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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Samuel L. Brown

Samuel L. Brown



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

WSG Practice Industries


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


A former US EPA lawyer, Sam brings deep knowledge and practical experience to his clients’ environmental and natural resource concerns, helping them navigate the demands of regulatory agencies, ensure facility and corporate compliance, respond to government investigations and defend against enforcement actions.

Sam is experienced in domestic and international environmental and natural resource matters that impact client business and operations. His clients primarily include public and private sector manufacturing, mining, electric utility, oil and gas, municipal drinking water and wastewater utility, agriculture and land development companies. Sam’s clients are nationwide and they rely on his advice for compliance counseling, obtaining regulatory authorizations, facility and corporate audits, project and transactional due diligence, administrative and civil enforcement defense, and litigation.

Sam’s sophisticated approach to engaging with regulatory agencies and his deep knowledge of complex regulatory programs is grounded in his experience as a lawyer with the US 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. His experience at EPA makes him effective and efficient at problem solving with federal and state regulatory agencies.

Sam focuses, in part, on multi-media government and third party investigations, incident response, and defending clients against government enforcement actions and NGO citizen suits.

In the US, his clients rely on his experience when navigating the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); 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, health and safety, and consumer product-related statutes.

For international matters, he is often called on to ensure facility and corporate consistency with Equator Principles and World Bank established International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards and manage legal, commercial and reputational risk.

Sam is frequently invited to speak and write on trending issues in environmental law, particularly the enforcement practices and operations of federal and state regulatory agencies. He also contributes regularly to the firm’s Nickel Report blog, which focuses on trends and developments in energy and environmental law.

He is 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 taught on matters related to the oil and natural gas sector in Eastern Europe; Pace University School of Law; Golden Gate University School of Law; and The George Washington University School of Law, where he taught courses on environmental, energy and land use.

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.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement agreement with EPA for alleged EPCRA and CERCLA violations associated with an ammonia release from a food processing facility.
  • Currently represents city and county in EPA and state enforcement action for alleged violations of the CWA.
  • Currently represents regional utility in negotiations with EPA and state to modify an existing federal consent decree associated with 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 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, the 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.

  • Managing 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.
  • Counseled Canada-based energy sector client on the acquisition of a company that manufacturers 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 divesture 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.

Compliance Counseling, Audits 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. He 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.

  • Assisting 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, which includes engagement with other regulatory agencies like EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies.
  • Assisted electric utility develop legal and technical positions to support negotiations with the EPA and the US Army Corps 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.
  • Advised oil and gas client on its federal and state hazardous waste compliance obligations associated with its refinery operations.
  • Secured modifications to an EPA-issued general permit under the CWA to address mining sector-specific concerns with permit terms, thereby avoiding litigation.

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; 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 wetland 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


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 | 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


  • Conservation Easements and Land Trusts: Overview, Examples and Their Role in the Development Process, Part II, 17 Envt’l L. in N.Y. 156
  • Uncertainty and Exclusions: Implementation of the Final ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources 23rd Fall Conference
  • Supreme Court Decision in Hawkes: A Shot Across the Bow, Natural Resources & Environment, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Vol. 30, No. 6
  • 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
  • New Federal Initiatives Target Food Industry Facilities for Inspection and Enforcement, Food Safety Magazine
  • EPA Updates Priorities: First Time In Years, Daily Journal
  • 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

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