Stevens & Lee represents commercial, manufacturing, energy, health care, higher education, financial services, municipal and agency clients in a wide range of environmental regulatory, transactional and litigation matters. We also represent the domestic natural gas industry in the development of unconventional shale gas plays, such as the Marcellus and Utica Shales, and related natural gas production, gathering, processing, transportation and other infrastructure projects.Our environmental practice includes the following service areas:
- Brownfields and Site Remediation
- Regulatory Compliance
- Renewable Energy
Stevens & Lee's environmental team has the significant, hands-on environmental experience clients need when faced with an environmental issue. One of our lawyers is a Pennsylvania-licensed Professional Geologist and former environmental consultant, and a member of both the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists and Pennsylvania's Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board. Our team also includes a former general counsel of one of the largest privately held waste management companies in the U.S. and a former EPA Legal Branch Section Chief.
Stevens & Lee's environmental group assists clients with transactions involving real property acquisition or divestiture, plant closings or relocations, property portfolio acquisitions and corporate mergers, reorganizations and acquisitions and Brownfields development. Our attorneys have extensive experience conducting due diligence and compliance audits, identifying and quantifying environmental risks associated with a transaction and negotiating environmental provisions of key transactional documents, including real property purchase agreements, asset purchase agreements, commercial and industrial leases and merger agreements.Our transactional representations include:
- Environmental counsel to a large gasoline/petroleum distributor in the acquisition of retail gasoline station portfolios in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York involving environmental liability transfer
- Environmental counsel to a commercial client with an extensive real estate portfolio, assisting with cleanup obligations, storage tanks, asbestos, indoor air and mold issues
- Environmental counsel to multiple interstate retail gasoline/convenience store operations, where we advise on property acquisitions/divestitures and leasing, underground storage tank indemnification fund issues and site remediation issues
- Counsel to Sovereign Bancorp, Inc., for environmental due diligence and negotiated environmental insurance in connection with its acquisition and financing of 300 New England bank branches as part of the largest federally mandated branch divestiture in U.S. banking history at the time
PermittingWe have extensive experience assisting clients with negotiating and obtaining environmental permits including:
- Federal and State Air Quality Permits (including HAPS, risk management plans, startup/shutdown rules and CEMS)
- NPDES Permits (including industrial discharge and storm water related to construction and/or industrial activities)
- Erosion & Sediment Control (E&S) Permits
- Industrial Discharge Permits
- Public Water Supply Permits
- Stream crossing, encroachment and dams
- Wetlands and endangered species issues
Brownfields and Site Remediation
Stevens & Lee has a long history of facilitating reuse and redevelopment of underutilized former industrial properties. Our attorneys assist municipal entities, redevelopment authorities, economic development agencies, non-profit economic development corporations and corporations and private developers to obtain financial incentives, evaluate due diligence and quantify environmental risks, formulate cost-effective cleanup plans, negotiate remediation agreements and obtain liability protections. One of our attorneys is a Pennsylvania-licensed property and casualty insurance producer and has considerable experience negotiating and obtaining pollution legal liability and remediation stop-loss insurance policies to facilitate redevelopment.We have been involved in multiple Brownfield redevelopment projects:
- Conversion of a former factory into an art complex
- Redevelopment of former industrial properties into a municipal multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue
- Redevelopment of a multi-block inner-city area into a convention center
- Redevelopment of a former foundry into an emergency management training facility
- Redevelopment of a former foundry into a modern industrial park
Our in-depth technical knowledge allows us to evaluate current remedial strategies, projected costs, outcomes and legacy issues to assist clients in achieving practical, cost-effective remedial options to meet their long-term goals.
Members of our group have successfully litigated and resolved environmental issues relating to contaminated soil and groundwater, underground storage tanks, indoor air, solid waste disposal and management, mining and subsurface rights and toxic and hazardous waste. We also have significant expertise handling complex litigation involving lead, asbestos and mold. We regularly represent clients before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and all other Pennsylvania courts, as well as before federal district and appellate courts.
We work closely with clients to understand and achieve their goals. We practice litigation avoidance and early resolution when appropriate, but where litigation is required, we provide quality, cost-efficient counsel in serving the best interests of our clients.Representative environmental litigation matters include:
- Resolved EPCRA penalty with EPA quickly and without administrative litigation, for a fraction of the demand that EPA originally calculated under its penalty policy
- Defended client in a CERCLA (Superfund) trial involving several other defendants. Following our cross-examination of a key witness, the plaintiffs agreed to a reasonable settlement to terminate our client's involvement in the trial, and proceeded with the trial against other defendants.
- Defended clients in numerous toxic tort cases involving profound injuries allegedly related to exposure to benzene, vinyl chloride, industrial cutting and honing oils, asbestos and other compounds or substances
We place a heavy emphasis on preventive environmental law by collaborating with clients to implement practices intended to ensure compliance with federal, state and local environmental requirements. We prepare and review company environmental, health and safety policies and compliance plans and work with corporate in-house and plant personnel to implement compliance strategies.Our regulatory advice encompasses such matters as:
- Represent an international pharmaceutical firm in planning and implementing the company's environmental compliance auditing projects for its North American facilities
- Represent an educational institution in negotiations with the Department of Justice, federal EPA and state environmental regulators on Clean Air Act consent decree and compliance program
- Advise developer in negotiations with Township, federal EPA and state Conservation Department and Fish and Boat Commission on issues including wetlands development, endangered species and mitigation
- Counsel food processor on risk management plan issues
Stevens & Lee has successfully negotiated or tried dozens of high-profile OSHA matters throughout the United States, including cases involving fatalities, multiple-employer worksites and criminal prosecutions. We have conducted safety and health audits for companies of all sizes both as lead investigator and in conjunction with company environmental, safety and health officers and have provided emergency response in the event of fatalities and other catastrophic events.
Led by a past Chair of the American Bar Association Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, our team has appeared before OSHA administrative law judges across the U.S. and has good working relationships with senior OSHA officials in the U.S. Department of Labor Office.
Stevens & Lee has combined its substantial experience in the traditional energy industry with our knowledge of current technology, regulatory issues and financial incentives to advise clients in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We evaluate the legal and financial structures to implement renewable projects including solar, geothermal, wind and biomass projects. One of our attorneys is the former executive director of a solar industry trade association and our team of professionals in various disciplines can provide independent analysis in all aspects of renewable project development, structuring, financing and procurement. In addition, our professional services platform allows us to assist with issuance of tax-exempt and taxable municipal bonds and with obtaining significant grants and low interest loans to assist in financing renewable energy projects.Our experience includes:
- Represent solar industry trade associations in state utility commission proceedings involving financing and other renewable regulations
- Represent a property management firm and retailers in structuring power purchase agreements and leases for construction of large solar systems at shopping centers
- Advise retail and pharmaceutical clients on a wide variety of solar projects
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