Environmental and Industrial Crisis Management
Environmental or industrial crises can arise from an industrial accident, hazardous chemical release, train derailment, surprise government inspection, unexpected criminal investigation, or any other high profile event that disrupts daily operations or falls outside the range of everyday business and legal challenges. Responses have to be immediate, strategic, and seamlessly coordinated. Navigating these events requires sophisticated regulatory and litigation expertise; but also often involves a host of additional concerns including community relations; interaction with local, state, and federal elected officials; media relations; securities and financial disclosures; and—most critically—safeguarding the company's reputation and long term interests.
Arnold & Porter has established a reputation as a leader in crisis management for the breadth of experience we bring to bear in guiding clients through all of these issues. Working closely with a client's executive management, in-house lawyers, business people, and many other professionals, we put into place an overarching strategy designed to address all aspects of the event. Our team draws on the insights of lawyers who formerly served in leadership positions at EPA, DOJ, and other regulatory agencies; the skills of nationally recognized mass tort and environmental litigators; and the expertise of lawyers who have led clients through some of the most high profile crisis situations.
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the worst oil spill in the history of the United States. Arnold & Porter has served as lead environmental counsel to BP in responding to the crisis and its aftermath. Among our many roles:
- Key members of the client's crisis steering team.
- Outside counsel to BP for the investigation into the causes of the incident—an investigation which led to the well-received, comprehensive report on the matter known as the "Bly Report."
- Environmental counselors on the spill response actions to contain the well and to track and clean up the oil.
- Key advisors on establishing an Oil Pollution Act claims fund and then representing BP in the vast, post-incident claims processes.
- Defense counsel in numerous environmental enforcement and civil suits arising from the spill.
- Represent BP in managing natural resource damages.
- Represent BP regarding the government's suspension of its status as a government contractor.
Similarly, we have counseled and represented numerous clients in response to other major industrial accidents, train derailments, prominent criminal and civil enforcement actions, and "bet the company" toxic tort actions. These include high profile complex tort litigation in numerous states throughout the US; litigation arising from industrial accidents in Arkansas, Kentucky, Washington and other states; and major state and federal enforcement actions arising from unexpected releases of chemicals or pollutants.
While every crisis is different, the experience our firm brings to crisis management from day one (or hour one) can be invaluable in both instantly and continuously conducting an integrated response that will help the company protect its reputation and resume the normal course of business as quickly as possible.