Environmental Compliance

Environmental compliance presents unique challenges for companies in many different industries. If your company is subject to oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our federal compliance attorneys can help you meet your legal obligations and avoid the substantial costs of non-compliance.

Environmental compliance means different things for different types of companies. But, whether you need meet federal emissions standards, you need to comply with federal wetlands protections, or you need to know how to safely and legally dispose of wastewater or hazardous waste, one thing is clear: In order to avoid substantial fines and other penalties, you need to make compliance a top priority.

Our firm’s corporate compliance practice encompasses all aspects of federal environmental compliance. We are able to effectively represent clients ranging from healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies to contractors and energy companies, providing efficient, cost-conscious, and results-oriented legal representation on a nationwide scale. Whether you are at the early stages of forming a company or embarking upon a project, or you have run into an unexpected environmental compliance issue on a project that is well underway, our federal compliance attorneys can explain your options and help you make informed, legally-compliant decisions that protect your bottom line.

4 Critical Areas of Federal Environmental Compliance

Federal environmental compliance can largely be divided into four critical areas, all of which are subject to the oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Importantly, these (and other issues) are often regulated at the state and local levels as well, and our attorneys can assist with state and local regulatory and compliance matters as well as matters falling within the jurisdiction of the EPA. The four critical areas of federal environmental compliance are: (i) air quality, (ii) water quality, (iii) hazardous waste and wastewater disposal, and (iv) wetlands protection.

1. Federal Air Quality Compliance

The Clean Air Act, federal air quality regulations, and various other sources of authority place strict limits on pollutants and other hazardous emissions and impose substantial compliance burdens on companies in a broad array of industries. From chemical plants and processing facilities to mines, mills, and ports, all types of businesses are subject to permitting and approval requirements, routine and ad hoc inspections, and vigorous EPA enforcement. Our federal compliance attorneys are available to assist clients with federal air quality compliance matters including:

  • Permit applications under Title V of the Clean Air Act
  • Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) permitting
  • Permit denial challenges and appeals
  • Emission reduction credit applications
  • Compliance with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) emissions standards
  • Compliance with Clean Air Act Section 112(r) emission standards
  • Compliance with federal air pollution standards
  • EPA rulemaking and rule challenges
  • EPA air quality, pollutant, and emissions audits and inspections

2. Federal Water Quality Compliance

Federal water quality compliance presents similarly voluminous burdens for a variety of different types of companies. Along with the Clean Water Act, various other sources of federal authority require careful and critical assessment in order to determine what is permitted, what is prohibited, and when EPA approval is necessary. With regard to federal water quality compliance, our services include providing legal advice and representation regarding:

  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting and compliance
  • Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting and compliance
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance
  • Permit denial challenges and appeals
  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) compliance under the Clean Water Act
  • Cleanup, abatement, mitigation, and cost recovery
  • Water quality certifications and compliance with federal water pollution standards
  • EPA rulemaking and rule challenges
  • EPA water quality audits and inspections

3. Federal Hazardous Waste and Wastewater Disposal Compliance

Hazardous waste and wastewater disposal is perhaps the category of environmental compliance that is most broadly applicable to companies doing business in the United States. The federal hazardous waste regulations and controls are far more comprehensive than many business owners and executives realize, and this unfortunately often leads to instances of unintentional non-compliance and subsequent EPA enforcement. Since ignorance of the law is not a defense to liability, companies must ensure that they have a clear understanding of their federal environmental compliance obligations, and they must develop comprehensive compliance programs designed to ward off unwanted federal scrutiny.

In the area of hazardous waste and wastewater disposal, our federal environmental compliance services include:

  • Hazardous waste permitting and permit denial challenges and appeals
  • Hazardous waste treatment compliance
  • Hazardous waste disposal compliance
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) compliance
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) compliance
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) compliance
  • Cleanup, abatement, mitigation, and cost recovery
  • Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act compliance
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) compliance
  • Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) compliance
  • EPA rulemaking and rule challenges
  • EPA hazardous waste audits and inspections

4. Federal Wetlands Protection Compliance

Federal laws and regulations establish special protections for the nation’s wetlands. For companies intending to build or operate near or on protected wetlands, proactive compliance is critical to avoiding sunk costs and vigorous EPA enforcement. Our attorneys are available to assist clients with matters including:

  • Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting and compliance
  • Dredging, filling, and grading permitting and compliance
  • Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) compliance
  • EPA rulemaking and rule challenges
  • EPA wetlands protection compliance assessments and enforcement proceedings

What are the Risks of Non-Compliance?

For companies that must comply with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and other federal environmental laws and regulations, what are the risks of non-compliance? The EPA pursues both civil and criminal enforcement of companies’ statutory and regulatory obligations, and it can seek to have penalties imposed in both administrative and judicial proceedings. In criminal matters involving the EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Division, company owners, executives, and other individuals can potentially be at risk for substantial fines and federal imprisonment.

In addition to EPA enforcement, in many cases allegations of environmental statutory and regulatory non-compliance can lead to scrutiny and enforcement action by other federal agencies as well. This includes agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Particularly in cases where non-compliance suggests either an intentional violation or intentional disregard of a company’s federal obligations, federal authorities will often expand the scope of their inquiries beyond issues that are specific to environmental compliance.

Establishing Compliance with Federal Environmental Laws and Regulations

With these risks in mind, what does it take to establish compliance with all applicable federal environmental laws and regulations? At Oberheiden, P.C., our attorneys rely on centuries of combined federal experience to comprehensively identify the issues that are pertinent to our clients’ businesses and develop compliance strategies that leave no room for allegations from the EPA or other federal agencies. As your company’s federal environmental compliance counsel,

our attorneys will:

  • Identify Your Company’s Compliance Needs – As with all aspects of federal compliance, the first step is to identify your company’s specific compliance needs. We will do everything necessary to protect your company, no more and no less.
  • Apply for All Necessary Permits, Variances, and Approvals – Our attorneys will prepare and prosecute all necessary applications for permits, variances, and approvals for your company. We can also promptly challenge any denials and file formal appeals as necessary.
  • Challenge EPA Rules and Interact with EPA Agents as Necessary – In some cases, proposed rulemaking can put long-standing plans at risk of futility. If a pending regulatory or legislative development is threatening your business or operations, we can fight it on your company’s behalf.
  • Draft and Assist with the Implementation of Compliance Policies and Procedures – Internal compliance documentation is critical to both maintaining compliance and proving your commitment to compliance to the EPA. Our attorneys can prepare and assist with the implementation of the policies and procedures your company needs to stay protected.
  • Provide Environmental Compliance Advice on an Ongoing and AsNeeded Basis – In the environmental realm, new issues can arise suddenly and unexpectedly, often on a day-to-day basis. Our federal compliance attorneys can be available when and where you need them.
  • Respond to EPA (and Other Federal Agency) Inquiries – If your company is contacted by the EPA or any other federal agency, a prompt and effective response can be critical to preventing an invasive and potentially-dangerous investigation. In addition to serving as federal compliance counsel, our firm also has an extensive track record of protecting clients during federal audits and investigations.
  • Assist with Risk Mitigation and Cost Allocation in Private Transactions – Finally, in addition to assisting with EPA and other federal agency matters, we also represent our clients in private transactions and dispute resolution proceedings. We can make sure your contracts with project partners, vendors, and suppliers provide adequate liability protection, and we can provide vigorous representation for any disputes that arise.

Speak with a Federal Compliance Lawyer at Oberheiden, P.C.

If you would like more information about our firm’s federal environmental compliance practice, please call 888-680-1745 or contact us online. Our attorneys are available 24/7.

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