Environment: regulatory in United States
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
According to one source, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. ‘does the best high-end regulatory work out there; you won’t find a finer law firm’. A large environmental law boutique with international reach, the group advises major multinationals on high-profile mandates, such as its ongoing advice to Volkswagen regarding its compliance with the plea agreement the company entered into following its civil and criminal violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The team is also serving as the court-appointed monitor in Duke Energy’s compliance with its criminal plea agreement concerning a coal ash spill in North Carolina. In Superfund work, the team is acting for Evraz as one of the entities involved in the remediation of the Portland Harbor site. Washington DC-based firm chair Benjamin Wilson leads on the Volkswagen and Duke Energy mandates; while Loren Dunn and David Weber represent Evraz from the firm’s relatively new Seattle office. Also in Washington DC, Russell LaMotte is the firm’s managing partner, advising companies on international environmental regulatory regimes and product compliance; Alan Sachs covers regulatory matters related to agriculture, food, biotechnology, and bioenergy; the highly respected John Cruden brings to the table over 20 years’ experience in tackling environment and natural resource matters at the Department of Justice (DOJ); and Parker Moore co-chairs the natural resources and project development practice group and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Wetlands, and Endangered Species Act (ESA) groups. Dividing her time between Washington DC and Austin, Karen Hansen focuses on the Clean Water Act (CWA) and state programmes for regulating and permitting water discharges and water supply and use; and in Baltimore Pamela Marks is the co-chair of the firm-wide environmental practice group, handling water, waste, and historic contamination regulatory issues.
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is the product of the merger between Hunton & Williams LLP and Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP, which was finalized in April 2018. The team impresses with its ‘deep bench’ and ‘strong’ regulatory practice. The ‘smart’ and ‘experienced’ lawyers have the expertise to handle climate change, air, water, waste, chemicals, and natural resources matters, with a particular focus on the oil and gas industry. Highlight work included acting as counsel to the Air Permitting Forum (an association of Fortune 100 companies dedicated to promoting efficient and effective regulations under the CAA) in relation to a range of CAA matters, including advocacy with the EPA. Further, the team is acting for Schlumberger Technology Corporation in relation to the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund sites in California’s Mountain View, and acted for Schlumberger Lift Solutions in assessing compliance with California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations for vehicles. In San Francisco, Tom Boer was involved in various Superfund matters, and Shannon S. Broome was among the lawyers acting for Air Permitting Forum. Contacts in Washington DC include Chuck Knauss and Eric Murdock, the latter of whom heads the administrative law group and environmental team.
Latham & Watkins LLP is valued for its ‘excellent depth of experience’ and its focus on ‘listening to what the client needs rather than over-reaching with its own agenda’. The sizeable team advises on issues such as hazardous substances and property contamination, climate change, toxic tort, and product liability in the context of transactional diligence, permitting, regulatory compliance, agency rule-making and legislation, and enforcement actions for high-profile clients. The firm is acting as lead counsel to FivePoint Holdings and Newhall Land & Farming Company in relation to the Newhall Ranch development, a masterplanned climate neutral city in southern California integrating a greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy designed by the firm, which allows the project to obtain regulatory and judicial approval and compliance with other state and federal laws. The firm is also retained by Monsanto with regards to numerous environmental law matters including the Endangered Species Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act; the team also represents the client and before the Department of Agriculture, the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ‘phenomenally well respected and very smart and accomplished’ Janice M. Schneider rejoined the Washington DC office as global vice-chair of the environment, land and resources department after almost three years as assistant secretary for land and minerals management at the Department of the Interior (DOI). Los Angeles-based Robert Wyman is another highly regarded practitioner. San Diego-based Kelly Richardson is ‘awesome'; 'he sees the big picture, knows where the client wants to end up, and maps out a strategy to get there’. In New York, Kegan Brown and co-chair of the environmental regulation and transactions practice Gary Gengel are ‘top of the line, consummate professionals’. Also in Washington DC, Stacey L. VanBelleghem and Tommy P. Beaudreau (former chief of staff at the DOI) are also recommended.
