R. Timothy McCrum is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring and is a member of the Environment & Natural Resources Group. He has served as a co-chair of the Group, and he currently serves on the firm's Environmental & Natural Resources Group Steering Committee. With Crowell & Moring since 1986, he has experience with a wide variety of issues involving litigation, international arbitration, legislation, rulemaking, negotiation, and counseling.
Mr. McCrum has litigated cases and counseled companies in matters arising under a wide variety of environmental and natural resource laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the general mining laws, and the federal mineral leasing laws. He has represented companies in administrative proceedings and litigation involving projects ranging from gold mines to oil and gas exploration and production facilities. His representation of clients in litigation includes:
- BedRoc Limited, LLC, et al. v. United States, 541 U.S. 176, 124 S. Ct. 1587 (2004), arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Petitioners in a long-running controversy over whether private landowners owned the sand and gravel located on property granted under the Pittman Underground Water Act of 1919, where Congress reserved "valuable minerals" for the United States. The Interior Board of Land Appeals, the federal district court in Nevada, and the Ninth Circuit had ruled in favor of the government. The Supreme Court reversed, with six justices agreeing with BedRoc that Congress did not intend to reserve the sand and gravel of Nevada when it enacted the Pittman Act in 1919. [Click for a transcript of the oral arugment and other case information from Oyez.org.]
- Minard Run Oil Co., et al. v. U.S. Forest Service, et al., 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 116520 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 15, 2009), aff'd 670 F.3d 236 (3d Cir. Sept. 20, 2011) (rehearing denied Dec. 20, 2011), as lead counsel representing the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) challenging an April 9, 2009, U.S. Forest Service Settlement Agreement with the Sierra Club and a contemporaneous Forest Service drilling ban directive requiring NEPA compliance in the form of a forest-wide EIS before the Forest Service could process oil and gas well drilling proposals on private oil and gas estates within the 500,000-acre Allegheny National Forest in the Marcellus Shale region. The appellate court found that substantial economic injuries and interference with real property rights constituted the irreparable injury needed for an injunction, and further, stating that: "granting the injunction would vindicate the public's interests in aiding the local economy," protect "the property rights of mineral rights owners," and ensure "public participation in agency rulemaking as required by the APA." Following a three-day evidentiary hearing, the district court granted a preliminary injunction in 2009 barring implementation of the Settlement Agreement and drilling ban. The district court granted final judgment vacating the Settlement Agreement in 2012. Minard Run Oil Co., et al. v. U.S. Forest Service, 2012 WL 3877625 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 6, 2012), aff'd 2013 WL 5357066 (3d Cir. Sept. 26, 2013). In a settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department on May 16, 2014, PIOGA recovered $530,000 in partial attorney's fees from the federal government. In the FT Innovative Lawyers 2013 report, Financial Times commended Crowell & Moring for this litigation, ranking it as among the most innovative litigation cases in the USA.
- Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n et al. v. Mont. Dep't of Envtl. Quality et al., Montana Fifth Judicial Dist. Ct., Jefferson County, No. DV-08-10896 (July 21, 2011), representing Barrick Gold's Golden Sunlight Mine. The court held that the Montana Constitution does not require costly backfilling of an open pit gold mine, where a supplemental EIS showed environmental harm from acid-rock drainage would result. The court reasoned that as a constitutionally-protected right, a clean and healthful environment outweighed any aesthetic values, stating: "Health is more important than beauty." The court further reasoned that it had no authority to elevate one visual perspective over another, stating: "Among permanently located viewers, there may be those who are delighted at the view as they consider the benefits they and their family members have obtained from employment, contribution to the tax base, etc." In a related case, Montana Environmental Information Center v. Montana Dep't of Envt'l Quality and Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc., Montana Fifth Judicial Dist. Ct., No. DV-2014-36 (Feb. 4, 2015) (appeal pending to the Montana Supreme Court), the court ruled that relitigation of legal issues resolved in the 2011 decision was barred by collateral estoppel, and resolved the remaining issues involving a mine expansion in favor of Barrick Gold's Golden Sunlight Mine's subsidiary on summary judgment.
- The General Electric Company and United Nuclear Corporation v. United States of America, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, No. 1:10-CV-00404-MCA-RHS(D. New Mexico, Sept. 6, 2011) (Order approving Partial Consent Decree and Judgment), representing GE and UNC in CERCLA cost recovery and contribution claims against the U.S. arising from the former uranium mine known as the Northeast Church Rock Mine in New Mexico. The mine was operated on land owned by the U.S. from the 1960s through the early 1980s. The CERCLA claims sought to hold the U.S. liable as a facility owner and arranger, given that the U.S. authorized uranium mining on this site in 1959 coordinated by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission under the Atomic Energy Act to create a domestic uranium mining industry. The partial consent decree approved by the court provided for a $2.5 million payment to GE/UNC and allocated 33 percent of the future CERCLA liabilities to the U.S. government.
