A senior attorney in Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office, Saulius K. Mikalonis leads the firm's Environment, Energy and Resources Law and Cannabis Law industry groups.

Mr. Mikalonis focuses his practice on all aspects of environmental, energy and sustainability law. His experience in environmental litigation includes environmental consultant malpractice, cost recovery, toxic torts, solid and hazardous waste facilities citations and wetland issues. He also practices regularly before state and federal agencies, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Mr. Mikalonis has developed particular expertise in the cutting-edge issues of environmental, natural resources and energy law concerning greenhouse gases, renewable energy and green building. His environmental law practice also entails litigation and regulatory issues pertaining to Michigan's medical cannabis industry.

In addition, Mr. Mikalonis has extensive experience in commercial and real estate transactional issues ranging from the development of environmentally sensitive and Brownfield sites to due diligence in complex transactions, including the identification, allocation and reduction of environmental risks. He provides guidance on state and local Brownfield benefits and tax abatement. His due diligence activities include assessments for the development of solar and wind power projects.

Mr. Mikalonis has been published extensively on various environmental topics, and he frequently provides legal updates to professional and business organizations. He was the author of a long-standing blog, titled: Green Blawg, for and now blogs for Crain's Detroit Business, addressing laws, regulations, court decisions and policies pertaining to environmental issues. His Crain's posts are mirrored on Plunkett Cooney's own Essential Environment & Energy blog.

Mr. Mikalonis is a member of the State Bar of Michigan's Environmental Law Section, the District of Columbia Bar Association, the ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, and the U.S. Green Building Council-Detroit Area Chapter.

Representative Client Work

  • Defended numerous clients in federal and state environmental claims and enforcement actions involving the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Superfund (CERCLA), Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other statutes.
  • Negotiated and drafted private, third-party water services agreement on behalf of a Michigan municipality
  • Represented a Native American Tribe in a dispute before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Assisted bankruptcy and estate trustees in resolving and managing potential environmental liabilities
  • Provided legal advice to a landlord leasing space to a marijuana dispensary operation under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act
  • Shepherded Brownfield projects and obtained state and local benefits and tax abatements on a variety of projects
  • Conducted environmental due diligence (reviewed files and reported findings) for international companies purchasing companies with domestic and international locations. Oversaw environmental responses to site conditions for several years, including ensuring acquired facilities resolved environmental issues and directing local counsel and consultants in out-of-state jurisdictions
  • Provided due diligence in the purchase by large electrical utility of other electrical co-generation plants. Identified environmental risks and allocated and averted them through the sale of contaminated properties, as well as environmental insurance. Reviewed environmental site assessments and provided advice on potential liabilities
  • Worked closely on multiple Superfund sites, including sites in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Illinois and Alabama. Negotiated and coordinated responses to information requests from the Environmental Protection Agency and potentially responsible parties' steering committees
  • Managed cost recovery lawsuits whereby clients initiated negotiation/litigation to recover environmental response costs from other companies
  • Negotiated favorable settlement with recalcitrant company, as well as cost recovery related to Newburgh Lake project on behalf of Wayne County
  • Captured significant costs for manufacturer in settlement related to spill from the neighboring property owner
  • Defended cost recovery actions for several parties, including claims by subsequent owner of client facility in Pennsylvania
  • Litigated two toxic mold matters on behalf of home builder and apartment owner, which resulted in a finding of no liability and an extremely favorable settlement, respectively
  • Contributed to binding arbitration for claims concerning improper building and damages for alleged health effects on tenants
  • Provided legal advice on regulatory compliance concerning air, water, solid/hazardous waste, underground and above ground storage tanks, and wetland issues
  • Led compliance audit for manufacturing company, including intensive review of processes and waste handling to identify potential state and federal environmental violations. Reviewed environmental consultant report and identified instances of noncompliance. Worked closely with environmental consultants to achieve compliance with Michigan state self-audit laws.
  • Collaborated with communities and private companies to leverage state/local programs designed to rehabilitate former brownfield sites, including construction of a new Ann Arbor YMCA building. Negotiated brownfield redevelopment agreement with a municipality on behalf of the client
  • Worked closely with transactional attorneys on real estate transactions by providing due diligence for environmental and renewable energy projects. Identified previously unknown underground storage tank, registered tank with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and removed Underground Storage Tank to expedite transaction
  • Obtained multimillion-dollar settlement for dairy farmers from a major utility company to compensate for stray voltage
  • Represented municipalities on a variety of legal issues, including an initiative to site a municipal landfill, hazardous waste landfills, brownfield redevelopment and cost recovery
  • Won $250,000 settlement from owner of an office building for a mold claim
  • Represented a business attempting to develop multi-use real estate project requiring wetland permit
  • Negotiated settlements to contribution suits against more than 300 customers of a landfill
  • Established falsehood of groundwater monitoring test results providing impetus to close landfill
  • Provided legal advice on underlying environmental liabilities in insurance coverage disputes for nation's largest program of environmental liability insurance. Managed complex multiparty litigation, drafting of opinion letters and pleadings. Oversaw local counsel and instructed attorneys, clients and prospective clients on legal matters
  • Offered advice on environmental considerations for real estate transactions, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act information, NEPA challenges, MEPA, underground storage tanks, and other environmental issues
  • Directed more than 350 claims and lawsuits against Environmental Impairment Liability coverage policies across the United States

