Sustainable solutions for even the most pressing matters.
Our environmental team provides a breadth of legal and business advisory services to a broad range of clients, from heavy industrial operators and automotive manufacturers to health systems and government entities. Among other things, we represent clients in litigation and civil or criminal enforcement actions, prosecute administrative appeals, conducts audits and internal investigations, counsel on complex regulatory matters, and help clients execute real estate and corporate transactions.
It is also of special significance that several members of our team hold advanced STEM degrees and hail from the very industries they now represent. Our technical sophistication, coupled with our deep knowledge of regulatory nuance and process, gives our clients an uncommon advantage in solving even the most urgent and demanding environmental challenges.
Practice Area Contact
Kevin N. McMurray
Practice Group Leader
Our team helps clients navigate the complex maze of federal, state and local environmental regulations. We provide informed guidance on environmental compliance strategies, permitting and reporting requirements, risk management considerations, audits and other dealings with regulatory authorities. We work closely with heavy industrial operations, such as electric utilities, iron and steel manufacturers, automobile manufacturing, petroleum refiners, chemical producers and many other industrial manufacturing operations, to develop disciplined and cost-effective environmental management programs.
Due to the breadth of our experience in virtually all environmental regulatory programs – air, water, solid and hazardous waste, toxic substances, endangered species, undergrounds storage tanks, Right-to-Know reporting and others – clients turn to us when faced with difficult environmental situations. We offer high-level insights that help our clients proactively achieve and maintain compliance or lead to the effective resolution of issues should they arise.
- Advising on and negotiating permit terms and conditions that can realistically be achieved and afford maximum operational flexibility over the life of the permit.
- Assisting with environmental reporting obligations.
- Advising on regulatory requirements and strategies for achieving and maintaining compliance.
- Developing and implementing environmental management programs.
- Tracking administrative rulemaking activities and participating in notice, comment and public hearing opportunities to voice key stakeholder perspectives and inform the rulemaking process.
- Commenting on and challenging legislative and rulemaking actions.
- Assisting with structuring and performing EH&S audits, including issues involved with planning, conducting, and distributing audits, maintaining confidentiality and asserting legal privileges, evaluating the potential benefits and drawbacks of voluntary disclosures to regulatory agencies under state and federal “audit policy” programs, and negotiating resolutions with federal and state agencies for voluntarily disclosed violations.
There are environmental considerations to address and contingencies to account for in most business transactions, particularly those involving land acquisition, construction projects and the manufacturing and distribution of commercial products. Our team has a keen understanding of the business and technical aspects of industrial operations. We help buyers, sellers, lessors, lessees, lenders and others involved in real estate and corporate transactions assess potential environmental liabilities and risks, craft ways to minimize their legal exposure and shift or appropriately allocate risks and costs between multiple parties. Whether it’s a simple disposition or a billion-dollar, multi-site acquisition, we understand the risk continuum and are experienced with the strategies and tactics to close the deal.
- Overseeing environmental site assessments that assess the condition of property.
- Analyzing the implications of environmental laws and regulations on business transactions and structuring solutions that seek to maximize opportunities and minimize legal exposure.
- Negotiating agreements for complex real estate and corporate transactions.
- Performing and/or managing environmental due diligence, including facility or corporate-wide compliance audits and compliance plan development.
- Evaluating and negotiating insurance options to minimize environmental risk.
- Counseling clients on options to manage environmental risks, including due diligence, contractual protections, environmental insurance, and/or voluntary cleanup programs.
- Structuring “brownfields” transactions and financing.
- Advising on post-closing obligations and strategies for minimizing environmental risks.
Our team offers substantial trial and dispute resolution experience defending clients in administrative, civil and criminal enforcement actions, as wells as environmental citizen suits and toxic tort claims in federal and state court. We also handle environmental liability claims as well as appeals of unilateral government orders and unfavorable permit decisions or denials. Our goal is to help clients avoid litigation through effective risk management. When legal action is unavoidable, we integrate a powerful network of legal knowledge and extensive trial experience to resolve environmental disputes on terms favorable to our clients.
- Defending challenged permits and appealing permits with unfavorable terms.
- Defending government civil and criminal enforcement actions, citizen suits and toxic tort claims in federal and state court.
- Defending alleged regulatory violations, which may include the negotiation of administrative or civil settlement agreements or defending clients during trial.
- Defending and appealing unilateral government orders, administrative enforcement actions and penalty assessments.
- Assisting with administrative appeals before environmental agencies and boards.
- Prosecution and defense of environmental liability claims, including contaminated properties and natural resource damage claims.
The redevelopment of properties contaminated by historic releases of hazardous materials and other substances presents serious potential environmental and financial risks to owners, buyers, sellers, lenders and prospective tenants. We understand these risks and have significant experience in helping find cost-effective solutions to managing them. We work with industries, developers, lenders, local governments and others to evaluate and implement strategies for the investigation and remediation of contaminated properties, including assessing and implementing strategies under state and federal brownfield programs that enable liabilities to be addressed and impacted properties to be returned to beneficial use.
- Advising and managing all aspects of the investigation and cleanup from the engagement of the environmental consultant to obtaining a no further action or covenant not to sue from the state or federal agency.
- Evaluating eligibility and merits of participating in state and federal voluntary cleanup or brownfield programs.
- Assisting in the assessment and remediation of properties under voluntary cleanup programs, including negotiation of environmental covenants, deed restrictions, and other land use controls.
- Structuring financial incentives from federal, state and local governments for the assessment and remediation of brownfield properties, including grants, loans and tax credits.
- Representing clients in the recovery of assessment and remediation costs from other responsible parties.
Our environmental team can help provide oversight and structure to the response to an environmental accident or incident. We have experience in helping advise clients in the time critical hours and days following the incident and in working with environmental agencies during the response. Our team has also worked with clients in conducting root cause assessments and internal investigations to identify and address any issues or problems that may have caused or contributed to an emergency.
- Providing legal support for immediate response and communications with federal, state, and local agencies.
- Conducting internal investigations to determine root causes, including reviewing and evaluating operational documents, practices, and conducting interviews.
- Counseling on strategies for responses to inquiries by state and federal agencies and negotiating final closure of incidents.