Coal is an essential component of the country's energy mix and—perhaps most important during current geopolitical uncertainties—is a critical resource in the drive for domestic energy independence and affordable energy. New, clean technologies and processes have placed coal on the path to producing more than half of domestic electricity and a growing proportion of gasoline and synthetic natural gas. Global demand for U.S. coal is also on the rise, as emerging economies continue to develop manufacturing infrastructure and power-generation facilities. However, these industry opportunities are matched by several key challenges, including increased regulatory pressures, organized opposition campaigns, and current limitations on the number and capacity of export facilities.
The attorneys of Hunton & Williams LLP's coal practice have decades of experience helping clients navigate the rapidly changing issues facing the industry. We advise a broad range of businesses engaged in the extraction, transportation, and use of coal and coal-derived products, including mining companies, railways and shipping companies, and power producers and utilities, as well as research entities, academic institutions and industry organizations that are exploring green uses for this valuable resource. Our attorneys have served as presidents, on executive committees and as trustees of numerous coal-related industry and legal organizations, including the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation, the National Coal Council, and the American Bar Association Natural Resources Section’s Coal Committee. The group and our individual partners were ranked in the top-tier of environmental attorneys nationwide by industry and legal ratings agencies such as Chambers USA 2015 and Best Lawyers in America 2015.
Environmental issues, including those arising under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act are of particular concern to producers and users of coal. We have worked for years at the edge of these issues, and are committed to helping our clients remain in the energy mix by developing effective strategies for dealing with the constantly changing tactics of advocacy groups, legislators, and federal and state regulators. We regularly represent coal producers and users in rulemakings, permit proceedings, enforcement actions and related litigation. For example, we are currently active in various matters arising out of the EPA's emerging legal and scientific theories about the impacts of mining on headwater streams. Among numerous other court victories, we earned a favorable judgment for the industry in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the important Bragg mountaintop mining case (for which we also successfully obtained a denial of certioriari in the U.S. Supreme Court).
Many of the issues facing the coal industry today are similar to those that have played out in other industry sectors, and we regularly apply these lessons learned to the current needs of our coal clients. We also understand how laws and policies are used to foster or promote certain industries over others, and draw on our administrative law and litigation experience to further our clients’ interests in Washington, D.C., and around the country. We are also well versed in the unique issues that arise in the development of domestic Eastern and Western coal reserves, and have represented companies worldwide in the extraction and use of coal from international sources.
As the industry becomes more vertically integrated, through mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, public/private initiatives, and other formal and informal relationships, we draw on our extensive experience in antitrust, corporate, finance, labor and employment, securities, tax and other areas of law to provide comprehensive services to our clients.