Stephen J. Bonebrake is an experienced environmental lawyer, a seasoned counselor on regulatory and permitting issues, and a zealous advocate for his clients. He employs a thorough understanding of environmental laws to help clients efficiently and, where needed, creatively find real-world solutions to challenging matters. Most of all, he understands that an effective outcome satisfies client business goals, not just the legal problem at hand.
Steve has extensive experience representing energy and manufacturing companies and other property owners in matters related to Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act compliance and permitting, Superfund actions, brownfield redevelopment, plant closure and expansion matters, waste disposal and transport and the environmental components of asset and stock sales.
As an accomplished advocate, Steve represents clients in a variety of environmental administrative and litigation matters. His experience includes enforcement and cost-recovery actions, toxic tort cases, rule variance, permit issuance and appeal proceedings, federal and state rulemakings, government investigations and litigation concerning the environmental elements of stock and asset purchase agreements. He knows how to win a disputed case, but he also recognizes when client needs would be better served by an agreed resolution.
Steve protected a power company from regulatory exposure based on the actions of a former owner of the power company’s plants. The company was facing New Source Review and other Clean Air Act claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a state and environmental groups.
The plaintiffs claimed that a prior owner of several plants now owned by his client had “modified” those plants, triggering New Source Review requirements, and that those requirements applied to and were violated by our client. The plaintiffs sought penalties and pollution controls that could have cost billions of dollars.
Steve and his colleagues used novel defense arguments, making the case that New Source Review violations are one-time violations that occur only at the time of construction, and that a later owner does not, therefore, violate New Source Review requirements based upon earlier alleged modifications by a prior owner. The trial court agreed, finding that no relief may be obtained from the current owner.
The appellate court affirmed, ruling that the statute of limitations had run, which terminated any New Source Review claim. The result set a precedent that current owners cannot be held liable based on alleged modifications of a prior owner and that the passage of time may bar New Source Review claims even absent a change of ownership.
- Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1992
- DePauw University, B.A., 1985
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- American Bar Association
- Illinois State Bar Association
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