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Legal Expertise

Clean Water Act


Albert Ettinger's legal experience related to clean water laws has manifested in numerous matters, such as:   


  • Establishing protective water quality standards – This has involved regulatory work and litigation on standards regarding anti-degradation, nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia, chloride, and emerging pollutants at the national and state level. I have also participated in numerous proceedings before state water quality standard-setting boards.   


  • Assuring that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and Section 404 wetland fill permits are protective, as granted by states and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – This has involved comments on permits and litigation regarding permits and permit guidelines.   

  • Enforcing the Clean Water Act by bringing into compliance with the law parties that have acted without a permit or discharged in violation of permit conditions.



Particular cases involving application of the Clean Water Act include:


  • Illinois v. 401 N. Wabash (2018 CH 10229) - Currently one of the lawyers representing plaintiff-intervenors Friends of the Chicago River and Sierra Club against Trump Tower in Chicago in a case charging violations of the CWA and creation of a public nuisance through illegal operation of a water intake structure that kills fish and other aquatic life in the Chicago River.

  • NRDC v. Metro. Water Reclamation District of Greater Chi. 175 F. Supp. 3d 1041 (N.D. Ill. 2016) - Represented Sierra Club and Prairie Rivers Network in a case regarding discharge of phosphorus pollution that caused unnatural plant and algal growth in the Chicago Area Waterways and the Illinois River.

  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance v. Johnson, 540 F.3d 466 (6th Cir. 2008) - Represented Kentucky environmental organizations in successful action to overturn U. S. EPA approval of Kentucky regulations which did not adequately protect Kentucky water bodies against new and increased pollution.


  • Illinois EPA and Village of New Lenox v. Illinois Pollution Control Board, 899 N.E. 2d 479 (Ill. App. 2008) - Represented Illinois environmental organizations in the Illinois Pollution Control Board and the Illinois Appellate Court in a successful appeal of the issuance of a NPDES permit to allow increased pollution into a tributary of the Illinois River.


  • Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. v. U.S. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 (2d Cir. 2004) - Represented environmental amicus curiae a case involving U.S. EPA rules for concentrated animal feeding operations, successfully arguing that U.S. EPA had not adequately taken into account the pollution from antibiotics administered to livestock. 


Clean Air Act


Mr. Ettinger represented a number of environmental organizations in United States v. American Electric Power, (S.D. Ohio) and United States v. Dynegy, (S.D. Illinois) regarding violations of the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. In both cases, the lawsuits produced favorable settlements.


Toxic Substances Control Act


Mr. Ettinger represented environmental and labor organizations that presented a petition to U.S. EPA to require studies regarding nonlyphenol ethoxlates (NPE), a group of chemicals known to be endocrine disruptors, and restrictions on their use. A lawsuit was subsequently brought regarding U.S. EPA’s partial denial of the petition. Action taken by U.S. EPA implementing the settlement of the lawsuit ultimately contributed to regulatory acton by U.S. EPA to phase out the use of NPE.


National Environmental Policy Act


Mr. Ettinger worked on numerous matters regarding compliance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies with the National Environmental Policy Act. In Simmons v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 120 F.3d 664, (7th Cir. 1997) - Represented Sierra Club and American Rivers in filing brief amicus curiae in support of persons seeking under the National Environmental Policy Act to overturn a permit under the Clean Water Act to build a dam that would have inundated land and killed endangered species.


Earlier Cases


Prior to 1997, Mr. Ettinger's cases included:

  • In Re Liquid CO2 Antitrust Litigation (S.D. Florida)

  • Wigod v. Chicago Merchantile Exchange, 981 F.2d 1510 (7th. Cir. 1992)

  • Fleming v. Lind-Waldock & Co., 922 F.2d 20 (1st Cir. 1990)

  • Moeller v. Illinois Department of Public Aid, 525 N.E. 2d 86 (Ill. App. 1988)

  • Wabash Valley Power Association v. Public Service of Indiana (S.D. Ind.)

  • In re Corrugated Container Antitrust Litigation (S.D. Tex.)

  • Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. Rio Algom, Inc. (N.D. Ill.)

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