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ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Criminal Defense under the Clean Water Act 

We successfully defended a case involving alleged criminal violations of the Clean Water Act arising out of a crude oil pipeline rupture that caused the largest inland waterway spill in U.S. history. Approximately 863,000 gallons of oil were released to a small Missouri river. Settlement negotiations resulted in a plea to a misdemeanor violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act (strict liability statute) and a civil settlement with the state of Missouri. Negotiations also resulted in agreement for non-prosecution of company employees. 

Thompson Coburn attorneys also defended a publicly held client in a case involving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act due to the discharge of ammonia into navigable waters. Settlement negotiations with the U.S. Attorney resulted in a favorable plea agreement for the company and civil settlement with the state of Missouri. 

We defended a client involved in alleged criminal violations of environmental laws due to the release of liquid animal fat into a rural stream. Settlement negotiations with the U.S. Attorney resulted in a favorable plea agreement for client and a decision not to prosecute any of the client’s employees.

Criminal Charges in Styrene Case Reduced and then Dismissed 

Our attorneys represented a publicly traded client charged in Texas in connection with an alleged styrene discharge and fish kill. Thompson Coburn successfully negotiated a reduction in charges, and then, based on the results of an investigation by Thompson Coburn and its client, persuaded the prosecutor to agree to pre-trial diversion, after which all charges were dropped.

Grand Jury Investigation Resulting in No Indictment 

We represented a subsidiary of a publicly held company that was a target of a grand jury investigation for alleged environmental damage to a special status stream from a catastrophic release of mine waste. We negotiated a settlement with the state for minimal civil penalties and the U.S. Attorney declined to present for indictment.

Complete Acquittal in Case Involving Nuclear Power Plant Heat Shields 

Thompson Coburn attorneys defended a company and its chief executive in a case that involved alleged violations for making false statements in reporting test results of fire barrier material used in numerous nuclear power plants. A criminal investigation was initiated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, assisted by the EPA, and the EPA also initiated separate government contract suspension procedures. Following a 10-week trial in Maryland, the jury acquitted the defendants of all criminal charges. The EPA also dismissed the government contract suspension proceedings.

Favorable Resolution of Criminal, Civil and Tort Claims related to Waste Disposal 

We defended a felony prosecution of a publicly traded company, brought under RCRA, CERCLA and the federal Clean Water Act, relating to alleged unlawful waste disposal. We represented the client in grand jury proceedings, with respect to multiple subpoenas and in a plea negotiated with the U.S. Attorney’s office. We then represented a company employee who was facing a multi-count felony indictment. The employee refused to plea and, in the face of motions to dismiss and on the eve of trail, the prosecutor agreed to pre-trial diversion which led to a complete dismissal of all charges. Thompson Coburn also counseled the corporate client regarding cleanup activities, and handled and resolved all civil enforcement proceedings and hundreds of personal injury and property damage suits arising out of the matter.

Favorable Plea in a Hazardous Waste Disposal Case 

Thompson Coburn also defended a client in a case involving alleged violations of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act due to improper disposal of hazardous waste. Settlement negotiations with the U.S. Attorney resulted in a favorable plea agreement for Thompson Coburn’s client and in a decision not to prosecute our client’s publicly traded parent corporation or certain company employees.

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

Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6153

Eric assists clients across a wide range of environmental fields, drawing on his extensive experience in compliance counseling, transactional matters and litigation to re...

Eric assists clients across a wide range of environmental fields, drawing o...

Eric Berry
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
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