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Dan has litigated a wide variety of cases which include numerous environmental matters, white collar defense, civil rights, and commercial matters. His litigation experience ranges from pre-trial practice in complex litigation to appellate advocacy. Dan’s extensive environmental and litigation practice has been recognized by several organizations that conduct peer evaluation of lawyers. Chambers & Partners’ survey of environmental lawyers ranks him as one of the top tier environmental lawyers in New York and notes, “No end of praise is heaped on Daniel Riesel” and, further, “Creative, forceful and dynamic, he is seen as an excellent counselor and a strong litigator who is experienced in enforcement defense, white-collar crime and civil litigation including toxic torts, as well as rulemaking challenges.” Recently, several publications have referred to him as “Dean of the environmental bar.” Similarly, Who’s Who Legal listed him as one of the most highly regarded environmental lawyers in the United States, and noted that his peers had “singled” [him] out for particular praise. Respondents commented that he is “one of the founders of environmental law.”  Since 2005, New York Magazine found that Dan was one of the metropolitan area’s “Best Lawyers.”

His litigation has results in overturning Army Corps of Engineers wetland rules, vacating EPA’s promulgation of ocean dumping rules, and a dismissal of restrictions on the broad reach of RCRA Citizen Suits. He has also defeated several multi-party toxic tort suits. Dan successfully represented a municipal client in a 100-day trial involving allegations of a regulatory taking. Since 1980, he has been an active participant in numerous CERCLA administrative and judicial actions, representing various Fortune 500 corporations. His litigation has resulted in the establishment of CERCLA defenses and the recovery of significant response costs. He recently successfully represented several industrial clients charged with environmental crimes. In addition to litigations, Dan has been active in several land use projects in the metropolitan area. He was recently the lead environmental lawyer for the largest commercial and residential development in New York City. Other matters include the successful defense of three attorneys’ suspension from practice for alleged criminal contempt, and the defense of a university’s treatment of female graduate faculty.

In addition to handling trials and motion practice involving public and private issues, Dan has engaged in a great number of administrative proceedings involving the siting of energy facilities, land use and other environmental issues.

Chambers and Partners, Senior Statesman for environmental law
U.S. News and World Report & Best Lawyers for Environmental Litigation, 2005-present
“Lawyer of the Year” in 2013, 2014 for New York Environmental Litigation
Super Lawyers, 2007-2009; 2013 to present
Who’s Who Legal, Environmental Law

New Hope Power Company

Location: South Bay, Florida | Date: 2010

The firm represented the Company and won summary judgment in the Southern District of Florida, which enjoined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from applying rules pertaining to its regulatory jurisdiction over certain former wetlands.  The Court held that the Corps, by relying only on its own internal memoranda, had failed to properly promulgate the rules through the notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures required under the Administrative Procedure Act.  The decision has wide import, as it directly affects approximately 700,000 acres within the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), and other hydrologically-managed lands nationwide for which non-agricultural uses may be proposed.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

East River Realty – First Avenue Project

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

SPR represents East River Realty Co., LLC, as lead environmental counsel associated with the redevelopment of four parcels of property located along the First Avenue on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, which were the former location of Consolidated Edison's Waterside Generating Station. East River Realty intends to construct a significant, high-rise development on the site. As counsel to the project, SPR prepared the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required for the sale of the property from Consolidated Edison, and is presently steering the proposed development through the New York City urban land use review procedure and the concomitant EIS process for the development plan. Moreover, SPR has overseen the challenging clean-up of the major former industrial site, including obtaining a Brownfield designation for the site.

“Hazardous Waste and Toxic Torts Reporter, Contributing Editor”


“Environmental Enforcement, Civil and Criminal”

For: Law Journal Press

1977, updated through 2019

“Clean Air Act”

For: Faculty ALI-CLE Course


“Environmental Law”

For: Co-Chair and Faculty, ALI/ABA Annual Course


“Environmental Litigation”

For: Planning Chair and Faculty, American Law Institute-American Bar Association (ALI/ABA) Annual Course:


“Lighting the Way, the Lighthouse Decision and Judicial Review of Agency Action”

For: Albany Law Review, Vol. 75


“Ethical Consideration for the Clean Air Act Attorney”

For: The New York Environmental Lawyer, Vol. 31


“Lecturer in Law”

For: Columbia Law School


“Defending Citizen Suits”

For: Chemical Waste Litigation Reporter, Vol. 47

August, 2004

“Scientific Proof and Examination of Experts in Environmental Litigation”

For: Chemical Waste Litigation Reporter, Vol. 21

September, 2003

“Private Party Hazardous Material Litigation”

For: Chemical Waste Litigation Reporter, Vol. 46, No. 3

August, 2003

“Litigating The Deal Gone Bad”

For: The Environmental Counselor, Business Law, Inc.


