Roger R. Martella, Jr.


ROGER MARTELLA is a partner in the Environmental practice group at Sidley Austin LLP. He rejoined Sidley Austin LLP after serving as the General Counsel of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, concluding 10 years of litigating and handling complex environmental and natural resource matters at the Department of Justice and EPA.

Mr. Martella’s practice focuses on three primary areas. First, Mr. Martella advises companies on developing strategic approaches to achieve their goals in light of rapidly developing demands to address climate change, promote sustainability, and utilize clean energy. Second, Mr. Martella handles a broad range of environmental and natural resource litigation and mediation. Third, Mr. Martella advises multinational companies on compliance with environmental laws in the United States, China, the European Union, and other nations.

Mr. Martella counsels approximately 40 of the world’s leading conventional and renewable energy, industrial, transportation, agricultural, forestry, and technology companies on bet-the-company environmental issues, regulatory matters, and litigation including transitioning to an era of legal controls addressing greenhouse gas emissions, increasingly stringent pollutant controls, alternative and clean energy, hydraulic fracturing, and sustainability both in the United States and abroad. Mr. Martella has counseled companies on the successful acquisition of more than $6 billion in stimulus funding to support advanced technology vehicles, smart grid projects, and other alternative energy projects.

Mr. Martella employs a strategic, forward-looking approach to solving emerging law and policy issues across the world that have the potential to create both opportunities and risks for domestic and multinational energy and manufacturing companies and industries. Mr. Martella’s approach is to build a collaborative and coalition-building framework that seeks the strongest possible results through up front coordination with government, industry, and NGO stakeholders, leveraging his strong honest broker relations with government officials and understanding of government approach to realize resolutions that have led to extraordinary favorable settlements offering significant regulatory relief to industries and pennies-on-the-dollar enforcement settlements for companies.

Mr. Martella was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as EPA General Counsel. In that role, Mr. Martella served as EPA’s chief legal advisor supervising an office of 350 attorneys and staff in Washington and 10 regional offices. At EPA, Mr. Martella served as Agency counsel on six Supreme Court decisions, including Massachusetts v. EPA (climate change); Defenders of Wildlife v. EPA (finding no Endangered Species Act duty to consult when approving state water program); EPA v. Rapanos and Maine v. S.D. Warren (landmark decisions addressing federal jurisdiction over waters of the United States); Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy (addressing Clean Air Act enforcement against powerplants); and U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp. (the Court’s most recent decision regarding CERCLA).

In particular, Mr. Martella led the team responsible for developing for the first time under the Clean Air Act the federal government’s climate change legal framework and options in response to the landmark Supreme Court decision Massachusetts v. EPA, which held greenhouse gases to be air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. His efforts included developing a full range of legal options for decision makers related to greenhouse gas regulation, alternative and renewable fuels, the development of regulatory carbon sequestration controls, and the intersection of climate change and natural resource issues including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Recognized for his knowledge on legal approaches to addressing climate change, Mr. Martella focuses specifically on dissecting the extraordinarily complex and interrelated ramifications of climate change on numerous provisions of the Clean Air Act relating to mobile and stationary sources, as well as other laws, such as the ESA and NEPA. Mr. Martella’s experience in this area enables him to work to forecast for clients the likelihood of upcoming regulations and controls in the area of climate change, clean energy, and sustainability, and to develop strategic approaches to be best prepared for such controls. Mr. Martella also focuses on international climate issues, working with Chinese institutes on climate and clean energy issues and advocating for conformity between United States climate rules with the European Union. Since the April 2007 Massachusetts decision, Mr. Martella has been invited to address climate change regulation more than twenty-five times in the United States and abroad.

In addition to climate change responsibilities, Mr. Martella focuses on the challenges in adapting existing and frequently outdated environmental law tools toward new and complex environmental challenges of national and international sustainability, including the increasing demands on industry to promote environmentally sustainable development protecting air, water, land, and human health.

Recognizing deficiencies in the China environmental law framework and the challenges for multinational organizations in understanding the laws on the books, Mr. Martella created the China Environmental Law Initiative in 2007. As part of the initiative, Mr. Martella created the only known website devoted to China environmental laws and organized with the State Environmental Protection Agency (now the Ministry of Environmental Protection) two separate symposia in China. Mr. Martella has served as a visiting professor at the Environmental Law Institute of Wuhan University and the State Environmental Protection Agency, and at Tsinghua University, working with academics, officials and students on developing environmental law frameworks for China. Mr. Martella has testified as an expert on this issue before the United States Congress, worked with numerous government officials at the national and provincial level in China, and has lectured with academics and students at leading universities and think tanks in both nations.

