Beth Gotthelf, Butzel Long Photo

Beth is an environmental expert with over 30 years of experience. She has extensive environmental renewable energy and sustainability expertise to assist with remediation, redevelopment, permitting, and compliance. Beth is renowned as a problem-solver and best known for bringing creativity and practicality to situations while forming true partnerships with each of her clients. A skilled connector, Beth puts her creative nature and insight into her clients’ businesses to work to bring entities together to solve problems and grow business. She works extensively with automotive, defense and aerospace companies, and developers of affordable housing and other uses. Beth’s clients also benefit from her deep government relations experience at the local, state, and federal levels.

Overview

Beth S. Gotthelf is a Shareholder based in Butzel's Troy office. She is the firm's Director of Innovation and External Relations, Co-Chair of the Energy & Sustainability Practice, and Chair of the Aerospace & Defense industry team. Gotthelf brings a pragmatic and holistic approach to clients’ issues, by understanding her clients' goals and assisting them in reaching those goals through a variety of tools. It is not unusual for her to assist in matchmaking clients’ needs, acting as an outside general counsel, or coming up with creative solutions. Her assistance in diversifying automotive suppliers into the aerospace and defense arena during the economic downturn is just one example of her holistic approach. Ms. Gotthelf credits her successful counseling on using her business experience, legal training, and active participation in professional groups and non-profits that gives her many experiences to draw upon. She is chair of the Michigan Manufacturers Association Environmental Policy Committee and National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Board Directorship Certified.

Ms. Gotthelf started her career in the environmental law arena and remains a leader to this date.  She is chair of the Michigan Manufacturers Association Environmental Policy Committee (2022-present) and general counsel to the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Surface Finishers (1990-present).  Other roles include creating the first wetland bank in Michigan and Wayne County’s Brownfield Authority. She has been active in a variety of enforcement cases both on behalf of government and industry.  Her counseling includes compliance, emergency response, remediation, PFAS, redevelopment, tax incentives, enforcement, occupational safety and health, and insurance coverage.

For over a decade, Ms. Gotthelf has also been active in the Aerospace and Defense industries, advises clients in the various legal issues including governmental contracting, ITAR, EAR, bids and bid protests, and Foreign Military Sales to name a few. She also works with start-up companies and is the legal executive in residence at the Oakland University INCubator.

Ms. Gotthelf has served as general counsel to the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Surface Finishers since 1990 and Vice President since 2019; Oakland University Incubator Executive in Residence (Macomb branch prior to it closure) (2013-present); Better Business Bureau Board member (2012-2022); Michigan Israel Business Accelerator Board member (2007-present); International Women’s Forum, Michigan Chapter Board (2020-present), Florida Chapter Board (2021-present); Women in Defense-Michigan Advisory Board (2017-present); former general counsel to the Wayne County Brownfield Authority. She has represented the Wayne County (Michigan) Department of Environment on a broad variety of issues, including the Detroit bankruptcy as it related to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department; wastewater treatment plant expansion, upgrade, and compliance; wet weather; landfills; remediation; and ordinance amendments.

Gotthelf has been very active in the business between Israel and Michigan including arranging for the highly successful first Israel Ministry of Defense Mission of Defense companies to a state and the first mission of a state (Michigan) to Israel. She has served as a lay-leader on legislative trade missions to Israel to help Michigan legislators learn what has worked to make Israel an economic leader, and apply those “lessons learned.”

Ms. Gotthelf's Bar experience includes Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association ("ABA") Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Water Quality and Wetlands; former Vice-Chair of the Section's Keystone Committee; Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Environmental Law Section; and Chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association. Ms. Gotthelf is a past member of the State Bar Representative Assembly on behalf of Oakland County.

Ms. Gotthelf served on the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Committee for Transportation, and is past Chair of the Chamber's Task Force on Water and Sewer Issues. Ms. Gotthelf is Chair of the City of Birmingham (Michigan) Brownfield Authority (2005-2022). On behalf of industry, Ms. Gotthelf served on the Federal Advisory Committee charged with recommending stormwater rules. She served as an arbitrator for the National Arbitration Forum.

Ms. Gotthelf's charitable activities include Trustee of the Jewish Vocational Services (2000-2015, 2016-2021); serving as Co-Chair of the Gleaners Food Bank Women's Power Breakfast fundraiser (2015); Board member and eventually President of the Board of Trustees for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter (1996-2008); Board member and eventually Chair of the Board of Trustees of Oakland Plus Foundation (2005-2011);  member of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, State Government Relations Oversight Committee (2004-2018).

