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Donald W. Stever

Of Counsel
+1.212.536.4861
Fax +1.212.536.3901
Consistently ranked as "preeminent" in the field of environmental law, Donald Stever is a highly skilled environmental litigator who has consistently been retained by clients to handle difficult and complex environmental regulatory and litigation matters. He possesses broad substantive experience and highly refined complex litigation skills. His practice additionally includes providing advice to clients with respect to, and working out, environmental liability issues in corporate acquisitions, divestitures and finance. With Mr. Stever's extensive background and knowledge, he can provide very cost effective advice and solutions for difficult to resolve issues.

Professional Background

Mr. Stever began his environmental law career in 1969, as New Hampshire's first environmental assistant attorney general.  He litigated numerous air, water and waste cases in New England during the following decade, and assisted in the development of the principal environmental programs in the State during that time period.  After a one-year visiting professorship at Dartmouth College, during which he wrote a book dealing with nuclear power plant licensing, he continued his career at the federal level, becoming a senior trial counsel and subsequently Section Chief in the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.  In his position, Mr. Stever was responsible for all pollution and hazardous waste litigation in which the United States was a plaintiff or a defendant.  He was responsible for advocating the federal government's position in the leading environmental cases of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Mr. Stever moved to New York in 1982 to help establish a new environmental law program at Pace University School of Law.  While at Pace, and while practicing environmental law as special counsel to the Connecticut-based law firm of Day, Berry & Howard, he wrote a treatise, Law of Chemical Regulation and Hazardous Waste, which remains one of the leading sources on the topic.

In addition to his law practice, Mr. Stever has been a long-time member of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Law Institute's board of directors, serving on its executive committee in recent years, and serving as chairman of the board from 1995 until 2003.

Mr. Stever has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Environmental Law from 2001 – present and is listed in Chambers USA – America’s Leading Lawyers for Business from 2004 – present. He is rated AV Preeminent by the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™. Mr. Stever was also elected to membership in the American College of Environmental Lawyers in 2012.

Professional/Civic Activities

  • American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Environmental Law Institute Executive Committee, Chairman (1995 – 1996; 1999 – 2003); Board of Directors (1989 – 1997; 1998 – 2004)
  • Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve Inc. Board of Directors (1998 – present)
  • The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center Inc. Board of Directors (1989 – present)
  • Village of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Village Trustee (1997 – 2004) and Architecture Review Board Chairman, 2004 – 2006)

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker on Effective Advocacy in Air, Water, and Hazardous Waste Litigation; Evidentiary Issues on Technical Data; Laying the Foundation For Admission of Soil/Groundwater Samples and Analytical Results; Electronic Discovery ; TRO Simulation, ALI-CLE, Environmental Litigation: Faculty Member, 2012, 2013.
  • Speaker on Effective Advocacy in Air, Water, and Hazardous Waste Litigation; Evidentiary Issues on Technical Data; Laying the Foundation For Admission of Soil/Groundwater Samples and Analytical Results; Daubert Overview; Temporary Restraining Order Simulation, ALI-ABA Environmental Litigation: Faculty Member, 2007 – 2011.
  • “Lessons Learned in Complex NRD Litigation,” Law Seminars International, January 2011.
  • “Introduction to Environmental Law (Waste Site Clean Up),” New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, May 2007 and May 2008.
  • “Anatomy of an Environmental Jury,” ABA 14th Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Fall Meeting, San Diego, CA, October 2006.
  • “Superfund: The Clean Up Decision-Making Process,” New York University Summer Institute in Environmental Law, New York City, May 2001 - 2011.
  • “Innovative Legal Strategies for Land Use Change,” Pace University School of Law/Albany Law School, November 2002.
  • “Residual Injury to Groundwater,” Dewey Ballantine seminar, December 2000.
  • “Information Disclosure and Environmental Protection,” Environmental Law Seminar for Judges, Federal Judicial Center, Washington, D.C., October 2000.
  • “Privatization of Municipal Solid Waste Management Function - Legal Issues & Strategies,” United Nations’ Chinese Mayors Seminar on Municipal Solid Waste Management & Landfill Methane Utilization, Nanjing, China, March 1999.
  • “Environmental Liability,” article presented at the International Conference on Civil Liability, Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil, October 1995.
  • Consultancy with the Government of Romania, Sinaia, Romania, September 1994.
  • Lectures on Environmental Crimes/Defenses and Strategies, New York City, 1992.
  • “Environmental Issues in the Development Process,” United Nations Meeting on Energy and Environment in the Development Process, Beijing, China, June 1991.
  • Clean Air Act Amendments, Tokyo & Osaka, Japan, May 1991.
  • Hazardous Substance Control, Tokyo & Osaka, Japan, November 1991.
  • Environmental Law Consultation to governments of Czechoslovakia & Poland, October 1990.
  • Environmental Law/Hazardous Waste, Tokyo, Japan, May 1990.
  • National Wetlands Enforcement Workshop (Lecture and Expert Witness Demonstration concerning wetlands designation for audience of EPA/Corps of Engineers personnel), May 1989.

Environmental Litigation

  • United States v. Atlas Tack Corporation (D. Mass, 2004).  Successful representation of CERCLA cost recovery action involving a former industrial facility.  The case settled following a mediation after trial, with the United States drastically reducing its monetary demand.
  • In Re Tutu Water Wells CERCLA Litigation (D.V.I.).  Trustee for Natural Resources v. Esso S.A. et al. (D.V.I.), (3d. Cir.).  Successful representation of petroleum company in contribution litigation against third party PRPs to recover money spent to perform Remedial Investigation, and defense of natural resource damages claim.  Recovered most of what the company had spent, and settled the NRD claim for a small fraction of the demand.
  • United States v. 110 Sand Company et al. (E.D.N.Y.).   Representation of solid waste management facility in defense of claims that emissions from landfill flare operated to control odors violate the federal Clean Air Act.  The matter was settled on favorable terms in 2012.
  • Riverkeeper, et al. v. County of Westchester, et al. (Supreme Court, Westchester County). Represented corporate aircraft fleet in litigation brought by an environmental group seeking to overturn approval of proposal to construct a new aircraft maintenance facility at a public airport, which raised water pollution, noise, and impact assessment issues.  Successfully defended the litigation and subsequently handled permitting of the $140 million facility at a different airport after the political climate in the county changed.
  • Conservation Law Foundation v. United States and Pease Development Authority (D.N.H.); CLF v. FAA (1st Cir.).  We represented Pease Development Authority in defense of a broad challenge to redevelopment of former air force base to civilian use, which raised Clean Air Act consistency issues, NEPA issues and CERCLA Section 122 issues, and in a related challenge to the FAA’s approval of an Airport Development Plan for the airport.  We prevailed on the key issues in this litigation, allowing the redevelopment to proceed.
  • United States v. CDMG Realty Co., et al. (D.N.J.).  We represent the industrial PRP group at this major superfund site in New Jersey, and in this context we (1) negotiated a consent decree with EPA; (2) conducted extensive third-party contribution litigation, settlements and judgments from which funded a significant portion of the remedial action; and (3) managed the response to financial collapse of the remedial construction contractor by successfully asserting claims against its surety.
  • State of New York v. Ametek, Inc., et al.; Ametek, Inc., et al. v. Kraft et al. (S.D.N.Y.).  We represented a multi-party PRP group, in defense and settlement of a cost recovery action brought against our clients by the State of New York, and in prosecution of contribution claims against 42 municipalities and a number of industrial defendants.  The matters have settled.
  • National Helicopter Corporation v. City of New York (S.D.N.Y.).  We engaged in successful litigation challenging the ability of the City, as the owner of heliports, to impose restrictions on markings and flight patterns of private helicopters utilizing the City’s heliports. The case involved issues of field preemption and the constitution limitations on noise restrictions imposed by an airport proprietor.
  • Trustee for Natural Resources v. Century Aluminum Company, et al. (D.V.I.).  Represented one of the major defendants in a natural resource damages litigation involving alleged groundwater and marine resource contamination, and in a parallel administrative proceeding in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involving a petition to declare the aquifer under our client’s property to be a sole source of drinking water. The matter settled in 2014.