Environmental Enforcement & Regulatory Counseling

McGuireWoods’ national environmental enforcement and regulatory counseling practice group guides clients through complicated regulatory programs for air, water, waste, natural resources and chemicals, and it helps companies address policy issues regarding climate change, environmental justice and emerging contaminants.

The team defends companies caught in a regulatory morass, and helps them creatively return contaminated property to safe, productive use. In addition, our lawyers translate complex technical and engineering analyses in areas as varied as hazardous air pollutants and reclamation of hazardous waste, and they counsel clients to complete energy projects — power plants, oil and gas, and renewables — on time and under budget.

These experienced practitioners draw on their varied backgrounds as former regulators and practicing engineers, while advising and representing clients before Congress and state legislatures and environmental and natural resources agencies. Team members have decades of experience and deep contacts with regulatory agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), among others.

Covering the spectrum of environmental law, the team comprises administrative and courtroom litigators working together, as needed, with the firm’s environmental litigators for civil enforcement matters and white collar litigators for criminal matters, as well as regulatory compliance counselors and seasoned transactional practitioners. With decades of experience across the country, McGuireWoods defends environmental enforcement proceedings and counsels clients on environmental compliance, advises on development of contaminated property, closes deals, and participates in the administrative process. They also coordinate with colleagues from the firm’s lobbying and public affairs subsidiary McGuireWoods Consulting to facilitate greater access to decision-makers in legislative bodies and administrative agencies. 

McGuireWoods’ environmental enforcement and regulatory counseling practice group is recognized as an elite practice, most recently in Chambers USA, with highly regarded nationwide rankings for climate change and environment, as well as state-based environment rankings in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Multiple partners are individually ranked in Chambers USA, and several were named “Environmental Law MVPs” by Law360 and “Energy & Environmental Trailblazers” by The National Law Journal. The Legal 500 United States, a premier list of the country’s best law firms, commended McGuireWoods for its “strong state, regional and national experience” in environment regulatory and litigation.

How We Help

Clients turn to McGuireWoods for guidance on environmental law matters through counseling, negotiations, enforcement and litigation. We help clients with permitting new projects, complying with complicated and ever-evolving technical regulatory requirements, auditing and environmental management systems for operating facilities, and defending state and federal enforcement matters and citizen suits. The team counsels clients from the investigative stage to resolution, whether by settlement or vigorous defense in litigation. They advise companies on matters involving remediation and site closure, the rulemaking process and related litigation, crisis management, and support and due diligence for commercial, energy and real estate transactions.

Our lawyers apply challenging technical and engineering concepts to complex environmental law principles, and draw on their technical backgrounds to find practical solutions to environmental problems and explain difficult concepts to clients in easy-to-understand terms. The team achieves results that allow facilities maximum flexibility while still meeting legal requirements, thereby protecting business interests and the environment at the same time.

Areas of Focus

  • Enforcement, including information collection requests, defense and resolution, litigation
  • Air (Clean Air Act (CAA) and state analogs)
  • Climate change
  • Water (Clean Water Act (CWA) and state analogs, Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA))
  • Natural Resources (Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA))
  • Waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Superfund and brownfields; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
  • Toxics (Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA))
  • Emergency response; Process Safety Management (OSHA); Risk Management Plan program (CAA)
  • Environmental justice
  • Emerging contaminants (e.g., EtO, PFAS)
  • Permitting and defense of permit challenges
  • Rulemaking comments and related litigation
  • Due diligence and support for transactions
environmental enforcement

Download a copy of our team brochure.

Nationally recognized for Climate Change and Environment


Nationally recognized for Environmental Litigation and Environmental Regulatory

– Legal 500 United States

Environment practice recognitions in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

– Chambers usa

Partner named “Environmental Law MVP” multiple times

– Law360

Multiple partners named Environmental Law “Lawyers of the Year”

– Best Lawyers

Multiple partners named “Energy & Environmental Trailblazers”

– The National Law Journal