wisconsin and across the U.S.
Since 2011, Ned has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system. Since 2010, Ned has been included in Chambers USA: America’s leading Lawyers for Business. He is listed in Best Lawyers (since 2006). In addition, Ned has been selected for inclusion in the Wisconsin Super Lawyers lists. Ned was honored by the Wisconsin Law Journal as Leader in the Law 2015. Best Lawyers® named Ned the 2016 Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Milwaukee.
Ned has broad, nationally recognized experience in counseling clients concerning emerging contaminants including, specifically, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS). Ned and Godfrey & Kahn represent clients with interests in numerous PFAS sites in Wisconsin including at disposal sites, manufacturing sites and locations where PFAS-containing aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) has been discharged. In late 2020, Ned was selected by the Biden-Harris Agency Review Team for the United States Environmental Protection Agency to consult on PFAS issues.
The Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources appointed Ned to serve as a member of the newly formed Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WNDR) PFAS Policy Advisory Group. Ned is also a member of the WDNRRemediation and Redevelopment External Advisory Committee and presently acts as Chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin Environmental Law Section. Previously, Ned served as Co-Chair of Citizens and Public Interest Committee for the State of Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC), which generated the 2020 Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan. Ned was a member of the ASTM Collaboration Area AC417 – PFAS Real Estate, Legal, Due Diligence Focus Group supporting the Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment and Risk Management. Ned has extensively written and presented on PFAS issues at national seminars, and state and federal bar association continuing legal education seminars.
Ned has extensive experience in the development and redevelopment of environmentally sensitive and contaminated properties, including Brownfields, coordinating Superfund site response activities, including as chair of steering committees, and siting and permitting of manufacturing facilities and renewable and traditional energy projects. Ned also has structured and served as lead counsel 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.
In addition, Ned’s diverse practice also includes:
- Effective use of the State of Wisconsin’s Local Government Unit Negotiation and Cost Recovery statute (Wis. Stats. §292.35) to recover costs of response at municipally owned disposal sites (Ned served as lead counsel in the only two recorded proceedings, recovering over $3 million in clean-up costs)
- Defense of government and private party actions related to alleged non-compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), stormwater and wastewater discharge, state and federal Clean Air Act violations, and wetland fill and waterfront matters, including after the fact permitting
- Regulation of surface waters, wetlands, riparian rights, floodplains, LOMR/CLOMR issues, sediment remediation stormwater and surface water drainage rights, and bluff stabilization and restoration matters, including as caused by climate change and elevated levels of Lake Michigan
- Representation of parties in the developing markets for industrial hemp, cannabis, vapor intrusion and cannabidiol (CBD), including authorities related to licensed hemp growing, processing and “fit for commerce” determinations
- Use of the State of Wisconsin Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program
- Permitting composting facilities under solid waste regulations
- Use of federal and state “audit policy” tools to voluntarily disclose self-identified environmental noncompliance
- Regulation of phosphorous and nutrient credit trading
- Water quality and water supply matters
Ned also has pro bono experience through Legal Action of Wisconsin’s “Center for Driver’s License Recovery and Employability.”
In 2017, at the recommendation of the acting Assistant Attorney General for Wisconsin Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Division, Ned served 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.