Katten’s maritime environmental attorneys advise clients on the complex and often interconnected international, federal, state and local laws that impact the maritime industry. Our clients include vessel owners and operators, offshore structures, charterers, P&I clubs and waterfront facilities. We provide counsel on vessel, port, terminal, offshore facility, pipeline, energy and other sector issues.
Vessel prosecutions continue to be a top priority for government enforcement both in the United States and internationally. Our maritime practice has the experience needed to provide comprehensive compliance advice on all pertinent laws, including: the Clean Water Act (CWA), Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), Oil Pollution Act of 1990, Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), and Deepwater Port Act (DWPA).
Clean Water Act
Familiarity with the Clean Water Act (CWA) is a vital part of our maritime program. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the CWA and regulatory developments including the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent promulgation of a Vessel General Permit (VGP) under the CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPES).
Clean Air Act and Marine Air Emissions
State, national and international air emission enforcement efforts continue to rise in the maritime sector. Nationally, the EPA is considering new greenhouse gas regulations that may have a profound effect on members of the maritime industry, and internationally, development of efforts to limit emissions and address climate change continues to be an important goal. With sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone-depleting substances (ODS) on the watch list, it is critical for vessel owners and operators to comply with existing regulations and stay ahead of these changes. Our attorneys closely monitor all developments to help clients stay aware of current compliance requirements and best manage legal obligations and risks.
Maritime Oil Spills
After a spill, a proactive response is key. Our attorneys have the ability to coordinate with all relevant parties.
Litigation and Enforcement
Our attorneys are experienced in defending against actions resulting from maritime oil spills and other vessel pollution enforcement matters. This includes claims for penalties and damages under national law, and regulatory investigations and actions by environmental, safety and transportation regulatory bodies. Drawing upon a deep bench of former prosecutors, including a former chief of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, our knowledge of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), Ocean Dumping Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 allows us to help clients successfully mitigate the risks associated with vessel pollution investigations.
As these cases often involve complex national and international regulations, it is critical to respond with precision and creativity to both protect a company’s rights and establish a positive relationship with the regulatory body involved. Katten’s environmental litigators are trained to rapidly respond to regulatory investigations, whether the investigation was triggered by a whistleblower, a Coast Guard discovery, a search warrant or otherwise.
We help clients develop and refine proactive compliance programs that meet government expectations.