Environmental

Through our extensive experience as former government enforcement officials and regulators—and decades of experience in private practice focused on environmental issues—we are well equipped to help you deal with compliance issues and civil litigation and to provide vigorous defense in criminal matters.

 Environmental problems take many forms.

  • Your water discharge permit is up for renewal and is being challenged by an environmental group

  • One of your employees receives a visit at home from EPA's Criminal Investigation Division investigating falsification of discharge-monitoring reports

  • Your company receives an EPA letter announcing that the Agency will be conducting a comprehensive TSCA audit in two weeks

  • Your board of directors insists that the company reduce energy costs by at least 15 percent as part of a comprehensive sustainability policy

  • Your new plant must incorporate "environmental site design" in its stormwater management practices

  • A property you're acquiring is contaminated, and your lender insists that you enroll the property in a Voluntary Cleanup Program

  • Proposed environmental regulations will impact your business

Whatever challenge you face, Venable's environmental attorneys are armed with solutions. 

Litigation

Civil Litigation

Our environmental lawyers are experienced in all aspects of administrative and judicial enforcement actions. We have represented corporations and individuals in proceedings before federal, state, and administrative tribunals, including matters involving air, water, hazardous waste, and natural resource claims. We have particular expertise in defending claims brought under the citizen suit provisions of federal environmental statutes. We have also acted as plaintiff's counsel in disputes over water supply and wastewater capacity.

Reducing Risk in Criminal Investigations

Venable is the only major law firm with a team of attorneys who focus exclusively on representing corporations and individuals under investigation for possible criminal violations of environmental laws. Spearheaded by former high-ranking environmental officials at the Department of Justice, we represent clients at every stage of criminal enforcement. 

This includes conducting internal investigations, responding to search warrants and grand jury subpoenas, dealing with investigators and prosecutors, negotiating plea agreements, and, if necessary, handling the matter through trial, sentencing and appeal.

Compliance Counseling

Environmental Compliance and Permitting

Corporations and government agencies call on us to assist in securing environmental authorizations and permits for major undertakings and to defend clients' interests in court. This includes permits for water discharges, air emissions, solid and hazardous waste storage, treatment and disposal facilities, wetlands and natural resources, and endangered species issues. Our practice includes negotiating permit terms and conditions with regulatory authorities and both defending and challenging issued permits.

Environmental Audits and Compliance Programs

We know environmental compliance from all angles. We have demonstrated to clients how a well-crafted compliance program can greatly reduce the civil and criminal liability exposure for corporations and their officers and employees. And we often help clients develop compliance and self-audit programs based on our deep knowledge of the federal sentencing guidelines, EPA and DOJ audit procedures, and self-disclosure policy documents, as well as a thorough knowledge of environmental compliance issues. 

Venable's attorneys have also conducted internal investigations and have represented clients on issues dealing with self-disclosure, suspension, and debarment. 

Maritime and Spill Response Management 

Vessel owners and operators and marine facilities call us for help in dealing with oil pollution issues and for assistance in avoiding criminal, civil, and administrative sanctions for water pollution, hazardous material transportation, and marine safety violations. 

We work closely with the Coast Guard and EPA to resolve issues of financial responsibility or liability resulting from oil and chemical spills. We have represented clients under investigation by the Coast Guard, the National Responsibility Safety Board (NRSB), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and state agencies.

Sustainability

The "Green" Wave

Sustainable development practices are here to stay. Our attorneys are intimately familiar with:

  • Climate change 
  • Brownfields
  • Voluntary cleanup programs
  • Environmental site design
  • Cap-and-trade programs 
  • Storm water management
  • Erosion and sediment control practices 
  • Forest conservation practices

Understanding these requirements—including the business values and marketing opportunities—is essential in today's world. We work with emerging programs like carbon capture and trading, as well as traditional programs involving water and sewer capacity planning, to assist clients in navigating changing legal requirements.

As resources become scarcer, Venable's knowledge of nutrient trading, water- and sewerage-capacity planning, and moratoria will help clients successfully navigate the numerous environmental restraints that will arise in property development. 

Environmental Issues in Real Estate and Commercial Transactions

The sale or acquisition of property and other assets presents the potential for significant environmental liability. These problems can be avoided with careful and timely planning.

Developing and executing appropriate environmental due diligence is critical to managing and/or avoiding post-closing consequences. Properly drafted environmental representations and warranties are just the beginning. Selection of consultants, preparation of draft-access agreements, procurement of insurance to address remediation costs, and structuring the transaction to avoid and/or minimize environmental liabilities are but a few of the tools our lawyers have utilized to manage and/or eliminate potential environmental consequences. 

Environmental Legislative, Rulemaking, and Policy Development

Venable's environmental team also represents clients in all aspects of federal legislation, rulemakings, and policy development under the nation's major environmental statutes. Our attorneys are commonly involved in traditional notice and comment rulemaking initiatives, as well as the more nuanced practice of representing our clients before key federal agencies and congressional staff. We represent clients before such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as well as the congressional committees with jurisdiction over energy and the environment. When necessary, we engage in litigation involving challenges to federal regulations of importance to our clients.

For example, we represent one of the nation's leading electric utility trade associations in virtually all matters involving the federal regulation of utility solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous materials, and chemicals. We also represent a variety of clients in the wood products industry before federal and state agencies regarding the regulation of formaldehyde.

Statutory Focus

  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

Practice Focus

  • Civil litigation
  • Chemicals management
  • Climate change
  • Compliance counseling
  • Environmental audits
  • Environmental crimes defense
  • Environmental due diligence
  • Environmental rulemaking and policy development
  • Green practices
  • Maritime and spill response management
  • Natural resources issues
  • Regulatory and permitting
  • Sustainability

Recognition
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  • Ranked in U.S. News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms," 2011 – 2017
    • Tier 1 Environmental Law (National; Baltimore; DC)
    • Tier 1 Litigation - Environmental (National; Baltimore; DC) 
  • Recognized by Chambers USA, Environmental, DC, 2017
  • Attorneys with top rankings by
    • Chambers USA
    • Best Lawyers in America