Environmental & Natural Resources

Practice Overview

Drummond Woodsum’s environment and energy team is a dynamic group possessing specialized expertise in environment and energy law from backgrounds not just in those specialized areas but also in litigation, real estate, transactional, and land use law. Together, the team serves diverse clients from many business sectors, including natural resource protection, manufacturing and industrial, renewable energy, agriculture and aquaculture, real estate, banking, municipalities, and educational institutions. Our team focuses on providing each client with cost-effective, practical, and creative solutions through lean staffing by the attorneys who know the issue best.

Transactional Work

Our attorneys advise clients on some of the largest and most complex business and real estate transactions in Maine and northern New England. We routinely execute permit transfers, conduct due diligence, and negotiate the pertinent terms of transactional documents. Our transactional advice often involves overlapping environmental and energy issues, so our environmental and energy practice groups frequently utilize a team approach.  For instance, Drummond Woodsum negotiated a first-of-its-kind settlement of legacy environmental liabilities between the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Central Maine & Quebec Railway related to its acquisition of the assets of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway out of bankruptcy. Similarly, we represented Emera, Inc. in its due diligence and investment in a joint venture with First Wind in order to meet renewable portfolio standards. Recently, a pair of our environmental and corporate attorneys developed a creative mechanism for a lending institution financing several billion dollars of a transaction to document its interest in environmental permits in order to fully secure its loan position.

Project Permitting

We assist clients in all aspects of environmental review and permitting, from initial planning through final approvals for the construction and operation of new and existing facilities. For example, Drummond Woodsum represented Nordic Aquafarms in obtaining and defending all local, state, and federal permits for a first in Maine sixty acre land-based aquaculture project in Belfast, Maine despite vociferous opposition. Drummond Woodsum also represents project opposition, most frequently for water-based aquaculture due to its exemptions from Maine’s rigorous environmental laws but also to the CMP NECEC transmission line due to its failure to support Maine renewable energy projects and its outsize, unquantified impacts on Maine’s North Woods.

Environmental Compliance

Drummond Woodsum provides ongoing counsel to its clients on compliance with local, state, and federal law. For instance, Drummond Woodsum served as outside general counsel to several Maine and New Hampshire paper mills, including Old Town Fuel & Fiber and Gorham Paper & Tissue. This work is as diverse as it is complex, including constructing water intakes and natural gas pipelines, complying with air licenses, obtaining MEPDES and NPDES discharge permits, remediating PCBs, and closing landfills and RCRA and CERCLA areas issues. Drummond Woodsum also represents clients in defending civil and criminal enforcement matters and in rulemaking proceedings before the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Maine Board of Environmental Protection. Recently, Drummond Woodsum attorneys assisted a New Hampshire municipality with settlement documentation to address historic contamination of drinking water and a Maine business on reducing the penalty under a Notice of Violation in exchange for facility improvements to improve its environmental profile.

Environmental Legislation & Lobbying

Drummond Woodsum’s advocacy for its clients goes well beyond the boardroom and the negotiating table. When existing laws cannot solve a problem, Drummond Woodsum attorneys help change the law. For instance, our team worked closely with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Legislature, and other stakeholders to develop and enact legislation that funded the clean-up costs for George West Waste Oil sites across Maine without imposing direct costs on its clients. Drummond Woodsum attorneys recently worked with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection waste division and the Maine Legislature on a Resolve allowing the Passamaquoddy Tribe protection from liability upon accepting a return of its historic lands, now contaminated by the use of another.

Environmental Litigation

When problems can’t be solved through negotiation, Drummond Woodsum can address the issue in court. Examples of our litigation experience include:

  • Representation of the Penobscot Nation in obtaining protections of the sustenance fishing rights. Learn more about our Tribal Nations and Land Use & Conservation Practice.
  • Representation of a municipality and, separately, a private client, in complex, multi-year, multi-party litigation over public beach access and recreation rights, including an appearance before Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court.
  • Representation of a New Hampshire municipality in addressing PFAs contamination in wastewater, air, land, and groundwater due to operations of a resident multinational manufacturer.  Learn more about our Municipal Law Practice.

Practice Group Leader

Related Professionals