Miller Nash environmental lawyers have a long history with environmental matters affecting an array of U.S. industries.
Clients turn to us to minimize risks and liabilities associated with environmental issues across the nation. Environmental challenges range from brief compliance counseling sessions to major enforcement and litigation matters and often present financially devastating liabilities. Our attorneys have technical, government service, and practical experience. Our team-oriented approach relieves the in-house burdens and administrative demands presented by these cases. We understand how to tailor strategies according to clients’ business culture, economic constraints, and short- or long-term goals.
We regularly represent Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP) at federal and state Superfund and brownfield redevelopment sites; assist with management, investigation, and cleanup of contamination, liability, and natural resource damage claims; and negotiate administrative orders, consent decrees, and prospective purchaser agreements. Our team manages multiple private cost recovery actions in state and federal courts involving the Clean Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and state equivalents. We’ve successfully litigated some of the most challenging environmental and natural resource damages, mass and toxic tort claims across the country.
When it comes to day-to-day compliance and regulatory counseling, we obtain and maintain air and water permits; respond to enforcement actions, operational compliance, investigations, and prosecutions; and mitigate pollution and contamination liabilities and remedies. Our attorneys regularly appear before federal, state, and administrative law courts. In California, we often intercede with state environmental authorities, including the Department of Toxic Substances Controls (DTSC), local water boards, and various California-specific agencies. In Oregon and Washington, we are intermediators with similar agencies, including the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE). At the federal level we regularly interact with the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other branches of environmental authorities.
Our representation spans a broad swath of business interests, including oil and gas, electricity, renewable energy, construction, real estate, food processing, manufacturing, and waste management. We represent private companies, governmental entities and municipalities, academic institutions, and trade organizations. These leading businesses and institutions are key contributors to our economies, and thus have robust in-house teams requiring sophisticated counsel who collaboratively and efficiently work with various in-house departments, experts, technicians and vendors, and various regulatory bodies. Working alongside and advising these advanced internal teams, we have earned their trust over the course of long-held relationships.
Our environmental team comes with strong academic credentials, backgrounds in science, and hands-on technical vocations before arriving to private practice. From senior partners to associates and paralegals, our team includes those who formerly worked in-house for large global energy producers, a U.S. Department of Justice environmental trial lawyer, a county geographic information systems (GIS) analyst and national park ranger, an oil field technician, an agroforestry extension agent for the U.S. Peace Corps, as well as former clerks in Washington D.C. working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, and U.S. Department of the Interior.
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Environmental litigation can pose a daunting challenge to businesses because of the potential complexity, expense, and duration. Our attorneys are adept at resolving environmental disputes with or without litigation. When litigation is necessary, our knowledge of environmental statutes and remedial technologies, our relationships with technical consultants and regulators, and our extensive experience in the courtroom, in administrative tribunals, and with various dispute resolution processes helps us obtain the best possible results for our clients.
Given the substantial costs and risks, many environmental disputes may be resolved outside the courtroom through administrative proceedings, cooperation between affected companies and state or federal regulators, and/or negotiated agreements among parties. Our lawyers have the skills and sophistication necessary to guide clients through all facets of complex environmental controversies, including negotiation with state and federal regulators, administrative agency proceedings, litigation in state and federal courts, appellate litigation, arbitration, mediation, and insurance coverage actions for environmental claims.
We've successfully assisted clients in a wide range of environmental litigation matters, including:
- Cost allocation, cost recovery/contribution, and natural resource litigation under CERCLA and similar state statutes.
- Litigation of contractual indemnification provisions.
- Defense of civil and criminal enforcement actions under federal and state environmental statutes.
- Recovery of insurance proceeds for environmental claims.
- Defense of citizen suits by private groups attempting to enforce federal and state environmental statutes.
- Negotiation and preparation of consent decrees under federal and state statutes.
- Challenging consent decrees under federal and state statutes.
- Toxic tort, trespass and nuisance, and property damage and personal injury litigation arising from environmental releases and conditions.
- Permit approval and challenge proceedings under various statutes, including RCRA, FIFRA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal and state statutes.
Our knowledge of the regulatory schemes and familiarity with government agencies allows us to efficiently assist with developing and implementing proactive strategies to assess and address compliance requirements needed to meet a client's goals. Regulatory approvals of major projects are built on collaborative efforts, and our lawyers work effectively with in-house counsel, co-counsel, and consultants at every project development stage, through to the securing of necessary permits and licenses, including dealing with agency staff and consulting with stakeholders. Clients with new projects and/or developments often rely on our knowledge in assisting with air permitting, including NSR and PSD permits and renewals, and obtaining and renewing NPDES permits. We also provide legal advice on emerging contaminant issues, including issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctansulfonic acid (PFOS). When regulatory attention results in enforcement actions, we help clients evaluate options for appeal or settlement of those actions.
Our experience with federal and state environmental laws and agencies is key to providing our clients with proficient and critical insight, giving them the time and energy to focus on their business operations. We frequently assist with issues governed by the following statutes and their corresponding federal regulations and state programs:
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), including US EPA Superfund 104(e) Information Requests
- Clean Water Act
- Clean Air Act
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
- State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
- Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
- California’s Proposition 65
- Endangered Species Act (ESA)
- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
- Emergency Planning and Community-Right-To-Know (EPCRA)
All businesses are bound by environmental laws designed to protect human health and safety and regulate our interactions with natural resources. Effective advocacy relies on our participation in policy work that impacts our clients' business operations. We participate in the challenging questions arising between economic growth and environmental protections. Our attorneys are regular speakers and writers on environmental issues as well as active participants on behalf of major trade organizations. Our attorneys also assist clients with rulemaking advocacy and administrative and judicial appeals of final rules.