Environmental law sometimes seems as pervasive as the air, water and land it regulates. From traditional command-and-control program compliance, to cutting-edge litigation, to emerging issues like greenhouse gases, water allocation and product stewardship, Baker Donelson's environmental lawyers are leaders.
With extensive experience in traditional air, water and waste programs, we work with business clients to streamline permitting, ensure proactive compliance and manage environmental risks and costs. Our lawyers work regularly on state and federal Superfund sites, NPDES and pretreatment permits, Title V and other air permitting, RCRA generator and TSDF issues, and chemical regulation under TSCA, FIFRA and Proposition 65. Other clients need help with less-traditional areas, such as licensing of new electric power plants, ISO 14001 and environmental management systems, open land preservation, corporate environmental reporting, industry environmental coalitions, environmental marketing issues, agricultural regulation, toxic tort litigation, product take-back and recycling. Still others utilize our public policy counseling and legislative lobbying at all levels, and seek help with complex administrative processes and procedures.
When enforcement or litigation is looming, our environmental trial lawyers are uniquely qualified to help. Our attorneys have bench and jury trial experience in federal citizen suits, CERCLA contribution, nuisance, strict liability, and land use litigation. Defending both class actions and individual claims, in both state and federal courts, our environmental lawyers are skilled in translating complex technical and legal issues into a persuasive and compelling defense. Our lawyers also have deep and broad experience in administrative and judicial enforcement actions, including criminal investigations and prosecution.
As regulation of the environment continues to evolve, we apply proven skills and experience to developing issues. As carbon emissions, non-point source pollution, emerging toxics and sustainability move to the forefront, our lawyers are advising clients on meeting and exceeding governmental standards and public expectations.
Our environmental lawyers often rely on their colleagues' or their own experience in engineering, state law enforcement, the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, EPA, environmental consulting, government contracting, and state and federal courts. Whatever environmental challenges businesses face in the 21st century, Baker Donelson brings a wealth of practical experience, technical proficiency and mature judgment to finding realistic solutions.
Regulatory Representative Matters
- Helped an auto parts manufacturer to acquire and build on a former Superfund site, and to obtain expedited environmental permitting for its major new facility in Tennessee.
- Assisted manufacturers in negotiating voluntary cleanup agreements to allow for the most efficient remediation of past hazardous waste spills without time-consuming and expensive RCRA permitting or Superfund processes.
- Worked with a developer to secure state-permitting for relocation of a stream to allow a $200 million retail project to go forward, and to defeat later collateral attack by citizens and environmental groups.
- Conducted a major environmental audit of an electronics manufacturer's facility, implemented compliance corrections, favorably resolved a major EPCRA violation, and led the client successfully through the ISO 14001 certification process.
- Handled environmental and non-federal utility permitting and licensing of a new $500 million independent electric generating facility.
- Guided a bottled water company in compliance and permitting for a major new water source development project and facility.
- Led and participated in numerous PRP groups at multi-party Superfund sites nationwide.
- Assisted a chemical industry client in responding to an unannounced EPA multi-media audit, and all follow-up information exchanges and findings.
- Assisted a client in the preservation and donation of a 12,000 acre wilderness tract, previously designated for development or timber harvesting, as a new state natural area.
- Represented a project developer and nonprofit foundation in successful recovery from prior landowners of a large portion of petroleum tank removal and other environmental cleanup costs incurred during construction of a sports stadium in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.
- Obtained a full release of liability for an alleged responsible party from Tennessee environmental department. Remediation costs against potential parties exceeded $1.1 million.
- Advised numerous clients, including an asbestos-certified contractor, on OSHA, EPA and TDEC asbestos regulatory requirements.
- Represented numerous corporate and asset purchasers of companies, facilities and properties with varied and extensive environmental due diligence, documentation of terms, transfers and notices.
- Obtained Brownfield designation from Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality on behalf of regional biofuel company.
Representative Litigation Matters
- Defense verdict at trial on behalf of development company in Federal Court on claims seeking over $4 million and attorneys fees for alleged Clean Water Act violations and nuisance, arising out of development of residential subdivision.
- Assisted in negotiation of global settlement resolving all state and federal civil and criminal charges in largest prosecution for environmental crimes in Tennessee history.
- Represented manufacturers and distributors of consumer products in defending enforcement actions and coming into compliance under federal EPCRA, TSCA and FIFRA, and state right-to-know laws such as California's Proposition 65.
- Represented an industrial client in the advantageous cash-out settlement of its onsite and potential offsite liabilities at a cluster of landfills and other Superfund sites in Dayton, Ohio, where the client formerly operated a major manufacturing facility.
- Represented a landowner in CERCLA cost-recovery and contribution actions against a former lessee responsible for PCB releases. Full indemnity was obtained from the former tenant for the costs of investigation and remediation.
- Represented a quarry owner in property damage actions brought by neighbors. Consolidated action was separated into multiple individual actions for trial and the case settled shortly after the motion to sever was granted.
- Defended a major pulp and paper manufacturer in a class action brought on behalf of a multi-state class of over 3,000 landowners alleging damage from the discharge of dioxin into the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Nominal settlement was reached and concluded after notice to the class.
- Defended a major chemical manufacturer in a class action brought on behalf of class of 5,000 landowners and occupants alleging personal injury and property damage from air and water discharges. The case settled after class notification by co-defendant with no contribution by the Firm's client.
- Represented asbestos testing firm president in grand jury investigation of possible environmental violations; no indictment resulted.
- Represented engineering firm in grand jury environmental cleanup investigation of county supervisors and others; no indictment resulted.
- Represented petroleum products company in investigation of dumping violations by state and federal authorities.
- Represented railroad in connection with FBI investigation of potential criminal RCRA violations.
- Represented chemical manufacturer in voluntary disclosure of potential pre-treatment reporting violations; and an aluminum manufacturer and rubber manufacturer in voluntary disclosures of falsified discharge monitoring reports.
- Represented recycler of abrasives used to remove paint from military aircraft in environmental crimes investigation; no indictment resulted.
- Represented consulting engineer in environmental crimes investigation involving wastewater violations of the Clean Water Act; no indictment resulted.
- Represented executive in hazardous waste transportation investigation; no indictment resulted.
- Represented environmental consultant before federal grand jury investigating environmental crimes in cruise ship industry.
- Represented former owner of rail yard in litigation with current owner over extent of liability under indemnity agreement.
- Represented food industry plant in three-week CWA citizen suit and nuisance jury trial brought by forty-five neighbors. Jury returned verdict finding small fraction of permit violations alleged and no liability on common-law claims.
- Represented pesticide manufacturer in multiple class actions brought by neighbors seeking recovery for personal injury and property damage from historic discharges to creek. Secured dismissal of several cases and favorable settlement of remaining class claims.
- Represent engineering firm in putative class action arising out of failure of ash pond dike resulting in release of more than five million cubic yards of ash.