Joel Gross represents and advises clients in litigation and non-litigation matters under federal and state environmental laws, with a special emphasis on compliance and enforcement issues including:

  • compliance strategies to minimize the risk of enforcement actions;
  • ongoing civil and or criminal enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and;
  • innovative approaches to resolving remediation and natural resource damages liabilities arising from contaminated sites.

Mr. Gross also has a special interest in the interaction of environmental and bankruptcy laws and has represented both debtors and creditors in connection with environmental disputes in bankruptcy proceedings around the country.

Before joining the firm, Mr. Gross worked for 17 years in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the DOJ, where he was heavily involved in some of the most significant environmental litigation of the 1980s and 1990s. As Chief of the Section for five years, Mr. Gross was intimately involved in setting and implementing the federal government’s environmental enforcement policies and priorities. His responsibilities included the entire range of federal environmental enforcement litigation, including cases under Superfund, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.


  • Large manufacturing company as lead defense counsel in connection with an EPA-state multifacility national enforcement initiative under RCRA.
  • Chapter 11 Debtor in the negotiation with State regulators of an innovative resolution of claims with respect to long-term care and responsibility for a hazardous waste landfill under which the landfill was transferred to a trust funded to address long-term care of the facility.
  • Food processing company in the successful resolution of federal Clean Water Act enforcement litigation.
  • Pipeline operator in the successful resolution of claims arising from an ammonia release that resulted in a fish kill.
  • Corporation with multiple facilities that is the subject of a national multimedia EPA enforcement initiative.

  • Corporate target of a grand jury investigation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The investigation was closed without any charges being brought.
  • Former refinery operator in an action by the federal government to recover the costs of remediation of a former military facility allegedly contaminated by releases from the refinery.
  • Creditors with substantial environmental claims in the Chapter 11 bankruptcies of Kaiser Aluminum, ASARCO and Delphi.
  • Retained as a mediator to resolve environmental claims between EPA and a Chapter 11 debtor in a case in Delaware.
  • Wrote and submitted amicus briefs in the last two CERCLA cases before the Supreme Court; in the first (in Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services) on behalf of a number of industrial corporations and an environmental group, and in the second (United States v. Atlantic Research) on behalf of nine former senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency.


The Supreme Court's Decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund: Where is the Clean Water Act Coming "From"?
Environmental Financial Assurance After COVID-19
Coronavirus: Environmental Advisory
What Cos. Must Know About EPA's COVID-19 Policy
Compliance Law360, Energy Law360, Environmental Law360, Native American Law360, New York Law360, Public Policy Law360, White Collar Law360
EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Issues Temporary COVID-19 Guidance
Coronavirus: Environmental Advisory
EPA Signals More Enforcement Cases for Aftermarket Parts Manufacturers


Washington, DC Super Lawyers
Environmental Law (2007-2011, 2013-2020)
Chambers USA
Environment (DC) (2008-2020)
Best Lawyers
Environmental Law (2010-2020)


  • JD, New York University School of Law, 1977
  • MA, Yeshiva University, 1975
  • BA, Yeshiva University, 1975
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Supreme Court of the United States
Government & Military Service
  • Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, US Department of Justice

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