Environmental Assessments 101: What Attorneys Need to Know


CLE credits earned: 2 GENERAL (or 2 LAW & LEGAL for WA state)

Lawyers can expect to learn the purpose, scope, and use of environmental assessments and the laws that underlie them. Course will give broad overview of how and why environmental assessments have grown in importance, how to make sure they provide value, and why they are not always necessary. The course will also cover two actual case studies of how environmental assessments can go wrong and lessons learned.

Key topics to be discussed:

•   The relationship between Superfund (or the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Liability Act) and environmental assessments
•   The basic elements of environmental assessments
•   Practical tips on ensuring assessments provide value
•   Takeaways from two cases studies of environmental assessments gone wrong

Date / Time: August 1, 2019

•   3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Eastern
•   2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Central
•   1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Mountain
•   12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

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SKU: N/A Category:
Original Broadcast Date: August 1, 2019

Philip L. Comella, Esq. is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group and Co-Leader of the Environment and Energy Practice Group. Phil’s practice spans both regulatory counseling and environmental-based litigation. With over three decades of experience in environmental law, and a focus on the solid and hazardous waste industry, he regularly counsels owners and operators of landfills, treatment facilities, recycling operations, and waste generators on compliance and permitting matters arising under the environmental laws. Phil began his legal career by spending seven years as in-house counsel for a major waste management company, where he had responsibility for hazardous and solid waste issues arising across the country.

Solid and Hazardous Waste Industry

Phil has wide-ranging and deep experience in solid and hazardous waste matters arising under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including citizen suits, enforcement actions, permitting, and compliance. He has represented generators, transporters, and fixed facilities on a myriad of issues arising under this statute and state counterparts, including solid waste, hazardous waste, TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials), used oil, and clean-up standards. Phil has also worked on numerous PCB matters over the last 30 years, including those involving disposal clean-up requirements, dilution, and coordinated waste approvals. He has worked on multiple facets of the Comprehensive Environmental Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), including defending enforcement actions, responding to information requests, negotiating ROD amendments, and heading up PRP groups. With a long history in both Superfund and Brownfields, he is experienced in applying clean-up standards across regulatory fields, and negotiating contract conditions and insurance provisions to reduce environmental liability.

Enforcement Actions and Litigation

Phil has defended clients in a broad array of enforcement actions and compliance matters brought under virtually every environmental law. These matters have ranged from claims of improper waste disposal, faulty waste characterization, and closures of treatment, storage and disposal facilities, to landfill odors, TENORM management, and unauthorized PCB treatment. He has negotiated settlement agreements on these matters with environmental regulatory agencies in virtually every EPA region and in over twenty different states. He has a long history of defending companies from toxic tort lawsuits relating to the release of hazardous chemicals, including groundwater contaminants, odors, and air pollutants, including sulfuric acid, sulfur trioxide, landfill gas, and phosphoric acid.

Landfill Gas and Renewable Energy

He has represented landfill owners, developers, and end-users on all aspects of landfill gas projects, including contract drafting, negotiation, regulatory compliance, enforcement action defense, and litigation to enforce contract rights. He also has experience with the permitting of hydropower plants under the Clean Water Act.

Environmental-Based Construction and Engineering Claims

Phil’s practice also encompasses construction claims with an environmental component. For example, he has defended clients on construction claims involving mold contamination and asbestos removal. He has worked extensively in the area of classifying construction and demolition debris in numerous projects, including stadium demolition and electrical installations. He also has extensive experience defending environmental and engineering professionals against negligence and contract claims.


J.D., George Washington University Law School, with honors
B.A., Beloit College, cum laude

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Section I. What are environmental assessments and why are they important?
a) Superfund spawned the ESA industry
b) Relationship to Brownfields

Section II. Uses of environmental assessments
a) Superfund defense
b) “Kick the tires”

Section III. 4 Innocent Purchaser defenses
a) Differences between the defenses
b) Practical uses
c) Some details of maintaining the defenses

Section IV. Thumbnail sketch of key environmental laws
a) Superfund
c) Clean Air Act
d) Clean Water Act
e) Underground storage tanks

Section V. Practical Pointers

Section VI. Two case studies: Environmental Assessments gone wrong