Our attorneys counsel a range of business operations subject to environmental regulation—from the obvious such as power plants, factories, waste management facilities, mines, and refineries, to operations less apparent, including biopharmaceutical research companies, real estate developers, and municipalities.

Clients call on us to:

  • Assist in obtaining permits
  • Challenge permits with unsatisfactory conditions; and
  • Defend their permits against third-party challenges and to challenge permits issued to others

Not all regulatory compliance fits neatly into a permitting scheme. We have assisted clients in developing and auditing environmental recordkeeping and reporting systems, environmental management systems, and corporate sustainability policies.

We regularly represent clients in enforcement actions in which the government or citizens claim that our clients have violated air, water, waste, and wetlands regulations. In addition, we have represented clients in actions to enforce other environmental programs: the registration programs for pesticides and disinfectants, the special rules for toxic substances such as PCBs or hazardous air pollutants such as asbestos, and the rules for sales of fertilizers and soil amendments. These actions can arise when regulators seek to compel compliance or to recover penalties. They also may involve citizen suits, which the Environment and Natural Resources Group has both defended and prosecuted.

Obtaining Permits

Permits for some facilities benefit from careful attention by lawyers during the preparation and prosecution of applications. We have assisted clients in obtaining permits for:

  • Fossil fuel-fired and waste coal-fired power plants
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Oil refineries
  • Manufacturing and other industrial operations
  • Alternative and renewable energy facilities
  • Complex real estate developments
  • Landfills, transfer stations, and waste-to-energy, medical, and hazardous waste facilities
  • Industrial boilers
  • Backup generators
  • Other forms of complex, atypical, or controversial projects

At times, conventional permit rules do not offer sufficient operational flexibility to our clients. We have coupled permit negotiations with enforcement settlements or other arrangements that allow environmentally beneficial results consistent with business imperatives. These have included agreements that extend arrangements beyond permit terms or allow facilities extended times to comply. In addition, these permitting problems often involve offsets or trades of emission reductions or habitat enhancements.

Our efforts not only assist in presentation of the best possible application, but also in the creation of a record to support any subsequent permit appeal or defense of a third-party appeal.

Challenging Permits

We represent permittees who appeal a disadvantageous decision on an environmental permit or any permit condition, as well as third parties on behalf of or against third parties who wish to appeal.