Charles H. Knauss

Washington, DC Office
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Chuck Knauss co-heads Katten's Environmental and Workplace Safety practice, serves on the firm's Board of Directors and is recognized as a "legend in the field" of climate change (Chambers USA), having served US manufacturing and energy sectors for over 30 years.

Chambers USA reports that clients say Chuck has "extraordinary strategic and analytical capabilities—he finds solutions others just cannot see. He can focus on the key issues when it's a blur of issues to others…and has great understanding of how government agencies work." He is "an absolutely superb lawyer, top of the list, extraordinarily smart and very strategic in his thinking, he's extremely creative, he develops practical solutions, and he understands business needs," "has formidable knowledge of the Clean Air Act and is one of the very few top air law practitioners in the country" and is "the best air lawyer in DC today." Chuck is recognized by peers and clients alike for his ability to craft and negotiate effective regulatory and legislative solutions to previously intractable problems regardless of subject matter. As a result, clients often call upon him in crisis situations ranging from financial/tax, food safety and pesticides to contaminated sediments and transportation to energy/environmental.

For example, to obtain funding for certain auto companies on the verge of bankruptcy, Chuck developed and implemented a successful strategy using treasury, defense and energy statutes—some new, some long forgotten. Chuck is often selected by large ad hoc industry coalitions reflecting diverse interests to coordinate the groups and present their views to other stakeholders and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

From 1987–1990, Chuck served as Minority Counsel to the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and was lead negotiator for the landmark 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. He was one of only three House staff required to sign off on every provision of these comprehensive amendments, the most significant environmental and economic legislation in the past 25 years. Richard Cohen's book, Washington at Work:Back Rooms and Clean Air, chronicling the 1990 Amendments, observed: "Chuck Knauss... was probably the most influential Republican on the legislation."

EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt appointed Chuck to serve on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, a senior-level policy committee established to advise EPA on issues related to implementing the Clean Air Act. Chuck founded and is counsel to the Air Permitting Forum, a group of Fortune 100 companies that develops practical and effective advice for all aspects of the permit process, including applications, negotiations, permit terms, certifications, appeals, revisions and remedies.

Chuck represents a wide variety of companies and trade associations in nearly every avenue of environmental law, helping them navigate complex federal, state and local regulations and manage high-stakes crises, negotiations, communication strategies and precedent-setting litigation. He provides strategic advice to achieve negotiated settlements with governmental regulatory and enforcement authorities and other stakeholders. His negotiation approach grounds legal and policy arguments on sound analysis of technical and engineering facts, coupled with a fair and principled recognition of the core goals of all parties. For example, Chuck obtained a consensus among EPA headquarters, EPA regional officials, state regulators and community groups on plant-wide, 10-year air permits recognized by many as the most innovative ever issued.

His clients include large corporations in the manufacturing and energy sectors, including automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, paper, refinery, conventional and renewable power generation and utility companies.

Shown below is a selection of Charles’s engagements.


Best Lawyers in America, 2007–2016
Chambers USA, 1996–2015
Super Lawyers, 2008–2015
AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell
Legal 500, 2012, 2015
Co-author, Managing Your Title V Permit, The Clean Air Act Handbook, American Bar Association, 3rd. ed.
Co-author, Life After Title V Permit Issuance: You've Received Your Permit, Now What Do You Do?, The Clean Air Act Handbook, American Bar Association, 2nd. ed.
Co-author, The Clean Air Act Operating Permit Program: A Handbook for Counsel, Environmental Managers and Plant Managers, American Bar Association
Firm News
December 1, 2010
Clean Air: Law Policy and Practice (Title V Permitting) | Washington, DC
October 1, 2010
Understanding the New Air Pollution Rules | Environmental Law Institutes Fall Practice Seminar | Washington, DC
May 1, 2010
Senior Practitioners Forum on Climate Change Law, Cambridge International Forums, Charlottesville, Virginia
March 1, 2007
Clearing the Air, 36th Annual Conference on Environmental Law, Keystone, Colorado
March 1, 2007
Shaping a Secure Energy Future | NPRA Annual Meeting | San Antonio, Texas
February 1, 2007
Understanding the Renewable Fuels Standard Program and What it Means for You, | National Ethanol Conference | Tucson, Arizona


  • JD, University of Michigan Law School
  • BA, Brown University

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • US Tax Court
  • US Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit


2012, 2015
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