Marc Zemel

Marc represents non-profit organizations, activists and individuals to effectuate positive change and hold bad actors accountable. Marc has litigated dozens of Clean Water Act citizen suits and negotiated settlements that have directed millions of dollars to benefit local watersheds, while mitigating pollution from industrial facilities across Washington State. In addition to a variety of other environmental statutes, Marc has experience with Washington’s Public Records Act and has argued before the Washington Court of Appeals. Marc is committed to thinking creatively and doing everything he can to realize his clients’ goals.


Before joining Smith & Lowney in 2011, Marc earned his J.D., cum laude, with an Environmental Law concentration from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law where he was also an Associate Editor for the Northwestern University Law Review. Marc earned his undergraduate degree with distinction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Some of Marc’s notable cases include:

    Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Louis Dreyfus Commodities, et. al. involved persistent illegal grain dumping into Elliott Bay from grain loading operations at an export terminal in downtown Seattle and untreated polluted runoff from the site. Following victories on two dispositive motions that ultimately established Clean Water Act violations on summary judgment, Marc negotiated a $1.1 Million settlement, including $699,000 for environmental benefit projects in the Puget Sound basin. The settlement, embodied in a federal court consent decree, also required treatment of all pier runoff, cessation of the illegal discharges and installation of safety mechanisms adapted to the grain industry for the first time.

    Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Whitley Manufacturing Co., Inc., et al. involved industrial stormwater discharges without a permit to Quilceda Creek in Washington. On summary judgment, the court established for the first time in Washington that "stormwater associated with industrial activity" is a pollutant under the Clean Water Act, regardless of its physical or chemical makeup, requiring a permit for any such discharges. Marc negotiated a settlement where the defendants agreed to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, pay $465,000 (including $180,000 to environmental benefit projects), and implement key best management practices to mitigate environmental harm.

    Waste Action Project v. Willis Enterprises, Inc. dealt with polluted runoff from a large log yard to Grays Harbor. The settlement required the log yard to engineer a treatment system to remove pollutants from its discharges, implement additional best management practices, and pay $427,500, including $200,000 for environmental benefit projects in the local watershed.

    RE Sources for Sustainable Communities v. Pacific International Terminals, Inc. involved the illegal clearing of forested wetland at the site of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility in Whatcom County. The settlement required the defendant to pay $1.6 Million, including $825,000 for local environmental benefit projects, enhance and set aside almost 3 acres of undisturbed wetland on the property from future development, and restore the damaged wetlands. The litigation uncovered damaging evidence and helped sway public opinion against the proposed coal export terminal, highlighting that the developer cannot be trusted to comply with federal laws that stand in its way of maximizing profits from shipping dirty coal overseas.

When not at the office, one can find Marc either gardening, exploring the public lands of the Pacific Northwest and/or spending time with his daughter. Marc also serves on the Litigation Committee for the Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

Marc is currently on leave from Smith & Lowney as a Robert Bosch Fellow in Berlin, Germany. 



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