Renee Cipriano provides environmental strategic planning and counseling with respect to statutory and regulatory requirements, enforcement and compliance. Her past experience as Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and as the Governor of Illinois’ Senior Advisor on Environment and Natural Resources provide her with a valuable perspective into the complexity of government policy.

As co-deputy leader of Schiff Hardin’s Environmental Group, Renee is a trusted adviser with a creative approach to problem solving. She believes that there is a solution to every problem, and that a well-timed step back and a fresh look at what is causing the roadblock — as well as every available option — can be crucial. She knows from experience that often a policy change, a change in law, or a small compromise can yield cost-effective and timely results.  

Renee helps corporations and manufacturers assess legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives that affect their project development plans and business strategy. She goes above and beyond simply telling her clients what approvals or permits are needed; instead, she analyzes and determines the most effective ways to move the business objective forward, whether the plan involves reaching out to the community, the media, third-parties or legislators. Her practice includes a heavy emphasis on government relations and public law and policy, as well as third party litigation and challenges, with a thorough understanding of the legal landscape in Illinois as well as other states throughout the country.

She has extensive experience handling:

  • Federal, state and local government approvals and local siting
  • Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and air permitting
  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 permitting/401 certification
  • Federal and state government enforcement actions
  • Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) Citizen Suits and Third Party Challenges
  • Federal and State rulemaking and legislation
  • Public hearings and community outreach
  • Situational and crisis management

Renee also has overseen complex multidimensional infrastructure projects, brownfields redevelopment projects and renewable energy projects.

Previous Experience

As IEPA Director, Renee advised the governor on environmental and energy policy and legislation while overseeing a staff of approximately 1,200 and a budget exceeding $1 billion. Earlier, she served as IEPA Associate Director and Chief Counsel, Senior Advisor to Illinois Governor on Environmental and Natural Resources and as Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Control Division of the Illinois Attorney General. Highlights of Renee’s government service include:

  • Serving as Illinois Commissioner on the Great Lakes Commission.
  • Serving as Environmental Chair of the National Brownfields Association, Illinois Chapter.
  • Sitting on the Board of Directors for the Clean Energy Community Foundation.
  • Sitting on the Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure.
  • Creating the Green Illinois Initiative, a state program to promote environmental stewardship, sustainability, and planning for a healthier and greener future.
  • Launching of the Green Fleets Program, the Green Dealers Program and Illinois Clean School Bus Program, which promote the use of clean fuel technology and alternative fuels.
  • Spearheading the development and passage of the state's comprehensive Right to Know Law, which made Illinois a leader in public notification and community relations activities when the release of a contaminant is discovered.
  • Launching “Green Pays on Green Days,” a program successfully implemented through partnership efforts to promote voluntary actions to improve air quality.
  • Creating the first-ever Environmental Justice Officer position in the State of Illinois and Advisory Group to continue development of an environmental justice policy in Illinois.
  • Experience

    Highlights of Renee’s private practice include:

    • Assisting an Illinois county with the negotiation of an agreement for the construction and operation of a landfill gas-to-electric energy facility. Further assisted with securing the approval of the county board.
    • Developing and implementing a strategy for two power companies to obtain a modification to water thermal limits applicable to their power plant cooling water discharge.
    • Assisting several clients with the development of comments on the EPA’s proposed (GHG) Clean Power Plan
    • Negotiating solutions to several impasses involving Section 401 Certifications for Section 404 Corp permits.
    • Negotiating innovative and one-of-a-kind regulations with the State of Illinois to implement a multi-pollutant strategy as part of the state's mercury regulations and to develop the State’s first coal ash impoundment closure regulations.
    • Assisting a major power plant company with sensitive PSD permitting for a coal-fired power plant in Illinois.
    • Assisting a company defend against a NGO citizen suit alleging opacity violations under the CAA.
    • Providing comprehensive strategic counsel on PSD permitting and third-party outreach to a specialty steel and forgings plant regarding the relocation and expansion of its facility.
    • Assisting utility clients with the review, drafting and negotiation of legislation impacting Illinois coal-fired plants, including coal combustion waste beneficial use and air rulemaking.
    • Assisting three major natural gas distribution pipeline companies with an investigation by the U.S. EPA and Illinois Attorney General into PCB Mega Rule compliance.
    • Assisting a new biomass electric generating facility with PSD permitting, community and government outreach, and state legislation.
  • Credentials


    • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1988
    • Loyola University Chicago, B.A., Sociology, 1985

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

        Professional Memberships

        American Bar Foundation



        American College of Environmental Lawyers



        American Bar Association

        Section of Environment, Energy and Resources

        Special Committee on Section, Division and Forum Coordination


        Environmental Council of the States

        Alumni Association Member


        Illinois State Bar Association


        Justinian Society of Lawyers


        Maryville Academy

        President’s Circle

      • Insights

        News Release

        Chambers USA 2017 Recognizes 20 Schiff Hardin Attorneys and 4 Practice Areas

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 20 attorneys and four practice areas were recognized in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA, a leading legal industry ranking.

