Environmental

Overview

Richards Layton has been at the forefront of Delaware's environmental law since state's first environmental laws were passed more than 30 years ago.  Drawing on this long tradition, our lawyers have the regulatory knowledge, transactional sophistication and courtroom skill to defend our clients' interests in environmental issues throughout Delaware and abroad.        

We bring practical understanding of environmental permitting and the compliance needs of business and industrial clients. We advise companies that have complex and challenging environmental issues, including manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, electrical utilities and power plants, as well as oil refineries. Several of our lawyers have technical backgrounds and industry experience, so we can quickly get up to speed when our clients have a compliance concern.

 

Richards Layton has a practical understanding of environmental permitting and the compliance needs of business and industrial clients. We advise companies that have complex and challenging environmental issues, including manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, electrical utilities and power plants, as well as oil refineries. Several of our lawyers have technical backgrounds and industry experience, so we can quickly get up to speed when our clients have a compliance concern.

Industrial clients rely on us to advise and work with their personnel to solve permitting and compliance issues under federal and state environmental laws, often working directly with environmental regulators to communicate the client’s process and permitting needs. Our relationships with environmental regulators enable us to negotiate enforcement settlements when necessary.

Regulatory Insight
Richards Layton plays an active role in working with regulators at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) to shape the state’s environmental law. We participate in a number of DNREC’s committees that develop and propose environmental policy and law, including:

  • Brownfields Advisory Committee
  • Chronic Violators Regulatory Development Committee
  • Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act Advisory Group
  • Title V Fee Advisory Committee.

Our firm also testifies and comments on many environmental bills and proposals before the Delaware General Assembly.

Environmental Permitting
Securing the proper permits under environmental laws is crucial for our clients. Our environmental counseling experience includes Title V and smaller facility air permitting, NPDES water permitting, solid waste facility permitting and wetlands activity permitting. Through effective negotiation with state and federal agencies, we have been able to help clients achieve their permitting objectives. We also have extensive experience with permitting of controversial or sensitive projects, and with the public hearing and community relations issues that arise in that context.

We have special strength in permitting issues under Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act Program. Whether the issue involves existing or proposed activities in the Coastal Zone, we have the skill to guide clients through the Coastal Zone regulations and permitting process.

Environmental Disputes
We represent clients' interests in contested administrative permit or enforcement proceedings as well as in private party environmental litigation. We have experience in asserting and defending clients’ interests in matters involving the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), other federal and state environmental laws, as well as toxic tort claims. We have had the opportunity to represent a broad range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to governmental bodies to nonprofit companies and individuals, in a wide variety of environmental forums.

Hazardous Waste
Whether clients are plaintiffs or defendants in private cost recovery litigation under CERCLA and RCRA, we can represent their interests. Our lawyers have defended potentially responsible parties (PRPs) against claims by the Environmental Protection Agency for reimbursement of remediation costs, and defended prior property owners against CERCLA and RCRA claims seeking to make them pay for site cleanup.

Clients rely on us to defend them in cost recovery actions alleging contamination and related damages caused by prior site operations or underground storage units brought by private landowners and by state agencies. We have been able to successfully negotiate CERCLA and RCRA consent agreements with federal and state environmental agencies to resolve our clients’ liability for sites.

Brownfield Remediation
Our firm has successfully negotiated novel and complex site development agreements to rehabilitate contaminated “brownfield” properties. For brownfields, we work with the client and technical consultants to evaluate the nature and extent of the contamination, estimate the cost of remediation, and develop a cost-effective, environmentally sound response within the right regulatory framework. If the project makes sound business sense, we coordinate it with developers, lenders, regulatory agencies and other legal counsel—all aimed at providing our clients with the greatest return and protection.

 

Publications

  • "Tank Trap? Lender Liability Reform and Expanded Scope of Underground Storage Tank Liability for Owners and Operators," Delaware Banker, Summer 2014   View >
  • "Delaware Grants Authority to State Environmental Agency to Impose Environmental Liens to Recover Investigation and Clean-up Costs," Delaware Banker, Summer 2013   View >
  • "Potential Environmental Legislative Amendments that Will Affect Future Site Development in the State and Facilities under the State's HSCA, Tanks and Oil Pollution Programs," March 14, 2013   View >
  • "Commercial Real Estate Loans: Lender's Environmental Liability," PLC Real Estate, 2013   View >
  • "Commercial Real Estate Loans: Environmental Due Diligence for Lenders," PLC Real Estate, 2013   View >
  • "Delaware Laws & Programs Affecting Business - 2011 Edition," July 2011   View >
  • "Delaware Proposes Significant Changes to Chronic Violator Law," May 5, 2010   View >
  • "Environmental Law - Dredging of Delaware River Allowed to Begin...Will It Be Completed?," March 29, 2010   View >
  • "Delaware Environmental Law Update," May 22, 2008   View >
  • "Environmental Law Update," March 14, 2008   View >