PEOPLE

Thaddeus R. Lightfoot

Partner
lightfoot.thad@dorsey.com

Overview

THAD HELPS CLIENTS ANTICIPATE, NAVIGATE, AND RESPOND TO THE COMPLEXITIES OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND NATURAL RESOURCE REGULATION.

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

Admissions

  • Minnesota
  • 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

Experience

Representative Litigation

  • 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

Articles

EPA and Corps Final Clean Water Rule’s Potential Impacts on Farming
FCC Sets Comment Deadlines for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Environmental and Historic Review Processes for Small Cell and Distributed Antenna Systems
“Climate Change and Environmental Review: Addressing the Impact of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act,” 36 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 1068 (2010)
Aviall Services v. Cooper Industries: Requiem for the CERCLA Volunteer’s Contribution Rights?,” The Hennepin Lawyer (April/May 2005).
“Reversal of Fortune: The Ninth Circuit and Passive Migration as CERCLA Disposal,” Science & Technology Committee Newsletter, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Dec. 2002).
“Sand Through the Hourglass: PSD Enforcement and the Statute of Limitations,” 32 Envtl. L. Rep. 11342 (Nov. 2002).
“Seeing the Forest and the Trees: The Minnesota Timber Harvesting GEIS Applied in Potlatch and Boise Cascade,” 29 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 437 (2002).

News & Press Mentions

Super Lawyers Recognizes 37 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Super Lawyers Recognizes 37 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Dorsey Partner Thad Lightfoot Comments on Judicial Review of Administrative Actions
Partner Thad Lightfoot comments in Law360 on EPA and Gold King Mine spill
Dorsey Partner Thaddeus Lightfoot Comments on EPA Power Plant Rule Delay
Dorsey Partner Thad Lightfoot Discusses Shift in EPA Mine Cleanup Effort after Gold King Spill
45 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis and Fargo Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016 and Best Lawyers of the Year
45 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis and Fargo Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016 and Best Lawyers of the Year
Dorsey Partner Thad Lightfoot Comments on Colorado Mine Spill
Dorsey Partner Thad Lightfoot Comments on EPA's Changes to Clean Power Plan
Dorsey Partner Thad Lightfoot Discusses the Minnesota Supreme Court's Decision for Reichmann Land & Cattle, LLP
Super Lawyers Recognizes 39 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Super Lawyers Recognizes 39 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Dorsey Partners Hall and Lightfoot Discuss Supreme Court MATS Ruling
Partner Thad Lightfoot comments on U.S. Supreme Court’s Michigan v. EPA decision in NLJ
The Farm CPA Features Dorsey's EPA and Corps Final Clean Water Rules Potential Impacts on Farming Article
Dorsey’s Cleantech Group Leaves Their Footprint from the West Coast to the Midwest and Back!
Dorsey’s Cleantech Group Leaves Their Footprint from the West Coast to the Midwest and Back!
Dorsey Partner Thaddeus Lightfoot Discusses Upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court Environmental Case
Dorsey Partner Thaddeus Lightfoot Discusses Upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court Environmental Case

Insights

Webinar Playback: First Annual Federal Enforcement Forum
“OMB’s Final Peer Review Bulletin: An Overview,” Science & Technology Committee Newsletter, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Oct. 2005).

Select Presentations

  • Presentations on environmental regulation and litigation issues at nearly 50 continuing legal education seminars. Recent presentations include: 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

Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
  • Appellate
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Food & Agribusiness
  • Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
  • Legislative
  • Mining & Natural Resources
  • Project Development & Finance
  • Public-Private Project Development
  • Real Estate & Land Use

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (2004 - 2016)
  • 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)

Accolades

  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America©, 2007-2016
  • 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