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Steven C. Russo co-chairs the Environmental Practice and chairs the firm’s New York Environmental Practice. He focuses his practice on environmental law and litigation, environmental permitting, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review, toxic tort litigation, environmental crimes, Brownfields redevelopment, government, energy and the environmental aspects of land use and real estate law. Steven is equally experienced litigating in federal and state courts, as well as counseling his clients with regard to environmental liability risk and due diligence, permitting, Brownfields, and impact assessment and review. He also practices election and campaign finance law.

Prior to joining the firm, Steven was the Chief Legal Officer of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. There, he supervised approximately 90 attorneys in Albany, as well as the agency’s nine regional offices. He also supervised the agency’s legislative affairs department and Office of Environmental Justice. At the agency, Steven initiated a reform of the state’s environmental review regulations and assessment forms, completed the issuance of new power plant siting regulations pertaining to environmental justice and carbon emissions and revised the agency’s environmental audit policy.

Concentrations

  • Land development

Capabilities

Experience

  • Representation of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) with regard to environmental review and permitting for a number of major infrastructure improvement projects, including the Long Island Railroad Mainline Expansion Project and the Penn Station Station Expansion Project.
  • Representation of Empire State Development, a New York State economic development agency, with regard to the state environmental impact review for the UBS Arena, the home of the New York Islanders at Belmont Park and successful defense of the challenge to the SEQRA review brought by a neighboring municipality.
  • Representation of the operator of elder care facilities with regard to the environmental review and related litigation pertaining to the construction of a proposed new nursing care facility on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.
  • Led a legal team in analyzing the need for supplemental analysis of environmental impacts and justification for use of public funds in connection with the JFK AirTran Project proposed by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.°
  • Representation of a number of warehouse developers in connection with the SEQRA review and associated permitting for a warehouse projects in Staten Island, New York.
  • Representation of a coalition in Article 78 proceeding challenging the closure of East Hampton Airport on the grounds of improper SEQRA review.
  • Representation of the Long Island Power Authority with regard to the environmental review and related litigation over the construction of a transmission line between Southampton and Bridgehampton substations, as well as counseling on cooling water intake issues.°
  • Representation of numerous public and private clients in environmental impact review and related litigation including the defense for proposed big-box development in Port Chester, New York; challenges to the approvals of the Southtown and Octagon Park developments on Roosevelt Island and the Hudson River Park in Manhattan; and the prosecution of Town Board’s attempt to block a proposed travel center in Newburgh, New York.°
  • Represents a major renewable energy developer with regard to the siting and related permitting for a number of wind and solar energy projects in New York State.
  • Represents the joint venture for the Clean Path NY project with regard to the permitting required for a major clean energy transmission project in New York State.
  • Represents joint venture with regard to the environmental review and permitting required for a proposed offshore wind project with a lease off the coast of New York and New Jersey.
  • Representation of the developer of a solar farm on Long Island with regard to permitting and environmental impact issues, including endangered species issues.
  • Representation of applicant seeking renewal of New York State Title V permit, including prosecution of court challenge to permit denial based on inconsistency with New York State climate act.
  • Representation of the Long Island Power Authority with regard to the environmental review and related litigation over the construction of a transmission line between Southampton and Bridgehampton substations, as well as counseling on cooling water intake issues.°
  • Representation of utility and public energy authority in connection with litigation over the toxicity of utility poles installed as part of transmission project.
  • Representation of the owner of a Brooklyn waterfront property in connection with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wetlands enforcement action.
  • Lead counsel in the successful defense of a New Jersey power plant owner with regard to the cooling water intake provisions of its NJPDES discharge permit.
  • Representation of companies and developers in connection with federal, state, and local permit applications for numerous waterfront development projects, including a proposed cement distribution facility in the Bronx.
  • Negotiated numerous voluntary and Brownfield Cleanup Agreements with NYSDEC in connection with Brownfield redevelopment projects, including a proposed development in Flushing Queens, affordable housing developments in the Bronx, and various sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • Represent major defense contractor in negotiations with New York State Executive Chamber and NYSDEC with regard to judicial consent decree governing cleanup of significant groundwater contamination on Long Island.
  • Obtained New York City authorizations to proceed in connection with “e-designations” and NYSDEC spill closures in connection with Brownfield redevelopment projects.
  • Represent the Long Island Railroad with regard to pending cost recovery dispute involving remediation of the Newtown Creek Superfund site.
  • Representation of a Fortune 100 company in defense of a CERCLA cost recovery action brought by the State of New York.

