Environmental & Land Use

Our attorneys provide legal services in all areas of environmental law, including land use, climate change, cleanup and redevelopment related to cleanup. Our team is among the most experienced in the state and serves clients across the country. The team includes dedicated transactional attorneys, compliance counselors, regulatory representatives and litigators whose collective depth allows us to meet our clients' needs in a manner that is practical, efficient and highly effective. Our Environmental & Land Use Group frequently works with multidisciplinary teams from our firm’s insurance coverage, real estate, construction, employment, tax and corporate practices when a client’s interests in environmental matters demands expertise in other areas of the law.

Collaboration with our real estate, insurance coverage and corporate practice groups, for instance, allows us to handle property purchases and sales, and brownfields cleanup and redevelopment from "cradle to grave." We are also experienced in working with non-legal professionals from the insurance, technical, legislative and public relations communities to develop client strategies and solutions to achieve client objectives.

Services Provided

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit to install solar panels and what regulatory body issues the permit?

Yes, you need a permit referred to as a certificate of public good.  The Vermont Public Service Board reviews these projects.  The applicable rules depend on the size and type of the solar project (i.e. roof top versus ground mounted).

If a potential solar site is subject to an existing Act 250 permit, do I need to amend the Act 250 permit to build the solar project?

No, the permitting statute for solar projects – 30 V.S.A. § 248 – trumps Act 250 and thus, if a solar developer obtains a certificate of public good, it does not need to amend an existing Act 250 permit.

What sorts of matters are handled by Vermont’s Environmental Court?

The Environmental Court entertains appeals from a variety of state and local regulatory entities. These appeals include decisions from municipal enforcement, Agency of Natural Resources enforcement, Natural Resources Board enforcement, decisions issued by the District Commission in Act 250 permit matters and jurisdictional decisions issued by the Natural Resources Board. The Environmental Court also hears appeals from local zoning boards.

Can insurance be obtained to cover environmental risks associated with the purchase or sale of land (or a company that holds land)?

Yes. Although environmental risks have largely been excluded from General Liability, Directors and Officers (D&O) since the 1980s, “specialty lines” policies are available for most environmental risks. Our team has assisted clients in the drafting, purchase, and claims process of hundreds of these policies, with limits ranging from $1 million to over $400 million. In the rare instances where commercial insurers will not provide environmental coverage (or will do so only at a forbidding premium), some entities obtain coverage through captive insurance companies, Risk Retention Groups, and other alternative risk transfer mechanisms. Our captive insurance team regularly assists with captive and RRG formation.

What should my company do if we receive a notice that we are a PRP (“potentially responsible party”) or otherwise potentially liable at a Superfund, Brownfield, or other contaminated site?

Immediately retain counsel familiar with insurance coverage as well as the underlying statutory, common law, or other threat environmental liability; provide formal notice to current and prior insurance carriers; and respond to any claimant(s) concerning such liability as the situation mandates. These matters are time-sensitive and delay may impair your rights.

Professionals

Shareholder
Montpelier VT
(802) 223-2102 x1109
Shareholder
Burlington VT||Montpelier VT
(802) 223-2102 x1108
Associate
Burlington VT
(802) 864-0880
Of Counsel
Burlington VT
(802) 862-0500
Shareholder
Montpelier VT
(802) 223-2102 x1118