Steven R. Johnson

Of Counsel
Tel 410.528.5531
Fax 410.528.5650
Tel 202.661.7677
Fax 202.661.2299
Washington, DC

Steven Johnson is a litigator who focuses on environmental and land-use issues. He is the former Principal Counsel for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

Steve has significant experience in matters involving the redevelopment of contaminated properties. He defends clients during investigations and enforcement actions, challenges adverse permit and license decisions, and helps clients develop regulatory compliance policies.

Steve also assists in obtaining the environmental permits and approvals necessary to conduct regulated activities such as waste management, processing and recycling, manufacturing, land development, power generation, and activities involving waterways or wetlands.

As the chief legal adviser to the MDE on matters arising under federal and state environmental laws, Steve represented the state in litigation in federal and state courts as well as at the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings. He led enforcement actions in cases involving wetlands, water pollution, and waste disposal, oversaw creation of an innovative regulatory vehicle to facilitate the remediation and development of a contaminated industrial site, and managed the review and analysis of hundreds of proposed legislative bills concerning the environment.

Steve's background makes him uniquely positioned to help clients navigate MDE’s regulatory programs, including taking contaminated properties through the MDE’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. He also can advise on the Department’s nutrient pollution trading program as well as the related requirements under the EPA-mandated Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan.

Steve has served on the City of Rockville (Maryland) Planning Commission and the Rockville Board of Appeals, giving him practical knowledge into Maryland’s land development review and approval process. He also has represented the City of Alexandria (Virginia) in land-use litigation

Professional Activities

City of Rockville Planning Commission: Chairman, 2007-2008; Member, 2003-2010

City of Rockville, Stonestreet Redevelopment Task Force: Chairman, 2007-2008

Rockville Board of Appeals: Member, 2002-2003

Boards of Directors

Bethesda Green, 2017

Northeast Environmental Enforcement Project, Inc., July 2015-February 2016

President, American Friends of Wilton Park, 2003-2012


Author, "Maryland's Nutrient Trading Program Set to Launch: Program Regulations Effective July 16," Ballard Spahr alert, July 13, 2018

Select Speaking Engagements

"The Nature of Property," Takings Conference, University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law, Baltimore, September 2015

"State Environmental Management of Growth and Development," Maryland State Bar Association, Land Use Section, Baltimore, November 2012

"Enforcement Priorities," Water Quality Regulation in the Chesapeake, Law Seminars International, Baltimore, February 2010

"Enforcement of Water Pollution Violations at Fly Ash Disposal Sites," Northeast Environmental Enforcement Project Seminar, Annapolis, Maryland, October 2010

"Environmental Aspects of Real Estate Transactions," OAG Educational Affairs Division Real Estate Workshop, Baltimore, November 2008

"After Kelo v New London: The Federal And State Response," International Municipal Lawyers Association, Washington, D.C., April 2008

Georgetown University Law Center (J.D. 1993, cum laude)

American Criminal Law Review

University of Michigan (B.A. 1986)


District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court