Environmental issues dominate the news. New substances, technologies, and industries generate new regulations. Existing products and industrial processes face new challenges as their environmental impact is reexamined, existing regulations are reviewed, and new regulations are promulgated. Companies must constantly navigate complex and changing environmental norms and rules that increasingly govern their business.
King & Spalding lawyers work with clients to understand their businesses and their environmental and safety issues. We help our clients navigate regulatory obstacles to achieve their business goals. Top companies turn to King & Spalding’s national environmental, health and safety (EHS) practice because of our first-hand knowledge of how the regulatory agencies operate, our sophisticated understanding of the multitude of regulations governing different industries, and our strategic counsel oriented to business solutions. Our group includes lawyers with technical backgrounds—engineering, chemistry, biology, land use, environmental policy—who function well at the intersection of law and science, present the issues in plain English, and work with our clients to find practical solutions.
Our team of environmental lawyers has significant experience partnering with and assisting clients at every stage of their business through strategic, cost-effective counseling, negotiations, and litigation. We help clients with siting and permitting of new projects, compliance assurance, auditing and environmental management systems for operating facilities, and remediation and site closure. When our clients face an enforcement action, we have an extensive bench of former US EPA and state enforcement attorneys and former federal prosecutors who are experienced on both sides of civil and criminal enforcement actions. When a dispute arises, whether with a regulatory agency, an environmental organization, or another party, we first seek to resolve the matter through skilled negotiation. But when litigation is required, we effectively represent our clients’ interests in federal and state administrative forums and courts.
Our EHS lawyers are strategically located to serve clients across the nation and around the globe. Meet the partners on the team:
- Patricia Barmeyer. Patricia is widely-recognized, by Chambers USA and others, as the best environmental lawyer in Georgia. Best Lawyers named her the Atlanta Environmental Lawyer of the Year in both 2010 and 2015. Patricia practiced at the Georgia Attorney General’s office, representing Georgia DNR and the Environmental Protection Division, before coming to King & Spalding in 1990. At the firm she has successfully handled matters involving a wide array of environmental media and issues, from securing and upholding permits, defending citizen suits, managing Superfund and remediation disputes, resolving enforcement matters, and defending metro Atlanta’s water supply in the long-running water wars litigation.
- Joe Eisert. Joe has nearly 20 years’ experience handling high stakes environmental, health, and safety enforcement actions, transactional and corporate matters, and rulemakings. Joe has been resolving matters involving complex technical and scientific issues since he worked at the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program Headquarters in Washington, DC before attending law school. In addition handling environmental matters involving all major statutes across a range of industries, Joe also helps clients with recalls and other issues involving the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Joëlle Herschtel. Joëlle is a leading French environmental lawyer, noted by Chambers Europe for her “stellar client-centered attitude, pragmatism and technical skill.” Her expertise encompasses legal assistance in the management of private and public infrastructure projects. She also provides environmental counseling concerning classified facilities, mines and quarries as well as climate change (carbon credits) or chemicals.
- Lewis Jones. Lewis Jones is recognized as a leading expert on wetlands and water law. He helps clients obtain, use, manage, and protect surface and groundwater water resources. He also helps clients obtain the permits and approvals needed to develop new projects in sensitive environments. He has extensive experience with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on reservoir management and permitting, contracting and licensing, and wetlands and endangered species issues. Holding a Master’s degree in ecology, Lewis is particularly well versed on endangered species issues and is adept at finding ways to keep projects moving while protecting the environment and meeting the needs of regulators.
- Granta (“Grant”) Nakayama. Granta is the former EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance. Granta has over 20 years of experience as an environmental attorney. At the Agency, Granta led the 3,400 employee, $560 million national civil and criminal enforcement and compliance programs for all media (air, water, waste, toxic chemicals, pesticides). Since returning to private practice Granta has represented clients in some of the largest environmental cases in the U.S. Granta also brings more than a decade of experience as an MIT-trained nuclear engineer and manager responsible for quality control operations after being selected by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to serve in the U.S. Navy's nuclear program.
