Ronald A. Shems joined Diamond & Robinson after four years as Chair of the Vermont Natural Resources Board, the agency that administers and enforces Act 250, the state’s land use and development law. His practice areas include environmental, energy, land-use and zoning, municipal, administrative, and appellate law, and has extensive experience with complex state and federal permitting, trial, and appellate proceedings.
At the forefront of environmental regulation for decades, Ron led national efforts on a number of complex matters with historical implications. Ron led the successful effort to clarify how federally licensed hydro-electric facilities comply with the Clean Water Act. He also successfully litigated the first case to hold that climate change injuries provide Article III standing.
For ten years, Ron served as a founding partner of the Burlington firm Shems Dunkiel Kassel & Saunders, concentrating in environmental and energy law. While there, Ron effectively and efficiently navigated the permitting process for renewable energy companies, municipalities, developers, and individuals. Prior to that, he worked for fifteen years at the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, where he split his time between special assignments managing complex constitutional and regulatory cases, and as the Environmental Unit’s senior Assistant Attorney General.
Ron is a recipient of the prestigious “Best Brief Award” presented by the National Association of Attorneys General for excellence in brief writing in the United States Supreme Court.
Examples of Ron’s work include:
- Lead counsel for First Wind in successfully obtaining and defending permits for the Sheffield Wind Project.
- As Chair of the Natural Resources Board, the state agency that administers Act 250, Ron helped negotiate, draft and shepherd Act 250’s recent amendments through the Legislature, including provisions to encourage downtown development and simplify the permit process.
- Lead counsel for the parties that successfully blocked the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway.
- Lead counsel for Maine and New Brunswick tourist industry, Passamaquoddy Tribe members, residents, and lobster fishers in their successful opposition to three liquefied natural gas terminals proposed for Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine.
- Advised developer of transmission line proposed to run under Lake Champlain.
- Admitted to bar, 1985 Vermont; 2007, Maine
- U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont
- U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th and D.C. Circuits
- U.S. Supreme Court