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Environmental Law

Environmental issues are increasingly important to companies conducting business in the Pacific Region. Carlsmith Ball has a team of lawyers who concentrate in environmental law, helping clients including major land owners and developers, and agribusiness, energy, and banking clients. Our work on their behalf includes counsel and representation in matters regarding:

  • Allocation of environmental risk in business transactions
  • Environmental permitting and compliance
  • Clean-up of contaminated property (CERCLA, RCRA)
  • Oil spills (Oil Pollution Act)
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Defense of government enforcement actions
  • National Environmental Policy Act

Allocation Of Environmental Risk In Business Transactions

Nearly all business transactions involve the allocation of environmental risk. We frequently assist clients with environmental due diligence and in negotiating a fair allocation of potential environmental liability in connection with sales and leases of commercial real property. We represent a number of clients in disputes involving responsibility for clean-up of contaminated property covered by older leases that failed to address environmental issues.

Environmental Permitting And Compliance

Many of our clients develop real property for commercial or industrial use and require assistance with environmental permitting and compliance under various federal and state laws. In permitting matters, we work with clients to identify a master strategy to obtain the permits, coordinate the engagement of appropriate experts, represent clients at public hearings, and negotiate permit conditions with government regulators. Our permitting work has included helping an international energy development company obtain a covered source permit from the Clean Air Branch of the Hawai`i State Department of Health for construction of a steam power plant. We also have extensive experience in solid waste permitting and compliance.

Clean-Up Of Contaminated Property (CERCLA, RCRA)

We represent a number of clients that have undertaken the clean-up of contaminated property. We help develop cost-effective approaches to comply with environmental laws and regulations, and have negotiated on our clients' behalf with the Hawai`i State Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain approval of clean-up plans. We help select, engage, and manage environmental consultants, and advise the client on the level of clean-up appropriate for each site. Our prior work includes:

  • Representing a client in connection with planning and implementing the clean-up of a potential Superfund site, which prevented the site from being listed as a Superfund site and led to a "no further action" letter from the Hawai`i State Department of Health.
  • Successfully representing a landlord in litigation against a former tenant for damages resulting from contamination of the property by a leaking underground storage tank. The case was the first in Hawai`i in which a landlord recovered damages from a former tenant in connection with environmental contamination.

Oil Spills (Oil Pollution Act)

The firm's environmental group and maritime practice group have together defended economic and natural resource damage claims arising from oil spills and collisions at sea in U.S. and foreign countries.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Many of our clients' projects and proposed permits involve NEPA issues, and the environmental group has frequently addressed the need for and sufficiency of an Environmental Impact Statement. Our NEPA litigation experience includes successful representation of the City and County of Honolulu in defending a citizens' suit challenging one of the City and County's federally funded transportation projects.

Defense Of Government Enforcement Actions

The environmental group has successfully represented clients in a variety of federal and state government enforcement actions which have been resolved through negotiation or contested case hearings, or both.

The Carlsmith Difference

Our deep experience and broad geographic coverage allows us to provide environmental clients with strategic counsel and representation designed to protect their interests and assets while complying with all appropriate regulations.  We work closely with our other practice groups-especially tax, labor, real property, and administrative law sections to provide creative, innovative and highly effective solutions and approaches to complex environmental challenges.