Speaking Engagements

Speaker, "New Proposed ASTM Phase I ESA Standard and What it Means from a Practical Standpoint," Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals (MAEP), June 2022

Panelist, 11th Annual American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Michigan Section’s Environmental Risk Management Workshop – Best Practices for Groundwater Remediation and Management, June 2022

Speaker, “The Impact of Local and Global Climate Change,” International Women's Forum (IWF), May 2022

Panelist, "COVID-19 CARES ACT Supporting Federal Contractors: A Guide for the Small Business Industrial Base," April 2020

Speaker, "Automotive Industry Outlook and Workforce Issues as the Coronavirus Impact Escalates," Webinar, March 2020

Speaker, Cyber Compliance in A&D Breakfast Roundtable, February 2020

Moderator, "Launching into the Future. Is Space the Next Frontier for Surface Finishers?" MINASF, 2019

Speaker, PFAS Update and Compliance Agreements Conference, MINASF, 2019

Speaker, Automotive Update Conference, MINASF, 2019

Moderator, Speaker, PFAS and Legislative Updates, MINASF Conference 2018

Butzel Long / MEDC Lunch and Learn, 2017

Michigan Association of Metal Finishers (MAMF) Luncheon, 2017

GDI Contractors Luncheon, 2015

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Primer Updates, 2015

Coffee and Contracting: Protect Yourself and Still Win Business, 2015

Publications

Preparing For SBA's Vet-Owned Biz Certification Overhaul; Legal360, 2022

Credentials

Education

Oakland University 1980, B.S. Public Administration and Public Policy

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law 1985, J.D.

Admissions

Memberships

  • Macomb-Oakland University INCubator Advisory Council
  • American Bar Association (ABA) - Vice Chair, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Water Quality and Wetlands Committee
  • Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, International Honorary Society
  • Former Vice-Chair, ABA Section Teleconference Seminars
  • Former Vice-Chair, 2010 Eastern Water Resources Conference
  • Former Vice-Chair, Annual Keystone Environmental Conference
  • State Bar of Michigan - past Chair, Environmental Law Section past Section Council-person and Chair of Program Committee Superfund, Solid and Hazardous Waste and Insurance
  • State Bar of Michigan - past member Representative Assembly on behalf of Oakland County
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • Jewish Vocational Services - Board of Trustees
  • Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce - Translink Advisory Committee past Chair, Task Force on Water and Sewer Issues
  • Great Lakes Guardians - former Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Michigan Israel Business Accelerator - Board of Directors, past President
  • Diplomat Helping Hands Foundation - Director
  • Federal Advisory Committee Member - rulemaking Phase 2 stormwater rules

Awards & Recognitions

Awards & Recognitions

Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Oakland University, 2019

Michigan Lawyers Weekly - "Leader in the Law," 2019

Michigan Lawyers Weekly - recognized as one of 20 Women in Law, 2010

The Best Lawyers in America - "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Environmental, 2023

The Best Lawyers in America - Environmental Law, 2013-2024, Litigation-Environmental, 2020-2024

DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit - Environmental Law, 2011-2024; Energy Law, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018, 2020-2023; Government Relations Law, 2011 & 2012

Michigan Super Lawyers - Environmental, 2006-2020

Top 50 Female Michigan Super Lawyers - 2006-2009 & 2014-2018

2009 Oakland University Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

Litigation Counsel of America - former Fellow

Michigan State Bar Foundation - Fellow

Oakland County Bar Foundation - Fellow

Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers (2006-2009)

Detroit Regional Chamber - recognition as an emerging leader (2003)

National Association of Metal Finishers (2002) - special recognition

Corp! Magazine - one of "Michigan's 95 Most Powerful Women" (2002)

Corp! Magazine - "Top 10 Business Attorneys for Southeast Michigan" (1999)

Crain's Detroit Business' 40 emerging leaders under age 40 ("40 Under 40") (1994)

