Environmental Law brings together many different practice areas. It is complex and broad in scope, simultaneously encompassing multiple jurisdictions. It is not uncommon to see environmental issues falling within federal and state jurisdiction, both on the criminal and civil side. The state prosecutions and civil actions may encompass state, county, and city issues. Suffice it to say environmental law is a complex and broad area for both litigators and transactional attorneys.
Environmental law is not only broad in its jurisdictional scope but it is far reaching in the areas of law that fall under its umbrella. From legal issues related to Natural Resource Law to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Energy Law, from Oil and Gas to Wind and Solar, fall within the borders of Environmental Law.
Due to the diverse and broad range of this practice area it is essential that an attorney exhibit transactional, negotiation, and litigation skills. Partners Mairim Alonso and Peter de Leef both hold advanced law degrees (LLMs – a Masters in Law) from the University of Houston Law School in Environmental and Oil and Gas Law.
Harris and surrounding counties lie within the greater area of Southeast Texas. This area borders the Gulf of Mexico and is known for Oil and Gas, Refining and Petrochemicals, Industry, and Biodiversity. The Gulf Coast of the United States is prone to hurricanes, flooding, strong winds, and other natural phenomenon capable of causing massive property damage.
Ground Water contamination and pollution often exist on personal and commercial property, causing major headaches for owners and future purchasers. This contamination may be due to an intentional act or from the negligence of another. Cleanup costs can become extreme and the purchaser of such property may purchase the contamination with the property, meaning it may be your responsibility to clean up the property. This could trigger a State or Federal action against the owner or purchaser of the property. Due diligence is imperative to properly screen a potential purchase for environmental issues. Our attorneys work closely with our real estate attorneys to resolve issues that may be hidden to the untrained eye. Land purchases may require an environmental assessment to determine impact to both buyer and seller. If you have questions about any of the issues listed below feel free to contact us for a consultation.
Illegal Dumping, Pollution, & Criminal Prosecutions
Harris County prosecutes illegal dumping and other land and water violations in criminal court. This is in addition to any potential civil action. These prosecutions can range from Class C, fine only, offenses to higher level misdemeanor and felony cases. Fines can range into the Tens of Thousands of dollars with some Hazardous Waste cases carrying fine ranges of $250,000. Criminal cases, other than Class C, carry jail and prison time within their punishment range. If you are charged with a criminal case it is in your best interest to consult with an experience attorney. Our environmental attorneys work with our criminal litigation attorneys in all areas of criminal defense. Typical cases in this area are listed below.
The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfields Law) has been with us for almost 20 years. Brownfields are tracts of land used for industrial purposes, usually polluted, and then abandoned. The Brownfield act provided funds to help clean up these tracts of land and help steer clear of CERCLA and Superfund cleanup liability and costs. Additionally, neighboring land owners may be able to tap into funds to help clean up hazardous waste that has moved onto their property through erosion or groundwater contamination. Once in compliance certain protections may remain for future liability and contamination.
The Clean Air Act
This is a very complex area of law. It is federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. From motor vehicle exhaust pollution to flaring in the Oil and Gas refining process. The CAA established certain limits that must be complied with to protect from hazardous air pollution.
Oil and Gas law relates to the acquisition and ownership rights of oil and gas. The capture areas may be on land or below water. Practice areas involve contracts, real estate and property rights, leases, corporate law, jurisdiction and ownership issues, and much more.
The above listings are but a sampling of the Environmental issues that we handle for our clients. Please call us for a consultation with any questions you may have.
Oil And Gas Law