Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense

Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense


Government oversight of compliance with environmental laws often results in investigations of, and enforcement against, corporations and individuals. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s experienced team of attorneys guides clients through investigations and enforcement actions or threats by federal, state, or local governmental agencies, or by private parties in the form of citizen suits.

Our vigorous defense of enforcement actions combines the benefits of our range of substantive experience in all major areas of environmental regulation with our significant experience in internal investigations, enforcement defense, related litigation, and other adversarial proceedings. Whether the government is pursuing an administrative, civil, or criminal action, our team has the knowledge and skill to assess a situation and provide the direction necessary to bring the action to a conclusion. Our work cuts across numerous venues in federal and state courts, administrative agencies, and independent hearing panels, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board.

We defend against all types of enforcement actions and initiatives and handle a wide array of litigation-related matters, including demands for information through requests and subpoenas, emergency and injunctive relief, stop orders, site investigations, notices of violation or non-compliance, imposition of significant civil or criminal penalties, and more. We conduct internal investigations, prepare for litigation, manage collection, review, and production of corporate records, lead trials, and negotiate settlements. We represent a variety of client types, including chemical and pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers (including manufacturers of on-road and nonroad vehicles and engines and retail and consumer products), electric and natural gas utilities, petroleum companies, agribusiness (including intensive livestock operators and processors), pulp and paper and timber industry companies, and developers, landowners, and others involved in property development. In all cases, we constantly evaluate the prospects and risks of settlement or mediation, weigh those against client business needs and strategies, and make informed recommendations.

Our accomplished team includes attorneys with enforcement experience in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division, EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and US Department of Interior, and inside corporations in various industries.

Representative examples of our experience include:

  • Defended EPA and DOJ enforcement of the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) Renewable Fuels Standard for alleged violations related to Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
  • Represented manufacturers and wholesalers of aftermarket automobile parts under investigation by the EPA and DOJ under the National Compliance Initiative to stop aftermarket defeat devices.
  • Defended investigations related to compliance with asbestos and lead based paint regulations.
  • Represented a heavy duty equipment manufacturer in an EPA enforcement action related to the importation of non-road equipment to be sold in the US.
  • Coordinated enforcement action against petroleum pipeline operator alleging violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
  • Represented a chemical company in litigation associated with a significant EPA CAA penalty case, resulting in the Fourth Circuit holding that regulated entities must be given fair notice of changes in agency interpretation or application of environmental standards.
  • Handled enforcement against development or timbering claimed to be harmful to wetlands and to endangered species or habitats.
  • Defended penalties under the CWA and related state programs, alleging violations of discharge or non-discharge permits, improper discharges, and inadequate sampling and reporting.
  • Defended stop orders and other administrative actions and penalties for improper handling of pesticides and fungicides regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
  • Advised on self-reporting issues under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and related civil penalty, enforcement response policies, and application of the EPA’s Audit Policy.
  • Litigated multiple actions under the EPA’s New Source Review initiative under the CAA, with special emphasis on coal-fired electric generating plants, pulp and paper manufacturing facilities and similar operations; we spearheaded industry-led challenges in federal courts to parts of the EPA’s approach, advised companies in their responses to information requests, and assisted with defending notices of violation (NOVs) and related action by the EPA alleging millions of dollars in penalties for alleged violations.



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