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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Samuel L. Brown

Samuel L. Brown

Partner

Expertise

  • Energy and Environmental Litigation
  • Chemicals, Products and Hazardous Materials
  • Energy
  • Africa

WSG Practice Industries

Activity

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
California, U.S.A.

Profile

As a former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attorney, Sam utilizes his agency, regulatory, enforcement, and practical experience to help his clients navigate environmental, energy, natural resource, sustainability, and climate-related concerns associated with US- and international-based facilities and operations.

Sam’s practice focuses on three core areas – navigating federal and state environmental laws, implementing sustainability and climate-related decarbonization strategies, and minimizing legal and reputational risks associated with international project development and operations. He is a former attorney with the EPA, in the Office of Regional Counsel in San Francisco (Region 9) and in New York (Region 2), and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC.

In the US, he assists clients with complying with federal and state environmental laws, including compliance counseling, obtaining regulatory authorizations, facility and corporate audits, project and transactional due diligence, citizen suits, administrative and civil enforcement defense, and litigation. His clients rely on his experience when navigating the Clean Water Act (CWA); the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA); the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); the Clean Air Act (CAA); the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and, state-equivalent environmental, natural resource, health and safety, and consumer product-related statutes.

Sam also focuses on developing and implementing corporate climate change-related strategies on the path toward decarbonization and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This includes climate mitigation-focused project development and climate-related adaptation concentrated on existing infrastructure and applicable legal frameworks. He is also attentive to identifying the opportunities associated with decarbonization and avoiding short- and long-term unintended consequences. Sam advises clients on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) risks, strategies, and foresight on emerging CSR/ESG trends in the US and related foreign non-financial disclosure requirements that impact multinational corporations. Sam also counsels clients on emerging trends associated with environmental justice and human rights, in the context of ESG, but also associated with agency permitting, rulemaking, and enforcement.

For international matters, Sam works to ensure facility and corporate consistency with nation-based laws, international legal frameworks, and industry-specific standards. He assists with development and compliance with facility-specific Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) and with advising on consistency with Equator Principles, World Bank established International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, and other international environmental, health, safety, and social (EHSS) standards. It is often difficult to assess and calibrate the proper EHSS protocols, especially in developing countries, and he works cross-team with other Hunton attorneys abroad to carefully manage legal, commercial and reputational risks.

Sam frequently organizes, moderates and participates in programs, conferences, and other events for clients and organizations like the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and the Environmental Law Institute. He often speaks and writes on trending environmental, energy, climate, natural resource, and sustainability issues and he contributes regularly to the firm’s Nickel Report blog, which focuses on trends and developments in energy and environmental law.

Sam is on the Editorial Board of the ABA’s journal Natural Resources & Environment. He is also a former adjunct professor and guest lecturer, including at the University of San Francisco, where he taught environmental law; Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv School of Law in Ukraine, where he lectured on matters related to extractive industries in Europe; Pace University School of Law; Golden Gate University School of Law; and The George Washington University School of Law, where he taught on environmental, energy and land use issues.

Representative Experience

Enforcement Defense & Litigation Experience

Sam helps clients respond to government investigations, manage citizen suits brought by NGOs, negotiate resolutions to federal and state administrative and civil enforcement actions, and establish effective defenses in litigation. His experience as a former US EPA enforcement lawyer affords him invaluable insight into how government enforcement decisions are made and the strategies and risks associated with defending clients against the enforcement of environmental and natural resource statutes. 

  • Currently represents chemical manufacturer in EPA and state enforcement action for alleged violations of RCRA, CERCLA and EPCRA.
  • Currently represents regional utility in negotiations with EPA and state to modify an existing federal consent decree associated with alleged violations of the CWA.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement agreement with EPA for alleged EPCRA and CERCLA violations associated with an ammonia release from a food processing facility.
  • Defended a multinational energy client in response to an Order to Pay a Civil Penalty issued by the State of California Natural Resources Agency, Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, regarding an oil spill.
  • Represented city and county in EPA and state enforcement action for alleged violations of the CWA.
  • Represented industrial manufacturer in defense of enforcement action brought by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for alleged air emission violations.
  • Represented industrial client in EPA enforcement action for alleged violations of OPA [not earlier defined] related to a train derailment.
  • Successfully convinced EPA not to pursue a civil enforcement action against a real estate developer for alleged unauthorized filling of wetlands; resulted in a favorable administrative settlement agreement.
  • Secured a favorable administrative settlement agreement with EPA for a commercial facility for alleged violations of SDWA underground injection control prohibitions.

Due Diligence, Mergers and Acquisitions & Other Transactional Experience

Sam advises clients on environmental and natural resource matters associated with business transactions. He manages due diligence associated with financial investments, acquisition and divestiture of operating facilities and other assets, and corporate mergers. Sam also helps clients understand trends and legal developments and develop strategies to mitigate risk.

  • Counseled Canada-based energy sector client on the acquisition of a company that manufactures and distributes water supply and treatment products in the US; multi-state due diligence focused on the legal frameworks applicable to the products.
  • Performed environmental due diligence for Spain-based private water supply company associated with investment in the construction and operation of a desalination facility, co-located data center, power substation, and associated facilities in California.
  • Counseled Canada-based mining and chemical manufacturing client on the divestiture of US mining and mineral processing facilities, which involved coordinating environmental due diligence and negotiating with potential purchasers.
  • Counseled food processing client on federal, state and local environmental liabilities associated with the purchase of manufacturing and distribution assets.

Project Development and Permitting Experience

Sam counsels clients on strategies to efficiently obtain required permits and other agency authorizations for projects and ongoing operations. He has significant experience working collaboratively with federal and state regulatory agencies to advance client objectives.

  • Assist client with challenging controversial terms of EPA- and State of California-issued NPDES [not earlier defined] permit. See In re: City & County of San Francisco, NPDES Appeal 20-01 (EAB); City & County of San Francisco v. State Water Resources Control Board, Case No. RG19042575 (CA Super. Ct., Alameda Cty).
  • Assists energy sector client obtain federal and state authorizations for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in the Eastern US, with a focus on anti-degradation, wetlands and stormwater requirements under the CWA; assist with the defense of the authorizations in the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Represents clients in the mining sector obtain CWA Section 404 permits associated with new mining projects from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which includes engagement with other regulatory agencies like EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies.
  • Assisted electric utility in the development of legal and technical positions to support negotiations with the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers relating to authorization for the construction of a landfill associated with the client’s electric generating facility.
  • Advised manufacturing client on the jurisdictional scope of the CWA and its permitting obligations under CWA Section 404.
  • Counseled energy sector client during its permitting and licensing of a natural gas pipeline in the Southeast US, including meeting NEPA, ESA and CWA obligations.
  • Secured modifications to an EPA-issued general permit under the CWA to address mining sector-specific concerns with permit terms, thereby avoiding litigation.

Compliance Counseling and Facility-Specific and Company-Wide Audit Experience

Sam advises clients on compliance with a diverse range of complex regulatory programs, including establishing and implementing facility and corporate audit programs. Sam proactively assists his clients maintain compliance with environmental and natural resource obligations to avoid government investigations and third-party litigation.

  • Managed environmental, health, safety, and social-related site assessment and due diligence associated with a mine and mineral processing facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the examination of facility alignment with Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards.
  • Provided advice to producer regarding 2019 Environmental Compliance Assessment Program for Facilities in Poland.
  • Advised oil and gas client on its federal and state hazardous waste compliance obligations associated with its refinery operations.

Administrative Law, Agency Rulemaking & Litigation Experience

Sam counsels companies and trade associations on agency rulemaking and other actions, in particular those by EPA, the EPA regional offices, and state regulatory agencies. He represents clients in developing strategies for engaging agencies during the rulemaking process, reviewing and commenting on proposed rules and permits, and challenging final agency actions.