Professional Affiliations

  • State Bar of Michigan - Environmental Law Section (Council, 1997-2003, Vice-Chair, Environmental Litigation Committee, Solid and Hazardous Waste/Insurance Committee); Marijuana Law Section, Real Property Section
  • District of Columbia Bar 
  • American Bar Association - Environment, Energy and Resources Section (Sustainable Development: Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems Committee, Vice-Chair) 
  • Vice Chair for Sustainable Development for the Committee Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems
  • U.S. Green Building Council (Board of Directors – Detroit Area Chapter (Past Secretary and Chair of Public Policy Committee)
  • International Council of Shopping Centers

Community Involvement

  • Berkley High School Varsity Hockey, Public Announcer
  • Greening of Detroit Tree Planting
  • WJR - AM, Greening of the Great Lakes, Guest (July 2014, October 2013, September 2011)
  • Coach/Assistant Soccer Coach

Articles and Lectures

  • "Cannabis - From Cradle to Grave," Risk Management Association West Michigan Chapter seminar, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 15, 2018
  • MSU Today (WJR-AM/WKAR-FM), Earth Day 2018 Expert Round Table Radio Discussion, April 2018
  • “Implementing the Michigan Marihuana Facilities Act,” Michigan State Bar, Government Law Section Winter Meeting, February 2018
  • Michigan Marijuana Legislation Discussion, The Frank Beckmann Show, WJR-AM NewsTalk 760, Guest, October 2017
  • Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities’ Regulatory Studies Program on Environmental Regulation: Climate and Air Policy, Presenter, Michigan State University, Aug. 8, 2017
  • Second Annual Greening of the Great Lakes Earth Day Roundtable, Panelist, Michigan State University studios, April 13, 2017
  • “Perspectives on the Legislation and Implementation,” Institute of Public Utilities Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy, Panelist, Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center, East Lansing, Feb. 24, 2017
  • "Clean Air Act Issues and Climate Change," Michigan State University Institute for Public Utilities, Annual Regulatory Studies Program, August 2016
  • "Meeting the Challenge of Clean, Reliable and Affordable Energy," Michigan State University, Institute of Public Utilities Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policies, Speaker/Panelist, February 2016
  • "Incentives for the Development of Alternative Energy," Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan - Integrated Policy Exercise, January 2016
  • Southeast Michigan Energy Office Annual Meeting, Speaker, May 2015
  • "Environmental Trends," Risk Managers Association (RMA), Panelist, April 2015
  • Environmental Liability Concerns for Banks & Lenders, Presenter, Bank of America, Chicago, April 23, 2013; Bank of Birmingham, May 2014
  • "Sustainability: How Values-Driven Law Firms are Surviving Tough Times and Prospering Over the Long Term," Teleconference Moderator, American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Nov. 3, 2010
  • "Joint Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations for light-duty cars and trucks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel economy," presenter, Sunshine State Chapter of NAFA Fleet Management Association, University Central Florida Solar Center, Cocoa Beach, August 13, 2010
  • "Green Building Update for Local Governments," speaker and panelist, Oakland County's OakGreen Sustainable Community Seminar Series, June 10, 2010
  • Executive Strategy Session on Energy Policy and Future, panelist, DTE Energy/Engineering Society of Detroit Energy Conference and Exhibition, May 4, 2010 
  • "Due Process - Environmental Law," Guest, DPTV Channel 56, March 5, 2010
  • "New Ecology Law Program," WJR-AM - Weekly Radio Show, 2008-2009
  • “See the Light, Save the Money: Sustainable Lighting Solutions for Local Governments,” Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office, Engineering Society of Detroit, and the United States Green Building Council - Detroit Regional Chapter, February 2009
  • “Green Building & Sustainable Development: The New Competitive Advantage,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Real Property Law Section, February 2009
  • "Great Lakes Log", Guest, WMTV-TV discussion regarding Environmental Protection Agency
  • Regulations for Incidental Discharges from Vessels, August 2008
  • "Great Lakes Log", Guest, WMTV-TV discussion regarding Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Compact, July 2008
  • “Brownfield Basics: Bringing Contaminated and Obsolete Properties Back from the Dead,” Guest Lecturer, Walsh College, Environmental Economics Masters Level, April 2008
  • Wetland Regulation After Rapanos, Panel Member, Michigan State Bar Annual Meeting, Environmental Law Section, September 2006
  • Water Pollution Issues, National Business Institute, July 2004
  • Insurance Issues for Mold Claims, September 2003
  • Michigan Construction Defect and Mold Litigation, National Business Institute, September 2002
  • Site Selection and Site Development Seminar, Wayne State University, Urban Land Institute, and the Real Estate Journal, March 2002
  • Building Related Illness/Sick Building Syndrome, October 2001
  • “Compliance Strategies for Contractors Environmental Issues,” Michigan Chapter of Associated General Contractors, October 2001
  • “Michigan Environmental Planning and Litigation Update, Expert Testimony in Environmental Litigation,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education, July 1998
  • Citizen Involvement in Environmental Decision Making, State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting, Environmental Law Section, September 1997
  • “Legal Aspects of Lead Based Paint in Real Estate Transactions,” Southeastern Michigan Real Estate Professionals, January 1997
  • “Update '95, Interstate Solid Waste Capacity Limitations,” State Bar of Michigan, Environmental Law Section, October 1995
  • “SCOR - Paris, France, American Environmental Law Issues,” Environmental Impairment Liability Claims Meeting, July 1990

