Environmental Law

The environmental attorneys at Salmon, Lewis & Weldon, PLC have in-depth knowledge of federal, state, and local law and years of experience assisting clients of all sizes with complex and high-profile legal problems. Excellent working relationships with regulatory agencies and other environmental counsel facilitate our ability to help you avoid problems and resolve them when they arise. From family or solo operations to multinational corporations, we have helped our clients reach sensible and cost-effective solutions to their environmental problems.

Our attorneys work closely with clients and consultants to resolve issues quickly and efficiently. We provide timely legal advice and recommendations regarding their environmental problems. But we also consider the client’s time constraints, resource demands, and the practical operational impacts in developing and implementing a compliance, negotiation, or litigation strategy that best achieves their goals.

We provide the entire scope of environmental representation including preventive counseling and defense. Salmon, Lewis & Weldon’s attorneys are adept at advocating for our clients’ needs both in the legislative and administrative arenas. We also assist clients in understanding legal requirements to help maintain compliance and shepherd clients through the administrative process to secure necessary permits and approvals. Should the need arise, our attorneys assist clients in responding to enforcement actions and correcting violations. In the event of a lawsuit, we provide defensive representation in state and federal courts. Our attorneys’ proficiency extends across a range of environmental media including:

State WQARF and Federal Superfund Law
We have represented clients at some of Arizona’s largest and most complex WQARF and Superfund sites involving soils and groundwater contaminated by metals, solvents, volatile and semi- volatile organic compounds, PCBs, asbestos, and other substances. We focus on helping clients plan and implement a legally defensible, technically sound, practical, and cost-effective strategy to address environmental liability.

Our effectiveness arises in part from excellent working relationships with regulatory agencies, including the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and other public and private environmental counsel. Senior attorneys serve on many major stakeholder boards and committees in this area and have been heavily involved in the drafting, promulgation and implementation of WQARF, Arizona’s version of Superfund.

We have helped clients at every stage of the remediation process, from initial agency inquiries and investigations to negotiation of settlements and litigation. Our clients have included large corporations, small businesses and partnerships, real estate developers, and public entities. As a result, we have worked as part of teams with in-house counsel, environmental staff, corporate management and technical consultants for corporate clients on large sites involving dozens of parties. But we have also assisted smaller clients who need to resolve their liability with limited resources. In every case, we help devise a strategy that keeps the end goal in mind while being flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, new facts, and an often ever-changing cast of interested parties and regulators. We also try to ensure that our client’s position is credible and defensible to regulatory agencies and third parties while at the same time minimizes their liability.

In our representation of clients on State WQARF and Federal Superfund sites, we have helped our clients:

  • Respond to inquiries from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency, including compilation of records, employee interviews, preparation of responses and similar due diligence.
  • Prepare, comment on, and negotiate investigation and remediation plans and reports to minimize the cost of proposed remedies.
  • Negotiate orders and decrees governing the investigation and remediation of contaminated sites to control the scope of obligations, minimize risk, and maximize certainty.
  • Defend against government and private cost recovery claims.
  • Recover client costs from other responsible parties.
  • Litigate, negotiate and settle liability with agencies and other potentially responsible parties.
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Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Waste
We provide counseling and representation in the areas of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste management, disposal, and compliance, including issues relating to underground storage tanks. Our attorneys have a range of experience under RCRA, TSCA, EPCRA and other solid and hazardous waste laws, focusing on sensible interpretations of these laws and an awareness of the practical impacts on business operations. We have excellent working relationships with key state and federal agencies, and have worked cooperatively with regulators at numerous sites to obtain reasonable legal interpretations and practical solutions to environmental problems. With attorneys serving on major stakeholder boards and committees, we are able to bring insight into how the law has developed and where it is likely to lead. We have represented both public and private clients of all sizes on matters including:

  • Assistance in negotiating and obtaining permits.
  • Counsel regarding compliance with RCRA and other environmental laws governing the generation, use, and disposal of hazardous substances and solid waste.
  • Negotiation and settlement of RCRA and other hazardous and solid waste violations and penalties.
  • Negotiation of supplemental environmental projects and similar proposals to mitigate liability.
  • Assisting in-house counsel and corporate environmental managers to develop and implement compliance and audit programs.
  • Counsel regarding compliance with underground storage tank laws and regulations, including permitting and reporting.
  • Representation before state agencies regarding liability for leaking underground storage tanks, including negotiating favorable settlements.

