Environmental Compliance & Enforcement
Our environmental attorneys take a proactive approach to compliance and enforcement, helping our clients see the big picture, both aggressively seeking to resolve current issues on the most favorable terms possible and planning for compliance issues that might arise in the future, thereby avoiding costly enforcement actions later.
We are regularly involved in voluntary audits that assess compliance with environmental and health and safety legal requirements and determine whether any corrective actions are required. Environmental audits allow our clients to assess their own environmental compliance and may allow them to avoid certain penalties if those violations discovered during the audit are self-reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) and Railroad Commission of Texas (“RRC”) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and then corrected.
State and federal environmental, health, and safety regulatory agencies have robust enforcement authority and regularly conduct inspections to assess compliance with legal requirements. We advise our clients on how to prepare for inspections, what to do when an inspector arrives, and how to respond to inspector requests, including records requests and employee interviews.
In the event of an enforcement action, our attorneys are skilled in every aspect of the case process, whether the case settles, involves an administrative hearing, or goes to trial. We regularly represent clients in negotiations with TCEQ, RRC, EPA, and OSHA, as well as before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) and EPA administrative tribunals. We have successfully defended clients in some of the most significant administrative hearings in Texas.
In addition to our procedural experience, we have excellent working relationships with key decision-makers at the administrative agencies and in the legislature. In fact, several of our attorneys have previous experience working in the various regulatory agencies. Our relationships enable us to act as effective advocates for clients both in administrative hearings and through the rulemaking and legislative processes.
- Before the TCEQ, we represented an energy client in water quality matters concerning the proposed listing of the Lake Arlington cooling water body as thermally impaired under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. We successfully demonstrated that the proposed listing was unnecessary.
- For the owner of a new natural gas-fired, combined-cycled power plant, we successfully obtained the initial wastewater discharge permit from TCEQ required to commence operations at the plant. We also served as developer’s counsel for certain regulatory, project financing, and environmental matters, including providing a legal opinion to the lender regarding the developer’s compliance with all applicable state and local environmental permitting and regulatory requirements.
- We have considerable experience with steel-making and steel fabrication facilities. We help these facilities obtain state air quality permits. Since 2005, we have completed a number of on-site, environmental permit audits for steel mills, steel fabrication facilities, and metal recovery and recycling facilities. In 2009, we assisted clients with implementing area-source MACT compliance programs for existing and new paint booths. We respond to regulatory investigations and notices for alleged air, water and waste violations.
- As state and federal regulations evolve to require the expanded use of low emission fuels, including the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and Texas Low Emission Diesel (TxLED), we have represented clients to ensure that these fuels could be effectively used in their existing operations. We have also assisted clients with evaluating alternative fuel use projects, including the use of biodiesel. In Texas’ ozone non-attainment areas, these clients have taken advantage of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) to purchase new engines for off-road mining equipment and for near-shore refueling barges. We often represent large industrial clients in their efforts to understand, comply with and mitigate the economic impacts of TCEQ rulemakings designed to expand the current ozone non-attainment areas.
- For a client acquiring a 300 MW coal-fired power generation facility, we evaluated environmental liabilities prior to the acquisition, developed a strategy for an environmental audit under the Texas Environmental Audit Act, considered groundwater availability issues, and evaluated alternative fuel uses. We also assisted this client with all permitting and permit transfer considerations in acquisition of the assets, and prepared and filed all applicable PUCT and ERCOT registrations.
May 26, 2023
US Supreme Court Narrows Wetlands Jurisdiction Under Clean Water Act
On May 25, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) issued its decision in Sackett v. EPA which substantially narrows the reach of Section 301(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a provision that prohibits certain discharges of pollutants to navigable waters without a CWA permit. Determining the scope of the CWA’s definition of navigable waters, and in turn the propriety of the regulatory definitions established by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to define waters of the United States, is at the heart of this litigation.
By Jonathan Bull
February 14, 2023
Lawdragon Lists Five Jackson Walker Attorneys Among Leading Environmental Lawyers
Jackson Walker announces the selection of Ali Abazari, Leonard Dougal, Michael Nasi, Benjamin Rhem, and Daniel Vineyard to “The Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law” list for 2023.
February 6, 2023
Expect New Standards for Landfills, Industrial Sites as EPA Tackles PFAS Discharge in Water
EPA recently issued the Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 to address the widespread “forever chemicals,” known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), found in water, air, fish, and soil around the world.
By Daniel Vineyard & Tyler Self
December 1, 2020
UT Law’s Hot Topics in Gas and Power to Feature Meghan Griffiths, Richard Howell, and Mike Nasi
During the 2020 Hot Topics in Gas and Power webcast on December 11, 2020, Jackson Walker partners Meghan Griffiths, Richard Howell, and Mike Nasi will discuss regulatory updates and environmental challenges and impacts on energy infrastructure.
August 7, 2020
Ali Abazari to Present “CCR Rule Update” During 2020 Coal Combustion Residuals Conference
Ali Abazari, as Counsel for the Texas CCP Coalition, will open the 2020 Coal Combustion Residuals Conference on August 10 with an update on the proposed amendments to and upcoming compliance deadlines for the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule.
April 23, 2020
Supreme Court Allows “PRP” Landowners to Bring State Common Law Claims at Superfund Cleanup Site
The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that a state court had jurisdiction over landowners’ state common law claims against Atlantic Richfield Company related to the Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site near Butte, Montana.
January 17, 2019
Trying to Thread a Very Fine-and Possibly Non-Existent-Needle: EPA Proposes to Withdraw a Necessary Underpinning of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards While Keeping the Rule in Place
On December 28, 2018, the EPA issued a proposed revised Supplemental Cost Finding, in which it concluded that the regulation of power plants (EGUs) was not “appropriate and necessary” under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
December 11, 2018
EPA Proposes New Source Performance Standards for New Coal-Fired Power Plants
Following the 2016 election, the EPA proposed withdrawing the Clean Power Plan, and, in August 2018, proposed the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to replace it.
September 13, 2018
EPA Proposes to Revise Significant Aspects of Methane Rule
Two years ago, the EPA adopted the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Subpart OOOOa (commonly known as the Methane Rule), which allowed the EPA – for the first time – to regulate directly the emissions of methane gas from oil and gas operations. On September 11, 2018, the EPA released its proposed rule reversing significant aspects of the Methane Rule.
March 28, 2017
Mike Nasi Discusses Clean Power Plan Ahead of Trump’s Rollback
In an article by Texas Monthly, Mike Nasi discusses the potential impact of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) on electricity markets across the state of Texas.
- Provide compliance counseling and regulatory assistance
- Defend regulatory violations
- Investigate and oversee remediation of contaminated property (including federal and state Superfund and private cleanup actions)
- Contribute to development of regulatory policy development and agency rulemaking
- Negotiate remediation measures
- Develop investigation and cleanup strategies
- Develop and review environmental audits to determine levels of compliance