To resolve civil, criminal or administrative investigations and prosecutions, you need a legal team that offers precise counsel. We have defended hundreds of environmental enforcement actions involving air, land or water contamination in nearly every state. Our approach to these actions is designed with the goal of minimal impact on your daily business operations.
The impact on a company’s brand, not to mention profits, can be immense when facing civil or criminal enforcement actions. Alston & Bird’s Environmental Enforcement Defense team is one of the most experienced in the nation, having defended hundreds of actions involving alleged violations of air, land, and water permitting or compliance requirements.
Our lawyers focus on achieving the most favorable outcomes by aligning their legal strategy with your business objectives and providing efficient representation. When environmental enforcement actions are handled poorly, the results can threaten expansion plans, existing projects, and facilities and even exclude you from future government contracts. We are diligent in our pursuit of creative solutions that meet the demands of regulators while minimizing the impact on your company’s operations. When a client wants to settle a claim, we negotiate the most favorable terms possible. In trial settings, our team draws on its vast experience to present the strongest defense possible.
Our lawyers’ experiences run the gamut of U.S. environmental law. We have defended enforcement actions under the CAA, CWA, RCRA, TSCA, FIFRA, and CERCLA. Because of our long-standing relationships with companies across different sectors of the economy, we are well-versed in the specific issues and risks faced by industries like manufacturing, chemical, petroleum, agribusiness, consumer products, oil and gas, energy, and transportation, among others.
With team members who have served in significant regulatory roles themselves, including a former acting general counsel and principal deputy general counsel of United States Environmental Protection Agency and a former assistant section chief of the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section, we bring a level of governmental insight and perspective to environmental enforcement defense that few other national law firms can match.
CIVIL ENFORCEMENT EXPERIENCE
For a national printing company, challenged an Indiana Title V air permit, preventing the agency from imposing costly new production limits and monitoring requirements and saving our client an extraordinary expense of over $400,000 every five years.
For an electric utility client, convinced an agency, despite public protests by several environmental advocacy groups, to remove our client from an expansive new rulemaking—saving our client over $45 million in unnecessary control costs.
Settled for $1 million a multimillion-dollar PSD/New Source Review air enforcement action brought by U.S. EPA and West Virginia against a sulfuric acid plant.
Convinced U.S. EPA not to bring a national New Source Review air enforcement action against a wood products company.
Settled a multimillion-dollar New Source Review air enforcement action brought by the Illinois attorney general's office and Illinois EPA against a steel mill for $50,000, and recovered half of the amount for our client from a former operator.
Handled the most extensive administrative hearing in Georgia history defending a water discharge permit for a $400 million facility that is critical to responsible regional growth. Successfully defended the administrative law judge’s key, favorable holdings before the appellate court and obtained the final permit in 2006.
Advising three different major U.S. cities on threatened or actual DOJ and EPA wastewater enforcement.
Advising two different major manufacturing companies on compliance with complex total maximum daily load issues (PCBs and nutrients), both involving cross-boundary water quality standards being implemented pursuant to federal consent decrees.
Successfully defended a mining client’s Section 404 wetlands permit challenge, convincing the plaintiffs to withdraw the complaint and allowing mining to proceed without interruption.
In connection with the San Gabriel Valley Superfund sites, at which interim remedial costs were estimated to be in excess of $75 million, achieved unique settlements with EPA, DTSC and other plaintiffs that broadly preclude any future third-party claims and resulted in over $16 million in federal funding towards treatment costs, with combined contributions from our clients totaling approximately one percent of the estimated response costs.
In an agency enforcement action for 18 hazardous waste sites, negotiated potential multimillion-dollar penalties down to $250,000. In a related case, we recovered a total of $6.5 million for the client from its former insurance carriers for cleanup costs at these sites.
Handled self-disclosure and EPA negotiations for a client that discovered potential EPCRA violations at 71 facilities in 20 states across eight EPA regions. Obtained a no-penalty determination.
National counsel to a major transportation company and a major appliance manufacturer for Superfund sites across the country.
Common counsel at a broad range of multiparty sites around the country.
CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT EXPERIENCE
Defended a criminal proceeding in San Diego pertaining to alleged hazardous materials transportation violations; succeeded in getting the case dismissed on federal preemption grounds.
Defended an RCRA criminal enforcement action by the California EPA, persuading the agency to not only drop the criminal charges against our client, but also forego any civil enforcement.
Representation of a used oil-recycling business in criminal RCRA violations linked to a worker’s death and fire, resulting in the company paying a $150,000 fine and the president receiving a downward variance from his recommended guideline sentence.
Representation of a pesticide manufacturer in the local prosecutor’s criminal investigation of pesticide exposure in drinking water; the matter resulted in no criminal charges being filed.
Handled all aspects of a major RCRA criminal investigation by EPA and DOJ relating to the alleged improper storage and disposal of acid and negotiated a non-criminal civil penalty.
Representation of a bottling company that discovered historical storm water discharge violations through audit and self-reported violations to a state agency, resulting in no enforcement action by the agency.
Representation of an executive of a chemical company for alleged Clean Air Act violations of ozone-depleting substance leak-prevention regulations and grand jury obstruction, resulting in no criminal charges filed against the executive or company.
Representation of a container ship officer for falsification of a vessel’s oil record book designed to cover up oil pollution discharged in violation of an international treaty (MARPOL), resulting in a guilty plea and a $1,500 fine, one year of probation and no jail time.