Environmental

Environmental law has become increasingly complex over the last 40 years since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air Act and now includes regulations at the local, state, federal and international levels. Businesses are required to meet the changing regulatory demands and also respond to legal challenges or environmental events as they arise. Phelps Dunbar’s environmental practice is equipped to handle the full array of environmental issues faced by businesses, including both counseling and litigation. The diverse skills and knowledge of the lawyers in our group allow us to respond quickly and efficiently.

Our environmental attorneys counsel clients regarding federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. Additionally, we work closely with as well as appear before state and federal regulatory agencies. We handle the environmental aspects of commercial transactions and have managed substantial litigation in federal and state courts, involving a broad range of environmental issues.

We work closely with experts in various disciplines including toxicology, hydrology, geology, wetlands, land use, biology and chemistry. Our attorneys also routinely work with consultants regarding pollution control and permitting issues involving water pollution, hazardous and solid wastes, air pollution and radiation.

Our firm represents clients in a variety of industry areas, including public bulk liquid storage and handling, railroad transportation, railcar manufacturing and service, petrochemical manufacturing, pulp and paper, waste management, petroleum refining, oil and gas exploration and production, oil field and environmental remediation equipment, marine transportation, fuel storage, real estate, banking, interstate pipelines, renewable energy and environmental consulting.

Regulatory
In our regulatory practice, we counsel clients and work with regulators and experts regarding permitting issues, compliance orders, penalties and environmental assessments. We also assist clients in preparing comments to proposed federal rule making and state administrative regulations, as well as in challenging federal and state rule making.

Commercial Transactions
In commercial transactions, our environmental attorneys prepare transaction documents (such as indemnity and hold harmless provisions, representations and warranties, and environmental opinions of counsel) to allocate known and potential environmental risks. We also counsel clients (buyers, sellers, and financial institutions) on environmental due diligence issues in real estate transactions, with a focus on maximizing available defenses to potential liabilities. Our commercial transaction work also includes related issues, such as counseling clients and experts regarding site assessments and investigations, insurance, and interactions with regulatory agencies.

Litigation
In addition to handling toxic tort litigation, our environmental attorneys regularly defend clients in administrative and judicial forums involving environmental law issues. The following are recent examples:

  • Representing oil and gas companies in the defense of "legacy" lawsuits.
  • Representing two waste management companies in an environmental damages and trespass suit arising from alleged oil field waste contamination. The case was settled for a minimal sum, coupled with one client's land purchase from the plaintiffs, which allowed it to expand its facility.
  • Representing a South Louisiana municipality in defense of EPA claims of wastewater violations at a POTW.
  • Bringing a successful conclusion to a multimillion dollar, multifaceted cost recovery case. We represented a major chemical company. It paid for the cleanup of a tank rupture spill and pursued recovery from nonparticipating parties under CERCLA and its Louisiana counterpart.
  • Bringing a cost recovery action arising out of sulfur dioxide air emissions from a Louisiana plant site.
  • Bringing cost recovery claims arising from solvent contamination on behalf of current site owner against previous site owners.
  • Litigation with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality regarding remediation cost recovery associated with UST removal.
  • Defense of air regulations proceeding before a regulatory agency in Texas.
  • Defense of civil claims arising out of poultry processing industry in Mississippi.
  • Defense of a railroad tankcar company in a suit brought by the EPA, through the Department of Justice, with regard to claims under the Clean Water Act.
  • Obtaining storage tank trust fund cost recovery for an industrial client in Texas.
  • Assisting an industrial client in protection of its interests in a wide-ranging governmental environmental investigation in Ohio.
  • Defending an industrial client in state air violation penalty proceeding in Wyoming.
  • Representing a specialty chemical manufacturer in litigation and in an administrative rulemaking action involving hazardous waste injection wells.
  • Defense of a major waste management company in flow control ordinance litigation.
  • Representing a railroad in matters involving spill notification and defense of environmental claims.
  • Representing a major chemical company in litigation over challenges to air permit and in environmental justice matters.
  • Representing an industrial client in a matter involving potential air permit violations pertaining to toxic air pollutants.

While our environmental attorneys reside in the firm's offices in Baton Rouge, Jackson, Tampa, and New Orleans, the firm's state of the art technology enables the lawyers throughout the firm to coordinate and communicate while handling matters in other locales.