“Environmental Columnist”

For: National Law Journal


“Environmental Due Diligence”

For: Chair, New York State Bar Association seminar

March 1997

“Forecasting Significant Air Act Implementation Issues”

For: Pace Environmental Law Review


“When Does Government Regulation Go ‘Too Far’?”

For: Fordham Environmental Law Journal


“NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Administrative Law Judge Seminar”

For: Chair

1982, 1984 and 1994

“Hazardous Wastes, Superfund, and Toxic Substances”

For: Faculty, ALI/ABA Course

1986-1988, 1992, 1994

“Environmental Enforcement”

For: Faculty, Practicing Law Institute


“Advanced Environmental Due Diligence”

For: Chair, New York State Bar Association Seminar

March 1992

“Toxic Tort Litigation”

For: Faculty, Practicing Law Institute:

January 1992

“Environmental Law”

For: Faculty, NYSBA Courses


“Cardozo School of Law”

For: Adjunct Professor


“An Environmental Action Program Model”

For: Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 12

April, 1991

“Corporate Criminal Liability”

For: Faculty, Practicing Law Institute


“Implementing the Clean Air Act”

For: Faculty, NYSBA Courses:


“Current Issues in Environmental Litigation”

For: Chair, New York State Bar Association Seminars

December 1990

“Environmental Due Diligence”

For: Chair, New York State Bar Association Seminar

December 1989

“The Impact of Environmental Law on Real Estate and Commercial Transactions”

For: Faculty, NYSBA Courses


“A Practical Guide to Environmental Law,” Contributing Author

For: American Law Institute


“Discovery and Examination of Scientific Experts”

For: The Practical Lawyer, Vol. 32, No. 6

September, 1986

“Criminal Prosecution and Defense of Environmental Wrongs, 15 Environmental Law Reports, 10061”

For: Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution, Vol. 1, No. 1


“Negotiation and Mediation of Environmental Disputes”

For: Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution, Vol. 1, No. 1

Fall 1985

“Industry Guide to Environmental Compliance,” Contributing Author

For: Harrison Publications


“Trial Advocacy Course”

For: Faculty, Practicing Law Institute: NITA


CERCLA Claims and Statute of Limitation Issues: An Analysis

The remediation of decades-old hazardous waste sites has increasingly prompted defendants in CERCLA cases to assert the statute of limitations as a defense, revealing two inflection points that the CERCLA practitioner must navigate.  The first is whether a party has asserted a cost-recovery claim under CERCLA Section 107(...

Wartime Regulation Does Not Render Government an Operator Under CERCLA, Third Circuit Rules

On May 4, 2020, the Third Circuit issued a decision in PPG Industries v. United States, a case which considered whether the government’s involvement at a chromium processing plant during World War II made ...

Columbia Law School, 1961

Union College, B.A., 1958

New York State, 1961

United States District Courts

Courts of Appeal

Supreme Court of the United States

Captain, United States Air Force, Judge Advocate General’s Department, 1962-1966

Special Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York (1967-1970)

Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Division, Southern District of New York (1970-72)

Chief, Environmental Protection Unit, United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York (1972-73)

Member New York State Hudson River Study Advisory Committee (1979-1981)

Criminal Justice Panel Defense Counsel, Southern District of New York (1975-1982)

Contract Principal and Faculty, United States Environmental Protection Agency Training Program in Negotiation Skills (1980-1982)

Contract Principal and Faculty, United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Litigation Training Program (1978 to 1982)

Special Counsel, Village of Croton-on-Hudson Planning Board (1989-1992)

Member, American Bar Association

Member, New York Bar Association, Section on Environmental Law (Chair, 1999), Section on Commercial and Federal Litigation (Executive Committee)

Member, The Bar of the City of New York, Committee on Environmental Law, (Chair, 1984-87)

Regent, American College of Environmental Lawyers