Environmental justice was once largely viewed as an aspirational goal but is increasingly becoming a concrete regulatory or policy touchpoint at the federal and state level. Compliance with environmental justice principles can affect the permitting of new projects and facilities and the operation of existing assets, as well as drive targeting in government enforcement actions. Environmental justice also is an increasingly important metric for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and other corporate governance considerations. With environmental justice expected to be a centerpiece of the Biden administration’s environmental policy, and a driving force in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews and Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement actions, the importance of this issue to the regulated community will only increase over time.
Sidley has developed the deepest team in the market to address these concerns. Our environmental lawyers work together as a cohesive unit to provide high-caliber legal advice on complex environmental justice issues. Our lawyers are regarded as thought leaders in this area and have created forums, including the Environmental Women of Color, that allow environmental law and policy professionals to discuss these issues and share insights.
We bring value to our clients by offering the following services:
- Environmental justice assessments: Developing enterprise-wide or facility-specific reviews of potential environmental justice issues and strategies.
- Strategic counseling on environmental justice:
- Advising clients on how to plan, permit, and defend projects in light of environmental justice considerations, while maintaining compliance with complex and emerging state and federal statutes, regulations, and regulatory guidance.
- Developing and implementing enterprise-wide or facility-specific environmental policies and procedures, training programs, and compliance audit programs that incorporate environmental justice.
- Enforcement defense and litigation:
- Defending organizations and individuals in enforcement actions under federal and state environmental laws, and in conducting internal investigations, including where environmental justice is a factor.
- Handling all aspects of civil and criminal environmental matters.
- Incident preparedness and response:
- Assisting clients in developing a robust incident response program designed to prepare company personnel in advance of an incident, such as a fire, explosion, major chemical release, hurricane, or flood, in environmental justice communities.
- Handling both initial and long-term legal response to potential and actual environmental, toxic tort, and similar catastrophic events in environmental justice communities.
- Stakeholder engagement: Engaging with state and federal agencies and other stakeholders through the rulemaking process of proposed environmental justice regulations and policies.