November 27, 2013
Last week, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (“GAHP”) released a report examining laws governing the remediation of contaminated properties in seven Latin America countries, as well as the United States, and identifying best practices. The report, entitled “Regulatory Best Practices for Remediation of Legacy Toxic Contamination,” was produced by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. The Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit focused on global toxic pollution issues which serves as the secretariat for the GAHP, also assisted in the production of the report.
SPR attorneys Jeff Gracer and Devin McDougall served as United States Coordinating Counsel for the report.
The six recommendations identified in the report are:
1. Create clear numeric guidelines for establishing whether a site is contaminated. Although contaminated sites are often defined as sites where pollution is present at levels that may present a threat to human health and the environment, it is useful to enact regulations that specifically define what those levels are, so that sites can be readily identified as candidates for further investigation and remediation.
2. Use commercial events to identify contaminated sites. Evaluation of historic contamination can be required when project proponents are applying for permits, and when industrial facilities are being bought and sold or decommissioned. These triggers will result in the identification of contaminated sites at a time when funding for investigation and remediation is most likely to be available.
3. Create incentives for voluntary remediation. Laws and regulations should make it easy for private parties to come forward on a voluntary basis to address legacy contamination. These incentives can include resolution of existing liability for site owners, liability exemptions for prospective purchasers, tax exemptions and tax credits, remediation funding grants, and other governmental incentives.
4. Create a clear and efficient remediation process. One of the most significant barriers to environmental cleanup is the uncertainty surrounding applicable cleanup standards, the complexity of the process, and the involvement of multiple governmental agencies with overlapping jurisdiction. Experience has shown that published cleanup standards, a simple process for engagement with the government, and clear delineations of which agency has jurisdiction over a particular cleanup will encourage increased private sector participation.
5. Provide meaningful opportunities for public review and comment. Environmental remediation regulations and practices often benefit from input from members of the business community who will be called upon to effectuate cleanups and also by members of communities who live in close proximity to contaminated sites. Site remediation plans may also be more pragmatic and tailored to actual risk if they are subject to prior public review and comment.
6. Develop effective mechanisms to address abandoned sites. Sites that are not subject to commercial activity or voluntary remediation can be the most troublesome from a governmental perspective. Governments should consider creating a registry of such sites so that they can be identified for investigation and evaluated as candidates for future remediation. Sites should be prioritized for clean-up based on a clear methodology established by the government to address those that pose the greatest risk first. Government funding can be made available to remediate such sites through a combination of lawsuits against former owners and operators or, if no responsible party can be reached, through other mechanism for funding in appropriate cases. Future “orphan” sites can be avoided by requiring environmentally sensitive operations to purchase environmental insurance policies.
For more information about the development of remediation policies in Latin America, please contact Jeff Gracer.
October 10, 2013
Eight SPR partners have been honored as top environmental attorneys in the New York Metro Area by Super Lawyers Magazine for 2013. Super Lawyers is a listing of “outstanding lawyers … who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.”
Michael S. Bogin, Mark A. Chertok, Dan Chorost, Scott E. Furman, Jeffrey B. Gracer, and David S. Yudelson were named as among the best lawyers in the environmental field. David Paget and Daniel Riesel were honored in the environmental litigation field. More attorneys from SPR were selected in these two fields than from any other law office in the New York Metro Area.
Super Lawyers creates an annual list of outstanding attorneys after conducting a “rigorous and multiphase process” that includes polling, peer nominations, and independent evaluations of professional activity, transactions, and honors.
For more information about Super Lawyers Magazine and its selection process, visit its website.
August 27, 2013
Earlier this month, the New York Times published a series of articles discussing the ways in which the Bloomberg administration has changed New York City, in the process highlighting a number of major development projects for which SPR provided legal counsel.
The centerpiece of this series is an interactive map, entitled “Reshaping New York,” which provides, via a combination of photos and computer graphics, visualizations of how New York City has changed in the past twelve years. Notably, 37% of the city was rezoned, 40,000 new buildings were constructed, and about 800 acres of city parkland were added.
Advice from SPR attorneys helped many of the projects featured on the map come to fruition. Such projects include:
August 19, 2013
In the 2014 edition of the joint U.S. News and World Report & Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings, Sive, Paget and Riesel was ranked as “Tier One” for both environmental law and environmental litigation in New York City. The distinction of achieving Tier One status for both environmental law and environmental litigation in New York City was shared by only one other firm.
Four SPR partners were recognized as “Best Lawyers” for environmental law: Michael Bogin, Mark A. Chertok, Jeffrey B. Gracer, and David Paget. Four SPR partners were also recognized as “Best Lawyers” for environmental litigation: Mark A. Chertok, Jeffrey B. Gracer, David Paget, and Daniel Riesel. Additionally, Mark A. Chertok was listed as a “Best Lawyer” for land use and zoning law.
Furthermore, David Paget was recognized by Best Lawyers as the 2014 “Lawyer of the Year” for New York City environmental litigation. Reflecting SPR’s leadership in the New York City environmental bar, the 2013 “Lawyer of the Year” for New York City environmental litigation (Daniel Riesel) and New York City environmental law (Mark A. Chertok) were also SPR partners.