  • Advises private and public sector clients on trending issues associated with groundwater pollution and the CWA; engages EPA on related administrative actions; and represents clients as defendants and amici in litigation involving these cutting-edge legal issues in the US Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits.
  • Represents industrial client in California State Water Resources Control Board rulemaking on the state’s wetlands regulatory program.
  • Represents electric utility client in EPA rulemaking on SPCC requirements for hazardous substances.
  • Represented mining and mineral processing client in EPA rulemaking on financial assurance requirements under CERCLA associated with mining operations.
  • Represented electric utility client on EPA rulemaking on the Risk Management Program under CAA Section 112(r).
  • Represented municipal client in developing a strategy for responding to regulatory agency calls for stringent nutrient-based permit requirements under California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • New York

Education

BA, Michigan State University, Political Science and Economics, 2004
Areas of Practice

Africa | Batteries and Energy Storage | Chemicals, Products and Hazardous Materials | Energy | Energy and Environmental Litigation | Energy Litigation | Environmental | Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense | Environmental Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility | Extractive Industries: Mining & Mineral Processing, Oil & Gas | International Renewable Energy and Clean Power | Mining and Mineral Processing | Mining, Petroleum and Related Chemicals | Petroleum and Related Chemicals | Pipeline | Renewable Energy and Clean Power | Superfund (CERCLA), Site Remediation and Natural Resource Damages | Water

Professional Career

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Vice Chair, Water Quality and Wetlands Committee
  • California Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • The Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental Law Section

Professional Activities and Experience

  • 2017 Chambers USA Environment Law Firm of the Year
  • US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division Commendation, 2014
  • EPA Silver Medal for Superior Service, 2015, 2009
  • EPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2008, 2009

Articles

October 2020 Nickel Report Post Summary
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, November 2020

This alert provides links to the latest insights and commentary on key energy and environmental issues from the Hunton Andrews Kurth team. Links to our most recent posts on the Nickel Report Blog for this month are below. Please subscribe to receive alerts when new posts are published by visiting our blog and entering your email address in the subscribe field or by following us on Twitter.  For current Covid-19 related news updates please read more here...

Got COVID-19 "Claims": Recent US EPA Enforcement under FIFRA Emphasizes Compliance Demands on Pesticide Product Supply Chains, Especially for Products Claiming to be Effective Against Coronavirus
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, November 2020

In the age of COVID-19, demand for surface wipes, sprays and similar products is at record levels. Retail stores have struggled to keep supplies stocked and shelves may once again be emptied when the winter flu season arrives. If schools and businesses reopen concurrently, the prospects of securing these products becomes even bleaker, which may re-fuel consumer stockpiling...

Additional Articles

  • Conservation Easements and Land Trusts: Overview, Examples and Their Role in the Development Process, Part II, 17 Envt’l L. in N.Y. 156
  • Supreme Court Decision in Hawkes: A Shot Across the Bow, Natural Resources & Environment, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Vol. 30, No. 6
  • Uncertainty and Exclusions: Implementation of the Final ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources 23rd Fall Conference
  • Vantage Point, American Bar Association’s Natural Resources and Environment Publication, Vol. 35, No. 2
  • As Goes Calif. Stormwater, So Goes The Nation’s? Law360
  • Calif. High Court Throws Wrench In Cooperative Federalism, Law360
  • Conservation Easements and Land Trusts: Overview, Examples and Their Role in the Development Process, Part I, 17 Envt’l L. in N.Y. 133
  • Stormwater—The Next Phase, Natural Resources & Environment, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Vol. 30, No. 3
  • Introduction to Environmental Law: Cases and Materials on Water Pollution Control, Environmental Law Institute
  • EPA Updates Priorities: First Time In Years, Daily Journal
  • New Federal Initiatives Target Food Industry Facilities for Inspection and Enforcement, Food Safety Magazine
  • Trends in Social and Environmental Responsibility, Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 33, No. 4
  • Ammonia Refrigeration: Increasing Regulatory Requirements, Facility Executive
  • New WOTUS Rule Could Have Widespread Impact, The Recorder
  • A Proposal Off The Rails: California’s Fill and Dredge Policy, The Registry
  • A Decarbonized Economy: Risks and Opportunities, Mining the Land, Mining the Sea, Vol. 34, No. 2

Blogs

The Nickel Report
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP 

Trends and Developments in Energy and Environmental Law

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