The strategic use of natural resources and responsible growth place environmental law at the forefront of business concerns. Blank Rome’s nationally recognized environmental practice provides counsel to clients in every major business sector, including: manufacturing, real estate, commercial development, public and private finance and investment, healthcare and transportation. We also provide counsel to municipal and county governments, and redevelopment authorities.
Our practice covers every substantive area of environmental law, including:
- due diligence, compliance auditing and environmental management systems
- corporate, real estate and lending transactions
- construction and operating permits for project development
- underground and aboveground storage tanks
- medical waste management
- civil and criminal enforcement and litigation
- internal corporate criminal investigations
- natural resource damages claims
- toxic tort claims
- Clean Air Act
- Clean Water Act and wetlands
- Toxic Substances Control Act and pesticide laws
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and hazardous waste management
- Superfund and voluntary remediation programs
- Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
We have particular experience in the following areas:
Environmental Enforcement and Litigation (Civil, Criminal, and Administrative Proceedings)
Our environmental attorneys provide representation in federal and state, civil and criminal enforcement actions and with respect to judicial consent decrees, administrative compliance orders, civil penalty assessments, natural resource damages assessments, and citizens’ suit actions to enforce federal and state environmental laws. We also litigate complex, multiparty actions involving private cost-recovery, cleanup-cost allocation, and “toxic tort” claims.
Environmental Due Diligence and Risk Management
In any business transaction, the ability to quantify and qualify potential risk can ensure a successful outcome. Blank Rome’s environmental attorneys team up with other attorneys in the real estate group and attorneys in the Firm’s corporate and financial groups in connection with complex private and public commercial transactions. Our services include identifying, quantifying, qualifying, allocating, and documenting environmental issues and matters related to asset and stock acquisitions, sales of industrial and commercial companies (both private and public), credit agreements and secured financings, and strategic investments in industrial and commercial properties. We help our clients obtain environmental insurance coverage when they wish to minimize environmental and business risks and ensure a successful transaction.
Counseling, Compliance Auditing, and Environmental Management Systems
In a constantly evolving regulatory environment, it is essential to have a proactive compliance strategy. We counsel clients across the nation on compliance issues arising under all major state and federal environmental laws. These laws include: Superfund and state voluntary cleanup laws, RCRA and state solid and hazardous waste management laws, Clean Water Act and wetlands laws, clean air laws, community and worker right-to-know laws, and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. In addition, we assist clients with environmental permitting, land development, facility siting, reporting obligations, and meetings with federal and state regulatory agencies related to compliance matters. We conduct environmental, health, and safety compliance audits to determine the scope and extent of compliance issues, if any, and the corrective actions that must be undertaken, if required. We work with consultants to design environmental management systems to address any issues identified during the scope of the auditing program.
Representation Before Regulatory Agencies and Congress
If an environmental matter involves executive policy issues or requires legislative input and action, we work on this matter with our affiliate, Blank Rome Government Relations LLC, a leading lobbying and strategic communications firm. We also monitor and comment upon state and federal agency rulemakings and pending state and federal legislation.
Select Environmental Engagements
- For nearly 15 years, have served as national coordinating counsel for a multinational chemical company in the defense of more than 20 class action cases involving toxic torts and alleged groundwater contamination. Certain of these cases involve the largest natural resource damages claims being litigated in the United States.
- Representing energy company in all initial and ongoing permitting and related environmental regulatory matters relating to the acquisition and restart of a major oil refinery.
- Representing a pipeline company in state and federal enforcement actions arising from horizontal directional drilling.
- Lead counsel in defending several large manufacturing companies against private CERCLA and common law claims brought by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
- Providing counsel to a venture capital company in the negotiation and acquisition of shale oil and gas leases.
- Representing an international oil company in the negotiation of a contract for the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing activities in underground injection wells.
- Defended a major oil and gas company charged in a 97 count federal criminal indictment alleging conspiracy, false statements, and violations of the Clean Air Act and CERCLA.
- Provided ongoing compliance counseling to a manufacturer of chemical products seeking to address notices of violations under RCRA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
- Assisted an international chemical company in several internal investigations in connection with potential violations under various state and federal environmental statutes.
- Represented a major airline in a nationwide criminal investigation of alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, RCRA, CERCLA, Title 18 of the United State Code, and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
- Conducted environmental, health and safety compliance audits on behalf of numerous clients to identify potential and actual violations of environmental laws to assist with the development of environmental management systems, and to provide counsel regarding required disclosures to government agencies.
- Served as lead counsel for a county government with two NPL Superfund sites, negotiated consent decrees and cost-sharing agreements with other parties and obtained a mixed funding agreement with EPA for site remediation costs.
- Represented client in NEPA review of Army Corps of Engineers gravel dredging permit and Endangered Species Act consultation regarding threatened and endangered species.
Class Action/Toxic Tort Litigation
- Representing client that operated what was at the time the largest oil refinery in the Western Hemisphere against multiple toxic tort bodily injury and property damage lawsuits filed by more than 600 plaintiffs for alleged exposure to numerous air releases.
- Ongoing defense of, and successful jury verdicts against, numerous benzene exposure cases filed against several international oil companies.
- Counsel in the Lore v. Lone Pine Corporation toxic tort case which resulted in the issuance of the first so-called “Lone Pine Order,” an approach to case management that is now relied on nationally in toxic tort, mass tort and product liability cases as one of the most effective methods of challenging plaintiffs’ causes of action before being required to engage in costly, time-consuming factual and expert discovery.
- Successfully prevented certification of a class action against an international oil company and other companies in a case involving alleged bodily injuries and property damage for alleged exposure to environmental contamination.
- Successfully defended client against numerous toxic tort actions in which plaintiffs’ alleged bodily injuries and property damage from their alleged exposure to depleted uranium dust escaping from client’s stacks at a uranium foundry.
- Represented the former United States Radium Corporation through nearly 12 years of litigation in a putative class action brought by 225 plaintiffs, who claimed their 61 properties had been damaged by radioactively contaminated soil and that they had suffered bodily injuries as a result of their alleged exposure to radiation. Following several mistrials, a 4 week evidentiary hearing in which we successfully challenged the admissibility of plaintiffs’ lead expert, and years of discovery, all matters were settled on favorable terms.
- Successfully defended an energy company against a multiparty toxic tort action in which plaintiffs alleged bodily injuries from their alleged exposure to radioactive emissions from waste material at a nuclear power plant.
- Lead counsel against lawsuit filed by ~100 residents for alleged bodily injuries from smoke and fumes emanating from an illegal landfill, obtaining a dismissal with prejudice of all claims.
- Successfully defended large energy client against a property damage class action relating to alleged leaks in a 5-mile pipeline running from client’s nuclear power plant.
Experienced Attorneys, Recognized in Their Fields
Blank Rome’s environmental practice is comprised of attorneys who bring a wealth of experience from diverse backgrounds in industry and government. The group includes former trial attorneys from the Department of Justice, former officials of the Environmental Protection Agency, and former assistant United States attorneys. Members of the group write, lecture, and teach on environmental law topics. They have earned public recognition, including in Chambers USA, U.S. News – Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, and the International Who’s Who of Environment Lawyers.