Home > Services > Environmental Law > Clean Water Act

CLEAN WATER ACT

Litigation Challenging State Regulatory Agencies 

Thompson Coburn represented The Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri in a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) challenging the process used by DNR to determine whether or not streams in Missouri should be included on the state list of “impaired waters.” Once the DNR includes a stream on the list of impaired waters, DNR can place stringent limitations on the types of discharges, such as sediment from a residential subdivision construction site, that can go into the stream. Our client asserted that the method used to determine whether a stream should be considered “impaired” was without a legitimate scientific basis. The lawsuit resulted in DNR’s agreement to conduct another study of one particular stream at issue, and to base all future decisions regarding impaired waters listings on evidence that is scientifically defensible. The settlement has statewide impact because it affects the process used by DNR in all such listing decisions.

Spill Cleanup and Related Penalty Negotiations 

We represent an industrial mining/quarry business in connection with a major rock fines release into one of its state’s most pristine waterways. The spill resulted in the complete shut down of a state park approximately ten miles down stream. A fish kill and damage to natural resources were alleged to have occurred. After counseling the client through the emergency response and cleanup stages, we negotiated a settlement that involved a penalty of less than $20,000 coupled with an innovative Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). The state indicated it would have sought in excess of $700,000 had the matter not been settled. We also successfully assisted our client in obtaining favorable terms in connection with a modification to its NPDES permit, which the state required as a consequence of the incident.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Permit Appeal 

We successfully represented a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in administrative appeals brought by area residents to several water permits issued to the CAFO’s various farms. Citing the state law provision that only the permit applicant had the right to appeal water permits, the CAFO sought and obtained an extraordinary writ which held that because the residents had no right to appeal the CAFO’s water permits, they had no right to seek an administrative review of the permits. Subsequently, the case was upheld on appeal.

Defense of Suit Against a Sewer District 

We defended a federal court action brought by the United States under the Clean Water Act as well as claims brought by citizen group intervenors against the sewer district. The case settled with an agreement to construct secondary treatment facilities.

Wetlands Permit and Offsets for Loss of Wetlands 

Thompson Coburn assisted a riverboat casino complex in obtaining from the Army Corps of Engineers a Clean Water Act § 404 permit that was essential to its development and to its successful effort to become one of the first licensed riverboat casinos in the state of Missouri. The permit provided for the acquisition of mitigation property for the creation of new wetlands to offset the potential loss of wetlands from the development.

Oil Discharges from Vessels 

Our client was accused of discharging oil from the bilge of its vessel without a permit and in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. It was also charged with failure to report the release. We succeeded in negotiating a settlement with the Coast Guard which involved no admission of liability and the payment of a fine of less than $6,000.

Release and Recovery of Radioactive Materials 

We assisted a client in its reporting, investigation and cleanup of radiologically contaminated steel which had been released into a major waterway. At our client’s request, Thompson Coburn personnel were on site in a remote location at the dock where the incident occurred, within hours of the incident. We interviewed witnesses, assisted in the development of reporting strategies and assisted in the recovery of the material at issue from the bottom of the river. Our client was not required to pay any penalties or fines in connection with the incident.

 

Publications

EPA announces ‘adjacent’ under Clean Air Act now limited to physical proximity

Uh-oh, y’all: EPA’s action against ‘Fixer Upper’ stresses importance of lead paint rules

The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017: California’s newest warning requirements

5 points to remember before relying on the EPA’s new NSR guidance on projected future emissions

EPA Regional Counsel and MDNR General Counsel discuss environmental enforcement under new administrations

What to do when the government comes calling: A checklist for handling facility inspections

Environmental deregulation under President Trump: Business as usual?

5 tips for environmental due diligence in business transactions

New circuit split raises questions about ‘permit shield’ defense in Clean Water Act cases

EPA reveals first 10 chemicals to be reviewed under a more robust toxic substances act

Missouri Supreme Court resets the rules for collecting leaking underground storage tank cleanup costs in litigation

Do you need a Section 404 permit for your real estate development?

Former head of OSHA discusses workplace injury policies, DOJ enforcement

Missouri municipal entities must follow statutorily-required steps before executing settlement agreements

DOJ shifts enforcement of worker safety violations to Environmental Crimes Section

Chemical Safety Board investigator outlines discoveries from West Fertilizer, Charleston water incidents

Supreme Court overturns EPA’s 'Tailoring Rule,' upholds GHG BACT for 'anyway' sources

Top Region 7 attorney details EPA’s biggest enforcement, compliance priorities

Blog Posts

Downstream drama: Iowa utility can’t recover damages from county drainage districts

No-GMOs are a no-go in Oregon and Hawaii

9th Circuit sends herbicide debate back to the EPA

Can the California A.G. limit those incessant Prop 65 lawsuits?

