Compliance and Enforcement Defense
We represent businesses, individuals and municipalities in defense of enforcement actions for violations of environmental law instituted by U.S. EPA, MassDEP, the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office, municipal agencies, citizen groups and public interest organizations.
- Enforcement – the “Dark Side of Environmental Law” – has evolved from 1307 when an Englishman was put to death for violating a royal proclamation on smoke abatement. Today, enforcement involves administrative orders seeking corrective actions and money penalties, civil lawsuits for penalties, injunctive relief, and – for the most egregious violations – criminal lawsuits for jail time and fines.
- Compliance – the “Good Side of Environmental Law” – having entities operate within approved parameters to promote public health, safety, and welfare for people and the environment is the primary goal of environmental regulations, and violations of those rules can result in of enforcement actions.
We are experienced in leading a team of in-house and outside professionals to develop corrective action and compliance plans, environmental management systems, and Supplemental Environmental Projects. While the threat of stringent enforcement has historically served as a chief incentive to secure compliance and remediation of harm, most cases are settled under Administrative Consent Orders and Consent Judgments.
We help our clients develop a “game plan” for negotiated settlements in which the agency fairly and consistently exercises its discretion in determining an appropriate enforcement response. We work with the client and the agency to achieve a prompt return to compliance, remedy adverse impacts, and fashion a reasonable monetary sanction that is tailored to the unique facts and circumstances of the case. We know the enforcers and what they are seeking from many cases over 35 years, and enjoy credibility and a reputation as tough but principled negotiators and fearless litigators.
- Negotiated a Consent Judgment and obtained an air permit for a national metal recycling company that incorporates cutting-edge air pollution controls, and the performance of two Supplemental Environmental Projects for a waste tire removal and disposal project, and an education program for managing mercury in consumer goods.
- Negotiated a settlement and a new permit in consolidated appeals of a Cape Cod town’s groundwater discharge permit for its publicly owned wastewater treatment plant, involving novel issues of nutrient loading impacts on a coastal estuary.
- Negotiated a Consent Decree with the US EPA resolving a potential Clean Air Act penalty of tens of millions of dollars, by using a Supplemental Environmental Project through which the client rebuilt and added odor control measures to its inner city waste handling facility.
- Negotiated multiple Consent Decrees settling citizen group enforcement actions alleging violations of the NPDES stormwater discharge program under the Clean Water Act.
- Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order with MassDEP for the largest private wastewater treatment facility in Massachusetts, which services office, retail, restaurant and residential uses, requiring the major overhaul of the collection and treatment system, a multi-year schedule, water conservation measures, and a Supplemental Environmental Project.
- Appealed a MassDEP air plan approval and negotiated a settlement on behalf of neighbors abutting a metal recycling facility requiring the facility to install air pollution controls and noise mitigation measures.
- Negotiated an Administrative Consent Order for a printing and dying company to install pollution controls and to develop a plan to reduce the use of dyes with volatile organic compounds.