Leonard B. Knee - Bowles Rice LLP

Leonard B. Knee

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2005
Phone: 304-347-1726

Leonard Knee is a partner in the Charleston office of Bowles Rice and concentrates his practice in environmental law. He is the leader of the firm’s Environmental Practice Group. 

Mr. Knee has focused his practice in environmental law since 1978.  His experience encompasses all facets of environmental law and litigation.  He served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Environmental Task Force and in 1983, was appointed a Deputy Attorney General for the Environmental Task Force.  In 1985, he entered the private practice of law and continues to specialize in environmental matters.  Mr. Knee was appointed by former Governor Gaston Caperton to the Brownfields Task Force, a panel which promulgated rules governing the remediation of contaminated sites.  In 2001, he was appointed to the Energy Task Force by the Honorable Robert Wise, Governor of the State of West Virginia.  The West Virginia Energy Task Force focused on examining how to make West Virginia more competitive in the national energy market.  He was awarded the 2007 Star Award for Service, Support and Commitment to Equal Justice from Legal Aid of West Virginia. In 2009, he was appointed to the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Working group to advise The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Legislature about carbon capture issues. 

His extensive litigation experience includes mines and quarrying, landfills and industrial facilities, toxic torts, as well as water pollution issues, in particular, groundwater hydrology.  Technically complex, these matters require an extensive understanding of geology, hydrology and chemistry, which he possesses.

Developing new power plants, wind projects and other large industrial facilities is a complex undertaking. These projects live and die at the intersection of law, science and politics. These projects are very controversial. Mr. Knee has assembled and led the teams pursuing such projects. Successfully navigating the regulatory and political maze to get these projects approved and built requites experience and organizational skill. 

Mr. Knee has also defended number of environmental criminal cases.  In addition to his environmental litigation experience, he has significant experience with the legislature in developing and lobbying environmental laws and regulations.  He regularly counsels clients about environmental issues associated with property transactions, including due diligence considerations and allocation of environmental liabilities.  He has also advised clients about environmental compliance and conducted audits, both environmental and liability.  He has shepherded client projects through the environmental permitting process and assisted them in developing successful strategies to deal with controversial environmental issues.

West Virginia UniversityBA 1972West Virginia UniversityMPA 1976West Virginia UniversityJ.D. 1976

Case History

$1.8 Billion Electric Power Generator Project

A multi-specialty team of more than a dozen experienced Bowles Rice attorneys was engaged to counsel and represent, from concept to commencement of commercial generation, the private developer of a $1.8 billion, 700 mw merchant electric power plant in north central West Virginia.  This work involved, from the onset, extensive regulatory and environmental permitting, services as local borrower’s counsel for a complex debt and equity financing structure with multi-national investors, design and negotiation of a payment in lieu of property tax agreement with multiple local government bodies, assistance in the pursuit of crucial construction labor and engineering agreements and acquisition of a steam coal producer’s operations to assure a reliable source of  fuel.  

Along the way to commercial operation, serious legal challenges to the permit applications and tax relief arrangements emerged, resulting in litigation.  In the case of the former, the controversies associated with an unrelated earlier project in the State, that had been pursued by a major public power generation developer, had effectively raised the legal and political barriers confronted by our client.   However, with Bowles Rice counsel in the lead, both as part of the planning team and then as advocates, all were successfully overcome in proceedings before the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the Circuit Court of Monongalia County and the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.  

Office Location

600 Quarrier Street
Charleston, WV 25301
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2017 Lawyer of the Year in Litigation - Environmental of the Charleston-WV Metro Area2016 Lawyer of the Year in Environmental Law of the Charleston-WV Metro Area2015 Lawyer of the Year in Energy Law of the Charleston-WV Metro Area
Leonard B. Knee has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2017!Leonard B. Knee has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2016!Leonard B. Knee has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2015!

Practice Areas

Energy Law (Environmental, Public Utility)
Environmental Law
Litigation - Environmental