Our environmental experience and expertise is built on more than twenty years of innovation and success in the areas of permitting/compliance, risk management, enforcement, and litigation. Our focus is on working with clients and, as appropriate, drawing on outside technical expertise, to solve and resolve to our clients' benefit complex and often cutting-edge environmental issues and liabilities.
Temkin Wielga & Hardt LLP's experience in the environmental litigation arena is defined by extensive courtroom and trial experience, on the one hand, and extensive, practical experience with conflict resolution and settlement options and designs, on the other.
For example, the firm's lawyers are currently representing the sole remaining defendant in the largest federal Superfund case ever to go to trial. The case, involving the Coeur d'Alene Basin in North Idaho, presents a number of key issues of first impression on both response cost and natural resource damage liability. The Phase I trial involved 76 days of trial proceedings. The Phase II trial will address cleanup liabilities, if any, and natural resource damage issues.
The firm recently served as trial counsel for a major mining company in a CERCLA case arising out of a historic uranium mine in Washington State. In that case, the United States was found liable as a CERCLA owner and assigned a one-third share of cleanup costs.
In a recent citizen suit alleging Clean Water Act and RCRA claims related to contamination from a historic mining district in Colorado, the firm obtained a dismissal from the U.S. District Court on a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
The firm's environmental litigation practice also involves cleanup responsibilities arising out of private party transactions and contracts. For example, several years ago two of the firm's partners successfully defended a major mining company client against private party cleanup claims in a multi-week jury trial in federal court in Sacramento. The court found our client not liable on any of plaintiff's claims and awarded attorneys fees and costs to our client. More recently, that judgment is being used to ward off State of California cleanup claims.
Our firm's lawyers also have considerable experience in both defending and prosecuting citizen suit claims under both the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Environmental Compliance and Enforcement
The firm's experience in the environmental compliance arena extends to all aspects of traditional planning, permitting and enforcement, as well as compliance requirements for generators and other regulated entities, including current and former underground storage tank owners and operators, under federal and state hazardous and solid waste statutes. The firm's attorneys presently represent a client in the oil and gas industry in obtaining applicable permits under the Clean Air Act and federal fuels regulations, as well as enforcement defense in proceedings with EPA and the United States Department of Justice. We recently advised a major resort developer seeking a controversial §404 dredge and fill permit for a ski area redevelopment project in Colorado. In addition, we assist criminal counsel in the defense of parties charged with environmental crimes.
Our risk management practice falls into two categories: risk counseling and transactional work. The risk counseling practice has us advising clients, including as common counsel for a group of clients, on large-scale, long-term environmental risks where cleanup related investigations and cleanup activities are ongoing and the client participates in those activities at some level, or at least monitors the site. For example, TW&H represents a group of companies with historic ties to a long inactive mining site in northeastern Nevada, upstream of an Indian reservation. The State agency has been overseeing the companies' cleanup-related work since 1995. The parties are currently negotiating an unprecedented State-lead cleanup that would also resolve EPA and Natural Resource Damage claims asserted by the Tribes.
Closer to home, the firm represents a group of companies that have assumed responsibility for cleanup of a chlorinated solvent plume that over time has dispersed down-gradient and offsite in a northern Denver suburb. The companies have worked cooperatively with the State agency and the municipality for a number of years to position the site for a final remedy that should not require remediation of the offsite plume or of deep groundwater.
The second aspect of the risk management practice is transactional. Our environmental lawyers have decades of experience in negotiating and drafting environmental provisions for all sorts of transactions, from property leases and purchase/sale contracts to corporate asset and merger transactions, and in addressing related notice and disclosure issues. Our transactional clients include banks, a national sporting goods company, a brick manufacturing company, oil and gas and mining companies, and a variety of other real estate managers and developers. We are also quite experienced and adept at devising and implementing environmental auditing strategies tailored to our clients' needs, the information at hand, and the dictates of the transaction, with a reputation for getting the deal done!
In a related vein, we have experience working with the voluntary cleanup programs of many states nationwide and, drawing on that experience, have successfully developed ad hoc, innovative strategies to assure cleanup approvals or to obtain no further action determinations for all sorts of properties and transactions. We also have considerable experience in manuscripting environmental insurance coverage and other surety mechanisms, as needed, to support transactions involving distressed property or ongoing cleanup commitments.