Baker Botts helps our clients tackle their most complex air quality challenges. One-third of our environmental lawyers concentrate on advising clients on virtually every aspect of air regulation and air emission control strategies. Our Clean Air Act experience extends to counseling and permitting services, litigation and advocacy efforts. We also bring special skills and knowledge on emissions trading and climate change issues. We are active participants on EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.
We actively participate in state and federal rulemakings implementing the Clean Air Act and state counterparts, including the development of air toxics standards, the acid rain control program, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter, air quality permit programs and emissions credit trading programs. One of our strengths is the effective use of multi-client groups to bring our clients’ collective efforts to bear on targeted regulatory challenges. Baker Botts leads two advocacy groups: The Class of ‘85 is a group of approximately 30 U.S. electric generating companies, which has taken an active part in the development of all major air-related regulations affecting electric generators since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The Texas Industry Project (“TIP”) consists of sixty companies in a wide variety of industries with operations in Texas. Since 1974, TIP has been an active participant in shaping regulatory programs that drove measured air quality improvements while growing our region’s economic vitality.
Once the rulemaking body establishes regulations, we help clients navigate the rules to assist with compliance and avoid costly enforcement.
Specifically, we help clients:
- Accurately interpret the relevant permitting and regulatory requirements
- Work effectively with regulators to apply the rules sensibly and effectively
- Educate internal and external stakeholders on compliance standards
- Develop environmental audits and compliance programs
We achieve cost-effective compliance solutions for state and federal air regulations. For example, we conduct audits of our clients’ CAA-related compliance programs and provide in-house seminars on CAA issues and climate change activities and initiatives. We also advise clients on statutory and regulatory environmental requirements related to air pollution in Latin America and Canada, and provide updates for clients on emerging regulatory and legislative issues. Our lawyers routinely help companies determining the possible impact of current and future environmental regulatory requirements on business strategies.
We offer broad-based counseling experience under all air-related programs, including:
- Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements
- Acid Rain Program
- New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)
- CFC program
- Risk Management Program
- Mobile source and fuel requirements
In order to sustain growth, our clients need permits for new construction and expansion projects. Permit-related challenges can occur on high-profile or routine projects, whether or not a meaningful environmental issue is apparent. Under the right circumstances, protest coalitions can form quickly and mobilize multi-pronged strategies to impede the project on an array of fronts. Permit challenges can escalate to litigation if the opposing parties are not successful in the administrative venue. A favorable outcome requires the right mix of business strategy, sound science and technical solutions, targeted community outreach, and good lawyering.
Baker Botts offers a strategic approach to permitting. In any contested case there are essentially “three legs to the stool:”
1) science and engineering
2) legal experience
3) community and government relationships
Baker Botts helps clients combine effective strategies in all three of these areas into one cohesive solution aimed at achieving approval of our client’s project.
A solid understanding of the scientific process is critical when the judge and the general public may not be familiar with environmental science and have to rely on environmental experts to break down the impact that certain scientific assumptions have on legal and policy decisions.
We negotiate favorable permit terms and conditions for state and federal construction permits and federal operating permits and counsel clients on preapplication strategies to streamline permitting requirements.
Governments and private citizens are increasingly filing suit against our clients, alleging violations of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws. In turn, some government agencies are taking an increasingly aggressive approach to resolving issues, which can lead our clients to consider their own judicial remedies.
We defend our clients in administrative and judicial civil enforcement actions, citizen suits and criminal prosecutions. We have mounted several challenges to federal and state rulemakings and other initiatives, resulting in more effective control strategies. With a strong but principled approach, we are able to structure effective resolutions that strengthen our clients’ relationships with agencies and the community.
Emissions Trading and Climate Change Issues
Climate Change is an important environmental issue facing the energy, and energy-intensive, industries in the coming decades. Although the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol or imposed mandatory reductions for greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA and many states are pursuing programs that could impose significant constraints on our clients’ businesses. Many of our clients operating in the United States also have significant operations in countries where climate change is an important issue. Consequently, many have begun to plan, develop and implement operational changes and efficiency enhancements to be better prepared for emerging regulatory programs. They have also begun to take advantage of emissions trading opportunities to generate revenue from the emissions reductions they create.
Baker Botts is at the forefront of the evolving greenhouse gas emissions trading programs in the United States and globally. We are closely involved in international programs implementing the Kyoto Protocol, including the Clean Development Mechanism and the Marrakech Accords. We work strategically with clients on the development of long-term carbon emissions stabilization and reduction policies, as well as projects to implement and maximize the benefits of those policies.
Baker Botts is a member of the International Emissions Trading Association. To stay abreast of climate activities in South and Central America, we established a working relationship with Econergy International and, through RIELA, our Latin American lawyers’ network, we stay on top of recent developments in Latin America related to climate change. We are positioned to help our clients navigate the challenges of the emerging climate change regulatory regime.