With an especially strong Washington DC presence, Arnold & Porter acts in ‘very complex and sophisticated’ mandates, advising on all environmental regulatory matters, including climate change, Proposition 65 in California, land use, mining and energy, wetlands and endangered species. Brian Israel leads the 45-strong team, and is considered ‘a number-one guy’ for natural resources damages (NRD). The firm acts as overall environmental counsel to Honeywell, which it recently advised on the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site. Other names to note include Lawrence Culleen, Jonathan Martel, Joel Gross, and Ethan Shenkman in Washington DC, and Peggy Otum in San Francisco.
Baker Botts L.L.P.
‘Smart’, ‘responsive’, ‘well-connected’, and ‘customer-focused’, the team at Baker Botts L.L.P. assists big-name clients with matters relating to air and water contamination, wildlife, waste, Superfund and other contaminated sites, in the areas of energy, defense, chemicals, infrastructure, manufacturing, and utilities. Of recent note, the team represented EDF Renewable Energy before the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in relation to permits for its Valentine Solar Project, located on approximately 1,260 acres of private land in the Mojave Desert; that matter was led in San Francisco by Chris Carr. Contacts in Houston include Matt Kuryla and practice chair Scott Janoe. In Austin, Jennifer Keane stands out for her air regulatory expertise, and special counsel Paulina Williams is another name to note. Also recommended are Megan Berge and Bill Bumpers in Washington DC.
Focused on oil and gas, Bracewell LLP advises on climate change regulation, LNG development, pipeline and other infrastructure development, and major environmental incidents. The team advises Cheniere on all environmental regulatory, permitting and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration compliance matters; it also acted for the Williams Companies in the development and implementation of a strategic plan for federal engagement on the permitting, construction and operation of pipeline infrastructure. In Washington DC, Jason Hutt is the chair of the firm’s environmental and natural resources department; Jeffrey Holmstead is a CAA and climate change specialist; and Kevin Ewing is another standout name. In Austin, Sara Burgin is a specialist on water issues; Kevin Collins is a former Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas; and Timothy Wilkins is the office managing partner. Houston-based Christopher Dodson co-chairs the environmental litigation practice.
Covering the full range of environmental regulatory work, Dentons has longstanding experience in environmental impact assessment, chemical and product regulation, climate change, and Proposition 65, with instructions from the likes of Syngenta Crop Protection and Dow AgroSciences. It also has a historical relationship with the Estom Yumeka Tribe, which it is representing against the United States in obtaining replacement land following the construction of the Oroville Dam on the client’s property; this including successfully defending the client against multiple federal lawsuits alleging that restoration of the client’s land base violates federal environmental law. San Francisco-based chair of the firm’s US environment and natural resources practice Matthew Adams is the key figure in the team.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
The lawyers at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP have ‘broad knowledge of the field, are creative and know how to get things done’. The outfit handles highly sensitive crisis management, environmental due diligence, entitling large-scale energy, infrastructure, and development projects, including natural resource permitting and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance. It also advises energy-sector clients on US federal and state environmental laws that come into play when seeking permits, siting or expanding facilities, and confronting government enforcement. Further, Princeton-based John McGahren is representing Stepan in matters involving overlapping oversight and enforcement by the EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), DOJ, and NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) in relation to the cleanup of the Maywood Chemical Company Superfund Site in New Jersey. Los Angeles-based James Dragna heads the environmental practice and San Francisco-based Ella Foley Gannon is ‘an asset to any team working with environmental permitting or issues’. Also recommended in Los Angeles is associate David Brown, ‘a very responsive, hard working and sharp young lawyer who is even-keeled, objective and fact-driven’. Ronald Tenpas left for Vinson & Elkins LLP in October 2018.
The ‘outstanding’ practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP is ‘a great choice for difficult projects’, says one source. With particular expertise in the energy sector, the team defends key permits for development projects, including contested air, water and wetlands permits for power plants and other industrial establishments, and water supply and wastewater discharge permits. In addition, the team also handles approvals for multi-state projects involving NEPA and federal lands, such as pipelines and power transmission lines, and natural resource matters, including endangered species. The firm was retained by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association to advise on the possible safeguards to prevent owners of a physical commodity being held liable for a spill by a third-party, following the Federal Reserve’s proposition to adopt rules preventing banks and other financial institutions from owning potentially hazardous physical commodities due to concerns that the owners could become liable for any accidental environmental catastrophe; Houston-based practice head Larry Nettles led that case. Also recommended are Washington DC-based climate change expert Margaret Peloso, who is ‘among the best in the business’, and Austin-based Eric Groten, who is a full-service Clean Air Act practitioner. Ron Tenpas joined the Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in October 2018. Taylor Pullins is now in-house counsel focused on environmental, health, safety, and regulatory matters at Noble Energy.
Baker McKenzie LLP
A varied practice group, Baker McKenzie LLP’s ‘key difference is its global footprint’, advising governments on climate change, and acting for multinationals and international organisations in regulatory compliance, sustainability, and other ESG matters, as well as advising on ongoing operations, site cleanups, acquisitions, infrastructure projects, and permitting issues. Clients include the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, United Nations Global Compact, and the World Resources Institute. Primarily based in Chicago, the team is led by John Watson, who has ‘a wealth of knowledge on site impacts’ and ‘does an excellent job leading the team’. Rick Saines is noted for his climate change expertise.
Goodwin is instructed in matters involving contaminated sediment sites, hardrock mining, Superfund mega sites, natural resource damage claims, multi-media environmental enforcement proceedings and settlements, vapour intrusion problems, and complex compliance settlements. The group continues to act as regular outside counsel to longstanding client Newmont Mining in relation to environmental, public lands, and energy matters, including representing the client before the EPA, the Office of Management and Budget, and the DOI in connection with the EPA’s initiative to promulgate financial responsibility requirements for the hardrock mining industry under CERCLA. Additionally, the team advises on legislation related to the management of mercury generated as a by-product of gold mining, and also works with industry and environmental groups and Congressional staffers to develop “Good Samaritan” legislation that would relax liabilities and requirements imposed by the federal environmental laws on mining companies that voluntarily remediate sites polluted in the past by third parties. Contacts in Washington DC include Michael Giannotto and William Jay. Elise Zoli joined Jones Day, Gregory Bibler left to set up his own firm, and Laurence Kirsch moved to Sidley Austin LLP in March 2019.
Katten specializes in environmental crimes, workplace safety and major accident response, acting for an impressive roster of clients that includes Chevron and ExxonMobil. It has been advising DuPont on matters concerning a catastrophic toxic environmental release that resulted in multiple fatalities in La Porte, Texas, in 2014, including, most recently, resolving all administrative citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and all alleged civil CAA violations with the EPA and DOJ with no admission of wrongdoing. Key contacts in Houston include Greg Dillard and the ‘wonderful’ Scott Elliott. In Washington DC, Steve Solow, Nadira Clarke and Anne Carpenter are key practitioners. Also recommended are Austin-based Danny Worrell, San Francisco-based Matthew Baker and Lily Chinn, and Tom Van Wyngarden in Los Angeles. Mark Farley founded his own firm in 2019.
