Civil & Criminal Environmental Enforcement

(1000 Ratings)

Produced on: April 25, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 60 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Environmental enforcement takes many forms and involves many different players. This course, taught by Sidley Austin partner David Buente and associate Benjamin Tannen, will introduce the concept of “cooperative federalism” inherent in most federal environmental laws - which means that federal, state, and local agencies all can be involved in environmental enforcement. The program will provide an overview of the enforcement process, from the role that various agencies play to the methods these enforcers use to gather compliance information in anticipation of enforcement. It will then provide an in-depth look at administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement, illuminating the differences between these types of enforcement through the use of a Clean Water Act hypothetical.

The program also looks at enforcement by private parties, a unique method of enforcement available under many federal environmental statutes known as the citizen suit. Additionally, it will address hot topics in environmental enforcement, such as the 2015 Yates memorandum on prosecution of individual corporate employees.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide an overview of environmental enforcement, including the relevant agencies, statutes, and types of relief available

  2. Understand the differences between administrative, civil, and criminal environmental enforcement

  3. Convey the role that environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in environmental enforcement through citizen suits  


David Buente

Sidley Austin LLP,

DAVID BUENTE, co-leader of Sidley’s Environmental group, represents clients in complex environmental litigation and rulemaking matters, with an emphasis on Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act, CERCLA (Superfund) and RCRA, environmental criminal and toxic tort litigation. Building upon his 15 years as an environmental prosecutor, including at the Department of Justice (DOJ) where he served as Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, corporations—including American Electric Power, CSX, Duke Energy, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Ford Motors, Honeywell, Norfolk Southern, Tyson Foods and Verizon —turn to David for representation in complex federal environmental enforcement matters with DOJ and EPA and in defending toxic tort claims by states and private parties.

David's recent experience includes:

  • Handling CERCLA cases for remedial costs and natural resource damage claims.
  • Defending a number of companies in Clean Air Act New Source Review enforcement litigation with DOJ/EPA, State AGs and NGOs. 
  • Representing companies and trade associations in successfully defending against precedent-setting common law torts-based claims including over carbon dioxide emissions. 
  • Convincing federal prosecutors to decline pursuit of environmental criminal investigations for several clients and defending against prosecutions. 

A recognized leader in his field, David has been named the Best Lawyers’ 2015 Washington, D.C. Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year,” an accolade awarded to only a single lawyer in each practice area and geographic region; he also received this recognition in 2012–2014. He has been named by Chambers USA as one of the nation’s Leading Lawyers since 2006. In the 2015 edition of Chambers, David is praised as “extremely well grounded in the substance of a matter, and is somebody you can turn to in a situation as he keeps his head and keeps his focus.” The Legal 500 lists David as a leading lawyer in the product liability and mass tort defense: toxic tort category. The 2015 edition of Chambers includes David in its top-tier of Washington, D.C.’s environmental lawyers, noting that “According to his peers, in the area of civil and criminal enforcement, ‘no one has as much knowledge of the issues and history of those issues as’ David Buente.” Chambers also includes David in its nationwide list of top Product Liability & Mass Torts lawyers, acknowledging that he “is highly regarded throughout the market, earning praise as a fantastic litigator.”

David also regularly is named in other surveys of private sector lawyers, including: Who’s Who Legal USA: EnvironmentPLC: Which Lawyer? and The Legal 500 US. In 2016, Who’s Who Legal named David the 2016 Environmental Lawyer of the Year. David is an elected member of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and of the National Trial Lawyers “Top 100.”

Benjamin Tannen

Sidley Austin LLP

BENJAMIN TANNEN, an associate in the Environmental practice group, represents clients in regulatory environmental matters and in civil and criminal environmental enforcement involving the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other major federal environmental statutes and related state laws.

Representative matters include:

  • Clean Water Act: Represented a large electric utility in a federal criminal investigation into discharges from coal ash basins and NPDES permit violations and in negotiating an administrative agreement with EPA to avoid federal contract debarment; 
  • Clean Water Act: Conducted research for an electric utility as it negotiated an administrative agreement with EPA concerning stormwater;
  • Clean Air Act: Assisted an electric utility in the preparation of its response to an EPA information request;
  • Clean Air Act: Represents a petroleum refinery in a federal criminal investigation into alleged Clean Air Act violations; and
  • Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: Represented former owner of a chemical plant in civil settlement of statutory, regulatory, and permit violations.


Zachary F.

Well organized presentation -- good hypothetical.

Sarah M.

Good discussion. Helpful.

Marjorie H.

Interesting area of the law.

Michael B.

good disussion of the key Federal Environmental law provissions a corporate attorney needs to know to better serve their employer.

Ronald N.

very informative

David F.

Very good.

michael g.

Presenters were knowledgeable and interesting. Use of fact patterns was very helpful in understanding the materials presented.

Dave D.

Good course

Joseph G.


Gerald C.


Stephen E.

This was a good effort at making a complex situation understandable.

Dwight B.


Christopher B.

I thought the presenters did an excellent job and the written content was outstanding--better than the content of most CLEs I have taken.

James M.

very good throughout

Karen H.

Use of the hypothetical is an effective tool for teaching.

Robert C.

good example case

Pamela M.

Very basic information--would love to see a more advanced session on one of the major statutes--CWA, CAA, RCAR.

Brian O.

Excellent. These guys did not waste any time with fluff. They filled the hour solidly. Good job

Lynne T.

Thank you!

Michael V.

The two faculty are very knowledgeable and present the subject in a very easy to digest format with their slides and presentation. I would highly recommend this course.

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$ 59 Criminal Law, Environmental Law, and Litigation In Stock


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