Predictions for Environmental and Workplace Safety Law Under the Biden Administration

Streams live on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:00am EST

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Course Information

Time 60 Minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

As the new administration takes office, this one-hour program will explore some of the more pressing environmental and workplace safety issues affecting America today.  The presenters will compare anticipated approaches with the last few presidential terms, dating to the Obama administration. This apolitical discussion will assess the infrastructure the Biden administration is assembling, based on potential nominees, campaign platforms, and recent public positions.  This program may especially appeal to lawyers who represent responsible parties in environmental cases and OSHA matters, companies, lenders, local governments, housing advocates and parties in real estate transactions.

Learning Objectives:

Attorneys will discuss the following topics:

  1. Climate change
    1. Will we rejoin international agreements?
    2. Will this be seen as a national priority?
    3. Will regulations be adopted that promote lower greenhouse gas emissions?
  2. Environmental enforcement priorities
    1. How will existing regulations be enforced?
    2. What impact might forthcoming regulatory approaches have on a post-pandemic national and global economy?
    3. What enforcement initiatives should we expect the Biden administration to pursue, e.g. worker endangerment, next generation compliance, vessel pollution, cooperative federalism, etc.?
    4. What might historic trends in environmental enforcement tell us about what to expect in the next four years?
  3. Environmental justice
    1. Will environmental justice initiatives emerge and how will they be implemented?
    2. What role might stakeholders have in reviewing and developing environmental justice policies?
    3. Will there be interplay between the federal government and the states in this area?
    4. Will the focus of these initiatives be focused on racial impact, socio-economic impact, or both?
    5. How might the Supreme Court eventually weigh in on these areas?
  4. COVID-19 and workplace safety
    1. What will a Biden administration COVID-19 response look like, and how will it compare to the Trump Administration’s response?
    2. How much regulation in this area might be allowed before it becomes “too much regulation”?
    3. What regulatory changes can be expected in the area of workplace safety?
    4. COVID-19 tested the ability of OSHA to achieve its statutory charge to assure a safe workplace; is systemic change now on the horizon?
  5. Regulatory agendas
    1. Will the Biden administration roll-back the Trump administration’s roll-backs?
    2. Will emerging contaminants like PFAS be subject to increased regulation?
    3. What changes in focus, if any, are anticipated?
    4. How will the lack of a clear legislative mandate hamper reform efforts?
    5. Will the Biden administration enhance the Superfund program?

Credit Information

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Stuart Lieberman

Lieberman, Blecher & Sinkevich

Mr. Lieberman is a founding member of the firm Lieberman & Blecher. He is a former Deputy Attorney General for the State of New Jersey who was assigned to the Environmental Protection Section. Mr. Lieberman was also a partner in a New Jersey law firm that was extensively engaged in the practice of environmental law.

Stuart J. Lieberman is a co-author of New Jersey Brownfields Practice, a book that describes legal aspects relating to the sale of contaminated properties in New Jersey. A frequent lecturer on environmental subjects and a weekly syndicated columnist, he has represented many municipalities, businesses and individuals in regulatory and land use matters as well as litigation in these areas. In addition, Mr. Lieberman has worked heavily in the area of regulatory takings and groundwater contamination.

Mr. Lieberman represents clients in environmental matters, defective product and fraudulent claims, land use and general litigation.

Mr. Lieberman is a member of the Mercer County Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association, where he serves on the Board of Consultors for the Real Property Section. 

He has successfully litigated many cases in New Jersey state and federal courts, and has prevailed in two New Jersey Supreme Court cases. The most recent case, Raleigh Avenue Beach Association v. Atlantis Beach Club, was a landmark decision regarding beach access in the State of New Jersey.

In addition, Mr. Lieberman and Lieberman & Blecher, P.C. are counsel to the Passaic River Coalition, an organization committed to protecting valuable water resources in the State of New Jersey. Mr. Lieberman is also counsel to the Coalition for Health and Public Safety, a public charter composed of several municipalities in northern Bergen County who have organized to address public health and safety threats in the area. Most recently, Mr. Lieberman became a member of an ASTM International sub-committee and is lending his environmental legal experience to that organization as it develops a standard for qualification as an expert environmental forensic scientist in civil and criminal litigation.

Karl Heisler

King & Spalding LLP

Karl Heisler is an environmental lawyer specializing in enforcement defense and incident response. Karl has managed the legal fallout from a wide array of environmental and workplace safety incidents, ranging from fires and explosions to pipeline releases and the abandonment of hazardous waste.  He has over 18 years of experience responding to governmental investigations involving the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  He is a prolific speaker on environmental law and incident response.

Legal 500 USA distinguished Karl as having a "singular ability to clarify the inordinately opaque and confusing nature of environmental laws for the unanointed."  Benchmark Litigation recognized him as having an "unparalleled ability to master the facts and an encyclopedic mastery of environmental law."  Law 360 identified him as one of five "Rising Stars" in environmental law nationwide.

Karl dedicates a significant portion of his practice to environmental transactions.  He provides advice and counsel on due diligence and the availability of transactional defenses, and he routinely negotiates representations, warranties and indemnifications.  He has assisted with acquisitions and divestitures of several entities subject to government investigations arising out of environmental and workplace safety incidents.  For the past 10 years, Karl has taught the environmental transactions course for the Environmental Law Institute, a leader in non-partisan research and environmental law education.  He is a co-author of Environmental Aspects of Real Estate Transactions, published in 2020 by the American Bar Association.

As a respected thought leader, Karl is frequently called upon to comment, write or speak about environmental enforcement and incident response for publications and organizations including Law360, Thomson Reuters, Resource Recycling, Inc., American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the American Bar Association, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, the Association of Corporate Counsel, Lawline, the Environmental Law Institute, the Practising Law Institute and the American Law Institute.  He has written or spoken about managing the first 48 hours of an incident, incident response for public information officers, responding to hazardous waste abandonments, hurricane readiness and response, environmental due diligence and contract drafting, the design and implementation of environmental compliance programs, the regulation of electronic waste, cybersecurity in the energy and transportation sectors, electronic discovery in civil and criminal cases, evidence preservation, and preparing for a government inspection. He wrote the introductory chapter for Inside the Minds: Environmental Law Enforcement and Compliance, published in 2011 by Thomson Reuters/Aspatore.

His clients include public and private entities in the energy, chemical manufacturing, construction and waste management industries, as well as lenders, private equity and real estate firms with interests in these industries.