Environmental Law Trends in Regulation, Litigation, and Enforcement

(400 Ratings)

Produced on: April 23, 2018

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 90 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

This course, taught by Sidley Austin partner David Buente and associate Benjamin Tannen, will focus on trends in environmental law under the Trump Administration, which is in its second year of pursuing a sweeping deregulatory agenda and resetting the federal government’s approach towards environmental enforcement. The program will look at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies’ attempts to repeal and/or modify signature Obama-era regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule.  It will also provide an in-depth look at the ongoing litigation surrounding these deregulatory efforts.  

The course will also analyze the Administration’s policy agenda in the environmental arena, including a focus on cooperative federalism, and will describe the Trump EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ) approaches towards environmental enforcement to date. Finally, the program will look at trickle-down effects of the federal government’s approach towards environmental law under the Trump Administration, such as the impact on the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).   

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide an overview of the current Administration’s EPA and DOJ philosophy on environmental regulation and enforcement
  2. Describe real-world examples of the current Administration’s deregulatory push in the environmental arena
  3. Explain how the shift in environmental law has affected states and NGOs


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.


Nina Anne G.

Extremely thorough, if depressing ...

Lisa H.

very good program. lots of information packed into relatively short time.

Kevin C.

These Sidley guys are good

Alison v.

Of more than twenty courses I've taken through Lawline, this was the most comprehensive and well-researched. Nicely done!

Suuzen Ty A.

Great program - excellent speakers.

Denise E.

Very good program.

Carolyn D.

Really a good topic to have included in the bundle.

James B.

Very thorough and extremely knowledgeable. Excellent.

Clark W.

This is one of the best courses and most constructively informative courses in the catalogue. The lecturers handled a topic that is fraught with controversy these days in a truly unbiased and professional manner.

Steven K.

Thank you!

Leonard S.

Interesting, but more federal-centric than I need. I do smaller cases which only involve state or even county enforcement of environmental laws and rules.

Philip S.

good tag team

Stephen B.

Two of the best presenters I have seen on lawline.

Diane H.

Excellent presentation. Really enjoyed it.

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