News

Peter Strassner talks to Best Lawyers about Thompson Coburn’s environmental practice

Thompson Coburn earns 11 national top-tier rankings in U.S. News 2019 ‘Best Law Firms’ survey

Thompson Coburn’s Environmental practice group celebrates top rankings

Congratulations to our 14 ‘Lawyers of the Year’ for 2019

Barry Klinckhardt, Susan Myers among 2018 Corporate Counsel Award winners

Crystal Kennedy inducted into the Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame

Thompson Coburn earns 12 national top-tier rankings in U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ survey

Ryan Russell Kemper named to St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list

Congratulations to our 2017 ‘Lawyers of the Year’

Ryan Russell Kemper to head United Way fundraising effort

23 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2016 Chambers USA

Eric Boyd hosts discussion with retired EPA official to kick off Clean Air Act seminar

25 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2015 Chambers USA

Congratulations to our 15 St. Louis ‘Lawyers of the Year’

112 Thompson Coburn attorneys featured in 2015 Best Lawyers list

Real Estate Group retains a top ranking in 2014 Best of the Best Survey

St. Louis Business Journal covers Thompson Coburn’s work on unique Superfund settlement

Chemical Safety Board investigator shares insights from two high-profile environmental incidents

27 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2014 Chambers USA

Ryan Kemper, Thompson Coburn environmental practice featured in St. Louis Lawyer

EPA, Boys & Girls Club announce $30 million cleanup of Superfund site

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis honors Thompson Coburn for pro bono work on Superfund cleanup site

Eric E. Boyd joins Thompson Coburn's Environmental Group

Thompson Coburn attorneys to collaborate with St. Louis City Counselor’s office on problem properties

Real Estate group supports $51 million apartment complex purchase

19 Thompson Coburn partners named 2013 St. Louis Lawyers of the Year

Paul Sonderegger appointed chair of environmental law committee for St. Louis bar

Thompson Coburn wins Illinois Supreme Court victory for ExxonMobil Coal

Peter Strassner named St. Louis Environmental Lawyer of the Year

Partner
Chicago
312 580 2214

Eric represents clients in litigation, regulatory compliance, and transaction matters with respect to all of the major environmental programs.

Eric represents clients in litigation, regulatory compliance, and transacti...

Eric Boyd
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6448

As a litigator with the Environmental Group, Tim is dedicated to achieving client goals in complex environmental disputes and regulatory matters.

As a litigator with the Environmental Group, Tim is dedicated to achieving ...

Tim Briscoe
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6112

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulatory enforcement matters.

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulator...

Sara Chamberlain
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6019

Ed has substantial experience in a wide range of complex lawsuits, most of which involve multi-party environmental litigation.

Ed has substantial experience in a wide range of complex lawsuits, most of ...

Ed Cohen
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6520

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal injury litigation.

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal in...

Lisa DeBord
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6166

Joe is an experienced environmental law counselor who provides actionable, common-sense advice to clients on a wide array of regulatory and litigation issues.

Joe is an experienced environmental law counselor who provides actionable, ...

Joe Kellmeyer
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6321

Ryan is a problem-solver who works to create opportunities for clients dealing with environmental and energy issues, property disputes, commercial litigation, and governm...

Ryan is a problem-solver who works to create opportunities for clients deal...

Ryan Russell Kemper
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6168

Crystal has 30+ years of national environmental experience and leads the transactional area of the Firm's environmental practice.

Crystal has 30+ years of national environmental experience and leads the tr...

Crystal Kennedy
Sr Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety
St. Louis
314 552 6467

As Thompson Coburn's Senior Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety, Max provides technical support on remediation and groundwater contamination matters, acquisitions, re...

As Thompson Coburn's Senior Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety, Max pr...

Max McCombs
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6154

Paul is a highly effective litigator and regulatory compliance attorney who has resolved environmental and real estate/construction disputes in state and federal courts a...

Paul is a highly effective litigator and regulatory compliance attorney who...

Paul Sonderegger
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6109

Peter is a nationally recognized environmental attorney who helps companies respond to major environmental incidents, navigate regulatory actions, and successfully resolv...

Peter is a nationally recognized environmental attorney who helps companies...

Peter Strassner