Clients rely on King & Spalding LLP for its ‘experience of federal government enforcement, and very efficient and practical advice’. Indeed, team has several lawyers with environmental agency enforcement expertise and it is particularly strong in environmental litigation. It handles automotive, stationary source and other air emission regulation and enforcement; environmental health and safety and crisis management; oilfield environmental impacts; issues involving industrial and consumer products; and Superfund remediation. Of note, the team is acting for Volkswagen in ongoing EPA, CARB, and DOJ investigations related to emissions from 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesel engine powered vehicles, involving questions of compliance with the environmental requirements of the settlement agreements reached previously between the parties in what was the largest-ever CAA enforcement case. Based in Washington DC, the ‘smart, savvy and experienced’ Granta Nakayama is the firm-wide environmental, health and safety group leader. Other names to note are Atlanta-based Adam Sowatzka (‘razor-sharp instincts’; ‘always upbeat’; ‘an extremely fast learner’), and, Peter Hsiao in Los Angeles, who heads the West Coast environmental, health and safety practice.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s environmental regulatory practice handles high-stakes litigation, regulatory issues in corporate transactions and restructuring matters, and enforcement defense work and related litigation. A recent highlight saw the team representing PES Holdings in its pre-packaged Chapter 11 restructuring, which involved negotiating with the EPA for a settlement regarding the client’s ethanol credit obligations under the Clean Air Act and related regulations. Key figures in the Washington DC-based team include Jeanne Cohn-Connor and Brian Land.
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul Hastings LLP has particular strengths in brownfield project and contaminated site matters related to real estate and energy developments. A standout highlight included acting for several affiliates of Lennar Corporation and Five Point Holdings in the $8bn mixed-use development of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Candlestick Point in San Francisco, namely dealing with allegations of fraudulent performance of radiological remediation by a Navy contractor; San Francisco-based Gordon Hart is leading that case. Department head Peter Weiner, who works between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, is retained by Boeing in a variety of matters, including the development and negotiation of a conservation easement for a 2400-acre contaminated site undergoing a RCRA cleanup. Another name to note is Deborah Schmall in San Francisco; she, along with Hart, is instructed by Related Companies in relation to regulatory matters concerning its $6bn 200-acre mixed-use development over a municipal landfill in Santa Clara.
Van Ness Feldman LLP punches well above its weight, and is particularly valued for its ‘personal touch’. The team is instructed by clients in the automotive, manufacturing, energy, ports and recreational marine industries, and also advises federal lands concessionaires on issues such as air pollution control, climate change, federal and state environmental permitting, endangered species, land and water resources, and hazardous waste. The firm is retained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on a wide range of environmental, energy and natural resources matters; this recently included the development and implementation of lobbying strategies and the establishment of federal requirements for limiting CO2 emissions from new and existing power plants under the CAA and state laws. Jonathan Simon, whose ‘professionalism and knowledge are second to none’, heads the land, water and natural resources practice, while Stephen Fotis leads the environment practice. Climate change specialist Kyle Danish, Britt Fleming, Andrea Hudson Campbell, and Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming are other key practitioners. All named lawyers are based in Washington DC.
One of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s strength is its nationwide spread with localised knowledge in 30 offices across the country. The lawyers have expertise in administrative law, auditing and compliance, brownfield development and risk transfer, crisis response and management, energy and infrastructure projects, Native American law, natural resources, permitting, CAA, CWA, ESA, CERCLA, NEPA, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and rulemaking and challenges. Kerri Barsh co-chairs the environmental practice from Miami; Philadelphia-based David G Mandelbaum is the other practice co-chair; in Houston Christopher L Bell is the EPA-appointed independent monitor overseeing compliance by Duke Energy with the conditions of its plea to criminal misdemeanour violations of the CWA. Other clients include National Marine Manufacturers Association, the State of North Dakota, Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, and National Sorghum Producers.
K&L Gates covers the full range of environmental matters, with a particular focus on the energy sector. In one example, the team assisted CPV Fairview, an affiliate of Competitive Power Ventures, with multiple aspects of the development of a 1050 MW natural gas and ethane-fired combined-cycle power plant in Pennsylvania, developed on an existing brownfield site, and involving siting, environmental permitting, water supply, negotiation with the state environmental agency and liability protection with respect to multiple properties, spanning three municipalities; Harrisburg-based Timothy Weston led that matter with support from office managing partner Craig Wilson. Brian Montag and Ankur Tohan jointly head the practice in Newark and Seattle, respectively.
