Alaska Business Quotes Tina Grovier on Role of Environmental Law Firms in Anticipating Impacts on Clients of New Regulations

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Stoel Rives’ Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources practice leader Tina Grovier was quoted in Alaska Business in an article title “The Law of the Land: Environmental law firms ensure clients remain on solid legal ground,” published August 2021. The article discusses some of the considerations and challenges faced by law firms that are hired by Alaska companies to work in conjunction with, or in addition to, their in-house counsel on matters in the field of environmental law.

As well as their involvement in long-term issues, many of the law firms specializing in environmental laws are also asked to assist clients when they face a crisis such as an oil spill, newly found contamination, or are notified of a violation from a regulatory agency.

“Part of our role is to anticipate issues, such as knowing when proposed regulations will be coming out and helping clients draft comments on them or making sure that, when a company takes over another business or operation, they are doing all of the things they are legally obligated to do,” Grovier said.

In Alaska, the state and federal government will need to begin to address the impact of climate change, in particular its effects on the health of Alaska’s salmon population. And Grovier noted Congress has been working on a joint resolution related to the EPA’s current emission standards, which continues to be a subject of debate in the House.

“While Alaska has unique statutes such as ANCSA [Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act] and ANILCA [Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act], the anticipated regulations relate to oil and gas infrastructure, and we haven’t yet seen what the EPA is going to propose,” she said. “I believe we’ll see drafts by this fall, but it isn’t clear that they will treat Alaska differently.”

Grovier noted that “environmental justice” — the concept that all people should have similar protections from environmental hazards and equal access to the decision-making process for developing, implementing, and enforcing environmental laws — is a priority for the EPA and other agencies in the Biden administration.

“You’ve got Alaska Native Corporations — both regional and village corporations — as well as tribes in Alaska that want to have a voice,” she said of projects that could affect the state. “This focus on environmental justice is intended to ensure that environmental impacts are not disproportionally experienced by underserved communities and that all stakeholders have fair access to information and are able to give input and to have their views considered.”

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