The U.S. News and World Report & Best Lawyers rankings are based on “a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.”
June 19, 2013
Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C. (“SPR”) is pleased to announce that Scott Furman and John Curran have joined SPR as partners.
Scott brings with him a diverse environmental practice focusing on corporate and real estate transactions, brownfield redevelopment, renewable energy development and regulatory compliance. During his 25-plus years of practice, Scott has advised a broad range of clients with respect to complex corporate and real estate transactions, real estate development and renewable energy projects involving facilities throughout the United States and abroad. Scott’s broad technical knowledge of environmental issues and solutions has proven effective in navigating matters for his clients and successfully negotiating with purchasers, sellers, lenders, insurers and environmental agencies in multiple jurisdictions. Having worked on transactions ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to several billion dollars, he has a demonstrated sensitivity not only to the timing aspects of every transaction, but also to the relationships between cost and benefit in analyzing and developing solutions that are consistent with the clients’ business objectives.
John has broad experience in environmental and construction law, both as an advisor and litigator. Over the course of his career, John has represented residential, commercial and industrial real property owners, operators, developers, cooperatives and condominium associations, design professionals, construction managers, contractors and lenders. John counsels clients in all aspects of construction law and assists clients in navigating complex issues relating to real estate acquisition and development, property management and management of environmental conditions. John also has extensive experience in all aspects of sophisticated commercial litigation and dispute resolution. As a litigator, John has successfully handled matters involving environmental liability, cost recovery and cleanup, construction defects and contract claims, land use, loan workouts, commercial and residential leases, employment, franchise and commercial unfair competition and non-competition matters. A frequent speaker and author on construction topics, John is an adjunct professor in Construction Law at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
April 12, 2013
On April 9, 2013, the New York City Council unanimously approved a proposal to redevelop the historic Pier 57 within Hudson River Park, at the foot of West 15th Street in Manhattan. This followed approval by the City Planning Commission in March, and the environmental review of the project by the Hudson River Park Trust (“HRPT”) and other agencies, through the preparation of an environmental impact statement (“EIS”). SPR is serving as HRPT’s environmental counsel for the Pier 57 redevelopment, continuing the Firm’s representation of Hudson River Park since its establishment in the 1990s.
Pier 57, which was constructed in the early 1950s and comprises three underwater caissons, a head house and a pier shed, is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It has been vacant since the 1990s. Developer Youngwoo & Associates proposes to lease the Pier from HRPT in order to redevelop it with an urban marketplace (using repurposed shipping containers for small food- and design-oriented retail businesses), restaurants, a large rooftop open space, and public circulation space around the perimeter of the pier. The project may also include cultural space, an educational facility, and a marina.
SPR principals David Paget and Elizabeth Knauer have been advising HRPT regarding all environmental aspects of the project, including preparation of the EIS, consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office, and obtaining environmental permits for work that will be needed within the Hudson River. This representation is the latest example of the firm’s longstanding work on major New York City waterfront developments, dating back to the South Street Seaport and Battery Park City projects and continuing with more recent projects such as Queens West, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the redevelopment of the Battery Maritime Building and Pier A in lower Manhattan, the Whole Foods store and Domino Sugar Refinery redevelopment in Brooklyn, and the proposed expansion of the New York Container Terminal in Staten Island.
April 11, 2013
Last week, at a conference co-sponsored by SPR, government officials, academics, attorneys, and scientists convened at Hofstra University to discuss the legal and practical consequences of Superstorm Sandy. Expert panels addressed the following questions:
- How can local governments physically modify their transportation, power, and sanitary infrastructure to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and by what legal mechanisms?
- Are massive floodgates feasible and desirable for the protection of the New York metropolitan area? Or do “soft” barriers such as man-made wetlands represent a better alternative?
- What planning and land use concepts can be used to encourage smart real estate development that responds to climate change risks?
- Will claims of “scientific uncertainty” hinder climate change adaptation efforts to the same extent that similar claims have hindered climate change mitigation efforts?
- Where and how should coastal communities be rebuilt? What is the legal framework for government-led “strategic retreat” from the coast?
- How may relief be obtained from FEMA? How may relief be obtained from insurance companies?
- What federal, state, and local government programs are available to homeowners and businesses to aid recovery?
- What resources are available to help individual homeowners who have lost everything in the storm? What has been the experience in New York’s underprivileged communities, and can that be improved?
The conference was chaired by SPR principal Michael Bogin and Hofstra Law Professor Carol Casazza Herman, with critical support from SPR principal Pamela Esterman. SPR principal Steven Barshov participated as a lecturer, focusing on the integration of infrastructure resilience into planning and development.
Sponsors of the conference were the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, the New York State Bar Association, and SPR.
For more information on Sandy recovery or climate change adaptation in the context of development, please contact Michael Bogin, Steven Barshov, or David Yudelson.
Conference speakers: (L-R) Professor Katrina Kuh, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Associate Dean Jennifer Gundlach, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Dean Eric Lane, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Nassau County Supervisor Ed Mangano; SPR Principal Michael Bogin; Professor Carol Casazza Herman, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
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