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s integrated environmental, natural resources, and land use group advises on compliance and enforcement, due diligence, consumer products law and regulation, and emerging issues, such as permitting and entitlement matters involving climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, and renewable and non-renewable energy. In a landmark case, the firm has been representing over 50 coffee manufacturers, including Starbucks, Kraft Heinz, and Nestlé, in a trial claiming that coffee manufacturers and retailers are required under Proposition 65 to provide cancer warnings on coffee, based on the chemical acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted. Based in San Francisco, Michael Steel, William Tarantino, and senior counsel Robert Falk are the key practitioners. Michèle Corash retired.
Active on the West Coast, Perkins Coie LLP advises on permitting and development of large projects; remediation of contaminated sites; regulatory compliance, auditing and enforcement; and policy, legislation and rulemaking, covering water law, wildlife and endangered species, public land and energy resources, protected areas, coastal law, and Indian law. The key practitioners are Karen McGaffey in Seattle and Donald Baur in Washington DC.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP fields ‘very experienced environmental lawyers with an encyclopedic knowledge of environmental matters’. The practice group handles enforcement; regulatory compliance; legislative and regulatory monitoring and advocacy; project siting, development and finance; facility decommissioning; environmental impact analysis; site investigation and remediation; human health and ecological risk assessment; and environmental management strategy. For a long time the group has been retained by the Western States Petroleum Association, which it advises on a broad range of matters, including state legislation and state and local regulatory developments across a wide array of issues affecting the petroleum industry. Based across Houston and Washington DC, Matthew Morrison's ‘lengthy experience with EPA and DOJ gives him invaluable insight’. Other key practitioners include Norman Carlin and Margaret Rosegay in San Francisco; firm-wide environmental practice head Mark Elliott and Michael McDonough in Los Angeles; Wayne Whitlock in Silicon Valley; and Jeff Knight and Sheila Harvey in Washington DC.
Reed Smith LLP
A hybrid environmental and health and safety practice, Reed Smith LLP advises clients on the application of environmental and safety management programs, regulatory compliance, incident follow-up, inspections and enforcement actions, audits and relations with OSHA, EPA and other agencies. In Houston, environmental veteran Daniella Landers heads the practice and former environmental engineer Ben Patton handles incident responses. Other names to note include Jennifer Smokelin in Pittsburgh, Todd Maiden in San Francisco, and associate Mary Balaster, also in Houston. Robert Frank moved to Holland & Knight LLP in July 2018.
Market sources have recognized Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s ambition and desire to grow, and salute the lawyers’ technical capabilities. The group handles regulatory and permitting matters before federal, state and local agencies, Proposition 65 compliance and defence, rights and liabilities regarding potential contamination and wetlands, endangered species and water quality, and permitting matters relating to the construction and operation of energy production and industrial facilities. A recent highlight saw Los Angeles-based practice co-chairs Jeffrey Parker and Whitney Roy obtaining summary judgement for Exxon Mobil and ExxonMobil Oil in an MTBE product liability multi-district litigation. San Francisco-based Nico Van Aelstyn is also recommended.
Thompson & Knight LLP
Thompson & Knight LLP’s Texas-based practice has expertise in endangered species matters and in the oil and gas and natural resources sectors; in the latter context, it primarily advises clients on audits by the EPA. Highlight work includes its ongoing assistance to the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in connection with endangered species matters relating to its use of a 5,000-acre ranch and the sale of conservation credits from its endangered species conservation bank. Key figures in the team are practice head James Morriss III in Austin, and Ashley T. K. Phillips.
WilmerHale advises on regulatory compliance in relation to federal and state environmental laws, defense in enforcement actions, and environmental aspects of corporate transactions. The team assisted the Vermont Department of Public Service in a proceeding related to the proposed transfer, decommissioning and site restoration of a recently retired nuclear generating facility. In Denver, Andrew Spielman and Ken Salazar co-chair the energy, environment and natural resources practice. Other notable lawyers include special counsel Rachel Jacobson and counsel Raya Treiser in Washington DC, and counsel Bonnie Heiple and special counsel David Gold in Boston.