Morgan Lewis's Environmental Practice is anchored by a team of high-level government agency alumni and veteran environmental attorneys who deliver customized counseling on permitting, compliance, risk avoidance, crisis management, and litigation matters. For clients ranging from start-ups to established global corporations, we provide guidance in environmental enforcement actions; in civil or criminal matters involving current operations or legacy environmental issues; in transactions; on securing permits and government approvals; and on strategies and challenges related to climate change. One of the first environmental practices established at a major law firm, we combine powerful historical perspective on evolving public and legislative policy with experience across a wide range of industries, including, among others, manufacturing, chemicals, energy, transportation, real estate, and retail.
Problem prevention to protect the client’s bottom line is a major focus of the Environmental Practice. We perform internal audits, conduct training programs, and provide individually tailored reference materials designed to ensure our clients’ compliance with the laws and regulations applicable to their particular operations. When disputes arise or litigation is unavoidable, Morgan Lewis leverages its demonstrated trial skill as a powerful negotiating tool in defending private or public agency lawsuits, in handling cost recovery actions under Superfund or related statutes, and in compelling insurance coverage of a client’s environmental liabilities. In the event of emergencies such as spills, explosions, fires, or accidents, we have on standby a coordinated Environmental/OSHA crisis team that can deploy at any hour to facilitate a proper response and minimize liability issues.
Environmental Regulatory Matters
We assist clients across a wide range of industries with regulatory agencies administering rules and laws at the federal and state levels. Our services include obtaining permits and negotiating their terms to allow businesses to operate and expand within the context of these statutes and policies, as well as arranging settlements of enforcement actions, challenging and commenting on proposed rules, and representing our clients’ interests and industry groups when policies are being set. Among the former high-ranking state and federal government attorneys providing our clients key insight in this area are the former chief executive of California’s top air pollution agency and an attorney who for years taught environmental law for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
We closely monitor the emergence of laws, regulations, and policies related to climate change and help companies respond to this evolving landscape in a manner most favorable to their business objectives. Our lawyers have worked with clients regarding environmental and climate change disclosure requirements in SEC filings. We also have advised on compliance with a carbon emissions control program featuring a cap-and-trade system. Our environmental lawyers can also lend clients a voice in the greater dialogue on climate change, utilizing the firm’s global platform and insight into the policy process to effectively present their positions to government officials. In this work we draw on our cadres of former government alumni, such as the former White House Counsel, the Justice Department’s former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, and others. » more
Integrating resources across Morgan Lewis’s 24 offices, the firm’s Environmental/OSHA Crisis team is designed to minimize immediate and long-term fallout for clients in an environmental crisis. In a crisis situation, Morgan Lewis is equipped to immediately mobilize a customized legal team to contain the matter through swift, proper response and management of relations with any involved government agencies, insurers, and public or private parties.
We also advise clients on how to avoid potential crises and can customize emergency response plans designed to contain damage and exposure in unavoidable, adverse events. Our team combines attorneys with broad backgrounds in counseling on environmental regulation and government enforcement, worker safety and health, toxic tort defense, criminal defense, insurance recovery, congressional investigations, and press relations. Coordinated, precise deployment of these comprehensive resources serves to minimize consequences—such as employee injury or toxic tort claims by exposed persons, or difficulty in recovering insurance assets—and ensures that clients receive efficient, integrated legal advice that fully covers multiple areas of concern. » more
Clients on either side of threatened or actual litigation implicating environmental laws and regulations are served by lawyers who have tried to verdict or favorably resolved such cases at every level. We regularly represent companies across the United States in complex matters under both federal and state law, often in cases involving multiple parties with competing interests.
We have developed successful strategies for handling high-stakes Superfund cost-recovery matters, mass toxic torts, defense against citizen suits, defense against government enforcement actions, appeals, and insurance recovery disputes. Our Environmental Litigation team includes former high-ranking federal and state government lawyers, including, for example, the U.S. Department of Justice’s former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, a number of former U.S. attorneys, and the former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.
We have also litigated commercial disputes involving environmental indemnity and warranty provisions included in facility or product sale agreements. Such matters can arise postclosing through an environmental crisis incident, a government enforcement action, or an internal audit. Whatever the source, the financial stakes can be significant, the dispute will likely require both high-level commercial litigation and environmental capabilities, and can often be complicated by the potential for government enforcement or other lawsuits beyond the immediate commercial disagreement. » more
Environmental Acquisitions, Financings, and Brownfields Projects
When environmental issues intersect with business and real estate matters, Morgan Lewis provides clients coordinated representation by lawyers with a collective command of the critical finance, land use, real estate, energy, and myriad transactional concerns at play. We represent buyers and sellers, investors, lenders, and venture capital funds in mergers and acquisitions, asset and stock deals, and real property transactions, among other matters.
Morgan Lewis lawyers work with the entire suite of federal and state environmental statutes—including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its state counterparts, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which may have special importance for projects on or near environmentally sensitive lands—that may affect projects of any size. We advise clients across geographic and industry boundaries in order to identify risks, defend projects or acquisitions, and negotiate deals that properly allocate environmental risks. The practice is particularly versed in developing strategies aimed at favorably resolving complex matters, such as those arising from projects located on brownfields property, including energy facilities. » more
Morgan Lewis offers the critical combination of subject-matter command, government-agency insight, and geographic reach necessary to steer clients clear of criminal prosecution in environmental matters, or to favorably resolve enforcement proceedings that are unavoidable. Our Environmental Crimes Practice is composed of white collar, environmental, and OSHA attorneys—among them numerous federal prosecutors and agency alumni with years of background trying environmental cases. This interdisciplinary team includes the former Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, the only person to have served both as the government's top environmental enforcement lawyer and as a U.S. attorney. The team also includes several other former U.S. attorneys. » more
Environmental Insurance Recovery
Morgan Lewis’s insurance recovery lawyers help clients manage their environmental liability by maximizing and preserving the value of their insurance assets. Often working in tandem with our colleagues in other practices, we assist companies at every critical step, from advising on the procurement of environmental insurance through to securing and protecting maximum recoveries when claims are filed.
We prosecute, negotiate, and bring to trial major environmental insurance claims for many of the nation’s most prominent companies, often employing innovative fee arrangements to share the risk. Our attorneys are admitted to practice in a dozen key jurisdictions and have handled claims or adjudications in all 50 states and around the world. That broad geographic reach gives us the ability to pursue actions in the jurisdiction most favorable to our clients, without undue delay. » more
Agencies and Statutes
We provide full-service regulatory, litigation—civil and criminal, transactional, and insurance recovery representation in environmental matters arising from federal and state statutory requirements, agency regulatory programs, and common law. Our attorneys work with all major environmental agencies and statutes, including:
- Clean Air Act
- Clean Water Act
- Coastal Zone Management Act
- Community Right-to-Know Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund)
- Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
- Endangered Species Act
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
- Lacey Act
- National Environmental Policy Act
- Oil Pollution Act
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Toxic Substances Control Act
- California Environmental Quality Act
- California Global Warming Solutions Act
- California Proposition 65
- New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act
- National Transportation Safety Board
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Chemical Safety Board
- U.S. Coast Guard
- U.S. Department of the Interior (including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
- U.S. Department of Labor (including Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
- U.S. Department of Justice (including Environment Division, U.S. Attorneys offices, FBI)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- California Environmental Protection Agency
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality