Our environmental practice group handles environmental compliance due diligence and controversies for companies in many industries, including chemicals, manufacturing, real estate development, waste collection and disposal, oil and gas, pipeline, transportation, and many others. We determine the unique risks each client faces and work within the complex federal and state regulatory framework to develop practical, cost-effective approaches to their environmental issues.
Federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations are complex, interrelated, frequently changing, and sometimes contradictory. Our environmental lawyers counsel clients on state and federal environmental laws and regulations and work with them to address both current needs and future planning. We represent clients in rulemaking and administrative enforcement matters before regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Department of State Health Services, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others. In state and federal courts, we defend clients against civil and criminal environmental enforcement claims brought by federal, state, and local regulators.
Industrial and commercial facilities face a host of environmental permit requirements. We assist clients in identifying applicable requirements, navigating the administrative process to obtain and renew environmental permits. We also represent clients in contested permit hearings before all relevant federal, state, and local regulatory authorities.
Due Diligence & Environmental Risk Analysis
Because environmental risk is a concern in business transactions such as corporate acquisitions and mergers, financing, and real estate transfers, we perform diligence to evaluate environmental risks and identify creative risk management options.
We have extensive experience litigating matters ranging from contamination to compliance, including cost recovery. We handle the full spectrum of claims, including:
- Superfund claims.
- Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act cost recovery claims.
- Citizen suits and claims for damages from air, soil, groundwater, and surface water contamination.
- Environmental insurance coverage claims.
- Damages claims from oilfield contamination.
Our experience includes jury trials and successful appeals to both the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.
Insurance Negotiation & Coverage Litigation
We represent clients in negotiating environmental coverage for both single facilities and corporate-wide properties. When coverage litigation becomes necessary to obtain payment for environmental claims, we represent clients in a variety of coverage circumstances, including historical environmental liabilities, asbestos claims, mass torts, insurer's duties to defend and indemnify, occurrence and allocation controversies, and interpretation and application of multi-year policies.
Remediation and Cost Recovery
Some remediation is mandatory; some is voluntary. Various environmental regulatory programs provide a framework for performing corrective action. We assist clients in remediation projects resulting from due diligence findings, historical conditions, leaks, spills, emergency releases, and offsite sources. We work with state, federal and local regulatory agencies under such cleanup programs as federal Superfund, RCRA, the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Texas Voluntary Cleanup, and Innocent Owner Programs. We also represent clients in contamination and cost recovery litigation in both federal and state courts, including appeals to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court, and in defense of administrative claims.
Energy and the Environment
Environmental concerns are no stranger to the energy industry. Whether the issue is clean water, air quality, hazardous waste disposal, climate change, or any of the environmental issues related to unconventional resources or renewable resources, we combine our knowledge of complex environmental programs and practical considerations to address clients’ concerns. We address emerging issues such as climate change-related regulation, persisting issues such as those related to hydraulic fracturing, operational issues such as permitting and waste disposal, and historical soil and groundwater contamination issues often resulting in cleanup requirements or litigation.
- Permittees and individuals in various federal and state administrative and judicial enforcement actions, both civil and criminal.
- Applicants in contested administrative permit proceedings.
- Various clients involved in Voluntary Cleanup Program, Innocent Owner Program, and corrective action remediation projects involving soil and groundwater contamination, surface water concerns, sediment, dust, odor, and nuisance issues.
- Various industrial clients in defense of citizen suits.
- CERCLA PRPs at both single and multi-party sites and in contribution and cost recovery cases. We have served on steering, allocation, and settlement committees for PRP groups.
- A disposal facility that contested EPA's selection of it as a site for disposal of CERCLA cleanup waste.
- Industrial clients seeking a white paper investigation and review of corporate compliance status and quantification of environmental liabilities.
- Public companies seeking to meet SEC environmental disclosure requirements, including those related to climate change.
- Industrial clients and property owners seeking environmental compliance counseling and assistance, environmental compliance audits, and self-disclosure notifications of non-compliance.
- Industrial clients seeking cost recovery and damages under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act and making associated nuisance, trespass, fraud, contract and other claims, including appeals to the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of Texas.
- Industrial clients’ environmental insurance coverage claims for cleanup costs and attorneys' fees.
- Business clients in asserting and defending damages claims for groundwater and soil contamination, including oilfield cases.
- Electronics manufacturing facility in periodic environmental facility audit.
- Industrial clients in negotiating administrative orders with EPA and TCEQ to resolve enforcement claims.
- Buyers, sellers, and investors in negotiation of environmental insurance coverage to address risks discovered during transaction due diligence.
- Business and individual clients in environmental due diligence in corporate acquisitions, real estate, and lending transactions.
- Industrial clients seeking evaluation of new or proposed legislation or regulations, including climate change developments.
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