We protect our clients by initiating or defending against actions in federal and state court or administrative proceedings.

Our litigators specialize in disputes involving environmental and natural resource matters, and they know the industry. Armed with our experience, we present evidence and arguments at contested administrative hearings, in motions, at trial, and on appeal.

Beyond the courtroom, we have extensive experience negotiating and implementing settlement agreements in class actions, as well as with state and federal regulatory authorities, many of which frequently require court or administrative agency approval.  We handle disputes including:

  • Environmental and citizen Suits
  • NEPA and Endangered Species Act
  • CERCLA, RCRA, and Superfund
  • Contested permitting and rulemaking
  • Oil and gas royalty
  • Operational disputes
  • Surface and title disputes
  • General commercial litigation for the Energy and Resources Industry
  • Workplace Safety and Emergency Response, tort Defense, and environmental crimes (OSHA, MSHA, EPA, and other regulatory enforcement agencies)
  • Environmental insurance litigation
  • Consent Decrees, Agreed Orders on Consent, and similar arrangements

Environmental and Natural Resources Litigation Client Results

NEPA and Endangered Species Act
    • We represented EG&G, the operator of the Tooele Army incinerator located west of Salt Lake City, in a NEPA action challenging the Army's entire chemical weapons incineration program. EG&G was the only government contractor invited to join the suit as an intervenor. The case took six years to litigate and involved a large number of motions. In a 51-page decision, the court ruled in our client's favor on all counts.
    • Holland & Hart represented an independent power corporation in three parallel cases involving challenges under NEPA and the National Historic Preservation Act brought by environmental groups and an Indian tribe.
    • We represented three municipalities and a business coalition in defending challenges to projects in Utah brought by environmental groups under NEPA. The court ruled against the plaintiffs on all claims.
    • Our attorneys defended a government defense contractor in litigation brought by environmental groups under NEPA and RCRA. The most recent case is a NEPA challenge to the programmatic FEIS pending in the D.C. District Court. All prior decisions were in favor of our client.
    • Holland & Hart represented the Idaho Transportation District (ITD) in several actions involving a major highway construction project in northern Idaho. These actions included a judicial challenge to NEPA and ESA approvals for the project, where ITD is co-defendant with the Federal Highway Administration.
    • We have represented oil and gas companies in defending challenges under NEPA for many of the major projects in the Rocky Mountains, including the Jonah and Pinedale fields in Wyoming, the San Juan basin in Colorado and New Mexico, and the Uinta Basin in Utah.
    • We represented an independent railroad in a federal court of appeal challenge under NEPA and the NHPA brought by the Mayo Clinic and several environmental groups.
    • Our attorneys represented a major energy company in a case affirming the adequacy under NEPA of a BLM decision authorizing winter drilling in sensitive big game habitat.
    • Holland & Hart successfully intervened on behalf of a public lands right-of-way applicant and defense of BLM decision to limit cooperating agency participation in NEPA process.
    • We successfully defended a challenge to Environmental Assessment for exploration drilling program in Oregon based on alleged failure to adequately consider impacts and alternatives.
    • We defended geothermal leases under NEPA and NHPA for alleged failure to consider impacts on cultural resources and failure to consider no action alternative.
    • We successfully defended oil and gas leases under NEPA for alleged failure to adequately consider impacts on wilderness characteristics.
    • Our attorneys received a favorable sage grouse decision from the Interior Board of Land Appeals in a challenge to geothermal leases. The ruling indicated that the Bureau of Land Management may in the future adopt "an adaptive management approach whereby it may take into account changes in the scientific consensus and land-use management directives regarding how best to avoid or mitigate the harmful effects of geothermal exploration or development on sage grouse and their habitat, by imposing appropriate measures at the time of approving a specific proposal for actual lease activity."
    • We orchestrated a successful intervention and defense of Pinedale Anticline Project Area oil and gas operators in challenge to endangered species, land management, and NEPA approvals for operations and obtained dismissal of the complaint.
    • Our attorneys achieved successful prosecution in New Mexico of ESA citizen suit on behalf of local government to obtain FWS decision on delisting petition.
    • Holland & Hart managed a successful intervention on behalf of local government and defense of federal agency ESA consultation decisions for public lands permitting in New Mexico.
CERCLA, RCRA and Superfund
    • Holland & Hart served as lead defense trial counsel for a global oil and gas enterprise in a case filed under the Federal Superfund law, in which the State of Montana sought more than $700 million in damages. The State alleged that hazardous substances were released from historic copper mining, milling and smelting operations in Butte and Anaconda, Montana, which injured natural resources in the Clark Fork River Basin. The two parties presented testimony from more than 70 expert witnesses in many fields of expertise.
    • We are providing ongoing defense of a metals manufacturing company in RCRA and Toxic Substance Control Act enforcement brought by EPA Region IX alleging violations of RCRA Bevill exclusion for mineral processing and unauthorized generation of PCBs.
    • Our attorneys have provided ongoing defense of government contractor in EPA CERCLA cost recovery action involving a facility in Chicago, Illinois.
    • We are providing ongoing defense of a major oil and gas producer and other entities in CERCLA settlement negotiations involving the Colorado School of Mines site in Golden, Colorado.
Air
    • Holland & Hart provided successful defense of a challenge under the Clean Air Act (as well as NEPA and FLPMA) to approval of Jonah field oil and gas development.
