Chicago Environmental Law Attorney

The greater Chicago area is a center of legal development in the United States, and that is particularly true with respect to environmental issues. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, U.S. EPA Region 5, offices of the Illinois EPA, and the Illinois Pollution Control Board are all located here. The past forty years has witnessed a remarkable growth and expansion of environmental law. Still, the fundamental components of the practice can be encapsulated as explained below.

The Media – Air, Water, Hazardous Waste & Energy
Environmental law has developed around the basic media subject to regulation – air, water and hazardous waste. And, although energy development has developed along a separate, but not unrelated track, the two fields are becoming more and more intertwined (e.g., groundwater concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas production, development of renewable energy sources to reduce air pollution and carbon output). Therefore, some issues may be confined to a single area, such as a notice of violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) alleging excessive copper in a company’s water effluent. But others may encompass more than one area, such as alleged violations of both the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Recovery Act (CERCLA) relating to alleged improper handling of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In any event, attributing in part to the complex natural forces at work, as well as the vagaries of law-making, any given matter may be very complicated and have far-reaching implications.

Environmental Litigation
In most cases, litigation should be considered a last resort. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. A business can be a defendant in a judicial or administrative claim by the government, or by another private party. With rare exception, the primary objective is to resolve the issue as quickly and inexpensively as possible. However, it is essential to recognize the tenets of law peculiar to the environmental area when making that judgment. In every case, pragmatism is the order of the day, especially when the government is involved. Of course, that is virtually always true, but features of environmental statutes such as strict joint and several liability, and the lack of access to court in certain instances, require creative thinking at every step. In every case, the firm works with the client to clearly identify the objective and continually revisits its strategy to achieve it.

Regulatory / Advisory
The firm is regularly asked to interpret environmental regulations. The regulations have the force of law and are infamously complex and vague. An incorrect judgment can lead to environmental and financial disaster. But on the other hand, an insightful analysis can save millions of dollars. It is often critical for environmental lawyers to work closely with engineers and technicians close to the process at issue to determine whether wastes and/or by-products fall within the scope of the regulations, and whether alternative procedures, substances and physical configurations can be effected that reduce the regulatory burden (perhaps through recycling), or even remove the process entirely from the application of the regulations.

Environmental considerations are firmly embedded in modern American business transactions. Whether a stock sale or asset sale of a business is contemplated, or an acquisition of industrial property is at issue, it is essential to conduct adequate and cost-effective due diligence. Potential liabilities can then be allocated in negotiating the deal. There is no shortage of cases in which courts are faced with the task of deciphering cryptic contract provisions to determine which party must pay for an expensive cleanup. In most cases, it is best to avert such conflicts by sophisticated analysis and negotiation before the sale.

Do you need assistance?

Whether the matter you now confront involves air, water or hazardous waste, and whether it arises in the context of a claim against you or your company, a question of the clarity or application of particular regulations, or a a planned acquisition, The Law Offices of Carey S. Rosemarin, P.C. is ready to help. Call Carey directly to discuss the issue today.