The government has an arsenal of enforcement tools to compel compliance with environmental laws and to penalize companies that do not. The complex nature of environmental regulations, and the internal inconsistencies that sometimes exist within those schemes, often result in good faith disagreements between clients and regulatory agencies. In those cases, enforcement may begin with inspections and notices of violations, without any obligation, but can quickly escalate into actions for injunctive relief, administrative orders, assessments of civil penalties, and even criminal enforcement investigations.

We represent clients in:

  • Civil enforcement actions
  • Citizen suits to enforce the environmental laws
  • Criminal enforcement matters in conjunction with the firm's White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations Group
  • Developing corporate compliance programs

Civil Enforcement

We have represented clients in connection with civil enforcement actions of one kind or another alleging:

  • Violations of hazardous waste transportation, storage, and disposal regulations
  • Wastewater discharge violations
  • Underground storage tank violations
  • Groundwater contamination violations
  • Hazardous materials transportation violations
  • Infectious waste packaging, transportation, and disposal violation
  • Air emission violations
  • Alleged violations of air emission "New Source Review" program
  • PCB transformer recordkeeping violations
  • Asbestos removal and disposal violations
  • Controlled substance recordkeeping violations
  • Wastewater pretreatment violations
  • Contaminated soil disposal violations
  • Unpermitted dredge or fill activity or wetlands encroachment
  • Storm water control violations
  • Erosion and sediment control failures

We appear before all levels of state and federal court; administrative agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Environmental Appeals Board, Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Department of Transportation; and myriad state and local government agencies and tribunals.

Citizen Suits

The environmental laws permit private parties to institute litigation to enforce regulatory standards. These private actions require different tactics to defend than conventional environmental enforcement cases because the plaintiffs' motivations differ from those of regulatory agencies. We have succeeded in litigating to conclusion or settlement claims brought against clients under air, water, waste, and contamination programs.

Criminal Enforcement

Several Environment and Natural Resources Group attorneys are also members of the firm's White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations Group and represent both corporate and individual clients in criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice, the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, and numerous state and local attorneys general, as well as in private, internal investigations. These matters have involved alleged violations of:

  • Alleged violations of asbestos control regulations
  • Alleged violations of wastewater discharge permits or pretreatment programs
  • Unpermitted discharges of industrial waste or wastewaters
  • Fish kills resulting from unintentional discharges of hazardous substance
  • Fish kills resulting from inadvertent thermal discharges
  • Hazardous waste management, labeling, storage, and transportation violations

Corporate Compliance Strategies

Compliance policies and strategies lead to more confident compliance and more effective response by clients. In addition, many enforcement agencies look more favorably upon an organization if it has a policy and follows it. We have helped clients perform environmental audits, develop corporate compliance policies, conduct internal investigations, and provide in-house training for incidents and searches.