Renee Cipriano provides environmental strategic planning and counseling around statutory and regulatory requirements, enforcement and compliance. Her past experience as Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Governor of Illinois’ Senior Advisor on Environment and Natural Resources, Associate Director and Chief Counsel of the IEPA, and Assistant Attorney General provide her with a valuable perspective into the complexity of government policy. She has been frequently recognized as one of the country’s top lawyers in the environmental field.

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 the issue — 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 is a Fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and serves on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute.

Previous Experience

As IEPA Director, Renee led the implementation of the state’s environmental programs. Her position frequently required her to balance the need to promote economic growth and job creation, while still providing the state with effective programs aimed at protecting the environment and public health. Renee was appointed to her position as Director by two Governors and required senate consent. She had a staff of approximately 1,100 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 numerous pieces of legislation, including 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

    Recent matters handled by Renee include:

    • Assisting several ethanol production plants with responding to Section 114 Requests and defending government enforcement actions.
    • Assisting client with drafting legislation to guide state attainment designation process and crafting strategy around citizen group influence on designation decisions.
    • 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 numerous clients with navigating CAA and PSD permitting, including the strategy to address public and NGO opposition.
    • Defending two separate actions involving an 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 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.
    • Defending coal-fired power action plant federal New Source Review (NSR) enforcement action.
    • Assisting manufacturing plant with federal and state emergency environmental regulatory response and community outreach in response to catastrophic fire destroying plant.
  • 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, Fellow
        • American College of Environmental Lawyers, Fellow
        • 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
        • Environmental Law Institute, Board of Directors
        • Innsbrook Institute, Board of Directors
        • Justinian Society of Lawyers
        • Maryville Academy, President’s Circle
      • Insights

        Blog Post

        Affordable Clean Energy Rule Proposed to Replace Clean Power Plan

        Schiff Hardin Energy & Environmental Law Adviser

        News Release

        61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

        News Release

        Chambers USA 2018 Recognizes Four Practice Areas and 22 Attorneys

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that four practice areas and 22 attorneys have been recognized in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA, a leading legal industry ranking.

        News Release

        95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

        Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        40 Attorneys Named to 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Top Women Lists

        Forty Schiff Hardin attorneys have been recognized on the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        News Release

        Renee Cipriano Joined ELI Leadership Council

        Schiff Hardin Partner Renee Cipriano joined the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) Leadership Council.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 The Best Lawyers in America

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that five attorneys have been named a “Lawyer of the Year” in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.


        Environmental Policy Expectations Panel

        Wabash Valley Power 2017 Member Conference

        Indianapolis, Ind.
        Blog Post

        Charting the Federal-State Policy Blueprints of the Future

        Schiff Hardin Energy & Environmental Law Adviser

        Blog Post

        “Move Not Away from Struggle, But from Stillness”

        American College of Environmental Lawyers

        Speeches & Presentations

        Renee's recent speeches and presentations include:

        • “Environmental Policy Expectations Panel,” (co-presenter) Wabash Valley Power 2017 Member Conference, Indianapolis, Ind. (Aug. 8, 2017)
        • “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)