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Environmental Investigations & Enforcement

Most environmental statutes include criminal sanctions exposing corporations and individuals to prosecution for contributing to, or even for failing to report, pollution and other environmental hazards. Our environmental defense team has successfully handled every aspect of federal and state enforcement cases—from conducting internal investigations and responding to grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to negotiating with regulators and, where necessary, defending clients at trial. We draw on a veteran team of lawyers from key federal and state enforcement and environmental agencies, as well as seasoned environmental attorneys, to provide unparalleled representation to companies in a wide range of matters, especially those involving alleged violations of federal environmental and conservation laws.

  • Integration: We bring together a team of highly experienced lawyers from our white collar, environmental and international trade teams to provide integrated advice on strategies for meeting enforcement challenges.

  • Unparalleled Expertise: Our in-depth abilities include particular experience dealing with alleged violations of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, as well as environmental laws governing cross-border trade in wild fauna and flora.

  • Deep Government Experience: Our seasoned team features former high-level Assistant US Attorneys; DOJ, DHS and NY DEC prosecutors and lawyers; and attorneys and enforcement chiefs at the SEC and other regulatory agencies.

Asner Featured in UNODC’s Podcast Discussing International Overfishing Scheme, August 25, 2021
Visit Our Wildlife and Timber Trade Enforcement and Compliance page
» Recognized for comprehensive experience in civil & criminal enforcement under every federal statute.

Experience Highlights

  • American chemical company in a criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia against alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Secured an important victory for the client, with the decision by the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and EPA Criminal Investigation Division to close the government’s two-year criminal Clean Air Act investigation without bringing criminal charges or a civil or administrative action against the company or any employee.
  • Nonprofit research organization in an investigation into allegation that a third-party scientific collaborator paid bribes in connection with efforts to obtain license to export animal samples from Madagascar for research in the United States. Investigation completed and we assisted entity in conducting remedial measures, including training.
  • Retail furniture manufacturer in an internal investigation into legality of wood sourcing in furniture; instituted worldwide compliance program.
  • Diesel engine manufacturer in counseling on environmental compliance specifically related to its emissions testing and reporting.
  • US importers on the requirements of Lacey Act and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) with respect to both particular shipments of wood, including the legality of wood imported from Peru and Brazil, as well as general compliance issues.
  • BP's primary environmental counsel related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill since 2010. We have been core members of BP’s virtual legal team; acted as lead counsel to the incident investigation team; managed the economic claims process; defended BP in citizen action lawsuits; led the company's Natural Resource Damages (NRD) defense; participated as trial counsel in the Clean Water Act penalty phase; participated in the defense of federal government and foreign state actions; and acted as lead counsel on claims related to federal debarment.
  • Republic of South Africa regarding the investigation and prosecution of a massive international scheme to smuggle illegally harvested Chilean sea bass and rock lobster in violation of the Lacey Act. Worked closely with South African authorities, resulting in multiple arrests, guilty pleas, significant terms of imprisonment, and $7.4 million in forfeiture. Successfully argued government appeal of district court's order regarding restitution to South Africa, resulting in a groundbreaking court of appeals decision on the rights of victims of environmental crime.
  • Engine manufacturer in counseling and internal investigation and compliance with respect to emissions reporting to EPA.
  • Chinese company in discussions with US importer on issues of legality of harvest and imports into the United States.
  • American retailer of hardwood flooring regarding potential product safety and environmental issues.