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Joel F. Visser


JOEL VISSER is an associate in the Environmental practice in the Washington, D.C. office. His practice focuses on preparing clients for compliance with cutting-edge environmental, energy and climate change laws before regulatory agencies and in civil litigation and enforcement matters. Since joining Sidley, Mr. Visser has been actively involved in rulemaking proceedings and litigation regarding every significant EPA action on climate change over the past four years, representing a wide range of trade associations and multinational corporations across virtually all industrial sectors. Mr. Visser has also been involved in a variety of other matters under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, CERCLA (Superfund), and related state laws.

Mr. Visser has authored or co-authored numerous briefs, motions, and other pleadings in federal district and appellate courts. He has also served as a primary author for comments on a number of complex environmental rulemakings by EPA and other state and federal agencies that have lead to significant changes in final rules. Representative engagements include:

  • New Source Performance Standards. Represents a broad coalition of energy, manufacturing, and industrial trade associations in developing core comments on EPA’s current proposals to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.
  • GHG Tailoring Rule Litigation. Represents a coalition of trade associations in litigation before the Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit over EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program.
  • Biomass Energy. Represents forestry-based trade associations in regulatory advocacy and litigation related to EPA’s treatment of biomass energy in greenhouse gas rulemakings. Mr. Visser has orchestrated the strategy following EPA’s decision to suspend its plans to regulate biomass energy, drafted legal and technical comments on biomass-related issues before EPA and EPA’s Science Advisory Board and currently represents clients in pending litigation over several greenhouse gas regulations.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reporting. Provides regulatory compliance advice to clients regarding greenhouse gas emissions reporting under EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, including reporting requirements for imports and exports of materials containing GHGs.
  • Clean Water Act. Successfully defended a forestry investment firm in a citizen suit alleging that pollutants from a former mining site on its property were being discharged without a permit. A federal district court dismissed the complaint on standing grounds.
  • National Environmental Policy Act. Successfully represented a coalition of oil and gas trade associations who intervened in support of several government entities in a NEPA challenge to proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations. A federal district court dismissed the complaints due to a lack of final agency action.
  • CERCLA. Represents clients in negotiations with government agencies and other potentially responsible parties at contaminated sites in a number of locations including sites in Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Negotiations involve issues related to CERCLA liability and allocation of response costs between potentially liable parties.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Visser served as a law clerk to the Honorable Avern Cohn of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Visser earned his law degree, magna cum laude, at the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an executive editor for the Michigan Law Review and a contributing editor for the Journal of Law Reform. While there, he also earned an M.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Mr. Visser received his M.A. in Religion from the Yale University Divinity School and his B.S., with honors, in Chemistry from Calvin College.

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