        News Release

        39 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Lists, and Two Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to Top 50 Women Lawyers

        Thirty-nine Schiff Hardin attorneys have been selected for inclusion on the 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        In The News
        News Release

        53 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017

        Three Schiff Hardin attorneys also received the prestigious Best Lawyers’ 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” award.

        Trending Legal Issue

        Turning the Lights Off on Environmental Justice?—Not this Administration

        The future commitment to environmental justice is made uncertain by challenges in implementation, the upcoming presidential election, and the uncertain future direction of EPA.

        News Release

        25 Schiff Hardin Attorneys, 7 Practice Areas Ranked by Chambers USA 2016

        Twenty-five Schiff Hardin attorneys and seven practice areas received leading rankings in the 2016 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.


        Environmental Justice

        American Coal Ash Association’s 2016 Summer Membership Meeting

        Indianapolis, Ind.
        News Release

        91 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2016 Illinois, Michigan Leading Lawyers Network

        The list is comprised of those attorneys who are most recommended as top lawyers among their peers.

        News Release

        40 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Lists

        The Super Lawyers selection methodology includes a statewide nomination process, peer review by practice area, and independent research on candidates.


        Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference

        1st Annual Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference


        Chicago, Ill.

        Other Publications

        • “States and Local Governments Lead the Way on Product Content Regulation,” (co-author) Environmental Leader (Oct. 18, 2011)
        • “Keep Chicago Beautiful, Scott’s and the Chicago Park District Put ‘Two Green Thumbs Up’ for Earth Day,” WINGs Newsletter (Spring 2011)

        Speeches & Presentations

        Renee's recent speeches and presentations include:

        • “Balancing Industry and NGO Interests in Regulatory Development,” ECOS/ACOEL Webinar Series:  Working with Nongovernmental Organizations, Webinar (Nov. 16, 2016)
        • “Environmental Justice,” American Coal Ash Association’s 2016 Summer Membership Meeting, Indianapolis, Ind. (Jun. 8, 2016)
        • “Regulatory Uncertainties: Looking at Pending and Recently Enacted EPA Rules," COAL GEN 2013 Conference, Charlotte, N.C. (Aug. 16, 2013)
        • “Coal on the Run?” (co-presenter) 19th Annual FERC Briefing, Chicago, Ill. (Jun. 13, 2013)
        • “Impact of EPA Regulations on the Electric Industry – Regional Transmission Organization Planning, Markets and Seams Issues,” (panelist) 16th Annual Midwest Energy Conference, Midwest Chapter of the Energy Bar Association (Mar. 4, 2013)
        • “What Do the 2012 Election Results Mean for Illinois Energy?” (panelist) Consumer Energy Alliance and Illinois Chamber of Commerce Energy Forum, Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 19, 2012)
        • “EPA’s Roadmap to Environmental Justice: Plan EJ 2014,” Midwest Energy Association’s Environmental Management Learning Summit, Minneapolis, Minn. (Sep. 12, 2012)
        • “Chicagoland Brownfields:  From Obstacles to Opportunities,” (panel moderator) Chicago Real Estate Women, Chicago, Ill. (Mar. 28, 2012)
        • “Legal Mayhem: Environmental Justice, RCRA and Other Difficult Dilemmas,” 18th Annual Midwest Energy Association’s Environmental Management Learning Summit, Indianapolis, Ind. (May 12, 2011)
        • “EPA's Clean Air Act Standards for Boilers and Incinerators,” Law Seminars International Teleconference (Apr. 20, 2011)
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      New gypsum law could transform Illinois farming

      Gypsum, a clean power plant byproduct that adds valuable nutrients to the soil, is no longer classified as sludge in Illinois. Three Schiff Hardin Environmental attorneys shepherded the bill through the Illinois General Assembly, and the governor signed the bill into law on July 10, 2015. Read More