The attorneys and professionals of Blank Rome LLP and Blank Rome Government Relations LLC are uniquely positioned to counsel and represent shale gas and oil exploration, production, and mid-stream companies regarding all of their business needs. With offices in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, DC, Blank Rome is strategically located to meet the needs of shale developers and operators in courtrooms, boardrooms, and before state and federal government.
The strategic use of natural resources and responsible growth places environmental law at the forefront of business and development concerns surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale and other significant shale plays.
Blank Rome’s nationally-recognized environmental practice provides counsel to clients in every major business sector, including energy, manufacturing, real estate, commercial development, public and private finance and investment, healthcare and transportation. We are strategically positioned to represent companies involved in the development and production of Marcellus Shale in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our firm has assisted companies involved in the development of the Marcellus Shale and other significant shale plays as well as companies seeking to participate or obtain meaningful investments in theses plays.
Blank Rome attorneys have been actively monitoring the environmental debate associated with the development of Marcellus Shale and other significant shale plays, and how this development interfaces with the goals of environmental protection and compliance with environmental laws. We counsel clients in connection with the significant environmental issues arising from exploration and production activities associated with shale development including: allocation of water resources, wastewater and stormwater permitting and management, erosion and sedimentation controls, and groundwater contamination. Given our extensive representation of clients in Superfund and response action litigation in both state and federal Courts, our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the technical, factual, and legal considerations that must be evaluated and analyzed in preparing to defend against environmental claims, including groundwater contamination claims.
In that regard, we have unparalleled experience negotiating, settling, or litigating claims with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state and regional offices of the EPA, and with every state’s environmental protection agencies.
Our Shale Gas & Oil Development trial and regulatory attorneys have assisted clients at the national, state and local level with matters involving:
We have particular experience in the following areas:
Environmental Permitting and Compliance
In a constantly evolving regulatory environment, it is essential to have a proactive compliance strategy. We counsel clients across the nation on compliance issues arising under all major state and federal environmental laws. These laws include: the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund and state voluntary cleanup laws, RCRA and state solid and hazardous waste management laws, community and worker right-to-know laws, and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. In addition, we assist clients with environmental permitting, land development, facility siting, reporting obligations, and meetings with federal and state regulatory agencies related to compliance matters. We conduct environmental, health, and safety compliance audits to determine the scope and extent of compliance issues, if any, and the corrective actions that must be undertaken, if required. Finally, we work with clients and consultants to design environmental management systems to address any issues identified during the scope of the auditing program.
Environmental Due Diligence and Risk Management
In any business transaction, the ability to quantify and qualify potential risk can ensure a successful outcome. Blank Rome’s environmental attorneys team up with other attorneys in our corporate and financial groups in connection with complex private and public commercial transactions. Our services include identifying, quantifying, qualifying, allocating, and documenting environmental issues and matters related to asset and stock acquisitions, sales of industrial and commercial companies (both private and public), credit agreements and secured financings, and strategic investments in industrial and commercial properties. We also assist our clients obtain environmental insurance coverage when they wish to minimize environmental and business risks and ensure a successful transaction.
Environmental Enforcement and Litigation (Civil, Criminal, and Administrative Proceedings)
Our environmental attorneys provide representation in federal and state, civil and criminal enforcement actions and with respect to judicial consent decrees, administrative compliance orders, civil penalty assessments, natural resource damages assessments, and citizens’ suit actions to enforce federal and state environmental laws. We also litigate complex, multi-party actions involving cost-recovery, cleanup-cost allocation, and "toxic tort" claims involving issues related to releases of contaminants to the environment including groundwater. Moreover, we have prosecuted and defended against claims before state and federal agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.
The Blank Rome Shale Development Industry Group includes lawyers who:
Specific Engagements Under Pennsylvania’s Environmental Laws
Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law
Clean Air Act and Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act
Superfund and Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act
Oil and Gas, Groundwater, and NORM Litigation
Speculation about a possible connection between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination, and the potential for shale production to generate waste containing naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) has fueled opposition to industry’s drilling, production and waste management practices, as well as lawsuits. Plaintiffs should not be permitted to recover damages for groundwater contamination simply by demonstrating that shale operations occurred near their property and that their wells contain elevated concentrations of certain contaminants. Critical and scientific evaluation of reports and other information concerning the potential link between shale production activities and environmental problems is essential to reasoned decisions in the courtroom. This is especially true for claims involving radiation and groundwater contamination.
The hallmark of Blank Rome’s work on matters involving oil and gas production, groundwater and NORM is the use of reliable and accurate scientific data. Blank Rome’s Shale Gas & Oil Development trial lawyers have a thorough understanding of scientific concepts in the fields of hydrogeology, petroleum engineering, geology, radiation protection, and toxicology—disciplines which must inform any lawsuit involving claims for damages from natural gas exploration and production. Our lawyers are known for providing efficient, focused solutions to complex scientific problems that would otherwise consume extensive time and effort on the part of litigation counsel who are less familiar with the science.
A Nationally Recognized Trial Practice
Blank Rome's Shale Gas & Oil Development team includes nationally-recognized environmental, toxic tort, and product liability lawyers with a proven record of successfully defending oil and gas clients in mass tort and other complex litigation.
