Virginia Albrecht (explore the Clean Water Timeline), dressed in a black double knit pantsuit and wearing small gold earrings, makes her way to the dais at the front of a large room in the law offices of Hunton & Williams, where she works. She is one of the last to arrive and has missed most of the small talk but waves to half a dozen colleagues as she crosses the front of the room, where she will lecture on the complexities of getting permits for building and other industry projects under the Clean Water Act.
Before the conference begins, Albrecht, 69, leans into the woman next to her as though she is consoling her. Fifteen minutes later, “Ginna,” as her friends call her, seems surprised when she is called on to talk, as though she does not think it is her turn yet. But she breezes through her lecture, in a plainspoken, this-really-isn’t-as-complicated-as-it-seems manner. Continue reading Virginia Albrecht: Undermining the Clean Water Act – Drop by Drop
A unanimous Supreme Court ruling yesterday in favor of Mike and Chantell Sackett marks a significant victory for private property advocates. It also represents one of the biggest wins for the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) in its 30-year history as a nonprofit law firm working to rollback environmental laws and advance a broad conservative agenda.
Virginia is the home of many historic Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields. But today, conflicts are being fought in a different forum. The question of whether to lift Virginia’s moratorium on uranium mining is shaping up to be one of the biggest battles in the General Assembly next year.
Legislation to strengthen the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other environmental concerns in the 1970s did not only create new government agencies, it also spawned entire fields of law. While some lawyers work for nonprofits that use lawsuits to challenge pollution and others work as government regulators, the “best of the best” work for large corporations wielding both litigation and lobbying on behalf of polluting industries, according to Chambers and Partners, a group that publishes directories indexing and ranking law firms globally.
The three top U.S. firms in environmental law – Sidley Austin, Latham & Watkins and Hunton & Williams – represent companies notorious for violating the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and lobbying to weaken laws meant to protect the environment and public health.
Sidley Austin is considered a top tier firm on environmental issues. Chambers states, “the lawyers are renowned for their expertise in air, water and waste pollution litigation,” and list clients such as BP, General Electric and Duke Energy. But perhaps their most significant client when it comes to international pollution is the XL-Pipeline project in Canada. They represent Canadian energy companies attempting to develop a controversial cross-border oil and gas pipeline.
“We represent Alliance Pipeline, Enbridge, TransCanada and other Canadian energy businesses which have sponsored major cross-border oil and gas pipeline projects. We have advised a number of these projects on the permitting and environmental review process under both US federal and state laws. We also counsel clients involved in proceedings initiated by the Office of Enforcement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” states Sidley Austin on their website. Continue reading The Polluters’ Lawyers
A recent TEEB for Business report estimated that the world’s 100 largest corporations do $7.3 trillion in damages each year to the global environment. These “externalized” costs are not borne by the business itself, but by society as a whole. Changing the way that corporations do business is critical to solving global environmental crises such as climate change. In the book Corporation 2020, Pavan Sukhdev presents a vision of how » read more
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On DCBureau are a story and timeline about the history of the Clean Water Act and the efforts to undermine it. Together they show an incremental, well-funded, organized campaign to weaken the law. On the 40th Anniversary of the Act, it is important to remember that environmental laws enjoyed bipartisan support for years. Weakening environmental regulations through the Congress and courts will have lasting, irreversible results.
Read in The New York » read more
A new web documentary quotes security experts as saying the Savannah River Site, where massive amounts of weapons-grade plutonium and other dangerous substances are stored, is vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could have dire consequences for the entire southeastern United States. The documentary reveals the Site is guarded by a foreign-owned firm with a checkered security record. The radioactive material is stored in aging buildings. The small private guard force » read more
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