- Mineral Policy Center v. Norton, 292 F. Supp. 2d 30 (D.D.C. 2003), representing the National Mining Association as an intervenor successfully defending against challenges to the U.S. Interior Department hardrock mining regulations involving issues under NEPA and federal public land statutes. The Interior regulations at issue rescinded a controversial discretionary "mine veto" authority, and they allowed mineral exploration activities disturbing up to five acres of land to proceed without site-specific NEPA reviews.
- Columbia Gas Co. v. Consolidation Coal Co., et al., No. 99-2071 (W.D. Pa.), representing Consol in action to bar longwall mining from proceeding through a coal seam above an underground gas storage field. Following a mini-trial and court-sponsored mediation in 2001, a settlement was reached to allow the planned mining to proceed.
- Mobil Oil Corp. v. United States, No. 99-1467-A (E.D. Va.), representing ExxonMobil against the U.S. in a CERCLA contribution action involving the Stibnite Mine Site in Idaho where gold, antimony and tungsten were mined from the 1930s through the 1990s. Following discovery and summary judgment motions, the parties reached a settlement, entered August 15, 2000, to provide Mobil with a 100 percent release of liability for future response costs, and the U.S. agreed to pay Mobil $1.55 million for past response costs.
- National Wildlife Federation v. Westphal , 116 F.Supp. 2d 49 (D.D.C. 2000), defending two Mississippi Levee Boards and 50 local government entities as intervenors in successfully opposing a suit by environmental groups under NEPA and other laws against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which sought to invalidate a major flood control project for the Mississippi Delta.
- Secretary of Labor v. Keystone Coal Mining Corporation, 151 F.3d 1096 (D.C. Cir. 1998), upholding rejection of the enforcement position of Secretary of Labor (Mine Safety & Health Administration) in longstanding coal dust sample tampering litigation involving dozens of coal mining companies, leading to the vacation of more than 3,000 tampering citations.
- Amigos Bravos v. Molycorp, Inc., 47 E.R.C. 1641, 1998 WL 792159 (10th Cir. Nov. 13, 1998), obtaining dismissal of Clean Water Act citizen suit involving a New Mexico molybdenum mine. The court held that the exclusive avenue for judicial review was not a citizen suit, but direct review of the permit renewal decision in the court of appeals, for which the plaintiffs had long been out of time.
- United States ex. rel. North Santiam Watershed Council, et al. v. Kinross Gold, Inc., et al., 1998 WL 118176 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 1998), successfully defending eighteen metal mining companies against qui tam claims that they had fraudulently obtained mineral rights on federal lands by failing to disclose their alleged foreign ownership in mining claim records with the Interior Department.
- National Mining Association v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 95-3519 (8th Cir. 1998), challenging an EPA interpretive rule under the Clean Water Act. The case settled on favorable terms following oral argument before the Eighth Circuit; EPA published a Federal Register clarification retracting substantial portions of the challenged interpretation of the ore mining effluent limitations guidelines. 63 Fed. Reg. 42534 (Aug. 7, 1998).
- Edwards v. United States and Independence Mining Co., 1998 WL 22029 (9th Cir. Jan.15, 1998), obtaining dismissal of citizen challenge under NEPA and other laws to an Interior Department land exchange at a Nevada gold mine.
- Friends of Santa Fe County v. Lac Minerals Inc., et al., 892 F.Supp. 1333 (D.N.M. 1995), representing Lac Minerals, a Barrick Gold subsidiary, in defending against this citizen suit filed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act. On summary judgment, the court ruled that the mining waste at issue was exempt from RCRA "hazardous waste" regulation and that the RCRA imminent and substantial endangerment claim was barred by the abstention doctrine due to the pendency of a related state administrative proceeding. The court denied the citizen group's motion for summary judgment on the Clean Water Act claims, and the suit settled in 1996 on favorable terms.
- AFL-CIO, et al. v. OSHA, 956 F.2d 962 (11th Cir. 1992), arguing for the American Mining Congress in this landmark case which invalidated 428 OSHA permissible exposure limits.
- United States v. Envirite Corp., 143 F.R.D. 27, 34 ERC 1613 (D. Conn. 1991), moving to vacate a consent decree that required a waste treatment and disposal company to pay a $60,000 civil penalty under RCRA and adhere to burdensome and costly operating conditions, resulting in a judicial finding that the U.S. EPA had engaged in "extraordinary misconduct" in wrongfully withholding exculpatory evidence. The court vacated the consent decree under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3), and ordered EPA to publish a retraction about the case in EPA's Enforcement Accomplishments Report.
From 1984 to 1986, Mr. McCrum served as attorney-advisor with the Energy and Resources Division of the Solicitor's Office, U.S. Department of the Interior. He has served as the chair of the Mining Committee of the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Law (1997-99), and as a Trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (2000-03). In 2000 he served as a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition, Interior Advisory Committee. He is listed in Who's Who Legal and Best Lawyers in America (2000 to 2014). Mr. McCrum holds a B.A. degree in geology from Franklin & Marshall College (1980) and a J.D. degree from Lewis & Clark School of Law (1983). He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, several U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.