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    Public Agency Orange County Water District Case Study

    Environmental Litigation


    Pillsbury’s Environmental Litigation team handles a wide variety of civil, administrative and criminal matters, representing individuals, companies and other entities in cases under all of the major federal environmental statutes and the laws of many states.

    Our clients are active in a wide range of manufacturing businesses, as well as pharmaceutical, chemical, research and development and retail businesses. We step in to assist when they face litigation and enforcement action such as:

    • Investigations and enforcement actions
    • Federal and state Superfund sites and natural resource damage actions
    • Cost-recovery actions for environmental damages
    • Citizen suits under federal and state statutes
    • Mandamus suits challenging (and often defending) agency actions
    • Land use litigation with public agencies (including inverse condemnation suits)
    • Government enforcement and variance proceedings
    • Personal injury actions resulting from alleged exposure to hazardous substances and products (“toxic torts”)

    Our representation includes responses to notices of violation from federal, state and local authorities, including OSHA, and negotiating complex consent orders. We have defended clients in “bounty hunter” litigation under California’s Proposition 65 and in “green labeling” investigations by the Federal Trade Commission.

    Challenges to EPA Regulations
    We have long experience prosecuting challenges in the DC Circuit and other federal courts of appeals to EPA final actions. We recently represented a major electric utility in challenges to the Clean Air Interstate Rule. We have represented trade associations in various challenges to other national rules, such as national ambient air quality standards and new source performance standards.

    Toxic Torts
    We defend mass tort actions alleging exposure to toxins and other chemicals. We represent a number of manufacturers in tort cases that allege exposure via airborne emissions and via ingestion of groundwater—a type of claim that is becoming very common, especially in conjunction with Proposition 65 claims.

    Water Quality
    We have handled hundreds of contested water quality matters, including groundwater litigation alleging toxic exposure, state and federal groundwater contamination contribution actions, and challenges to unreasonable NPDES permit limitations, among others. We have chaired industry litigation teams which have challenged both technology based effluent guidelines and the generic NPDES rules.

    Our cases include defense against governmental enforcement efforts. We defend clients in administrative and civil judicial enforcement actions. Pillsbury lawyers also represent clients in environmental criminal matters that become apparent upon receipt of a grand jury subpoena, the execution of a search warrant, or the government seeking to interview current or former employees. We have also defended clients in criminal investigations associated with alleged violations of environmental rules and regulations.

    Air Quality
    We have defended against private actions and government enforcement proceedings stemming from alleged violations of air quality laws. In recent years, we negotiated a nationwide settlement for a large manufacturer of alleged new source permitting violations. We served as outside legal counsel to a Fortune 500 client in a negotiation with the U.S Department of Justice, USEPA headquarters and regional offices and more than a dozen states of a company-wide settlement of potential liabilities under the Clean Air Act’s programs for new sources, especially PSD permitting, resulting in one of the largest CAA settlements on record.

    Hazardous Waste
    Our practice includes matters involving hazardous and extremely hazardous waste, in which we frequently defend major enforcement actions under state and federal laws.

    Land Use and NEPA
    We have handled numerous land use disputes and lawsuits, such as defending refineries, preparing campus development plans and campus development plans for universities, and prosecuting lawsuits against cities and counties challenging denial of site permits. Attorneys in our environmental and energy groups have been litigating NEPA cases virtually since the statute’s enactment in 1969, including the landmark case Calvert Cliffs Coordinating Committee v. AEC. Our attorneys have been involved in litigating NEPA cases, not only in the nuclear context but in also in cases involving decisions by the Department of the Interior, the Postal Service, Department of Transportation, and other federal agencies. We also have litigated cases in state courts under state “mini-NEPA” laws.

    Endangered, Threatened, and Sensitive Wildlife Protection
    We have handled a number of hotly disputed endangered species matters, representing clients such as developers, forest product companies, transportation districts, and agricultural operations. This practice involves both federal and state work, and it included work on ESA listings and critical habitat designations, as well as parallel regulatory processes under federal and state water quality laws.

    Superfund and State Common Law Claims for Cost Recovery and Contribution
    We have defended and prosecuted hundreds of contribution and cost recovery actions across the United States stemming from soil and groundwater contamination. The firm has represented potentially responsible parties at over one hundred Superfund sites around the country, both in negotiations with the governmental authorities and other potentially responsible parties and in ligation involving CERLCA cost recovery and contribution actions. This includes PRPs, Remediation, Contribution Claims, Natural Resource, Damage Claims.

    California Proposition 65
    We have defended numerous Proposition 65 actions, representing clients such as food manufacturers and grocery chains, California wine makers, utilities and railroads.

    Community Lead Emission Cases
    We advise clients on suits that seek to leverage threat of penalties into commitment by companies to install costly control technologies.

    Diesel Exhaust Cases
    We represent parties in diesel emission cases (and cases involving lead and other emissions), and have crafted innovative settlements that avoid payment of penalties.

    Water Rights
    We are knowledgeable in California water rights law, and have litigated those issues in court and before the Regional Boards and State Board, representing city and county agencies, development corporations, and regional water districts.

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