Roger R. Martella Jr.


ROGER MARTELLA co-leads 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. In 2015, Roger was recognized by Who’s Who Legal as the environmental lawyer of the year globally.

Roger’s practice focuses on three primary areas. First, Roger 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, Roger handles a broad range of environmental and natural resource litigation and mediation. Third, Roger advises multinational companies on compliance with environmental laws in the United States, China, the European Union and other nations.

Roger counsels approximately 50 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.

Roger 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. Roger’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 strong honest broker relations with government officials and understanding of government approach to realize resolutions that have led to extraordinary favorable resolutions offering significant regulatory relief to industries and pennies-on-the-dollar enforcement settlements for companies.

Roger was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as EPA General Counsel. In that role, Roger served as EPA’s chief legal advisor supervising an office of 350 lawyers and staff in Washington and 10 regional offices. In particular, Roger 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.


Prior to joining EPA, Roger 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, Roger maintained an unbroken record of successfully litigating every case he brought to court.

Roger is consistently ranked among the nation’s top environmental and energy lawyers by Chambers USA and Chambers Global, The Legal 500 United States, the National Law Journal, Law360, and Who’s Who Legal. In Chambers USA, where he has been consistently ranked in Band 1 for Climate Change (Nationwide), and Band 2 for Environment (District of Columbia), Roger is praised as “a very sophisticated practitioner” and as being “very good at providing for the day-to-day environmental counseling on matters relating to the EPA.” In 2015, Who’s Who Legal named Roger Environmental Lawyer of the Year Globally and the National Law Journal lists Roger as an Environmental and Energy Trailblazer. International Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers, list Roger as one of 10 leading lawyers globally.The 2013 edition of Chambers includes Roger 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.” The Washington Post has listed Roger as one of the top 100 attorneys in Washington, D.C.

Roger 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 says, “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 Roger 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.’”

Roger 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.

Memberships & Activities

Representative examples of Roger’s recognitions and professional activities include:

  • Co-editor of American Bar Association’s 2014 book “International Environmental Law:  The Practitioner’s Guide to the Laws of the Planet.” Selected by the Federal Bar Association to author handbook for Article III judges on international environmental law.
  • Vice-Chair, International Bar Association’s Climate Change Justice and Human Rights Task Force.
  • Vice-Chair, American Bar Association’s Sustainable Development Task Force, World Justice Project, and Rio+20 United Nations Delegation. Governance chair and former Council Member, ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources.
  • Founder, China Environmental Law Initiative.
  • 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.
  • Fauquier County Citizen of the Year, Fauquier Board of Supervisors (2006). 
  • Board Member, ex officio, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2005).
News & Achievements