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

Joel 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, Joel 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, Joel 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.


  • Chemours, as environmental counsel, in connection with a range of regulatory, compliance, enforcement and litigation matters stemming from the manufacture of PFAS chemicals.
  • BP as environmental counsel in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with lead responsibility for substantial parts of the matter, including components of the United States' multi-billion dollar claims under the Clean Water Act.
  • Large manufacturing company as lead defense counsel in connection with the resolution of an EPA-state multifacility national enforcement initiative under RCRA.
  • BP in connection with a major Clean Air Act New Source Review enforcement matter involving a large oil refinery.
  • Chapter 11 Debtor as special counsel in negotiating a resolution of substantial environmental claims at multiple sites, including at a former asbestos mining facility.
  • Multiple vehicle and engine manufacturers in defense of enforcement claims by EPA and the California Air Resources Board with respect to Clean Air Act certifications.
  • 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.
  • 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 multiple Chapter 11 bankruptcies.
  • Retained as a mediator to resolve environmental claims between EPA and a Chapter 11 debtor in a case in Delaware.



Chambers USA
Environment (Washington, D.C.) (2008-2024)
Best Lawyers
Environmental Law (DC) (2010-2024)
"Lawyer of the Year" — Environmental Law (DC) (2021)
Washington, DC Super Lawyers
Environmental Law (2007-2011, 2013-2020)



  • J.D., New York University School of Law, 1977
  • M.A., Yeshiva University, 1975
  • B.A., Yeshiva University, 1975


  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Government & Military Service

  • Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, U.S. Department of Justice


  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Leadership Council, Environmental Law Institute