Todd Palmer Photo

Todd E. Palmer

Partner
Practice Group Chair, Environmental & Natural Resources
Practice Group Chair, Energy Law

Education

Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Board, Wisconsin Association of Talented and Gifted

Overview

For more than 25 years, Todd has helped numerous clients remain in compliance with all aspects of the complex and dynamic Clean Air Act regulatory program. His extensive knowledge of and experience with Clean Air Act matters includes obtaining air emission control permits, planning future activities to minimize the expense of regulation, and the defense of allegations that a company may have violated Clean Air Act requirements.

Todd has worked on environmental issues in industries including:

  • Petroleum refineries
  • Electric utilities
  • Mining companies
  • Defense contractors
  • Paper manufacturers
  • Biofuel facilities
  • Construction contractors
  • Agricultural operations

Clients also look to Todd to anticipate legal trends in environmental regulation, allowing them to reduce compliance costs, minimize liabilities, develop market opportunities and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

 

Toward this end, Todd has assisted clients in developing innovative regulatory strategies for their businesses. He has negotiated Second Generation regulatory agreements under Wisconsin’s Environmental Cooperation Pilot Program, providing his clients with the regulatory flexibility to fit their unique business needs while maintaining the highest environmental standards.

In addition, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has appointed Todd to serve on the State’s Air Management Study Group, an advisory committee charged with making recommendations to improve the State’s Air Regulatory Program. This work includes streamlining air permitting, implementing federal regulatory directives, advising on the development of state Clean Air Act implementation plans and, where necessary, developing new programs in the state. Todd has previously served on technical advisory groups that have influenced the development of many of Wisconsin's Clean Air Act regulations.

Todd is a co-author of the Second and Third Editions of the Wisconsin Environmental Law Handbook, and The Wisconsin Business Advisor Series: Environmental and Real Estate Law, Volume 2, published by the State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books. 

Experience

Precedent-setting work

Todd successfully represented Wisconsin industrial and utility interests in a precedent-setting challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s rule to restrict the transport of pollution. He also defended enforcement claims jointly prosecuted by the State of Wisconsin and the EPA resulting in a precedential decision defining the limitations of the government’s Clean Air Act enforcement powers in United States v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.

Climate change regulations and litigation

Todd serves as special counsel to the State of Wisconsin providing litigation representation and regulatory advice related to the environmental compliance of approximately 50 coal-fired boilers owned and operated by the state. These boilers are used to supply heat, and in some cases electricity, to institutional facilities owned and operated the University of Wisconsin system and other state agencies.

With the Obama Administration prioritizing climate change, the federal government has developed multiple regulations restricting the use of coal. Todd is working with the State of Wisconsin to deal with existing legislation, anticipate new legislation, and defend the state in federal court all while evaluating cost-effect compliance strategies under Clean Air Act rules.

This high-profile project was precipitated by lawsuits filed by the U.S. EPA, Sierra Club and even the State of Wisconsin against sister state agencies. The project involves a lot of moving parts including defending against state and federal government and environmental groups which are empowered under federal law to enforce federal law while, from a regulatory standpoint, dealing with the myriad rules putting pressure on coal-fired boilers.

Petroleum refineries and flaring enforcement

Todd’s client Calumet Superior LLC operates a petroleum refinery located in Superior, Wisconsin. The EPA has targeted this refinery under the Agency’s flaring enforcement initiative. Todd has been defending Calumet against novel and unprecedented legal enforcement theories, many of which have national implications. 

Tribal Air Coalition

Todd represents a coalition of ten large manufacturing/mining entities in a process whereby Native American tribes are seeking to exercise their authority under the Clean Air Act to re-designate their respective reservations to a restrictive “Class I” air quality designation. This action may restrict off-reservation air pollution sources whose emissions may adversely affect the tribal Class I area. This is a novel regulatory development and Todd’s work is receiving national attention.

Negotiating settlements

Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) owns and operates a fleet of electric generating assets in Wisconsin.  Some of those units are co-owned with other regulated utilities. Todd represented Madison Gas & Electric in litigation filed by the EPA and Sierra Club alleging Clean Air Act violations at the co-owned power plants located in the State of Wisconsin. On behalf of MGE, Todd ultimately negotiated settlement terms with the Sierra Club, U.S. Department of Justice and EPA. The total value of the settlement was approximately $2 billion. Todd continues to represent MGE in implementing the settlement agreement.

Participation in a successful brief to the U.S. Supreme Court

In February 2016, Todd was one of 30 lawyers representing 29 U.S. states and state agencies who signed onto a brief on behalf of the Mississippi Public Service Commission obtaining a stay of the federal Clean Power Plan from the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. The Clean Power Plan sets the first national carbon emission limits for U.S. electric power plants. The decision marked the first time a U.S. Supreme Court has ever granted such a motion in its history. 

Honors & Recognitions

  • Leading Natural Resources and Environment Lawyer, Chambers USA, 2010-present
  • Member, The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, in the field of Litigation - Environmental and Environmental Law, 2006-present
  • "Top Lawyers" list, Madison Magazine, present 
  • "Lawyer of the Year" (Madison Area), The Best Lawyers in America®, Environmental Law, 2011 and 2015 
  • "Wisconsin Super Lawyers" list by Super Lawyers magazinepresent

Professional Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association, Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law
  • Appointed Member, Wisconsin DNR Air Management Study Group
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