In an area known for the cost and length of remediation activities, our work is done with a focus on controlling costs, achieving and maintaining good relationships with public and private entities and community groups, and obtaining an economical and efficient outcome. Because we understand that hazardous waste violations and contaminated sites can draw intense public scrutiny, we work with clients to manage public perceptions of their facilities and their efforts to protect the environment.
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Water Quality
We have broad experience at every stage of the legal process in the area of water quality, from administrative rulemaking and compliance to litigation. Our attorneys are heavily involved in stakeholder groups and agency committees involving water quality issues, including extensive experience with the promulgation and implementation of Arizona’s Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund. We have represented private and public water providers in complex toxic tort litigation, as well as in numerous settlements involving water quality problems. The firm’s knowledge in water law provides our attorneys with the unique ability to view water quality issues from a broader perspective that contemplates water quantity issues and anticipates future water needs. We have provided legal assistance on a wide range of water quality issues, including:

  • Preparing comments on key water quality regulations and permits.
  • Assisting clients in obtaining practical and technically sound Aquifer Protection Permits, Stormwater Permits, AZPDES Permits, Reuse Permits, and other water quality-related agency approvals and registrations.
  • Helping water providers who have been impacted by pollutants obtain substitute water supplies, mandatory monitoring and reporting, and remediation and contingency plans.
  • Negotiating remediation strategies and solutions to settle liability to private parties, regulatory agencies and other governmental entities.
  • Responding to state, local and federal administrative agencies regarding water quality and permit violations.
  • Defending clients in toxic tort litigation involving water resources.
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Brownfields
From small gas stations and drycleaner operations to large industrial complexes, the cleanup and reuse of Brownfields can benefit the environment, the public, and the bottom line. But numerous pitfalls exist for the unwary investor or developer in what can be a complex and lengthy process of remediation and redevelopment. With extensive experience in both environmental and commercial real estate law, we have helped clients successfully navigate every stage of Brownfield development, including:

  • Counseling during pre-purchase environmental due diligence.
  • Providing environmental and legal analysis in negotiations with lenders, insurers, and other project stakeholders.
  • Providing advice on contract issues and drafting agreements.
  • Working with clients, consultants, and regulatory agencies to develop and implement a remediation plan that permits the broadest possible use of the property as soon as possible.
  • Assisting in joint efforts between private developers and local governments.
  • Obtaining necessary agency approvals, permits, and other authorizations.

Examples of services we have provided include:

  • Settlement of a landowner’s liability for dry-cleaning contamination with the Arizona Department of Environmental
  • Quality allowing for future commercial development lease.
  • Removal of a site from the National Priorities List so that it qualified for federal redevelopment grants.
  • Counseling on all aspects of environmental remediation and liability in regard to a large redevelopment project involving hundreds of parcels and the remediation of numerous landfills and heavy industrial sites.
  • Preparation of environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act to qualify for federal Brownfield funds.
  • Negotiation of a remediation plan and deed restrictions with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to permit the redevelopment of a former agricultural pesticide site.

Whether you are considering buying potentially contaminated property or are already involved in developing a Brownfield site, we can help you economically address your site’s environmental issues in a manner that best fits your development plans and future uses.
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Air Quality
Salmon, Lewis & Weldon attorneys represent a variety of industrial, commercial and governmental entities at large coal-fired electric power plants, smaller natural gas power plants, and other industrial and commercial facilities. Many of these matters involve multiple regulatory agencies at the federal, state, tribal and local levels. Among other things, our attorneys have assisted clients in:

  • Obtaining air permits and permit exemptions.
  • Defending our clients’ interests in civil and administrative enforcement proceedings.
  • Negotiating air quality violation settlements.

Leveraging our knowledge, experience and our relationships with agency officials and staff, we can fashion creative solutions to your air quality and permitting issues.
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Endangered Species
Because the Southwest is home to sensitive environments and numerous endangered and threatened species, private and public entities in this region need to understand how their actions may affect those species and the legal ramifications of those impacts. Our attorneys are proficient in this area with a working knowledge of the law’s nuances and practical implications. We have years of experience in working with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and state and local agencies to address issues relating to endangered species. We also have extensive litigation experience involving claims arising out of the Endangered Species Act and challenges to agency action. Our representation includes:

  • Litigation defending water providers, dam operators, and other entities from endangered species claims.
  • Litigation contesting decisions by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Negotiation and preparation of Habitat Conservation Plans, including the negotiation of mitigation requirements.
  • Preparation of comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service on proposals to list species or designate critical habitat.
  • Consideration of endangered species concerns in other areas of law, such as applications for various federal or state permits and environmental assessments under the National Historic Preservation Act.
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NEPA Compliance
Any project involving the federal government in some way likely will require compliance with NEPA, a statutory scheme that often invites comments and legal challenges that can delay a project for years. Salmon, Lewis & Weldon attorneys have assisted clients in NEPA compliance by gathering data and information, organizing and preparing environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, and defending NEPA documents. In an area known for intense public scrutiny, our attorneys are experienced in helping clients develop community relations strategies, address public comments and inquiries, and respond to the media. We have also assisted clients in commenting on NEPA assessments and impact statements by other parties where our client’s interests were effected.
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