    • Our attorneys developed the successful defense of a $1.35 billion coal-fired power plant PSD permit appeal in 2008 before the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council, allowing construction to continue. We also briefed the permit affirmance to the Wyoming Supreme Court on further challenge in 2009.
    • We challenged EPA's ambient air quality standard for coarse particulate matter.
    • In In re Newmont Nevada Energy Investment LLC, TS Power Plant, 12 E.A.D. 429 (EAB 2005), we provided successful defense of PSD permit for a coal-fired power plant.
Water
    • Our attorneys counseled current and former owners of an explosives manufacturing facility in litigation involving historic contamination of drinking water aquifers.
    • Holland & Hart served as counsel to a state-created provider of contamination cleanup and third-party bodily injury and property damage insurance coverage for petroleum underground storage tank releases. We have represented this client and its insureds in several groundwater contamination and remediation cases.
    • We served as the lead trial counsel in a major groundwater contamination (methane) case for a major energy company in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. The case started out as a putative class action that, if certified, would have produced potential exposure in the billions of dollars. We defeated the class first, and then successfully tried the cases to a jury.
    • We defended the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) in an administrative challenge by a citizen group to the state's water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act issued in connection with a pending Corps of Engineer's Section 404 permit. This involved a mediation and a contested case hearing.
    • Our attorneys represented a major oil refinery in a citizen suit challenge of its NPDES discharge permit.
    • We successfully defended a NPDES permit held by a major coalbed methane producer at trial before the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council.
    • In St. John's Organic Farm v. Gem County Mosquito Abatement District, 574 F.3d 1034 (9th Cir. 2009), we successfully defended a citizen-suit challenge establishing standard under which district court may deny attorney fees award to settling citizen-suit plaintiff.
    • With success, Holland & Hart defended a challenge brought by environmental group to wetlands discharge permit issued under CWA § 404 to construct a highway in Northern Idaho.
    • In In re Agridyne LLC, No. CWA-08-2006-0048 (2008), Holland & Hart provided a successful defense of EPA enforcement action under Oil Pollution Control Act against tank farm located in Wyoming based on jurisdictional defense. The EPA dropped its enforcement action without seeking $500,000 penalty alleged in notice of violation.
    • We provided successful defense of EPA judicial enforcement of CWA storm water requirements and citizen-suit intervention with settlement that also resolved parallel state court property damage claims in Idaho.
Environmental Insurance Litigation
    • Holland & Hart was lead counsel on behalf of a major chemical company against its primary and excess insurers for coverage at over 100 contaminated sites located through the United States. We assigned teams of lawyers to investigate and marshal the evidence at each site and to prepare detailed estimates of remediation costs and/or third-party liabilities for each site. We defended hundreds of depositions, managed the production of millions of pages of documents, and ultimately prepared seven representative cases for trial. We tried five jury trials ranging from two to seven weeks and obtained declarations of coverage for many of the sites in question.
    • Our attorneys were lead trial counsel on a major environmental insurance coverage involving five wood treatment plants with groundwater contamination caused by creosote.
    • In another case involving a commercial wood treatment operation, we obtained coverage for environmental investigation and clean-up costs following two successful jury trials and a successful appeal. The case was the first jury trial of its kind in Colorado
    • We successfully brought coverage claims on behalf of a major mining company for its environmental liabilities at two different third-party sites in Colorado.
    • We obtained favorable settlements on behalf a local manufacturing company from over a dozen primary and excess carriers for liability at a major Superfund site in Colorado.
Emergency Response, Tort Defense, and Environmental Crimes
    • Our attorneys represented a major pipeline company in a class action toxic tort case involving alleged asbestos contamination in the decommissioning of a 200-mile pipeline in northeastern Colorado.
    • Holland & Hart represented a systems, solutions and technical service company and four other government contractors in a toxic tort case brought based on the alleged injury to a worker from exposure to chemical nerve agent. The case settled after mediation.
    • We reached a successful settlement in Utah for nuisance value of environmental tort claim from chemical agent exposure against manufacturers and government contractors.
    • Holland & Hart achieved a successful defense defeating class certification in class action alleging asbestos contamination from oil pipeline decommissioning.
    • We successfully defended a criminal CWA § 404 wetlands enforcement action against a real estate developer. The EPA dropped the criminal enforcement action and required payment of $10,000 civil penalty and supplemental environmental project.
NATIONAL TIER 1: Environment Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"

Recognized in 2018 Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms": National Tier 1 for Environmental Law and Litigation – Environmental

2 Best Lawyers® "Lawyer of the Year" 2018

W. Scott Mitchell: Best Lawyers® 2018 “Lawyer of the Year”: Litigation - Environmental, Billings
Jack D. Palma II: Best Lawyers® 2018 “Lawyer of the Year”: Natural Resources Law, Cheyenne
 

Nationwide and State Practices: Chambers USA 2017

Recognized by Chambers USA 2017 in 32 practices including: Nationwide: Environment; Natural Resources & Environment; Environment, Natural Resources & Regulated Industries

BTI's Law Firms with the Best Collaboration

One of nine firms nationwide named in 2017 by leading legal decision makers for “standout collaboration”

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