Hot Topics in Clean Water Law Webinars

June 7, 2017

Citizen Suits in the Trump Era

Karen Hansen, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

As the Trump Administration develops its enforcement approach and moves to eliminate or revise Obama era environmental regulations and policies, these changes will likely be met by an increase in citizen suits. These suits present a challenge for clean water utilities by detracting time and resources away from critical operations and improvements and increasing liability risk. Ms. Hansen’s presentation will address how the evolving shifts in focus affect utilities and what POTWs can do to protect themselves against such litigation.

Karen M. Hansen’s environmental law practice focuses on the Clean Water Act and state programs for regulating and permitting water discharges and water supply/use.  She has extensive experience assisting industrial and municipal clients in preparing strategies for and pursuing water permits for ongoing operations, expansions and new operations, including permit challenges. Ms. Hansen also represents clients that must defend CWA and state water law enforcement actions, including claims pursued by governmental as well as third party entities. She recently led a multi-year, complex negotiation of a consent decree for the San Antonio Water System, which was targeted for sewer overflow reductions under EPA's national "wet weather" enforcement initiative. Ms. Hansen advises clients on business strategies related to increasing water scarcity, and counsels clients on emerging trends in water quality programs, including initiatives such as watershed-based permitting, TMDLs, trading and allocation, and land-based impacts on coastal and ocean resources.  She also has extensive experience assisting clients with conducting compliance audits and managing related disclosures, and with developing and implementing management systems for environmental compliance.

Ms. Hansen also has extensive experience assisting multinational companies manage their global EHS issue portfolios.  She helps clients strategically plan and manage both comprehensive and targeted EHS compliance audits, and related federal and state disclosure and corrective action strategies.  Ms. Hansen also has helped companies develop and implement management systems for environmental compliance, sometimes in the context of resolving a major enforcement action.  Ms. Hansen also teams with white collar lawyers to conduct internal investigations and assist in defending civil and criminal investigations.

In addition to serving as a frequent speaker, writer and planner for a variety of environmental law and policy programs, Ms. Hansen has served in elected and appointed roles on numerous state bar and American Bar Association committees and task forces. Ms. Hansen has served on the firm's Management Committee, Co-Chairs the Water Law Practice, and was the firm’s inaugural Chair of B&D’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

The Clean Water Act in the Trump Administration: What to Expect with Regulations and Enforcement

Andrew Stewart, Counsel, Vinson & Elkins, LLP

This presentation will address the new philosophy governing environmental regulation and enforcement in the new Administration.  Mr. Stewart will cover the legal parameters governing the Trump Administration’s efforts to modify Obama Administration regulations and policies under the Clean Water Act. This presentation will also cover recent enforcement trends and levels and how the new EPA’s agenda could affect Clean Water Act enforcement, as well as potential opportunities to shape a new direction with federal enforcement.

Andrew R. Stewart draws upon his experience as a senior manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and nearly 20 years in environmental law to counsel clients on a broad range of compliance and enforcement matters. Mr. Stewart’s work includes defending government enforcement and citizen suit actions, assisting clients on federal and state permitting requirements, and counseling on other critical environmental obligations. These matters have arisen under all major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, as well as state laws.

Prior to joining Vinson & Elkins, Mr. Stewart served as an Acting Division Director in the Office of Civil Enforcement at EPA. He managed complex enforcement actions and litigation affecting numerous industrial sectors, including energy, chemical manufacturing, agribusiness, mining, and telecommunications. While at EPA, he also served as a senior attorney in the Water Enforcement Division, handling combined sewer overflow/sanitary sewer overflow cases and policy issues affecting municipalities. Mr. Stewart worked in the environmental practice of another firm in Washington, D.C. before coming to EPA.

Mr. Stewart currently serves as a Vice Chair on the Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee within the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. He attended the University of Virginia School of Law and received an undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Navigating Uncertain Waters: Compliance Strategies in New EPA

Nathan Vassar, Associate, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C.

This discussion will outline opportunities for POTWs in this dynamic regulatory climate.  The focus will include enforcement trends that span the recent and current Administrations, along with practices that can position utilities for compliance as well as enforcement avoidance for 2017 and into the future.

Nathan Vassar is an Attorney at Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. in Austin, Texas. His practice focuses on assisting clients with enforcement defense matters, regulatory compliance, water quality matters, and water resources development.  Nathan helps communities facing Clean Water Act compliance issues, and represents clients in civil litigation matters before federal and state courts and administrative agencies. Before joining Lloyd Gosselink, Nathan worked as an attorney at the Dallas office of Bickel & Brewer on litigation matters, including environmental enforcement disputes. 

Mr. Vassar received his BA at the University of Virginia and his JD from the University of Texas School of Law.  Prior to the practice of law, Nathan worked in state politics as a Legislative Director for a State Senator in Virginia.