In nearly three decades of practicing environmental law, Thad has represented clients in numerous private party environmental litigation matters and governmental enforcement actions. He also advises clients regarding compliance with federal, state, and local environmental laws. Thad has represented corporate clients in a variety of sectors, including the mining, forest products, paper, steel, manufacturing, electronics, pharmaceutical, real estate development, and ethanol industries, as well as governmental units and other public entities.
Thad is a former Trial Attorney with the Environment Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he was lead counsel in numerous civil actions brought by the government to enforce federal environmental statutes. He was a Legislative Assistant for energy and environmental issues to Representative Thomas S. Foley, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and helped draft the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986. Thad is the author of numerous articles addressing environmental law and litigation, and has lectured on such issues at nearly 50 seminars. He has also made frequent appearances before committees of the Minnesota Legislature to offer testimony on environmental regulation and litigation issues, and has been an adjunct professor of environmental law at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul for over a decade.
Education & Admissions
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., 1988), magna cum laude; Order of the Coif
Gonzaga University (B.A., History and Political Science, 1982), summa cum laude
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Districts of Minnesota, Colorado, and the District of Columbia
- Successfully litigated and negotiated a settlement providing enhanced mitigation to protect university property, including critical biomedical and engineering research, from the adverse effects associated with construction and operation of a light rail transit line through the university’s Twin Cities campus. University of Minnesota v. Metropolitan Council (Hennepin County District Court).
- Obtained district court and appellate court judgments upholding the adequacy of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the construction of a client’s steel manufacturing facility in northern Minnesota. A citizens group challenged the EIS on the grounds that it failed to include an adequate discussion of a proposed project’s impacts on climate change and of the climate change impacts on the proposed project. Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy v. Holsten, 2009 WL 2998037 (Minn. Ct. App. Sept. 22, 2009).
- Successfully litigated and negotiated a favorable settlement to resolve municipal and individual plaintiff claims for noise mitigation against the operator of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. City of Minneapolis, et al. v. Metropolitan Airports Commission (Hennepin County District Court); Wiencke, et al. v. Metropolitan Airports Commission, (Hennepin County District Court).
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
Events & Speaking Engagements
- Presentations on environmental regulation and litigation issues at nearly 50 continuing legal education seminars. Recent presentations include: Speaker, “The Impact of the New Administration: Answers to Your Clients’ Questions,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, MN (February 2, 2017). Speaker, “Answering Client Questions About the Impact of the New Administration,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, MN (November 28, 2016). Speaker, “Computer & Technology Law Institute,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, MN (November 10, 2016). Speaker, “Environmental Law Update,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, MN (September 19, 2016). Program Chair and Speaker, “Twelfth Annual Minnesota Environmental Institute,” MSBA and Minnesota CLE (April 2016); Speaker, “New Law-Environmental Law Update,” Minnesota CLE (September 2015); Speaker, Pacific Northwest Chapter Meeting of the National Society for Accountants for Cooperatives (May 2015); Program Chair and Speaker, “Eleventh Annual Minnesota Environmental Institute,” MSBA and Minnesota CLE (April 2015); Speaker, “2015 Minnesota Conference on Land Use and Eminent Domain,” Minnesota CLE (Feb. 2015); Speaker, “Environmental Law Update,” Minnesota CLE (May 2014); Program Chair and Speaker, “Tenth Annual Minnesota Environmental Institute,” MSBA and Minnesota CLE (April 2014); Speaker, "Environmental Law Update," Minnesota CLE (June 2013); Program Chair and Speaker, "Ninth Annual Minnesota Environmental Institute," MSBA and Minnesota CLE (April 2013); Speaker, “Environmental Law Update,” Minnesota CLE (June 2012); Program Chair and Speaker, “Eighth Annual Minnesota Environmental Institute,” MSBA and Minnesota CLE (April 2012); Speaker, “Role of Experts in Environmental Litigation,” MSBA (March 2012); Speaker, “New Law: Environmental Review and Environmental Permitting,” Minnesota CLE (Sept. 2011).
- Frequent appearances before committees of the Minnesota State Legislature to offer testimony on environmental regulation and litigation issues.
Industries & Practices
- Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
- Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
- Mining & Natural Resources
- Project Development & Finance
- Public-Private Partnerships
- Real Estate & Land Use
Professional & Civic
- Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (2004 - present)
- Chair of the Board of Directors, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (2013 - 2016)
- Board of Directors, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (2011 - present)
- Board of Directors, Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) (2010 - 2016)
- Chair, MSBA Legislative Committee (2010 - 2013)
- Executive Committee, Hennepin County Bar Association (2014 - present)
- Board of Directors, Hennepin County Bar Association (2013 - present)
- Board of Directors, Hennepin County Bar Foundation (2014 - present)
- Governing Council, MSBA Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section (2002 - present)
- Vice-Chair, American Bar Association (ABA) Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law (SEER) Government and Private Sector Innovation Committee (2012 - 2013)
- Chair, MSBA Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section (2006 - 2007)
- Chair, ABA SEER Committee on Science and Technology (2007 - 2009)
- President-Elect of the Hennepin County Bar Association, 2016
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America©, 2007-2017
- Named Best Lawyers in America© Minneapolis Environmental Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2013
- Listed as a Minnesota Super Lawyer, 2010-2016
- MSBA North Star Lawyer, 2012-2015
- Minnesota State Bar Association President’s Award for Outstanding Service, 2011
- Volunteer Lawyers Network Award for Pro Bono Service, 1997
- Policy Fellow, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 1994-95
- United States Attorney General's Special Achievement Award, 1992