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Environmental & Energy Law

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Environmental and energy-related challenges affect our clients in many contexts and in a rapidly changing legal landscape. Our Environmental & Energy Law practice group focuses on providing outstanding client service, sound strategic advice and innovative solutions, and high-quality representation in environmental and energy litigation and administrative proceedings of all kinds.  Our work is driven by our clients’ specific goals. Often our services involve traditional areas of environmental law, such as hazardous waste site cleanups, response cost recovery actions and related environmental insurance claims, facility siting proceedings, administrative appeals and litigation involving air, water, wetlands, waterways, or endangered species regulations, and environmental enforcement matters. Increasingly our work also involves developing law in emerging fields concerning climate change, greenhouse gas regulations, the delivery of renewable energy, and the environmental impacts of all kinds of energy infrastructure and transportation systems.

Recognizing that achieving our clients’ objectives on complex matters often demands a team effort, we prize collaboration among ourselves and with our clients.  We have the resources to assemble, guide, and efficiently manage a multi-disciplinary team of legal talent, scientific and engineering consultants, and other specialists who work together to solve our clients’ environmental and energy-related issues with a holistic approach, rather than a piecemeal one.

We have decades of experience representing institutional and commercial property owners, real estate developers, manufacturing and industrial companies, municipalities and public authorities, land conservation and environmental advocacy groups, citizen groups, schools and other non-profit organizations, banks, debtors’ and creditors’ trustees, insurers and insureds, and many others. In each case, the attorneys in our Environmental & Energy Law practice group utilize our technical and subject-matter expertise, our practical judgment, and our experience as skilled advocates, trial lawyers, and appellate litigators. We pride ourselves on developing and executing strategies that are nuanced, informed by science and the details of the law, focused on the unique facts of each situation, and responsive to each client’s specific goals and concerns.

A substantial part of our environmental and energy practice entails disputes of federal, state, and local law that are played out at the administrative, trial, and appellate levels. At the trial court level, our lawyers have successfully litigated many environmental cases to judgment after motion practice or trial before judges and juries.  On the appellate front, our lawyers have notable experience before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, often in landmark cases establishing new law and groundbreaking precedent. We are also experienced in handling contentious permit proceedings, defending against administrative enforcement actions, enforcing and defending conservation restrictions and other land use protections, settling disputes through negotiation and mediation, and providing counseling and strategic advice on regulatory compliance.


Representative Capabilities

Oil and Hazardous Materials Contamination

We have particular depth of experience with complex claims involving oil and hazardous materials contamination, often with multiple potentially responsible parties (PRPs). Our experience includes numerous matters under both Chapter 21E, the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, and the federal Superfund act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). We have helped clients to navigate the process of bringing contaminated sites to successful regulatory closure under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP), often by pursuing creative strategies and developing innovative solutions in partnership with Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs). We have obtained groundbreaking decisions and multi-million dollar settlements, jury verdicts, and judgments for our clients, often with awards of attorneys’ fees.

Agency Permitting Proceedings and Administrative Appeals

We represent our clients in a variety of permitting and enforcement contexts before federal, state and local environmental, energy, and land use authorities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), and the Office of the Attorney General.  We are experienced in successfully representing clients in administrative appeals – where we focus on building the administrative record necessary to support or withstand a subsequent court challenge, as well as on seeking negotiated resolutions that may be more advantageous than a litigated final judgment.  We also handle court appeals from agency decisions.

Regulatory Compliance

Our capabilities include assisting clients with strategic compliance advice involving the interpretation and application of a wide range of environmental and energy-related regulations, including the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP), the federal National Contingency Plan (NCP), the federal Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal Oil Pollution Act (OPA), the federal and state Clean Water Acts (CWA), the federal and state Clean Air Acts (CAA), and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), Endangered Species Act (MESA), and Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

Enforcement Actions

We have negotiated favorable administrative and judicial consent orders to resolve regulatory compliance issues for clients in various enforcement actions by environmental authorities. In addition, we have successfully handled enforcement-based inquiries in a manner that avoided the commencement of enforcement proceedings altogether.

Waterways (Chapter 91)

We have extensive expertise successfully resolving complex disputes at MassDEP and in court under the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act (also known as Chapter 91), the state law that regulates development along Massachusetts’s tidelands and coastal and inland waterways. This includes significant matters involving the complex intersection of the public trust doctrine and private property rights and interests.

Wetlands

Our attorneys regularly handle appeals under both the state Wetlands Protection Act and local municipal wetlands protection bylaws, at MassDEP, and, if necessary, in court.

Insurance Disputes and Advice

We have successfully represented both insurers and insureds in numerous insurance coverage matters involving environmental claims. We provide coverage advice and handle litigation over the interpretation and application of commercial general liability policies, environmental insurance policies, and homeowner’s policies, in the context of property damage claims arising from soil and groundwater contamination.

Site Assignment Proceedings

We are experienced with site assignment proceedings and other siting disputes for a variety of facilities, including proposed power plants, electrical substations and transmission lines, landfills, and transfer stations.

Brownfields Covenant-Not-To-Sue Agreements

Working with the Office of the Attorney General, we have negotiated brownfields convenant-not-to-sue agreements for our clients, providing liability relief and enhancing property development opportunities.