Experience

  • Represented manufacturing company in lawsuit against insurance company for coverage after environmental emergency
  • Defended against several claims of injury related to alleged mold exposure.
  • Represent solar and windmill energy company for tax incentives, pilot projects and sale for residential use
  • Represented credit union in sale of contaminated property and cost recovery against Texaco
  • Represented the County in the transfer of sewer capacity to the communities of Novi, Northville & Plymouth
  • Prosecuted several cost recovery actions on behalf of clients seeking to recoup remediation costs against responsible parties.
  • Numerous remediation projects of abandoned dumps.
  • Advised bond insurer for Michigan higher education facilities authority on various aspects of bond and environmental issues
  • Assist with the purchasing, contracting, bonding, construction and permitting of two ethanol plants
  • Represented numerous clients in obtaining, modifying and or transferring air permits.
  • Defended several class action law suits against waste treatment & disposal clients alleging harm due to odors and other impact from respected facilities.
  • Representation of solid waste and recycling company included a variety of landfill compliance and contamination issues of multiple landfills and transfer stations
  • Reviewed various environmental due diligence and terms in sales agreements on behalf of bank and its borrowers.
  • Various enforcement actions against industrial wastewater dischargers
  • Successfully represented industry group in negations to amend an ordinance regulating industrial discharges into one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the country.
  • Assist in purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax credits in numerous transactions
  • Represent company in the sale of highly contaminated gas station, conversion to drugstore while remediating contamination.
  • Assisted client in purchasing, tax incentives and permits of alternative fuel, R&D facility
  • Settled a suit against a manufacturer and designer of the pumps at the Wyandotte wastewater treatment plant, resulting in a program to repair the mammoth pumps and monetary damage
  • Worked with client to obtain $1 million Single Business Tax Credit, approval of brownfield plan and negotiation of brownfield agreement with city
  • Assisting with PUD approval, condo documents, along with wetland, shoreland and sewer water permits for a 450-acre lakefront residential development
  • Represented energy company in development, land purchase, equipment purchase and tax incentives for wood pellet manufacturing
  • Successfully represented client in dispute with DEQ over wetland delineation for 50 acre development.
  • Creation of a 13-community management authority for a regional wastewater plant
  • Represented a private equity investor in the lengthy and complicated effort to purchase all of Ford Motor Company's glass manufacturing operations in North America
  • Represented several manufacturing home park clients in obtaining ground water discharge permits.
  • Representation of a county in a variety of issues from construction of a $300 million upgrade and expansion of its wastewater treatment plant to compliance of its wastewater discharge limits
  • Assisted clients in obtaining permits and defending action in alleged disturbance of an endangered species (eagles).
  • Assisted numerous clients with international transactions involving environmental due diligence and permitting throughout South America, Asia and Europe.
  • Convinced MDEQ to reverse its policy not to process permit applications for wastewater discharges from treatment plants until proper zoning is in place
  • Obtained court order to allow access for remediation.
  • Represented owner of land next to landfill due to methane gas migrating onsite
  • Financial lending for development of Bloomfield Park
  • Obtained a judgment of approximately $24 million for DWSD and its rate payers
  • Worked with client to obtain $1 million Single Business Tax Credit.
  • Construction of a combined sewer overflow basin at a former dump site.
  • Defended against suit filed by MDEQ for alleged contamination of soils and groundwater
  • Advised client concerning purchase, tax incentives and the remediation of a contaminated site to redevelop into residential units
  • Represent developer in the obtaining of a wastewater discharge permit from a manufactured home park, including fighting the State's decision not to issue a permit through a contested case proceeding
  • Represent Client in lawsuit against travel agent for refund of the cost of trip.
  • Defend client in CERCLA cost recovery claim.
  • Assisting with the construction, financing & permitting of ethanol plants in two locations in a northern area of Michigan
  • Successfully prosecuted several contested case proceedings related to wetland permit denials.
  • Represent manufacturer in stock purchase of contaminated property
  • Represented manufacturing company in class action suit for damages as a result of evacuation
  • Represented major manufacturer in negotiating complex remedial action plan.
  • Ongoing representation for numerous casino clients in a variety of OSHA issues
  • Ongoing representation of numerous solid waste and recycling companies on a variety of landfill compliance & permitting issues.
  • Created Brownfield Authority for large metropolitan county and local municipalities,
  • Represent client after it was "raided" by US EPA
  • Defend various companies against alleged wastewater discharge violations
  • Conducted environmental due diligence and organized a transfer of environmental permits for the purchase of a portable energy production facility
  • Representing companies in alleged criminal environmental conduct
  • Represented a County against the City of Detroit and Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. to terminate special powers the Court gave to the Mayor of Detroit
  • Represented a healthcare client with the environmental aspects of the sale of the company
  • Represented manufacturing company with respect to multimedia inspection by state and US EPA
  • Representation of companies undergoing a multimedia environmental investigation by local, state and federal authorities, with criminal undertones
  • Assisted Developer in obtaining a unique 2007 Wetland Permit that allowed the construction of a wetland shelf for sediments and dredging
  • Defend Client in multiple class action and multi-party lawsuits that were filed in reaction to hydrochloric acid release at Client's property; pursue insurance coverage related to same.
  • Representation of manufacturer in remediation using soil mixing
  • Review and analyze environmental due diligence reports, and purchase agreements on behalf of buyers, sellers, and lenders, and advise as to potential environmental liability and available protections.
  • Assisted manufacturing company in reopening after major fire
  • Various enforcement actions pursuant to Wayne County's air regulations against companies such as local steel and automotive corporations
  • Supervised environmental due diligence and remedial activities related to major multi-parcel development in major metropolitan downtown area.
  • Environmental representation for a metal finishing company in connection with a release of hazardous chemicals that caused the evacuation of over 3,000 people and a flood of class action lawsuits
  • Chaired Brownfield Authority for large suburban community
  • Negotiated an administrative order for a landfill client with the DNRE resulting from alleged violations of the laws and regulations regarding the operation and maintenance of solid waste landfills
  • Investigation of remedial contamination and negotiation of non-liability status with state
  • Assisted in addressing regional transportation issues for client's possible move to downtown Detroit
  • Working with a developer to obtain DEQ permit to fill wetlands and negotiating an agreement with a nearby conservancy
  • Create the first wetland bank in Michigan.
  • Reached a settlement for a nuisance value for MDEQ claims against client

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