Torres & García, P.S.C. offers a full range of specialized services in the areas of environmental, natural resources, planning and land use law. Our attorneys have extensive experience in counseling clients regarding compliance with environmental, natural resources and land use requirements, including but not limited to the federal Clean Air Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; Clean Water Act; and comparable Puerto Rico statutory and regulatory programs. As such, we regularly advise clients regarding environmental, natural resources and land use matters that arise in connection with on-going business operations, as well as with respect to the acquisition and disposition of properties. We are experienced in advising industry on environmental, natural resources, and land use liabilities and compliance matters. We work with clients in air, water, storm water, solid waste, biomedical wastes, wetlands and wetland mitigation, and other permitting matters in connection with operation of existing facilities and the construction of new facilities. We also have broad experience in environmental, natural resources and land use litigation in both administrative and judicial forums at the federal and local levels. We work together as a team with other attorneys on litigation matters, including toxic tort litigation.
We assist clients with a wide range of aspects of federal and Puerto Rico statutory and regulatory requirements. Specific examples of matters handled by our firm include:
• Permitting of new industrial facilities and major expansions of industrial operations, including but not limited to pharmaceutical manufacturing, electronics, aggregates, cement, medical devices, electric power generation and solid waste management facilities
• Advising clients with respect to Superfund remediation and litigation, including negotiations and coordination with federal and Puerto Rico regulatory agencies, as well as the defense of related enforcement actions
• Defending federal and Puerto Rico enforcement actions involving air issues, including alleged violations of new source performance standards, MACT standards for hazardous air pollutants and permit conditions
• Defending enforcement actions concerning alleged violations of hazardous and non-hazardous waste-management regulations, including issues related to proper waste determinations
• Defending enforcement actions concerning alleged violations of wastewater discharge permit requirements
• Challenging unacceptable permit conditions through the administrative process, including but not limited to administrative hearings, and where warranted, seeking judicial review of such unacceptable conditions, in both federal and Puerto Rico courts
• Defending challenges by private citizens to environmental, natural resources and/or land use permitting decisions, as well as citizen suits for alleged violations of environmental, natural resources and/or land use laws and regulations
• Permitting under the Clean Air Act’s Title V Permit program
• Permitting under Part B of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
• Preparing environmental compliance plans and supervising the preparation of environmental
• Conducting and supervising environmental audits at facilities throughout Puerto Rico
• Defending multi-media enforcement actions by federal and Puerto Rico authorities
• Permitting of land development projects
• Advising clients on options for dealing with contaminated properties, including negotiations with government agencies of acceptable ways of dealing with the property under different regulatory programs and prosecution of cost-recovery claims against other responsible parties
• Conducting due diligence reviews and assisting in the negotiation of agreements for mergers, acquisitions and financing.
A number of laws and agencies are involved in enforcement of environmental issues. We remain updated on new laws, regulations, and court decisions to provide sophisticated, professional service to our clients. Essential laws we use in our work include:
Because of our knowledge and experience using the above laws and the regulations promulgated thereunder, we regularly advise clients regarding environmental, natural resources and land use liabilities and compliance matters. We also have broad experience in environmental, natural resources and land use litigation in both administrative and judicial forums at the federal and local levels. We work together as a team with other attorneys on litigation matters, including toxic tort litigation.
We counsel clients on matters covered by Puerto Rico environmental, natural resources, planning, land use and energy statutes and regulations, including the Puerto Rico Environmental Public Policy Act, the regulations of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the enabling act and regulations of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Pretreatment Regulations, and regulations promulgated by the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority and the Puerto Rico Department of Health.
Our attorneys appear before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”), at its Caribbean Environmental Protection Division based in San Juan, at the regional office of USEPA-Region II in New York, and at the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., as well as before its Puerto Rico counterpart, the Environmental Quality Board. In addition, our attorneys work with officials at other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard; and at Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, the Puerto Rico Department of Health, the Puerto Rico Energy Affairs Administration, the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the Puerto Rico Permits Management Office (by its Spanish acronym, “OGPe”), and the Puerto Rico Permits Inspector General Office (by its Spanish acronym, “OIGPe”), among others, to handle matters on behalf of our clients.
The issues addressed by our attorneys at those agencies cover the spectrum of environmental law, from pre-construction review and environmental analysis to facility location and siting, permitting, expansions, modifications, compliance counseling, enforcement actions, closure, and remediation issues. This approach provides clients with the continuity required to be ably represented and to avoid duplication of services.
One of our firm’s assets is that two of our attorneys are former counsel to the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board and one worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources’ Legal Division, where they gained valuable experience in regulatory and administrative decision-making, apart from legal expertise. They bring to our practice a historical perspective of the regulatory framework and development of environmental, land use and natural resources law in Puerto Rico.
Members of the firm are also instrumental in the drafting and promulgation of agency regulations in Puerto Rico, by providing comments and proposed drafts to the consideration of the agency. Some of these instances include the Underground Storage Tank Control Regulation, amendments to the Regulation for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution, amendments to the Regulation for the Control of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Solid Wastes, amendments to the Puerto Rico Water Quality Standards Regulation, the Regulation for the Control of Biomedical Waste, amendments to the Pretreatment Regulations, amendments to Regulation for the Extraction of Materials from the Earth’s Crust, amendments to Regulation for the Maritime-Coastal Zone, the General Environmental Health Regulations, and the Used Tire Regulations.
Detailed, often complex permit requirements and review procedures are imposed on businesses seeking to begin operations in Puerto Rico, to expand or relocate them within the island, or to transfer ownership. Members of the firm assist clients in complying with permitting requirements and procedures in this regard. They also represent clients in permit hearings and other administrative matters related thereto.
We handle matters before the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals, where judicial review of permits, licenses and decisions made by local agencies may be required. Likewise, members of the firm have appeared on behalf of our clients before the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in citizens’ suits, agency enforcement actions and environmental litigation. In addition, they appear before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit to request review of permits issued by USEPA and of other decisions related to environmental matters where such review is allowed. Moreover, we also handle the defense of litigation in environmental cases, including toxic torts and requests to enforce compliance with statutes and regulations, often in conjunction with selected litigation attorneys.
In addition to counseling and defending clients on legislative and regulatory compliance, we identify and analyze potential environmental liabilities associated with clients’ operations, real estate or other potentially pollution-sensitive areas. We also negotiate agreements and settlements with federal and Puerto Rico environmental agencies on enforcement matters and cleanup liability exposure.
We collaborate with other attorneys to assist their clients in identifying environmental liabilities, and ensure compliance with federal and Puerto Rico environmental statutes. Additional collaboration is provided to labor law attorneys on technical issues arising under OSHA. Environmental due diligence endeavors require a multidisciplinary team, in which our attorneys play a key role in coordination with other attorneys.
Call Torres & García, P.S.C. at 787-721-8220 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We represent clients in San Juan and throughout Puerto Rico.