Environmental/Natural Resources Law


Environmental laws and regulations impact virtually every business in America, large and small, public and private.

As a result, counseling our clients in the cost effective and sensible handling of environmental matters is of the utmost importance to Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP attorneys.

SGR attorneys have represented clients on environmental issues for over four decades. In 1970, one of our partners was the founding chairman of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. Since that time, the Firm’s environmental attorneys have been leaders in responding to the expansion of environmental law at the federal, state and local levels.

Our Environmental Law/Natural Resources practice area includes attorneys with backgrounds in engineering, science and environmental issues. Our attorneys lecture routinely on environmental issues and have been active, through the American Bar Association and other organizations, in shaping environmental laws and policies.

We have experience in environmental litigation, consultation and negotiation under the full range of environmental statutes, both state and federal. We have handled a broad variety of permitting and compliance issues, including land and water use, air emissions and compliance, wastewater discharges and compliance, water supply, solid and hazardous waste disposal, underground storage tanks and other matters relating to such statutes as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Superfund law, OSHA and corresponding state laws across the country.

Smith, Gambrell & Russell also represents clients in connection with toxic tort litigation, environmental clean up litigation, enforcement actions, hazardous waste cleanups and landfill issues. Further, we regularly advise clients on environmental aspects of business and financial transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions and real estate transactions. Our clients include manufacturers, oil companies, hazardous materials transporters, pipelines and storage companies, real estate developers, lenders, chemical companies, insurance companies, energy companies, municipalities and numerous other types of businesses, individuals and institutions.

Our environmental practice area’s transactional attorneys assist our firm’s merger and acquisition and real estate attorneys with environmental issues that regularly arise in mergers and acquisitions and real estate transactions. The group’s attorneys prepare and negotiate environmental language in agreements, coordinate and assist in the conduct of environmental due diligence, advise clients regarding permit acquisitions/transfers and advise clients regarding the regulatory compliance status of the selling entity.

Transactional Practice. SGR’s environmental lawyers regularly handle all aspects of environmental due diligence, regulatory compliance evaluation, environmental risk evaluation (litigation and non-litigation), negotiation and drafting of environmental provisions and agreements, and other environmental activities in corporate mergers and acquisitions and real estate transactions. Once transactions are closed, we handle all aspects of permit transfers and other ongoing regulatory compliance issues, as well as any litigation involving environmental or toxic tort issues. We also have years of experience handling brownfield redevelopment projects under brownfield and other voluntary cleanup laws and programs of various states and the federal government. SGR can handle all aspects of such projects, including coordination of investigation of existence and extent of contamination, preparation and refinement of remediation plans, enrollment of sites in brownfield or other voluntary cleanup programs, negotiation and drafting of cleanup agreements and protections against future liabilities, management and monitoring of remediation activities, submittal of materials to regulatory agencies, and closure of the projects. We also handle any related claims or litigation, including efforts to recover remediation costs, and defense of claims for recovery of costs or damages, if any occur.

Environmental Litigation. The Environmental litigators of the Firm have achieved excellent results for their clients in litigation arising under federal, state, and local environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA, Superfund, Solid Waste laws, Endangered Species Act, NEPA, Oil Pollution Act, and others in state and federal trial and appellate court.

Toxic Tort Litigation. The attorneys in our environmental group are leaders in the field of toxic tort litigation, including litigation arising out of alleged exposure to or contamination from CCA (chromated copper arsenate), benzene, MTBE, arsenic, silica, beryllium, gasoline, asbestos, other chemicals, and mold. Our lawyers regularly handle such cases, including class actions in state and federal courts throughout the country. Our clients include chemical and other manufacturers, energy companies, transporters, lenders, and vendors.

Regulatory Practice. The regulatory practice group handles regulatory work under state and federal environmental laws. This specialty includes: clean air and water, toxic substances, solid and hazardous waste, energy, OSHA, community right-to-know, wetlands, underground storage tanks, pesticides, permit proceedings, compliance proceedings, notices of violation, legislative efforts and other environmental law and regulation issues. We also work to keep clients abreast of changes in applicable environmental laws and regulations, while regularly advising our clients regarding updates and new legislative and regulatory developments. The regulatory practice group represents clients before state and federal administrative bodies in matters involving alleged violations of permit terms. In an effort to avoid the necessity of such proceedings, the group works closely with clients to assist regarding compliance with federal and state environmental requirements. When appropriate, our attorneys assist clients in establishing internal procedures for ensuring worker safety and achieving compliance with applicable environmental regulations.

Hazardous Waste Group. The Hazardous Waste group at SGR handles legal issues arising under federal, state and local laws dealing with hazardous waste and hazardous materials. The group represents PRPs ranging from major generators and owners of sites to de minimis PRPs in the Superfund process. The hazardous waste group also has substantial experience in handling RCRA corrective action orders, ranging from negotiation of consent decrees, remedial action plans and Part B permits to management of legal issues in site cleanups. The group also advises clients on OSHA compliance, SARA Title III compliance and other regulatory issues in hazardous materials and hazardous waste management, Oil Pollution Act liability and compliance, hazardous materials transport regulations and litigation, and registrations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”), the control of PCBs and other hazardous materials under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), underground storage tank regulation and removal, and asbestos management and removal. The Firm also assists clients in designing, implementing, and auditing compliance with emergency response plans.

Environmental and Compliance Audit Practice. The SGR environmental audit practice handles two major categories of environmental audits: environmental compliance audits to determine a company’s compliance with environmental laws, rules and regulations; and assessments to determine the environmental condition of corporate assets and real estate in corporate or real estate transfers. Environmental compliance audits are performed by some companies on a regular basis to determine compliance with local, state and federal environmental laws, rules and regulations. When done in the context of a corporate merger, acquisition or divestiture, audits usually include environmental compliance due diligence as well as real estate audits. The environmental audits practice area coordinates, prepares and reviews transactional and regulatory compliance audits, utilizing the services of professional consultants to provide technical expertise; develops and implements environmental policies and procedures; and gathers, reviews and disseminates governmental records containing relevant environmental information.

Environmental Justice. SGR’s Environmental Section has been on the cutting edge of the field of Environmental Justice. Our work began in this area in the mid-1980s, when the Section Head, Stephen O’Day, served on an advisory committee to the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Authority evaluating claims that the siting of the state’s hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility resulted from environmental racism. Mr. O’Day led the Committee through public hearings to evaluate the allegations and evidence and to make recommendations to the Authority in a highly-charged, publicized and political environment. Our client representation includes siting of facilities, defense of litigation and regulatory proceedings with state and federal agencies. Expertise and experience in civil racial discrimination claims in other areas round out the Section’s unique experience and expertise in the Environmental Justice arena.

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