Todd Palmer Photo

Todd E. Palmer

Practice Group Co-Chair, Regulatory
Sub-Practice Leader, Environmental & Natural Resources


For more than 30 years, Todd has helped numerous clients remain in compliance with all aspects of the complex and dynamic suite of environmental laws, with a particular focus on Clean Air Act regulation. His extensive knowledge of and experience includes obtaining environmental permits, planning future activities to minimize the expense of regulation, litigation involving all manner of environmental regulation, and the defense of allegations that a company may have violated environmental laws.

Todd has worked on environmental issues in virtually every industry sector including:

  • Petroleum refineries
  • Electronics manufacturers
  • Utilities
  • Mining companies
  • Defense contractors
  • Higher education institutions
  • Paper and other industrial manufacturers
  • Biofuel facilities
  • Construction contractors
  • Agricultural operations
  • Automotive and engine manufacturers

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. 


Clean Power Plan

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. 

PFAS and emerging contaminants

Todd has significant experience advising clients on PFAS and emerging contaminant litigation and regulatory issues. His 34 years of experience includes counseling on one of the highest-profile PFAS contamination sites in Wisconsin, counseling an international corporation on PFAS issues and numerous cleanup/cost recovery actions involving other contaminates.

Precedent-setting work

Todd successfully represented Wisconsin industrial and utility interests in a precedent-setting challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)’s rule to restrict the transport of pollution. He also defended enforcement claims jointly prosecuted by the State of Wisconsin and the US 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 served 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 many states prioritizing climate change, the federal and various state/regional governments have developed multiple regulations restricting the carbon intensity of power production. Todd has worked with the State of Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin System to deal with these regulatory changes and defend them in federal court all while evaluating cost-effect compliance strategies under Clean Air Act rules. Todd also provided assistance in the permitting of new and modified units at many campuses.

This high-profile project was precipitated by lawsuits filed by the US EPA, Sierra Club and even the State of Wisconsin against sister state agencies. The project involves 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 of 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 US 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 US 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 US EPA. The total value of the settlement was approximately $2 billion. Todd continues to represent MGE in implementing the settlement agreement.

Honors & Recognitions

  • Leading Natural Resources & Environment Lawyer, Chambers USA, 2010-present
  • Leading Environmental Lawyer, Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law, 2023-Present
  • “Lawyer of the Year" (Milwaukee Area), The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Environmental Law, 2018, 2024
    • Litigation - Environmental, 2020
  • "Lawyer of the Year" (Madison Area), The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Litigation - Environmental, 2015
    • Environmental Law, 2011
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Litigation - Environmental and Environmental Law, 2005-Present
  • The Midwest’s Best Lawyers©, Litigation - Environmental and Environmental Litigation, 2021
  • "Top Lawyers" Madison Magazine

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL)
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law
  • Appointed Member, Wisconsin DNR Air Management Study Group
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Air and Waste Management Association


Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Board, Wisconsin Association of Talented and Gifted



Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Board, Wisconsin Association of Talented and Gifted
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