The Quarles & Brady Clean Energy, Climate Change & Sustainability Team helped a large dairy-cooperative plant and other local businesses develop a wastewater treatment plant that would also generate renewable energy. We coordinated efforts among three large dairy manufacturers, including our client, to form a joint venture. We then helped our clients and the municipality talk through and plan the project, secure the necessary permitting, find financing, and begin construction of the facility to take advantage of significant incentives available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The use of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) lowered the costs of financing and put the facility in a position to operate profitably over the long term. We will continue to work on the project until the biomass facility is up and running, and when it is, it will reclaim the water used to process our client's food products, treat and send the reclaimed organic waste to local fields to be used as ecological fertilizer, and—along the way—employ anaerobic digestion to create electricity.
Superfund Defense Savings
Quarles & Brady has extensive experience chairing groups of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at federal Superfund sites. Since 1993, for example, a Quarles attorney has either chaired or co-chaired a Superfund cleanup in the Pinelands of New Jersey. At this particular site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected remedies for two operable units before identifying most potentially responsible parties. Cleanup costs were estimated by EPA at $57 million (in 1988 dollars). After successfully changing the remedy initially selected by EPA for the site, the first operable unit is now cleaned and closed, and the second is nearing completion, all for a cost roughly half of EPA’s original estimate.
Quarles & Brady has worked extensively for a client that historically owned paper-making, printing, packaging, and chemical operations through the United States. These assets were divested in the 1980s, and Quarles & Brady has managed retained environmental liabilities for this client on a national basis since then. This work includes some 30 Superfund sites in total, eight of which are active and many of which have required the negotiation of administrative orders and consent decrees, or a response to unilateral administrative orders under Section 106 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Quarles & Brady has also represented this client in mediation and litigation designed to allocate site costs among the named respondents and other parties thought to have used various disposal sites. This client has sites in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The Lower Fox River and Green Bay portion of Lake Michigan (the “Fox River Site”) represents one of the world’s largest river and harbor environmental projects. Our client was identified as a potentially responsible party in 1994, along with six other paper mills located along the Fox River. Since then, we have focused considerable attention on governmental claims by (1) directing complex and multidisciplinary technical evaluations (including remedial investigation, fate and transport modeling, ecological and human health risk assessments, and natural resource damage assessments); (2) overseeing public and governmental relations at the federal, state, and local levels; (3) negotiating and directing implementation of a consent decree and an amended consent decree to perform response actions in Operable Unit 1 (OU1) beginning in 2004 (seven river miles, at a cost exceeding $100 Million); (4) responding to a Unilateral Administrative Order for Remedial Action issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 to perform and fund remedial action in Operable Units 2–5 (32 river miles, at a cost of $600–$800 million over 10-plus years); and (5) addressing natural resource damage claims of seven federal, state, and tribal trustees. Based on the technical and legal case we developed, for example, the agencies issued an amended remedy for the river segment (OU1) that our client remediated (with one other party). The cost savings due to the amended remedy exceeded $50 million. As a bonus, ongoing sampling indicates that site risks are being reduced more quickly than originally anticipated.
Obtained a $750,000 Brownfields award
Obtained a $750,000 Brownfields award from the State of Wisconsin for a client seeking to redevelop a historic industrial site, and managed the site investigation and cleanup. The site had been used for leather tanning, automotive repair, and other uses. Proposed redevelopment uses of the property include office, retail, and residential.
Obtained a $125,000 grant
Obtained a $125,000 grant from federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for a client. This award will assist in the cleanup of a historic industrial site, which will be redeveloped for commercial use.
Obtained U.S. EPA and City of Milwaukee financial awards
Obtained U.S. EPA and City of Milwaukee financial awards for site investigation at Brownfields redevelopment sites.
Advised the Lenders in a $200 million financing project
Advised the lenders in a $200 million financing project for a Wisconsin wind farm, coordinating environmental, real estate, energy regulatory, and litigation due diligence.
Represented a client in obtaining all state approvals
Represented a client in obtaining all state approvals needed to redevelop an existing building and construct a new parking lot above a former coal ash fill area. This project featured an innovative construction technique.
Assisted real estate developer in constructing riverfront condominiums
Assisted real estate developer in constructing riverfront condominiums at former industrial facility, including completion of all necessary environmental remediation in soil and groundwater and within the adjacent riverbed. The project included the expansion of a public pedestrian walkway along the river, and development of an innovative rowing club facility located between two portions of the condominium development.
Recovering from a Chemical Plant Explosion
Our client experienced an explosion and fire at its chemical plant. We coordinated the root cause analysis, the corrective action requirements, and the environmental investigation and remediation. We also represented the client in the related lawsuit brought by the state, negotiated an early return to production, and negotiated a favorable settlement that included plant improvements and a more than 70% reduced penalty in lieu of the state’s original penalty demand.
Purchase and Redevelopment of Former Oil Refinery
After assisting our client with the environmental aspects of purchasing a 200+ acre former oil refinery, we have negotiated numerous agreements with the state agency to allow our client to close RCRA units and complete other requirements of the associated cleanup order at a pace and in a manner generally consistent with the site’s redevelopment. We also testified before the state commission considering draft asbestos regulations that would have significantly increased our client’s redevelopment and cleanup costs, resulting in revisions to the draft regulations that will save our client significant costs.
Environmental Insurance – Sale of Contaminated Property
As a condition precedent to closing the sale of its former industrial property, we negotiated the terms of pollution legal liability insurance protecting our client from claims arising from known soil, groundwater, and surface water (a river) contamination. The policy covers remediation triggered by the discovery of off-site contamination, third party cleanup claims, and third party bodily injury and property damage claims.
Environmental Insurance – Coverage without Known Conditions Exclusion
We negotiated environmental liability insurance for two sites, each of which has been in active metals manufacturing for over 75 years. The policy covers all governmental remediation claims and all third party bodily injury and property damage claims. Despite known and potential releases and, for one site, inclusion within a Superfund site, the policy does not have a known conditions exclusion.
Environmental Insurance – Excess of Indemnity
We negotiated an environmental liability policy protecting the seller and the purchaser of a former manufactured gas plant site from remediation, bodily injury, and property damage claims, including all claims that fall outside of, or for whatever reason are not covered by, the indemnity provided by the utility that operated the manufactured gas plant site (commonly referred to as “excess of indemnity coverage”).