Environment & Resources Litigation

Environmental laws present a host of litigation risks, regulatory challenges, and myriad other impediments — such as government enforcement and citizen suits — that can stand in the way of bringing a project to fruition. However, litigation can also provide clients business opportunities, such as through Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) cost recovery and contribution.

Effective litigation of both types is at the heart of Crowell & Moring's pre-eminent environment & natural resources practice. Our bench includes former agency personnel, scientists, and others with significant professional experience in regulatory compliance, as well as seasoned environmental and tort litigators with the skills and legal acumen required to create and implement innovative solutions that cut across a variety of issues. Our lawyers advise on, litigate, and resolve disputes under all of the major federal environmental laws and those of many states.

We work with clients to overcome obstacles to their successful business ventures by defending permits, agency approvals, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) decisions against the full array of interest group opposition. We have helped clients begin new ventures and complete projects in the face of dozens of actions within some of the most challenging litigation and regulatory contexts in the country.

We have successfully resolved some of the highest-profile enforcement cases in recent years. We have also defended actions under each of the various federal statutory citizen suit provisions and litigated critically important agency rulemakings and regulatory actions in the D.C. Circuit and across the country. Finally, we secure financial recovery for clients when liability for contaminated properties should be shared with or transferred completely to others.


Enforcement Litigation

  • Defending a cement manufacturer in a Clean Air Act (CAA) enforcement action under the New Source Review preconstruction permitting program and the Title V operating permit program
  • Representing a large coal producer in settlement negotiations with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over alleged violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and defending against the subsequent citizen suit and challenge to the negotiated consent decree
  • Representing a state government in consolidated multidistrict litigation concerning Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues in management of water reservoirs by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Representing a manufacturer of antimicrobial products in challenging the legality of a stop sale order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under section 13(a) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
  • Representing a coal company in a citizen suit brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act related to the company's handling and disposal of coal ash

NEPA Litigation

  • Representing a coal producer intervening on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management in a NEPA challenge to an upcoming lease sale that also seeks to force the agency to certify the Powder River Basin as a coal-producing region ineligible for "lease by application"
  • Representing a forestry association in NEPA and National Forest Management Act litigation regarding the Forest Service's Sierra Framework
  • Representing a trade association challenging a Forest Service settlement agreement with the Sierra Club and a contemporaneous Forest Service policy statement requiring NEPA compliance in the form of a forest-wide Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before the Forest Service could process oil and gas well drilling proposals on private oil and gas estates within the Allegheny National Forest

Challenges to Regulatory Action

  • Representing a major trade association in federal court litigation challenging EPA's first-ever regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the CAA
  • Representing a national trade association in litigation brought under the CWA, Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and NEPA challenging a series of actions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA regarding permitting and regulatory reviews for coal mining operations in Appalachian states
  • Representing several trade associations in litigation brought under the CWA and the APA challenging the Final Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment
  • Representing six national trade associations as defendant-intervenors in litigation challenging the legality of the ESA section 4(d) special rule for the polar bear, which protects against ESA liability for "take" of polar bears based on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Representing a coal mining company in litigation against federal agencies seeking full disclosure of information in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act

Contaminated Site Litigation 

  • Representing a Fortune 10 company in an action brought under CERCLA against the United States for contribution relating to alleged contamination at a former major underground uranium mine on Navajo Tribe trust lands owned and managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Representing a Fortune 50 company in a Florida administrative challenge to a remedial action plan relating to contamination at a former manufacturing facility near Sarasota, Florida