  • Assisted in numerous due diligence reviews including, most recently, representing a major investment fund in the acquisition of a contaminated property in New Jersey and a warehouse developer in Staten Island.
  • Represented a multinational mass media corporation in the acquisition of a television-station company.°

  • Representation of transit agency with regard to dispute over major government infrastructure contract.
  • Representation of a major utility in defense of a toxic tort and diminution in property value lawsuit pending in New York State Supreme Court.
  • Representation of a major public utility in connection with the prosecution of a cost recovery matter against an owner of adjacent industrial property and related work before the NYSDEC.
  • Defended a number of actions alleging diminution of property value and fear of future injury due to groundwater contamination, including action involving the Greenpoint petroleum spill and contamination of the water supply of the Village of Liberty in New York State.°
  • Defended and settled the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act citizen’s suit challenging operation of outdoor trap range and related environmental conditions.°
  • Acted as lead counsel in the preliminary injunction hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging a clean-up remedy determined pursuant to a Voluntary Cleanup Agreement between ground lessee and the NYSDEC.°
  • Representation of a large municipality in a federal state criminal investigation under the Clean Water Act.°
  • Representation of a major company in a federal criminal investigation for knowing violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.°

  • Defended the Women’s Equality Party in statewide litigation matters challenging its ability to organize as a political party in New York State.
  • Defended litigation brought against county political committees with regard to party nominations.
  • Counseled numerous campaigns and political parties with regard to petitioning, ballot access, and New York State campaign finance law.

°The above representations were handled by Mr. Russo prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

  • Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 2011-2013
  • Deputy Assistant Chief, Environmental Law Division, New York City Corporation Counsel, 1992-1995

Recognition & Leadership

  • Selected, City & State, "Energy & Environment Power 100," 2022
  • Team Member, City & State, "Top 50 NYC Lobbyists," 2021  
  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, Litigation - Environmental , 2015-2022
  • Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2018-2022
    • “Recognized Practitioner,” 2017
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States
    • Environment: Litigation, 2021-2022
      • "Other Key Lawyer," 2022
    • Environment: Regulatory, 2021-2022
      • "Recommended Lawyer," 2022
      • "Other Key Lawyer," 2022
    • Dispute Resolution - Product Liability, Mass Tort, and Class Action - Defense: Toxic Tort, 2020
    • Litigation - Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense - Toxic Tort, 2014 and 2018-2019
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2009-2010 and 2014-2021
  • Team Member, Best Lawyers in America® "Top Listed – Government Relations," 2018 
  • Team Member, U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, Best Law Firms Edition, "Law Firm of the Year," Environmental Law, 2016
  • Team Member, a U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Government Relations Law Firm of the Year," 2014
  • Team Member, The Legal 500 United States, "Top Tier" Firm in Real Estate, 2013
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5.0

°AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Chair, New York League of Conservation Voters, State Board, 2018-Present
  • Executive Committee Member, Environmental Law Section, New York State Bar Association, 2011-Present
  • Board Member, New York City Environmental Control Board, 2003-2011
  • Chair, Business Law Section, Environmental Litigation Committee, American Bar Association, 2003-2007
  • Member, Election Law Committee, New York City Bar Association, 2004-2006
  • Member, Environmental Law Committee, New York City Bar Association, 1997-2000
  • Member, State Legislation Committee, New York City Bar Association, 1990-1991

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., Columbia Law School, 1989
    • Chief Articles Editor, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law
  • B.A., summa cum laude, State University of New York at Albany, 1985
Admissions
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York