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Environmental Permitting

Environmental Permits and Licenses

In order to set up or operate a business, you may need to obtain various permits or licenses. The permits you may need will depend on your industry and how and where you operate a business. Some of these permits function specifically to regulate environment impacts. Environmental licenses might cover areas such as emissions or the disposal or use of certain materials or substances. In general, these licenses function to regulate the pollution or prevent the destruction of natural resources.

Many business activities, and even some private activities, are subject to one form of environmental permitting or another. Land development and infrastructure projects are particularly likely to trigger environmental permitting requirements, especially in the highly developed northeast where open space is scarce, the population is dense, and development is often situated close to environmentally sensitive areas. Our attorneys have counseled clients in obtaining wetlands permits, solid and hazardous waste permits and water-related permits, among many others. The environmental permitting process often requires clients to work closely with regulators. Our attorneys frequently engage with regulators and have developed the relationships and reputation for lasting success that enables them to move matters forward quickly. This enables our clients to focus on their goals, not the bureaucratic process.


There are a multitude of environmental statutes, regulations, and informal rules that govern how businesses conduct operations that may have an environmental impact, and how property owners utilize or develop their land. From the monitoring of hazardous chemicals and waste to the construction of residential docks in tidelands areas, environmental compliance obligations must be met. Our environmental lawyers have long served as counsel to companies and individuals concerning these obligations. Whether our clients are siting a recycling facility or bulkheading their waterfront property along the shore, we help them ensure that they are complying with the applicable environmental laws. From the monitoring of hazardous chemicals and waste to the construction of residential docks in tidelands areas, environmental compliance obligations must be met.


Environmental regulators, and in some instances, members of the public, have the ability to enforce environmental laws. These enforcement actions can take the form of administrative proceedings before regulatory agencies, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  Such actions may also be brought before state and federal courts. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in defending and pursuing environmental enforcement actions.

For clients faced with enforcement actions, we have enjoyed tremendous success in reducing or eliminating penalty assessments. We have been likewise successful in pursuing such actions under the citizen suit provisions of various environmental statutes for clients who believe that regulators have failed to adequately protect their communities. This range of experience enables our attorneys to examine issues from every possible angle.


Our attorneys counsel clients concerning their participation in the legislative and administrative rulemaking processes. Clients of the firm are often concerned about the impact that potential legislation or regulations will have on their businesses and communities. Therefore, we represent clients in the public comment process by evaluating the impacts that potential laws may have and assisting clients in registering public comments. In situations where regulatory agencies fail to adequately observe the administrative process, our strong litigation background allows us to assist clients with legal challenges to the applicable rules or regulations.

Who Issues Environmental Licenses and Permits?

The city, county, or state that you operate in usually issues environmental licenses. In addition, you may reside in an area with regional agencies or districts that also require a permit. These agencies might regulate air quality, ground water, or other environmental aspects that affect a certain region.

Federal permits may also apply, particularly in regards to navigable waters, federal and tribal lands, transportation.

Types of Environmental Licenses

Environmental licenses cover a variety of activities at all levels of government. Whether or not you will need to apply for one depends on your business' industry and activities. Some common licenses cover the following areas:

  • Water Discharge and Contamination: Industries that release waste into storm water may be required to obtain permits that regulate how contaminated water is treated before it is released into storm drains. Additionally, any activity that could contaminate ground water may also be regulated through permits.
  • Hazardous Materials: Permits and licenses may be required for the transport, storage, treatment, handling, or disposal of hazardous waste or other materials. Local agencies may also require a permit for yearly inspections of sites that store or produce hazardous materials.
  • Air Pollution and Emissions: In an effort to regulate air quality and pollution, businesses may be required to obtain a license to operate or install equipment or to use certain solvents or chemical processes.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Identification Numbers: Your state may require registration from businesses that produce, transport, or dispose of hazardous waste. If your business generates a large amount of waste, you might also be required to register with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Penalties for Not Having a License

If you engage in activities that require a license or permit, you may be violating a state, local, or federal law. Such violations may incur severe monetary penalties in addition to criminal prosecution.

How Can An Attorney Help me?

If you have been charged with a criminal or civil penalty for failing to have an environmental permit, a government lawyer can help defend you and your case. Alternatively, if you are starting a new business, a business attorney can help you determine which permits you should apply for, ensuring that your business is properly formed.

Our attorneys regularly analyze proposed project permitting requirements, and interface with regulators at the national, state and local level to assist clients with permit applications, modifications, renewals and compliance for a range of environmental permitting schemes.  We have unparalleled expertise in obtaining permits for general construction projects, industrial facilities, including air, solid waste and other types of permits for a range of industries, including co-generation facilities, coal slurry projects, refineries, PCB-reclamation companies and wastewater treatment plants.

We have extensive experience navigating the numerous federal, state, and local statutes and regulations which govern wetlands and water quality issues, including stormwater. Whether obtaining coverage under a general storm water permit for a construction site or evaluating a proposed project's potential impacts on tidal or freshwater wetlands, our attorneys are deeply knowledgeable in this area, and have substantial experience working with the relevant governmental agencies.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.