Environmental Litigation

  • Among the largest, most effective and experienced groups of litigators in the world, Holland & Knight's Environmental Litigation Team has a track record of success in federal, state and local courts, agencies and tribunals involving the most high-stakes and complex environmental disputes.
  • Holland & Knight's environmental litigators have access to a vast internal network of attorneys with experience in compliance, transactional, insurance, construction and real estate, as well as lobbying and working with government agencies.
  • Our practitioners have been at the forefront of the issues driving environmental litigation for a half-century, positioning them to recognize trends before they emerge and help clients navigate challenges from Day 1.


Holland & Knight's Environmental Litigation Team is multidisciplinary and collaborative, comprising strategic problem solvers with a global reach and deep understanding of the environmental issues of today and tomorrow.

We help clients comply with rapidly evolving regulations and standards, with a goal of securing the best possible business outcomes.

Our trial teams include former federal and state prosecutors, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attorneys and general counsel at Fortune 500 companies. Members of our team have played a role in shaping landmark environmental legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reauthorization, Superfund reauthorization, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) reauthorization, the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA).

We are entrenched in environmental issues affecting clients throughout the United States, including California and the West Coast, with the country's most stringent laws.

Our grasp of the scientific, technical, political and corporate nuances of environmental lawsuits and enforcement matters makes Holland & Knight a formidable advocate for an array of clients, including major corporations, leading developers, municipalities, nonprofit organizations and family-owned businesses across a wide spectrum of industries.

National and international publications have consistently recognized attorneys on our Environmental Litigation Team as industry leaders. This includes Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" guide, which has awarded numerous metropolitan first-tier rankings to Holland & Knight.

Our lawyers have prevailed in:

  • defending enforcement actions brought by federal and state environmental regulatory agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • defending lawsuits over emerging contaminants, such as forever chemicals or per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) – a huge global issue that is the intense focus of regulators, legislators and the public
  • arguing challenges to permits and regulations under the CAA, CWA and Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  • mitigating liability for clients that market products and services; preparing environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related disclosures; and handling financing and supply chain management efforts through Holland & Knight's industry leading Greenwashing Mitigation Team
  • defending against injunctive relief sought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and common law for damages caused by petroleum releases
  • defending damages for environmental claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
  • defending allegations of groundwater contamination associated with oil and gas exploration and production activities in an arbitration proceeding concerning transactional environmental defect claims
  • defending lawsuits brought seeking response costs or contribution under Superfund or state equivalent statues

Permitting Disputes and Regulatory Litigation

Our Environmental Litigation Team regularly defends against challenges to permits and other entitlements issued under statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), CWA, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and ESA. We are intimately familiar with NEPA, CWA and ESA, both in terms of obtaining necessary entitlements and in defending them against challenges. Our lawyers also have successfully challenged agency rulemakings where they exceed the scope of federal authority.

For example, our attorneys have:

  • defended entitlements for a wide spectrum of activities, including mining operations, onshore and offshore wind and solar projects, housing developments, offshore drilling activities, oceanfront communities and myriad commercial projects
  • litigated cutting-edge issues, including the adequacy of NEPA documents or their state law equivalents, consideration of cumulative impacts, adequacy of permit terms and conditions, adequacy of mitigation for impacts, scope of alternatives considered, wetlands avoidance and minimization, water quality impacts and injunctive relief
  • defended a citizens' suit brought by a non-governmental organization (NGO) under the CWA and RCRA alleging that violations of a NPDES permit and attendant Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans failed to prevent climate change
  • challenged decisions by state and federal permitting authorities
  • successfully set aside onerous federal rules related to the scope of federal jurisdiction over activities in U.S. waters
  • successfully challenged NPDES permit draft issued by the EPA
  • filed U.S. Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs in landmark cases under the CWA and ESA
  • counseled clients in providing comments on pending legislation to mitigate liability risks

Superfund and Remediation Disputes

Our attorneys are highly knowledgeable with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, and state law equivalents, which are designed to address and remediate hazardous waste sites and, in many states, also oil contaminated sites. Our team has defended potentially responsible parties in actions brought by governments and private parties as well as counseled lenders, developers, corporations and municipalities regarding potential liability under these Superfund regulatory programs, including landowner liability protections, successor liability, lender liability, cost allocation, indemnification, contribution protection, natural resource damages and similar issues.

Our experience includes:

  • serving as the common counsel for potentially responsible party groups (PRP groups) and investigating some of the most complex sites in the country
  • representing numerous defendants in national and local methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) litigation brought by states, municipalities and individuals separately and as class actions, and underground storage tank litigation
  • representing numerous defendants in various federal CERCLA and state equivalent cost recovery and indemnity actions seeking response costs
  • obtaining a seven-figure settlement in an FTCA lawsuit against the U.S. for damages resulting from burial of high explosive and chemical weapons during World War I in a neighborhood later developed into luxury housing
  • pursuing a billion-dollar environmental damage claim for the Spanish government in New York federal court arising from the sinking of the tanker Prestige off the coast of Spain
  • representing clients in contractual disputes over cleanup responsibilities and associated costs as well as in disputes over the alleged misrepresentation of a site's environmental status
  • representing a client through two significant petroleum releases from different services stations in the same municipality, which resulted in more than 30 lawsuits and additional claims from landowners; cost recovery claims from one owner with multiple co-defendants; negotiation with the local EPA; multiple agreements under the threat of litigation with the municipality; and persistent management of media and community relations for over 25 years

Toxic Torts Litigation

Our attorneys have extensive experience with litigation arising from toxic exposure claims due to chemicals being released into the environment.

For example, our attorneys have:

  • defended multiple lawsuits, individual and class actions, arising from the release of petroleum products into the subsurface and impacting groundwater
  • advised and defended clients in multiparty mass tort litigation alleging exposure to thousands of contaminants, including asbestos, benzene as a solvent and in petroleum products, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), radon, mold and lead-based paint
  • leveraged cutting-edge science to defend clients in state and federal litigation over PFAS and other emerging contaminants
  • developed robust defense strategies to protect the reputation and interests of companies facing claims of greenwashing or deceptive environmental marketing practices

Environmental Enforcement Defense

In the event that an investigation or enforcement action is initiated, our lawyers are prepared to mount a vigorous response on your behalf. Holland & Knight's Environmental Litigation Team has decades of experience handling civil and criminal cases in a variety of forums, including navigating investigations by the EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Inspector General, DOJ and other federal and state agencies.

Some of our recent matters include:

  • defending clients who have received notices of violation under various federal and state environmental statutes, including alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
  • defending clients facing criminal prosecution under various environmental laws
  • representing clients in state courts and administrative proceedings involving state regulatory enforcement actions as well as in federal court on EPA enforcement actions
  • advising and assisting clients in responding to citations received from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • defending clients against alleged violations of state noise standards
  • defending parties against allegations of improper management of stormwater
  • defending companies in a case concerning alleged illegal fill of wetlands and streams
  • defending clients against allegations of unpermitted "take" of endangered species

Case Studies


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