Steve concentrates his practice in the field of energy, environmental, and natural resources law. Steve serves as lead counsel for a major Midwestern electric utility and also represents natural gas pipeline and distribution companies. His work includes complex environmental cleanup, enforcement, and citizen suit litigation. Steve has litigated rate cases at the commission, trial, and appellate court levels. In addition to his litigation practice, Steve has handled numerous complex construction and development projects including power plant construction, renewable energy facilities, and purchased power contracts.

Honors & Awards

  • Rated AV® Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Noted in The Best Lawyers in America© in Environmental Law and Litigation – Environmental (peer nominations) since 1995
  • Named the Best Lawyers® 2014 Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Omaha
  • Selected to the 2007-2010, 2013-2021 Great Plains Super Lawyers® list (Energy & Natural Resources, Environmental Litigation, and Construction Litigation: Business)

Professional Organizations

  • American Bar Association, 1983
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, 1982
  • Nebraska State Bar Association, 1983
  • American Bar Association – Section on Energy, Environment and Resources
  • Nebraska State Bar Association – Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section, Past Chair
  • Omaha Bar Association, 1983 – Past President (2004-2005), Omaha Bar Association Newsletter, Editor
  • Nebraska State Bar Foundation – Fellow
  • International Society of Barristers, Board of Governors – Fellow (2012-2018)
  • The American College of Environmental Lawyers – Fellow
  • Nebraska Disciplinary Review Board – Member (2002-2009), Chairman (2007-2008)
  • Nebraska Lawyers Trust Account Foundation – President (1994-1995)
  • Leadership Omaha – Member
  • Institute of Internal Auditors, Environmental, Health & Safety – Member
  • Air and Waste Management Association – Member

Judicial Clerkships

  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Richard E. Robinson, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, 1982-1984

Presentations & Publications

  • Associated General Contractors 2002 Fall Meeting: “Environmental Exposures in Construction Operations” (October 2002)
  • Nebraska Safety Council: Nebraska Safety, Health & Environmental Conference & Exposition, “Environmental Citizens Suits: A Defense Perspective” (April 2003)
  • FindLaw for Legal Professionals, “CERCLA Liability for Routine Construction Activities” (March 2003)

Legal Experience

  • Source Gas Distribution (now, Black Hills Energy); successful rate case actions, including defending judicial appeals.
  • City of Sidney v. Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska; arbitration and judicial appeal involving wholesale energy contract transmission rate increase.
  • Aksamit Resource Management v. Omaha Public Power District; defense of action under Nebraska Public Records Act.
  • Trimble, et al. v. Asarco, Inc. (District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska); following dismissal of federal class action, plaintiffs sought to bring a class action in state court. Class action status denied in February 2001. Appeal to Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed.
  • ALLTEL v. Omaha Public Power District. (District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska); defense of Omaha Public Power District in suit alleging $2 million overpayment of telecommunications license fees.
  • U.S. EPA v. Lozier Corporation. (EPA, Region 7); defense of Lozier Corporation in $250,000 civil penalty action alleging failure to comply with hazardous air pollutant standard.
  • U.S. EPA v. HICA Steel Foundry. (EPA, Region 4); defense of Louisiana steel foundry in civil penalty action seeking approximately $500,000 in civil penalties for alleged violation of hazardous waste management standards.
  • Nebraska Public Advocate v. SourceGas Distribution (Nebraska Supreme Court); defense of SourceGas collateral attack against $8 million rate case order. District court ruled in favor of SourceGas. Decision upheld by Supreme Court of Nebraska.
  • E3 Biofuels v. Dilling Mechanical Contractors (U.S. District Court, Nebraska); defense of contractor in connection with damages arising from ethanol plant explosion.
  • KN Energy v. Cities of Alliance, et al. (Lancaster County, Nebraska, District Court). Represented KN Energy in $100 million natural gas rate case involving disallowance of cost recovery for long-term natural gas supply contract. Trial court ruled in favor of KN Energy. Decision affirmed by the Supreme Court of Nebraska in 2003.
  • Entergy Arkansas, et al. v. State of Nebraska. (U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska); represented Omaha Public Power District (“OPPD”), owner of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, in suit alleging that the State of Nebraska violated duty of good faith by denying license for a low level radioactive waste disposal facility. OPPD and other utilities sued the State of Nebraska and joined the Central Interstate Low Level Radioactive Waste Commission, the quasi-governmental entity charged with the development of the disposal site. Following extensive discovery and a series of appeals, OPPD withdrew from the case, allowing the Commission to continue the lead role in the litigation. Trial in June-July 2002 resulted in a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and damage award of $151 million. Decision affirmed in February 2004 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
  • City of Norfolk v. Downing, et al. (Madison County, Nebraska, District Court); representation of City of Norfolk in suit seeking approximately $7 million in damages for contamination of Norfolk’s water supply from leaking underground gasoline tanks. Case settled in 2003.
  • Trimble, et al. v. Asarco, Inc. (U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska); co-counsel for the defense of class action on behalf of more than 80,000 property owners and renters in the eastern portion of the City of Omaha alleging lead contamination of property from operation of Asarco lead refinery. Potential liability for property cleanup exceeded $1 billion. Following class action-related discovery, trial court dismissed case in 1999. Decision upheld by Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000.
  • Molycorp v. Owens Illinois, et al. (U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania); defense of Continental Holdings, Inc., an affiliate of Level 3 Communications, Inc., in $10 million cost recovery action seeking damages for cleanup of coal tar contaminated property.
  • Potter v. Asarco, Inc. (U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska); defense of Asarco, Inc., in citizen’s suit under federal Clean Water Act alleging contamination of the Missouri River and adjacent groundwater from operation of lead refinery, and seeking multimillion-dollar civil penalties and injunctive relief. Suit dismissed following trial in 1999. Appeal to Eighth Circuit later withdrawn by citizen plaintiffs.

Past Employment

  • Steptoe & Johnson, Washington, D.C., 1982

Memberships & Civic Affiliations

  • Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum – Board of Directors (2015-present)
  • Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce – General Counsel, Executive Committee
  • Omaha Public Library Foundation – Board of Directors (2009-2015); President (2013)
  • Opera Omaha, Inc. – Board of Directors (2009-2016); President (2013 – 2015)
  • St. Augustine Indian Mission – Board of Advisors (2005-2011); President (2008-2009)
  • OneWorld Community Health Centers – Executive Committee (1998-2004); Advisory Committee (2008-present)
  • Duchesne Academy – Board of Trustees (1999-2005)
  • Kiwanis Club of Omaha – President (1994-1995)
  • St. Margaret Mary’s Parish Council – President (1993)

Admitted

1983

  • Nebraska
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

1982

  • District of Columbia

Education

LAW SCHOOL: Georgetown University, J.D., cum laude, 1982

COLLEGE: Creighton University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1979