Academic Positions

  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Professor, Sustainable Development Law and Policy


  • "LEEDing Legislation in Michigan," 3 Sustainable Spotlight 4, June 2008
  • "Department of Homeland Security Proposes New Regulations under New Chemical Security Legislation," Chemical Engineering eJournal, January 2007
  • "'Significant Nexus' Likely to determine federally regulated wetlands," 20 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2365, Nov. 6, 2006
  • "Federal Chemical Facility Security Legislation Very Likely," Chemical Engineering eJournal, April 2006
  • "Congress Relaxes Superfund Liability, Creates incentives." 3 Michigan Real Estate Journal 1b (June 3, 2002) (Part 2 of 2) (also published in other state versions of The Real Estate Journal)
  • "Congress Relaxes Superfund Liability Provisions," 3 Michigan Real Estate Journal 1c (April 22, 2002) (Part 1of 2) (also published in other state versions of the Real Estate Journal)
  • "Administrative Limitations of Army Corps of Engineers' Authority over Upland Areas," 18 Michigan Environmental Law Journal 3, Winter/Spring 2000
  • "Private Party's Cleanup Costs under the New MERA," 9 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 5B, June 12, 1995
  • "Sixth Circuit Finds Turner 'Substantial Continuity' Rule of Successor Liability Inapplicable Outside the Context of Products Liability," 22 Michigan Real Property Review 37, Spring 1995
  • "Does MERA's Lien Provision Violate Due Process Guarantees?" 9 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2B, Feb. 13, 1995
  • "Discharge Permit Cannot Conflict with Consent Decree," 9 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 3A, Jan. 20, 1995
  • "Medical Monitoring: Who Pays for Medical Surveillance When People Are Exposed to Toxic Substances," 73 Michigan Bar Journal 1044, Oct. 1994) (with Steven H. Huff, Esq. and Barry Michael Levine, Esq.)
  • "Environmental Programs, Minorities and the Poor," 8 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2B, June 13, 1994
  • "Successor Corporation Liability for Environmental Claims in Michigan and the Sixth Circuit," 21 Michigan Real Property Review 5, Spring 1994
  • "Bankers Beware: CERCLA Lender Liability Rule Nixed," 8 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 698, March 28, 1994
  • "Medical Monitoring Damages Recognized," 8 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 405, Jan. 31, 1994
  • "New State Disclosure Act for Sellers of Residential Property," 13 Ann Arbor Business-to-Business 16, September 1993
  • "Court Validates Contractual Releases for CERCLA Liability," 7 Michigan Lawyers Weekly 663, March 29,1993



  • University of Oregon Law School, J.D., 1986 (Statement of Completion, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program)
  • University of Michigan, B.A., 1980


  • Michigan, 1986
  • District of Columbia, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 1991
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, 2000
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 2004
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2019


Honors & Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers in America® for Environmental Law, 2016 - 2022
  • Leading Lawyer in Insurance, Energy Law / Environmental Law, Leading Lawyers Magazine Michigan, 2021
  • Top Lawyer in Environmental Law, dbusiness Magazine, 2014 - 2018


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