Joe Romero

Office Location: Norfolk, VA.

  • J.D., St. John’s University School of Law
  • LL.M., George Washington University, Environmental Law
Jurisdiction Licensed
  • Virginia
  • New York
Professional & Community Activities
  • William & Mary Law School, Occupational Health Law Professor
  • Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Board of Governors, Virginia State Bar Environmental Law Section
Notable Accomplishments
  • Virginia Business, “Legal Elite,” Environmental Law (2021-present)

Joe is a member of the firm’s Construction and Government Contracts practice group. He concentrates his practice on environmental law, government contracts, and government regulatory matters.  


With over 25 years of experience, Joe assists his clients on a wide range of matters, including Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) remediation and cost recovery, hazardous waste management, regulatory compliance, permitting, enforcement matters, land use, and riparian property rights, and contracts.  He also helps clients understand their risk from emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), that have become a significant concern for industrial activities, wastewater treatment facilities, publicly-owned treatment works, airports, oil facilities, landfills, disposal facilities, and local communities. 

As part of the increased concern with climate change, and in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic’s evolution into a hub of renewable energy, Joe has increased his focus on offshore wind and resiliency planning.

Joe advocates for his clients in arbitration and mediations, and before state and federal regulatory agencies, including Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, municipal wetlands and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Boards, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


In addition to environmental, land use, and riparian matters, Joe guides clients through the complex government contracts process, including handling claims and disputes, facility clearances, FOCI, and DSS security matters, investigations, overseas and contingency contracting, and small business matters.  Joe also helps clients navigate through challenging U.S. import and export regulations, including compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR).


Before joining Vandeventer Black, Joe served as a Navy Judge Advocate for over twenty years. Joe served in numerous Navy commands, including special warfare, overseas, and deployable units. Through his years of military service, Joe was responsible for advising senior Navy leaders and executives, including the 4-star Fleet Commander, on myriad legal issues associated with heavy industrial processes, upland development, offshore wind and renewable energy siting, and countless activities in the maritime environment.

After retiring from active duty, Joe worked for the Dept. of the Navy’s Office of General Counsel, where he continued his environmental and government contracting practice.  This included large remediation and redevelopment projects on current and former military facilities and ranges.  In addition, he was a principal adviser on cutting-edge legal issues associated with emerging contaminants, such as PFAS.


Joe serves on the Board of Governors of the Virginia State Bar Environmental Law Section.  Dedicated to education, Joe taught as an adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School and Old Dominion University on Environmental Law, Occupational Health, and other legal topics.  He has presented at numerous professional and academic forums on emerging trends in law and regulation.

Representative Matters
  • Strategic counsel on environmental compliance programs, including consideration of emerging regulatory trends.
  • Day-to-day advice and counsel on environmental matters for foreign and domestic businesses, including matters involving air emissions, water discharges, the management and disposal of waste, worker health and safety concerns.
  • Vigorous defense of industrial and commercial concerns in federal and state government multi-media enforcement actions and cleanup orders under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and state corollaries.
  • Defense and prosecution of cost recovery and contribution claims involving soil and groundwater contamination arising out of historical industrial operations, waste management, and disposal activities.
  • The implementation and defense of National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements, particularly those involving port and infrastructure development projects.
  • Advice on emerging climate change risks and liabilities in commercial transactions and industrial activities, including new regulatory considerations, tort liability, and citizen suit considerations.
They’re Back! DEQ to Resume Issuance of Landowner Liability Comfort Letters
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (“VDEQ”) announced via its email newsletter that it will resume issuance of Bona Fide Prospective Purchase (“BFPP”) and other “Comfort Letters” beginning September 1, 2022. This resumes a popular program that offers welcomed legal clarity to businesses looking to purchase environmentally distressed properties. As we ...
Read More
New Bat Rules May Affect Future Construction Projects, including New VDOT Tree Removal Limits
Contractors and owners with projects that may affect forested areas after December of 2022 may face more restrictive prohibitions against tree removal under a proposed rule that would list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species. The northern long-eared bat is found in 37 states, including Virginia.  Like most ...
Read More
EPA Sets Near “Zero” PFAS Drinking Water Health Advisory
On June 15, 2022, EPA issued four drinking water health advisories for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that set levels so low that it amounts to a finding that no level of PFAS in drinking water is acceptable. As background, EPA sets drinking water health advisories for certain chemicals, many ...
Read More
Upcoming Events
Stay Connected
    Your Cart
    Your cart is empty