Rich Bulger is co-leader of Mayer Brown’s Environmental Action Group. He represents business, association and individual clients in complex environmental, toxic tort, and administrative law matters. Rich practices before federal and state judicial and administrative tribunals, and has represented companies in the chemical, utility, scrap metal, railroad, and ranching industries in a variety of contexts.

Rich negotiates with government entities in proceedings related to federal and state environmental regulatory programs. This work practice complements his counseling of clients on environmental aspects of corporate transactions and real estate transactions, including the purchase, sale, and redevelopment of brownfields properties.

Rich served with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from 1994 to 1997 before entering private practice. He joined Mayer Brown in 1998.

Spoken Languages

  • English


Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation:

  • Representing a multinational entity in nationwide product liability litigation, with particular emphasis on pretrial and trial practice in Madison County and Cook County, Illinois, including substantial litigation in the trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • Represented a chemical manufacturer in a putative class action filed in Madison County, Illinois alleging that the company's herbicide has contaminated public water supplies.
  • Represented appellant in Georgia-Pacific West, Inc. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, 133 S. Ct. 1326 (2013), in which the United States  Supreme Court held that collected runoff from forest roads is a not discharge requiring an NPDES permit.
  • Co-counsel for The Dow Chemical Company in the US Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in actions ultimately affirming dismissal of nuisance suit alleging that oil, chemical, and coal power companies' GHG emissions caused plaintiffs' losses from Hurricane Katrina.
  • Representing defendant in CERCLA cost recovery action at NPL site in California involving a proposed remedy in the tens of millions.
  • Defended an individual in suit initiated by USEPA under CERCLA in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to gain access and conduct removal at a private residence. Prevailed following a hearing before the district court in what is thought to be the only post-SARA instance in which a court has declined to grant USEPA access to property under CERCLA. See United States v. Tarkowski, 2000 WL 696740 (N.D.Ill. May 30, 2000). Briefed and argued appeal in which the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.  See United States v. Tarkowski , 248 F 3d 596 (7th Cir 2001).
  • Represented commercial shipping entities in dispute regarding the Illinois EPA’s ability to amend its Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification to prohibit the discharge of untreated graywater.
  • In Avila, et al, v. CNH, et al, and Schwan, et al, v. Cargill: won summary judgment on all claims on behalf of Cargill in consolidated litigation brought by approximately 300 plaintiffs (recruited by Erin Brockovich) alleging personal injury and property damage associated with chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination in Nebraska. (January 2009).  On a parallel track, defended client in potential USEPA Superfund cost recovery action, and the remedy selection process. 
  • Represented a federal and state trade association and individual ranchers and farmers in a reverse-FOIA action in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. See Doe v. Veneman, 380 F.3d 807 (5th Cir. 2004).
  • Represented a local utility in an enforcement action commenced by State of Illinois and joined by the United States, involving alleged public health concerns related to mercury-containing equipment in residential customer locations.
  • Represented a railroad in a toxic tort case litigated through jury verdict involving solvent contamination at a county-owned municipal waste landfill.
  • Represented the Illinois EPA in permit appeals and variance proceedings before the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
  • Represented the Illinois EPA in enforcement actions, including those against refineries following explosions and substantial chemical releases.

Transactional Matters:

  • Negotiated with the City of Chicago on behalf of a meat processing company to redevelop a brownfields facility located in the city, including participation in Illinois' Site Remediation Program.
  • Counseled a gaming company in acquiring another gaming company for the development of a casino project in a formerly industrial area in Missouri.
  • Represented a utility in the pending bid process relating to the acquisition of a western utility.
  • Advised a telecommunications company in connection with the sale of a local exchange service business.
  • Counseled a large scrap recycling company in its acquisition of multiple scrap companies as part of the client's consolidation strategy.
  • Represented the parent company in ongoing negotiations for the sale of a subsidiary chemical corporation by stock purchase.
  • Negotiated access and entry, site remediation and indemnity agreement for the purchaser of a site formerly used by a utility, involving removal of multiple underground storage tanks and participation in Illinois' Site Remediation Program.

Compliance Counseling:

  • Advised multiple clients regarding new source permitting and compliance with Illinois' response to the US EPA's NOx SIP Call, as they affected fossil fuel-fired and other electric generating facilities.
  • Negotiated on behalf of an energy company, prior to referral to the Attorney General, the resolution of an enforcement matter commenced by the Illinois EPA involving compliance with emissions monitoring requirements.
  • Counsel industrial clients regarding the full range of Clean Air Act compliance issues, including those related to PSD and Nonattainment New Source Review, NSPS, Title V permitting and enforcement.
  • Counseled Illinois EPA on permit matters, including those related to Title V and trade secret and confidential business information.
  • Counseled Illinois EPA on legislative affairs.

Pro Bono:

  • Member of team serving as co-counsel with the ACLU in litigation challenging the constitutionality of Illinois and Wisconsin laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.
  • Represented an individual in a contested conditional release proceeding in Illinois state court. Prevailed at trial level following a four-day hearing.  Briefed and argued in appeal in which the Illinois Court of Appeals affirmed and the Illinois Supreme Court denied the State's petition for leave to appeal. People v. Robin, 728 N.E.2d 736 (1st Dist. 2000), app. den., 734 N.E.2d 897, 248 (Ill. Jul 05, 2000) (Table, No. 89440), discussed in Case Law Updates: Criminal Commitment/ Release, 24 Mental & Physical Disability L. Rep. 389 (American Bar Association 2000).


Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, JD

Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource

DePauw University, BA


  • Illinois
  • Oregon (inactive)


  • US Supreme Court
  • US District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit


  • Member, Illinois Bar Association, Environmental Section - Council Member
  • Environmental Law Institute
  • Best Lawyers - Litigation - Environmental (2010)
  • Leading Lawyers Network - Environmental Law (2010)