Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense

Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense

Given that nearly every environmental program includes enforcement powers, Hunton & Williams LLP has developed a separate team of attorneys who are experienced in handling enforcement actions or threats by federal, state or local governmental agencies, or by private parties in the form of citizen suits. Our vigorous defense of such enforcement actions combines the benefits of our wide range of substantive experience in all of the major areas of environmental regulation with our significant experience in litigation and other adversarial proceedings. These resources are further complemented by our Firm's Environmental Crimes practice, as well as its extensive experience in Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation.

Our attorneys have handled a wide array of actions in various venues, including the imposition of significant civil penalties, actions for emergency or injunctive relief, stop orders, demands for information, site investigations, notices or violation or non-compliance, and similar matters. These have either arisen or been appealed in federal and state courts, administrative agencies, and independent hearing panels, including EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. Our representative clients include chemical and pharmaceutical companies; a wide variety of manufacturers; electric and natural gas utilities; agribusiness, including intensive livestock operators and processors; pulp and paper companies and others in the timber products industry; and developers, landowners, and others involved in the development of property.

We have successfully defended against all types of enforcement actions and initiatives, including internal investigations, document review, litigation preparation, and trial preparation. We have also assisted in evaluating possible insurance coverage, as well as the prospects and risks of settlement or mediation of the dispute, as measured against the business needs and strategies of our clients. Some representative examples of Hunton & Williams’ experience in handling environmental enforcement matters include:

  • Multiple actions under EPA’s New Source Review initiative under the Clean Air Act (CAA), with special emphasis on coal-fired electric generating plants, pulp and paper manufacturing facilities and similar operations; the firm’s lawyers spearheaded industry-led challenges in federal courts to parts of the EPA’s approach, advised the companies in their responses to information requests, and assisted with defending notices of violation (NOVs) and related action by EPA alleging millions of dollars in penalties for alleged violations.
  • Coordinated enforcement action against petroleum pipeline operator alleging violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
  • Significant CAA penalty case against chemical company, resulting in a federal Circuit Court holding that regulated entities must be given fair notice of changes in agency interpretation or application of environmental standards.
  • Enforcement against development or timbering claimed to be harmful to Wetlands and to Endangered Species or Habitats.
  • Defense of penalties under the CWA and related state programs, alleging violations of discharge or non-discharge permits, improper discharges, and inadequate sampling and reporting.
  • Defense of stop orders and other administrative actions and penalties for improper handling of pesticides and fungicides regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
  • Advice regarding self-reporting issues under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and related civil penalty, enforcement response policies and application of EPA’s Audit Policy.