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Energy and Environmental

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Businesses, organizations, and municipalities must contend with an expanding array of environment and energy laws and regulations. Miller Canfield's Energy, Environmental, and Regulatory Practice Group has the skill, knowledge and experience to guide clients through this interlocking network of federal, state and local mandates. Our principals average more than 25 years of practical legal experience and include former high-level environment and utility government officials, permit engineers, technical consultants, litigators and appellate advocates.

We offer comprehensive services in the following areas:

Regulatory Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement

At Miller Canfield, we have assisted clients in obtaining environmental permits in all media (e.g.; air, water, wetlands, stormwater, solid and hazardous waste, oil and gas), in developing compliance and record retention programs, conducting environmental audits, and responding to government violation notices and requests for information. We have also represented utility, energy and telecommunications clients in securing licenses, franchises, certificates of necessity and other required authorizations and approvals.  We've counseled clients in preparing for government inspections, represented them in settlement negotiations, and defended them before courts and government boards. We vigorously represent the interests of our clients while maintaining a professional working relationship with the regulators. The extensive private and public sector experience of our attorneys has allowed us to build a reputation of trust with regulators unequaled by other firms.

Environmental and Energy Litigation

Our attorneys have defended public and private sector clients in trial court and appellate litigation brought by federal, state and local authorities, national environmental groups, and private citizens. We have defended clients in judicial actions seeking injunctive relief and penalties, private suits for the payment of damages and compensation, and contribution and cost recovery lawsuits involving the remediation of contaminated sites. We have represented utility and energy clients in litigation before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), and worked on behalf of our electric clients with the Midwest Independent System Operator. We have also defended our telecommunications clients in litigation before the MPSC, Federal Communications Commission, and state and federal courts. 

Real Estate Transaction and Redevelopment Support

At Miller Canfield, we have advised clients on a broad range of environmental and remediation challenges associated with the redevelopment of commercial and industrial properties. Whether it involves environmental due diligence in the purchase of property, the cleanup of a contaminated site, or securing liability protection and necessary government authorizations, our team understands the complexity of these matters. With our experience, we assist clients in navigating the often overlapping federal and state procedures and requirements. We can review and understand technical and legally relevant reports, engage and oversee environmental consulting and engineering firms, provide post-transaction guidance, and much more.

Utility, Energy and Telecommunications Support

At Miller Canfield, we provide service to utility, energy and telecommunications clients in virtually every phase of their business. The scope of services we provide includes advising and representing clients in complex rate making, tariff and service issues; meeting reliability, renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, obtaining required approvals for mergers, acquisitions and sales of jurisdictional regulated utilities and assets; gas and power supply cost reviews and cost recovery, and providing representation and advice in franchise, siting condemnation and certification proceedings for natural gas storage facilities and pipelines and electric transmission lines and generation and distribution facilities. For the telecommunications industry, we provide legal assistance on matters involving enterprise organization, interconnection and service agreements and tariffs, contract negotiations and litigation, inter-carrier disputes, licenses and permits, internet and video services, financing and other issues.

Natural Resources and Land Use

Clients often encounter a patchwork of environmental and natural resource requirements before they can begin construction and development activities on their properties. Our team has assisted clients in identifying and obtaining the necessary site development approvals and permits, including wetlands, floodplains and stormwater management permits, and watershed and drain code authorizations. We have successfully represented municipal and private sector clients before state and federal regulators, and negotiated permit conditions and consent decree terms favorable to our clients' interests.

Oil and Gas

We provide advice and legal opinions on a wide variety of oil and gas leasing, operation and production issues; and title examination for exploration and acquisition purposes.  We further provide representation for oil and gas clients in administrative proceedings before the MPSC in connection with operating gas wells under vacuum, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Supervisor of Wells, in connection with well spacing, unitization and statutory pooling.

Emergency Response and Crisis Management

Our attorneys are prepared to provide assistance and legal counsel to clients in responding to environmental crises, ranging from unintended chemical releases to devastating explosions resulting in significant property damage and human injury. We can assist in coordinating response activities, completing state and federal reporting requirements, overseeing and managing post emergency response actions, facilitating communications between the client, regulatory agencies, neighboring land owners and alleged victims, and providing guidance on minimizing liabilities and reducing exposure should future emergency situations occur.

Occupational Safety and Health Investigations

We have a strong background in counseling and defending manufacturing, utility, construction, retail, university and other clients in OSHA and workplace safety and health matters.  We have handled cases involving over fifty workplace fatalities and many significant injury cases, including fire and explosion, crush injuries, and exposure injuries, as well as alleged “willful” and “repeat” violations/citations.  We have substantial experience with both federal OSHA and state plan OSHAs, such as Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA), as well as others. 

Climate Change

The U.S. EPA has made climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gases its top priority. At Miller Canfield, we are well-situated to meet the demands of this new and developing field. We understand the regulatory landscape, and can provide insight into the government's perspective on greenhouse gas regulation and control. Our team includes a former high level U.S. EPA official and state environmental department director, a former state air quality permit engineer, and a former state utility commission administrative law judge. Our attorneys have helped develop state climate action plans, served on climate change and greenhouse gas work groups and committees, assisted companies in complying with the greenhouse gas reporting rule, and provided counsel on preparing and submitting comments on the proposed U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan rule.

Environmental and Regulatory Advocacy

For many businesses and organizations, environmental policy development is largely hidden, and the environmental rulemaking process overwhelmingly complex and cumbersome. With our government and private sector knowledge and expertise, our attorneys are uniquely qualified to provide the assistance you need to participate in, and convey your views on, regulatory matters to government decision-makers throughout the entire rulemaking process. Where environmental policy is being established through legislation, we can monitor the progress of such legislation, analyze its impacts, and offer guidance on substantive changes to the legislation.  

Miller Canfield's Environmental, Energy and Regulatory Group has the skill, knowledge and experience necessary to guide our financial services clients through the expanding array of environment and energy laws and regulations and the interlocking network of federal, state and local environmental mandates. The following are representative of the scope of our engagements and the depth of our knowledge and our versatility. 

CERCLA Cleanup

Represented company in $200 million+ cleanup of Great Lakes site under CERCLA, Part 201 and Part 31. Assisted client in negotiating with state and federal regulators to end CERCLA removal action and move to long-term remedies under state oversight. Resolved water discharge and disposal permitting issues in connection with the project.

Groundwater State Enforcement Action and Litigation Defense

Defended a large manufacturer in a state enforcement action regarding alleged groundwater impacts from wastewater discharges, negotiated administrative consent order and remedy.

Electric Utility New Source Review Construction Permit and Litigation 

Assisted an electric utility to obtain a New Source Review construction permit for a $2 billion coal-fired power plant and defended the permit against citizen suits. Also assisted the utility in obtaining multiple local, state, federal permits involving wetlands, floodplains, private and county drains, floodplains, endangered and threatened species, and navigable waters for the plant.

Municipal Landfill Groundwater State Enforcement Action and Litigation Defense

Represented municipal landfill in state enforcement action and civil suit by private landowners over groundwater impacts due to migrating solvent plume. Coordinated enforcement response, delineation of impact, and remedy provision of alternative community water supply, with litigation defense to achieve satisfactory settlements for client and community.

Environmental Remediation Company Criminal Environmental Enforcement Action

Defense of environmental remediation company in alleged criminal environmental violations relating to chemical pond sediment processing.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits

Acquired various NPDES, air, water, critical dunes, wetlands, erosion, and other environmental permits.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Environmental Due Diligence

Provide environmental due diligence and innovative liability protection for wastewater treatment plant biosolids processing facility.