Recent representations include:
Blank Rome’s trial lawyers assist business entities and individuals in a wide variety of complex civil actions and arbitration matters. Blank Rome has been retained to defend single entities in discrete suits, to defend large companies, to provide litigation support in complex, multi-district litigations and class-action lawsuits, and to serve as national counsel for other entities in the defense of a multitude of cases. No matter what the nature and scope of the matter, Blank Rome seeks the most favorable resolution under the circumstances for the defendant. Our clients benefit not only from our enviable track record of successful resolution of litigated and arbitrated disputes, but also from our steadfast commitment to keeping abreast of the legal issues and developments affecting the energy industry.
Blank Rome’s Shale Gas & Oil trial lawyers are actively involved in investigating and researching matters involving Shale plays. They have authored papers regarding hydraulic fracturing regulations, and recent groundwater contamination claims. Copies of these materials are available upon request.
Blank Rome’s tax attorneys are frequently called upon to assist public utilities and independent power producers with their most significant tax planning and controversy matters. We have extensive experience advising clients in the energy industry on complex state and local tax with state regulatory, FERC, NRC and PUHCA issues.
The most significant issue at present with respect to Marcellus Shale is the General Assembly passing a bill to impose a severance tax on natural gas. Blank Rome tax attorneys can address legislative efforts resulting in either thwarting the proposed new severance tax or assisting to craft palatable legislation.
Blank Rome has represented and continues to represent many utilities and energy companies on state tax matters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. Our recent representations include:
Blank Rome’s tax practice is comprised of creative lawyers who are dedicated to solving their clients’ issues. This talented group takes pride in routinely turning their clients’ problems into opportunities. The attorney’s experiences include those of a high-level government official, Internal Revenue Service litigator, and “Big 4” national practice leaders.
The Blank Rome tax practice recognizes that every tax issue has a governmental, financial and legal dimension. Because the Blank Rome tax practice brings together a group of energetic lawyers with governmental, financial and legal experience, they are uniquely capable of viewing tax issues from these three perspectives. This skill set allows them to forge creative solutions that deliver exceptional value to their clients.
Blank Rome Government Relations LLC, a leading lobbying and strategic communications firm, offers counseling to companies on oil and gas matters involving executive policy or legislative input and action. We also monitor and comment upon state and federal agency rulemakings and pending state and federal legislation.
Blank Rome Government Relations currently represents several clients on the complex array of regulatory discussions, severance tax legislation, and other policy matters surrounding the Marcellus Shale play before the Pennsylvania Legislature, the Governor’s office and the Administration.
Public Utility Regulation
Blank Rome has extensive experience in representing clients on public utility matters, including matters involving providers of electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications. Our work has included the interpretation of statutes for regulation and deregulation of such industries; frequent representation of clients in all types of formal proceedings before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and other state and federal governmental regulatory bodies; representation of clients both seeking and opposing regulatory approval of mergers and acquisitions; representation of clients in appeals of regulatory orders; and drafting, negotiation, and interpretation of contracts and tariffs.
Blank Rome’s energy team advises clients on a broad range of energy industry sectors and transactions, both across the United States and globally. What distinguishes Blank Rome’s approach is our focus on clients’ business and financial goals and our deep understanding of industry sector dynamics. We work with our clients, not only to bring established methods to bear on traditional problems, but to achieve unique, competitive advantage in an industry that faces volatile markets and constantly shifting regulatory demands.
Our attorneys assist clients across a broad variety of energy-related sectors, including:
Our practice includes representing clients on all aspects of energy transactions including:
Our clients include project sponsors and developers from global majors to entrepreneurs, financial institutions, governmental agencies, private equity firms, public utilities, independent power producers, design and construction firms, service providers and industrial and commercial energy consumers.
Oil & Gas
Blank Rome’s attorneys have many years of experience advising project sponsors, lenders, contractors and other commercial participants on the development, financing and purchase and sale of upstream, midstream and downstream oil & gas projects, assets and operations. Our attorneys have advised on:
Our lawyers’ experience spans the “value” chain, having advised clients on transactions involving upstream exploration and production, liquefaction, shipping and transportation, downstream processing and offtake arrangements. This experience enables us to anticipate how upstream and downstream issues can affect the objectives of clients participating in individual projects within the chain, and to ensure that these issues are properly addressed.
Energy Project Development & Finance
Blank Rome's energy team is recognized for structuring complex and innovative project finance transactions, including public-private partnerships, and for its ability to develop novel and tailored solutions to clients’ problems. Our attorneys have advised sponsors, lenders, equity investors, governmental agencies and contractors on all aspects of project development and finance transactions including:
Blank Rome’s attorneys have particular experience structuring complex financings involving multiple sources of finance, including equity investors, commercial banks, governmental agencies, vendors, bondholders, insurers and hedge providers, and resolving the complex issues that can arise among the numerous parties to such transactions.
Energy Land-Use & Real Estate Tax
Blank Rome’s land use and real estate tax attorneys provide land use, zoning, and real estate tax advice to a variety of clients and in matters of varying complexity throughout. Our general areas of representation include: