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.

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    • Representing a developer in connection with obtaining a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the Ohio Power Siting Board for a 300MW solar-powered electric generating facility and associated project substation to be located in Highland County, Ohio. The facility would be connected to the PJM regional grid through a new substation to be constructed by Dayton Power & Light.
    • Representing a developer of a US$375 million medical campus in northeast Ohio in obtaining authorizations under Section 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act for impacts to 15.85 acres of wetlands and 1,608 linear feet of stream, for which compensatory mitigation included the purchase of wetland and stream credits from an in-lieu fee program, as well as preservation, in perpetuity, of high-quality wetlands and streams on a 38-acre tract adjacent to the project site.
    • Filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in US Army Corps of Engineers v Hawkes on behalf of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and others arguing that jurisdictional determinations issues by the US Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act are final agency actions subject to review by the courts under the Administrative Procedure Act, a position upheld by the high court.
    • 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 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 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.
    • Member of the Ohio Manufacturers Association’s Environment Committee.
    • Member of 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
    • Listed in The Legal 500 for both Environment: Litigation and Environment: Regulatory
    • Listed in Who’s Who in Environmental Law
    • 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
    • Selected to serve on Law360’s 2018 Environmental Editorial Advisory Board

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    Publications

    • Author, “Looking Ahead to 2021: Implications of a Change in Administration on Environmental Policy,” November 2020.
    • Author, “US EPA and the Corps Finally Publish Their Definition of Waters of the United States Narrowing the Scope of Federal Jurisdiction Under the Clean Water Act,” April 23, 2020.

    Speaking Engagements

    • Speaker, “Looking Ahead to 2021: Implications of a Change in Administration on Environmental Policy in the US,” 2021 Women in Energy & Environment Webinar Series, January 19, 2021.
    • Speaker, “How Companies are Coping with TSCA: Lessons from the Front Line,” 2020 Chemicals Workshop Webinar Series, August 19, 2020.
    • Speaker, “Environmental Challenges Associated with Infrastructure Development,” 2020 Environmental, Safety & Health Webinar Series, April 30, 2020.
    • Speaker, “Environmental Compliance During COVID-19: Federal and State Agency Guidance on Enforcement and Practical Tips for Business,” 2020 Environmental, Safety & Health Webinar Series, April 14, 2020.
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