Environmental Litigation

Clients in a broad spectrum of industry sectors including manufacturing, consumer products, hardrock mining, conventional and renewable energy, clean tech, private equity, financial services, educational institutions, and real estate investment and development work with Goodwin’s renowned Environmental Practice to resolve their most difficult environmental challenges. These challenges include multi-party litigation, contested administrative rulemaking and permitting proceedings, new legislative initiatives, major enforcement actions, compliance investigations, Brownfields redevelopment projects, and management of complex sites, particularly those involving contaminated sediments or vapor intrusion.

At home in federal and state courts, administrative agencies, legislative committees, and at the deal table, Goodwin’s environmental team leads the field in complex sediment site remediation, vapor intrusion, environmental regulation of mining, climate change, regulation of cooling water intake structures and thermal discharges, innovative environmental deal structuring, and toxicological assessment.

How We Achieve This

We work with our clients to help define their business objectives and develop legal strategies and solutions that meet those specific objectives. Our attorneys are well accustomed to determining, explaining, and negotiating terms for allocating environmental risks in multi-state and international business transactions. We understand that, particularly in the environmental field, litigation and compliance strategies must be measured against many different factors, including magnitude of risk, importance of precedent, relationships among parties, and potential impacts to reputation and brand image among regulators, business partners, and the community.

We recognize that each new environmental regulatory initiative may pose opportunities for our clients to gain a competitive edge – by investing in alternative products and technologies, implementing new operating or compliance strategies, or capitalizing on changing market conditions. With resolve, creativity, and sharp focus, we assist clients in finding innovative solutions, setting new precedents, and shaping long-range strategies.

Our practice covers all major environmental programs. We handle litigation, enforcement, cleanup, natural resource damages assessment, compliance, licensing and permitting matters under CERCLA, RCRA, TSCA, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, General Mining Laws and reclamation laws, Great Lakes Legacy Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Community Right to Know Act, Atomic Energy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and other federal and analogous state programs.

Goodwin’s approach to environmental law is practical and results oriented.

Specific areas of our practice include:

Contaminated Sites Litigation and Management

  • “Toxic tort” claims for property damages and personal injuries allegedly arising from exposure to hazardous substances, radionuclides, building conditions, and petroleum products
  • Challenges to listings of sites on the CERCLA National Priorities List
  • Negotiation and implementation of consent orders, particularly at complex sites involving polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), coal tar, dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs), widespread contaminated sediment or indoor air contamination
  • Strategic oversight of assessment, remediation, redevelopment, and public participation processes at voluntary remediation program and Brownfields sites
  • Contribution and cost recovery claims by and against government and private parties under federal and state laws
  • Compliance, enforcement, and defense of citizen suits under RCRA and analogous state laws
  • Natural resource damage assessments, negotiations, and litigation
  • Management of hazardous building materials and conditions, including asbestos, lead, mold, PCB-containing equipment, and underground storage tanks

Water Resources Compliance and Enforcement

  • Negotiation and appeal of wastewater discharge permits and agreements
  • Defense against state and federal proceedings for enforcement of permits or other requirements
  • Federal and state permitting and administrative proceedings involving cooling water intake structures and thermal discharges for electric generating facilities under Sections 316(a) and 316(b) of the Clean Water Act
  • Citizen suits under the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws
  • Challenges to state and federal agency rulemakings
  • Monitoring, reporting and compliance under the Safe Drinking Water Act and state analogues
  • Permitting and enforcement actions involving impacts to wetlands under the Clean Water Act and local wetlands protections laws
  • Certification and related proceedings under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and other federal and state natural resources protection laws
  • Federal preemption of state and local restrictions on the discharge of radionuclides from facilities licensed by the NRC and Agreement States

Compliance Programs and Advice

  • Design and implementation of environmental management systems, pre-acquisition diligence policies and procedures, compliance audit protocols, and internal reporting systems
  • Conduct of internal investigations, preparation of self-disclosures, and responding to agency inspections
  • Defense against administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement proceedings
  • Assistance with Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC, and other aspects of financial reporting with respect to environmental costs, asset retirement obligations, contingent liabilities, and known trends and uncertainties
  • Conduct of training programs and providing advice concerning compliance with environmental laws

Environmental Aspects of Business and Real Estate Transactions

  • Comprehensive environmental diligence for corporate mergers and acquisitions, financing, and underwriting and offerings of public stock and debt
  • Drafting and negotiation of environmental risk allocation, escrow, and remediation agreements
  • Clean-up, redevelopment, financing, leasing, and conveyance of contaminated real property
  • Negotiation of environmental insurance policies, including real estate and other portfolio policies, pollution legal liability, cost cap, and coverage for radioactive materials

Environmental Regulation of Hardrock Mining

  • Compliance, enforcement, internal investigations, and litigation under environmental, reclamation, and public land management laws applicable to mining operations, including RCRA, CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, NEPA, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the General Mining Laws, the Community Right to Know Act, the Toxic Substances Act, and western state reclamation laws
  • Acquisitions, mergers, and divestitures of mining facilities located in the United States and abroad
  • Design and implementation of comprehensive environmental management systems, audit protocols and employee training programs for U.S. and international mining facilities
  • Participation in and judicial challenges to rulemaking proceedings by the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and Army Corps of Engineers
  • Legislative assistance in connection with federal and state bills affecting mining operations, including waste management and disposal, reclamation bonding, environmental remediation, and climate change