Prior to joining EPA, Mr. Martella most recently served as the Principal Counsel for Complex Litigation at the Justice Department’s Natural Resources Section, where he focused on defending federal decisions relating to public lands, national forests, minerals, federal and tribal water rights and allocations, endangered species, NEPA, and Native American property and reservations. During nearly eight years at the Department of Justice, Mr. Martella maintained an unbroken record of successfully litigating every case he brought to court. His first chair trial responsibility included a 12 week jury trial that returned a $36.9 million verdict, a seven week bench trial that resulted in a $247.9 million judgment, an unbroken record of successfully defending against numerous emergency injunctions brought against timber and mining projects, and successfully defending the Secretary of Interior from a contempt motion at trial. Mr. Martella’s responsibilities in the Natural Resources and the Indian Resources Sections related to federal land use decisions and policy; defense of federal statutes, regulations, and agency action under the APA, ESA, NEPA, and other statutes; competing assertions of jurisdiction and land use control among various government entities; federal programs relating to natural, cultural, wildlife, and marine resources; pollution control issues under Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, RCRA, TSCA, FIFRA, and EPCRA; and issues related to water, hunting, fishing, and treaty rights. Mr. Martella received among the highest honors at the Department of Justice including the John Marshall Award and the Assistant Attorney General’s Excellence Award.

The 2013 edition of Chambers includes Mr. Martella in its top-tier of Washington, D.C.’s environmental lawyers, noting that “He is one of the next generation. He has a body of government experience and good insight, and is regarded as a credible person to represent industry people.”

Mr. Martella is also recognized by the 2013 edition of Chambers Global for his International Climate Change work, he is ranked in the top-tier. The publication describes Mr. Martella as “ ‘A lightning rod for clients,’ Roger Martella receives unanimous praise from sources. [ ] Described as ‘superbly creative, capable and insightful,’ he has been heavily involved in representing the interests of clients in a litigious context.”

At the National Climate Change level Mr. Martella is also identified as a top-tier lawyer, he is described in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA as “The ‘wonderful’ Roger Martella is described as ‘a really top-notch lawyer,’ who is ‘always trying to think of creative solutions.’”

Mr. Martella graduated from Vanderbilt Law School, where he was Editor in Chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review, and Cornell University, where he studied environmental science. Following law school, he clerked for the Hon. David M. Ebel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mr. Martella, elected at large to the Warrenton, VA, Town Council, devotes significant effort to public service in his community and was recognized in 2006 as Citizen of the Year by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors for his public service and volunteerism efforts.

Representative examples of Mr. Martella’s recognitions and professional activities include:

  • Ranked in Chambers U.S. and Global for Climate Change (Band 1 for U.S.) and Environment.
  • Law360: Environmental MVP 2012.
  • Law360: Rising Star (Environment).
  • International Who’s Who of Environment Lawyers (listed as one of 10 leading lawyers globally).
  • International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers.
  • Practical Law Company: Environment (leading lawyer).
  • Superlawyer: Environment.
  • Legal 500: Environment.
  • Washington Business Journal: Named one of D.C’s top four environmental lawyers.
  • Editor of upcoming American Bar Association book surveying global environmental law issues in more than 25 countries. Selected by the Federal Bar Association to author handbook for Article III judges on international environmental law.
  • One of two private practitioners serving as advisor to the Rule of Law Initiative on international implementation of environmental laws.
  • Chair, American Bar Association, Annual Spring Meeting (responsible for managing and leading the environment section’s most important annual meeting).
  • Chair, American Bar Association, International Environmental Law Committee.
  • Vice Chair, American Bar Association, Air Quality Committee.
  • Vice Chair, International Bar Association, Environment Committee.
  • Council of Partners, Environmental Law Institute.
  • Board Member, Chesapeake Legal Alliance.
  • Expert, Energy and Environment Blog, National Journal.
  • Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Preparation of Legislation (2003).
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Excellence (2005).
  • Federal Bar Association’s Younger Lawyer Award (2003).
  • Received Justice Department Special Achievement Award for each year of service.
  • Councilman At-Large, Town of Warrenton, VA (2006—present).
  • Fauquier County Citizen of the Year, Fauquier Board of Supervisors (2006).
  • Volunteer of the Year, Bluemont, The Cultural Spirt of Our Communities (2006, 2007).
  • Board Member, ex officio, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2005).
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