Companies and organizations across every economic sector in the United States and throughout the world are facing increasing pressure to address global climate change. As the general public demands action, federal, state, local and international regulatory bodies are rapidly developing requirements for compliance.
The rate and manner of response to climate change have quickly become the new measures of corporate environmental performance and social responsibility. The most competitive businesses of the future will almost certainly be those that take a strategic and proactive approach to climate change, whether voluntarily or compliance-based.
Holland & Knight’s Climate Change Team assists clients in achieving compliance with the complex web of laws and regulations surrounding climate change by leveraging our diverse knowledge base across industries and practice areas from energy and technology to land use and public policy in our effort to bring you the strongest possible representation.
Our Climate Change Team is committed to staying at the forefront of developing climate change law and policy. We provide strategic environmental counsel to our clients, helping ensure that climate change requirements are met and opportunities are maximized. Our emphasis goes beyond helping clients develop a "green" reputation – we also provide an analysis of your needs and structure a comprehensive program that integrates a green corporate culture with consideration of how it can impact your bottom line.
Our Climate Change Team includes lawyers who are specially trained in areas that target climate change and social responsibility, such as clean energy. Our team includes lawyers and other professionals who have considerable front-line experience, including a former senior advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Understanding the global nature of climate change – and its effect on the built environment, the natural world and economics – requires knowledge and experience in a number of different sectors. Our multifaceted practice includes counsel with regard to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, environmental health and safety compliance, energy project development, smart growth, land use and green building, water law, and biodiversity and endangered species.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Policy and Advocacy
The regulation of greenhouse gases will have profound and wide-reaching effects on the United States and the global economy. The issue of carbon dioxide emissions has moved to the center of the congressional agenda. At the same time, national, state and regional agencies are rapidly crafting laws and regulations resulting in a series of climate change-related mandates.
Holland & Knight is actively working with clients to navigate through this complicated and fast-moving arena. Members of our Climate Change Team routinely assist clients in evaluating potential risks and rewards associated with climate policies, whether or not they are subject to these regulations. From the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to U.S. federal initiatives to the Kyoto Protocol, we have a thorough understanding of existing and emerging climate change policies.
From coast to coast, members of our Climate Change Team are actively helping to develop and shape climate and sustainability policies at the national, state and local levels. We have extensive experience in lobbying, rulemaking, compliance and enforcement issues and maintain established working relationships with key decision-makers in the legislative and executive branches of federal and state governments.
Energy Project Development
The growing desire for alternative energy and decreased reliance on fossil fuels necessitates a new wave of energy projects to provide the requisite infrastructure, creating unprecedented opportunities for project development. President Obama has pushed clean energy to the front of his agenda, resulting in a surge of economic stimulus funding, extended and expanded tax incentives and state drivers, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
Our Climate Change and Energy Teams understand the myriad legal issues that energy development projects require, including due diligence, business law matters, real estate transactions, land use and environmental permitting. We also provide our clients with assistance related to renewable energy credits, power purchase agreements, energy performance contracting, construction contract negotiation and drafting, and issues surrounding the siting of renewable energy projects on brownfields and other contaminated sites. Our experience includes structuring agreements and developing energy projects for Indian tribes as well as performing federal appropriations and lobbying work for renewable energy projects on behalf of businesses and government entities.
Land Use and Green Building
More and more companies are seeking to pursue development projects with a focus on minimizing climate change impacts. Holland & Knight's Climate Change Team provides counsel to clients in need of project analysis in accordance with NEPA and state equivalent reviews. Our team handles litigation regarding land use entitlements and the legality of environmental review documents, including the sufficiency of climate change analysis in environmental documents. We are also experienced in water supply assessment requirements, which are managed by climate change policy and a necessary component in many land use projects.
Nationally, several of our team members are LEED-accredited, providing clients with insight into how and when LEED building standards can be incorporated into development projects, improve the commercial viability of implementing improvements and impact the transactional components of real estate deals. We have represented clients developing LEED-certified buildings and multiple other projects designed to qualify for LEED certification, and we assist developers in identifying and maximizing federal, state and local incentives for green buildings. We also counsel clients on energy benchmarking and disclosure requirements.
Greenhouse Gas Regulatory Compliance
Our global practice provides corporate compliance and environmental health and safety counseling. We help businesses, organizations and educational institutions devise and improve environmental operational strategies, and we counsel corporate clients about emerging opportunities, including carbon emission credit trading programs, green technologies, GHG reporting and claims, benchmarking claims, reporting, trading, corporate and public statements and grant monies to retrofit existing operations. Our team has extensive experience with the Federal Trade Commission's Green Guides, so we counsel clients on how to avoid "green washing" claims. In recent years, we have taken a special interest in advising clients on how to meet SEC demands for accounting for – and reporting on – climate change impacts on business.
The principles of smart growth – which include the creation of mixed-use development, transit and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods and the preservation of open space – are becoming more prevalent across the United States. As part of our environmental practice, our attorneys and professionals counsel clients in the fields of sustainability, transit and land preservation as they relate to planning and development. We regularly assist clients in securing federal funding for transit projects, as well as with associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state equivalent reviews, environmental permitting issues and local land use matters.
Climate change is having a tremendous impact on water resources and users are faced with short supplies and rising costs. Purveyors and government entities must be prepared to adjust the way they manage and utilize this natural resource. Our Climate Change and Water Law Teams offer clients guidance on how to adapt to the changing amounts and forms of precipitation, irregular temperatures and variance in flood patterns. We have extensive experience in alternative water supply issues, such as surface water storage, reclaimed water recycling and aquifer storage and recovery, as well as increasingly more stringent stormwater retention requirements. Our lawyers and professionals are committed to developing the innovative water solutions that climate change necessitates.
Biodiversity and Endangered Species
Climate change has emerged as a major issue in the context of biodiversity and endangered species. As climate change law continues to develop, it is likely to trigger more numerous and complex biodiversity issues related to project development. Our Climate Change Team counsels a wide range of government entities and businesses on species-related federal and state regulations and regularly advises clients on the implications of projects potentially impacting the habitats of listed species. Our team is experienced in the negotiation of complex habitat conservation plans and biological opinions necessary to protect clients from liability while ensuring the successful completion of projects. Members of our Climate Change Team have participated in landmark ESA cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.