Karen Winters leads our global Environmental, Safety & Health Practice. She has an established reputation for successfully assisting clients in the management of large-scale environmental liability and compliance issues, providing them with strategic counseling; defense of federal and state enforcement proceedings; defense of environmental tort claims including public nuisance claims; and advancement and defense of claims for cost recovery. She is experienced in complex project siting and development (including endangered species and impacts to wetlands and jurisdictional waters), and public advocacy. Her clients are primarily in the chemicals, energy and natural resources, diversified industrials, iron and steel and environmental services industries.

    Prior to joining our firm, Karen worked for five and a half years in the Office of the Ohio Attorney General as an Assistant Attorney General, including Assistant Chief of the Consumer Fraud Division, member of the Environmental Enforcement Division, member of the Federal Litigation Division and member of the Chief Counsel’s staff.

    Karen is a member of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources; the Ohio State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee and the Columbus Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee. She is also a member of the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Environment Committee, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Environment Committee (and serves on its Executive Committee), the Ohio Manufacturers Association’s Environment Committee and the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council’s Regulatory Committee.

    Karen has received a number of recognitions and distinctions. She is recognized as a Top Rated Lawyer in The American Lawyer’s “Women Lawyers in the Law.” She has been listed in Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers in the area of environmental law each year since 2005. She has also been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America each year since 2006 and is the 2020 Lawyer of the Year for Environmental Litigation in Columbus. She has been included in Thomson Reuters’ list of Ohio Super Lawyers, the top 5% of lawyers in Ohio, each year since 2004. Karen is AV-Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized as one of their Legal Leaders: Midwest. She has been consistently identified by Columbus Monthly as one of the top 25 women lawyers in Columbus and was recently featured in Columbus CEO magazine as one of the top lawyers in Central Ohio.

    Karen is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Bar Foundation, whose mission is to promote the understanding of the law, the role of the legal profession and access to justice. Karen formerly served as a member of the Governing Board of Trustees of the YWCA Columbus (2012-17) whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.

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    • Successfully resolving claims in bankruptcy by the US and the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio under CERCLA against a debtor and its affiliates through the establishment of a custodial trust to take ownership of and remedial responsibility for 13 sites in five states through the appointment of a qualified trustee and funding of the custodial trust in the amount of approximately US$17 million.
    • Counseling a solar panel manufacturer with respect to compliance with the requirements of federal laws and the laws of the states regarding product labeling, hazardous materials transport and waste management at end of product life under such programs as, inter alia, the Hazardous Substances Act, Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, Resource Conservation & Recovery Act and various state analogs associated with entry into the US market.
    • Representing a developer of a US$375 million medical campus in Northeast Ohio in obtaining required authorizations under Section 401 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for impacts to 15.85 acres of wetlands and 1,608 linear feet of stream and the defense of citizen challenges thereto.
    • Representing a mining company in the assessment of compliance with the requirements of Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act for impacts to wetlands and jurisdictional waters in connection with the acquisition of eight mines in West Virginia.
    • Representing an environmental services company in the defense of environmental tort claims, including public nuisance claims regarding associated odors and emissions from a landfill.
    • Representing a major oil refiner in connection with the decades’ long implementation of an RCRA 3008(h) Administrative Order on Consent issued by US EPA for clean-up of historic contamination associated with the operation of a former refinery. Counsel included assistance with contingency arrangements for an adjacent municipal water supply, as well as ultimate relocation of that water supply through a unique co-funding proposal with the Ohio Water Development Authority.
    • Representing a solar energy developer in connection with obtaining a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the Ohio Power Board for a 300 MW solar-powered electric generating facility and associated substation and 138 kv transmission line to connect the facility to the regional grid. The facility is the largest of its size to date in Ohio.
    • Representing a wind energy developer in connection with obtaining a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the Ohio Power Siting Board for a 200 MW wind-powered electric generating facility comprised of 112 turbines and a 138 kv transmission line to connect the facility to the regional grid. The facility is intended for use by utilities that will be required to meet the Ohio Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard enacted with passage of SB 221 and signed by Ohio’s governor, which requires that, by 2025, at least 25% of the electricity sold in Ohio must be supplied by alternative energy resources.
    • Representing an independent power producer in connection with obtaining a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the Ohio Power Siting Board for construction of an 850 MW combined cycle natural gas-fired electric generating facility in Southwest Ohio and related environmental permits.
    • Representing a private developer in connection with obtaining one of Ohio’s first permits for construction of a new solid waste disposal facility pursuant to its best available technology standards for the siting, design, construction and operation of municipal solid waste landfills, promulgated pursuant to Uncodified Section 7 of Am. Sub. HB 592, as revised to meet US EPA’s standards under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the defense of citizen challenges until then.
    • Representing a developer in connection with obtaining one of the first covenants not to sue under Ohio’s Voluntary Action Program, which was designed to stimulate brownfields redevelopment in Ohio.
    • Representing a host of steel companies on a variety of legislative and regulatory matters including legislation and rules to implement Ohio’s Voluntary Action Program and steel-specific siting, design and operational standards for landfills disposing of residual waste from the iron- and steel-making processes.

    Education

    • The University of Akron, J.D., 1981
    • Bowling Green State University, B.A., 1978

    Admissions

    • Ohio, 1981

    Courts

    • U.S. Supreme Court, 2016
    • U.S. Ct. of App., Sixth Circuit, 1982
    • U.S. Dist. Ct., N. Dist. of Ohio, 1982
    • U.S. Dist. Ct., S. Dist. of Ohio, 1982

    Memberships and Affiliations

    • Member of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources. 
    • Member of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee.
    • Member of the Columbus Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee. 
    • Member of the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Environment Committee.
    • Member of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Environment Committee (and serves on its Executive Committee). 
    • Member of the Ohio Manufacturers Association’s Environment Committee and the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council's Regulatory Committee.
    • Member of the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Bar Foundation, whose mission is to promote the understanding of the law, the role of the legal profession and access to justice. 
    • Member of the Governing Board of Trustees of the YWCA Columbus whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for both Environmental Law and Environmental Litigation each year since 2006, an honor based on an exhaustive peer-review process, identified as the 2020 Lawyer of the Year in Environmental Litigation in Columbus 
    • Listed in Chambers USA as a Leading Lawyer in the Area of Natural Resources & Environment in Ohio each year since 2006
    • Included in Thompson Reuters’ list of Ohio Super Lawyers, the top 5% of lawyers in Ohio, each year since 2004
    • AV-Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell  and recognized as one of its Legal Leaders: Midwest 
    • Recognized as a Top Rated Lawyer in American Lawyer’s “Women Lawyers in the Law” 
    • Selected to serve on Law360’s 2018 Environmental Editorial Advisory Board
    • Consistently identified by Columbus Monthly as one of the Top 25 women lawyers in Columbus
    • Recently featured in Columbus CEO magazine as one of the top lawyers in Central Ohio

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