- Les Oakes. Les joined King & Spalding's Environmental Practice Group in 1986 following a career of over 11 years as an environmental engineer with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division. Les is noted for his work on air quality and hazardous waste issues. Since joining the firm, Les has worked with manufacturing clients in Georgia, the Southeast and across the country counseling them on regulatory compliance, defending enforcement actions and advising on remediation matters. Les has has advised buyers and sellers, bankers and borrowers, and investors, in transactions where managing environmental liabilities was a critical concern. Les has also worked on numerous Brownfields matters, starting in 1990 when he helped negotiate an early CERCLA prospective purchaser agreement with EPA and the State of Tennessee.
- Ilana Saltzbart. Drawing from her 10 years of enforcing the nation’s environmental laws at EPA, Ilana effectively represents clients using her “insider knowledge” and is able to anticipate how regulators will address environmental compliance issues. In her tenure at EPA, Ilana led national enforcement initiatives, and prosecuted and settled several landmark cases giving her unique public experience that sets her apart from others in the private bar. Ilana specializes in defending companies subject to investigation and enforcement by EPA, the Department of Justice, and state environmental agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board. She also provides environmental regulatory counseling. Ilana has substantive experience in air, waste, emergency response, and toxic substances, and routinely handles complex, technical matters.
- Adam Sowatzka. Adam has a Masters of Environmental Law and a law degree from the nation’s top-ranked environmental program. He started his career as an EPA attorney, serving as an Associate Regional Counsel for EPA Region 4. During his time at EPA, Adam was involved in several landmark cases, including large energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico and a case of first impression before the 11th Circuit. Prior to joining King & Spalding, Adam was General Counsel of a manufacturing and services subsidiary of a multi-billion dollar international company. Since entering private practice, Adam has successfully represented municipalities and Fortune 500 companies in administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement actions across the country. Adam has substantive experience in all media, with expertise in water matters, including NPDES, wetlands, pretreatment, and stormwater.
- Cynthia Stroman. Cynthia uses her engineering and scientific training and her prior experience as a project manager and manufacturing engineer to advise and represent energy and other project proponents and clients in environmentally sensitive industries in administrative proceedings, litigation, and transactions involving a wide range of EHS statutes, particularly the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other NEPA-related statutes. Her experience also includes advising manufacturers and related companies on supply chain, solid and hazardous waste, and product regulation issues involving the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Hazardous Materials Regulations, and similar state and non-U.S. product management and transportation regulatory regimes. She also works closely with experts in litigation and administrative matters concerning risk assessment for and exposure to a range of hazardous substances, including metals, solvents, radioactive materials, and chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons. Prior to joining King & Spalding, Cynthia worked for a Fortune 100 company as an engineer and clerked for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
- Jim Vines. Jim has been an environmental lawyer for over 25 years and has represented clients in more than 400 environmental cleanup matters, including sites regulated by EPA under the Superfund and RCRA corrective action programs and under their state counterparts. His practice has involved virtually all major federal environmental laws and many state counterparts and has covered judicial and administrative trials, appeals, enforcement defense, regulatory counseling and environmental management systems. His practice has included a number of international environmental matters in numerous foreign jurisdictions. Jim’s practice also encompasses health and safety and crisis management matters. Prior to joining King & Spalding, Jim served as law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. District Court responsible for several environmental trial and appellate cases, head of environmental affairs for a global rubber and petro-chemical company, and as U.S. Attorney responsible for criminal and civil environmental enforcement.
- Ranked in Chambers USA 2015 for Environment Nationwide and also in Georgia and Texas.
- Six of our Environmental partners are ranked as leaders in their fields by Chambers USA 2015.
- Ranked in Chambers Europe 2015 for France – Environment.
- Ranked as a Tier 1 firm in France: Environment in Legal 500 EMEA 2015.
- Ranked in Legal 500 USA 2015 for Environment – Litigation.
- Granta Nakayama was recognized as a “leading individual” (Environment: Litigation) in Legal 500 US 2015.
- Joëlle Herschtel received special recognition as the 2016 “Lawyer of the Year” in the Environmental Law category for Paris in Best Lawyers in France. She was also recognized as a “leading individual” (France: Environment:) in Legal 500 EMEA 2015.
- Five of our Environmental partners are ranked as leaders in their fields by Best Lawyers in America 2015, including Patricia Barmeyer who was recognized as the 2015 “Atlanta Lawyer of the Year.”
- Ranked as a leading firm in U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers 2015survey in Environmental Litigation and Environmental Law nationally and in Atlanta.