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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

J. Tom Boer

J. Tom Boer

Partner

Expertise

  • Air
  • Chemicals, Products and Hazardous Materials
  • Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Climate Change

WSG Practice Industries

Activity

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
California, U.S.A.

Profile

Tom’s experience at the EPA and DOJ provides him with a firsthand perspective into how the government pursues and resolves enforcement actions. He, in turn, offers clients invaluable insights into the processes, risks, issues and strategies for resolving alleged environmental liabilities.

Tom represents companies, municipal utilities, and individuals in federal and state environmental litigation, in defense of environmental enforcement actions and citizen suits, in response to catastrophic environmental emergencies and chemical releases, and in connection with site cleanup and cost recovery.

Before entering private practice, Tom served as a trial lawyer with the United States Department of Justice and as a lawyer with the EPA’s Office of General Counsel. As a lawyer with the DOJ, Tom prosecuted cases on behalf of the United States under the Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); Oil Pollution Act; and the Park System Resource Protection Act.

Tom is admitted to practice before the US District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Districts of California, and the US Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the DC Circuit.

Relevant Experience

Enforcement and Citizen Suit Defense and Litigation. Tom represents clients in administrative and civil environmental enforcement actions brought by federal and state regulatory agencies and in response to citizen suits brought by environmental groups and other private parties. Relevant matters include:

  • Representing major northern California utility in response to Endangered Species Act citizen suit filed in the Northern District of California;
  • Representing California utility in response to a Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) citizen suit filed in the Northern District of California;
  • Representing major municipality in response to Clean Water Act enforcement action alleging violations in the operation and maintenance of its sewer system and potentially seeking billions in injunctive relief;
  • Representing a substantial corporate landholder in pursuing claims against another corporation for contamination of its property and business interruption;
  • Resolving an EPA enforcement action for alleged violations of Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) requirements at an industrial facility storing in excess of 10 million gallons of oil;
  •  Defending industrial clients in response to Clean Water Act citizen suits related to alleged permit violations;
  • Defending a manufacturing client in response to alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act;
  • Defending a food manufacturer in response to an EPA enforcement action for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act;
  • Defending a client in response to an enforcement action for the allegedly noncompliant sale of pesticide products by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the EPA; and
  • Defending a retail client in connection with an enforcement action for the sale of noncompliant products by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Emergency Response and Catastrophic Releases. Tom represents clients in all stages of responding to emergency and catastrophic release incidents. Relevant matters include:

  • Representing a client in response to a fire incident at a waste transfer station and recycling facility resulting in an Air District investigation;
  • Representing a client in connection with the release of petroleum product from a third-party terminal.
  • Successfully representing a manufacturing client in response to a substantial ammonia release resulting in local, state and federal enforcement actions, and third-party business interruption and personal injury claims;
  • Representing an industrial facility in response to a threatened levee breach;
  • Representing an oil services company in response to a tanker truck incident resulting in the release of a hazardous substance on an interstate freeway;
  • Successfully pursuing claims against contractors and insurers in connection with negligence exacerbating the release of a hazardous substance; and
  • Advising an industrial client on emergency response reporting requirements.

Internal Investigations and Compliance Audits. Tom conducts internal investigations to assess and respond to potential violations of environmental laws and provides advice to clients to address compliance deficiencies and to minimize or resolve associated liabilities with state and federal regulators. Relevant matters include:

  • Advising a client on ongoing compliance and auditing requirements related to the operation of a pipeline across waters of the United States following a release incident; and
  • Conducting an internal investigation across a multinational manufacturing company’s supply chain to assess environmental compliance and coordinating self-reporting to EPA for identified deficiencies.

Site Cleanup and Response Cost Allocation. Tom represents clients in all phases of site investigation and remediation and brownfields redevelopment.  Relevant matters include:

  • Representing a former semiconductor manufacture at multiple cleanup sites across California involving groundwater, soil and vapor intrusion response actions managed by the
    US EPA, Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards;
  • Pursuing cost recovery in federal district court against former owners and operators for a chlorinated solvent cleanup associated with various industrial operations;
  • Representing a manufacturer in the investigation and cleanup of multiple former industrial facilities prior to sale and redevelopment;
  • Defending cost recovery claims brought by current property owner against former industrial operator for alleged contamination;
  • Pursuing appeals before the California State Water Resources Control Board challenging Cleanup and Abatement Orders issued by Regional Water Quality Control Boards; and
  • Pursuing appeals before the California State Water Resources Control Board challenging denial of low-threat closure by Local Oversight Programs managing underground storage tank cleanup.

Regulatory Compliance Counseling and Permitting. Tom counsels clients on compliance, permitting and licensing issues arising from state and federal environmental regulatory programs. He also advises clients on negotiating and appealing permitting decisions and seeking variances from permitting requirements. Relevant matters include:

  • Advising energy company on fugitive dust compliance issues for large-scale solar facility;
  • Advising an oil services company on the hydraulic fracturing regulation on state and federal lands, including requirements of SB4 in California;
  • Providing a compliance evaluation and advice to an industrial facility related to Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) requirements;
  • Pursuing a variance request before the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on behalf of an industrial facility;
  • Advising a client on a Title V Clean Air Act permit and the expedited re-permitting of out of compliance equipment;
  • Advising a client on FIFRA labeling and establishment registration requirements.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • District of Columbia

Education

BA, Occidental College, Public Policy/Environmental Studies, cum laude, Class of 1995 Commencement Speaker, 1995
Areas of Practice

Air | Chemicals, Products and Hazardous Materials | Climate Change | Climate Change Law and Policy | Energy and Environmental Litigation | Energy Litigation | Energy Sector Security Team | Environmental | Environmental Compliance, Litigation and Defense | Glyphosate Litigation | Land Use | Natural Resources | OSHA Compliance, Litigation and Defense | PFAS Interdisciplinary Team | Pipeline | Water

Professional Career

Professional Associations

  • At-Large Vice Chair, Social Media Vice Chair, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources; Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, August 2017–August 2018
  • At-Large Vice Chair, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources; Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, August 2016–August 2017
  • Member, Environmental Law Institute Leadership Council
  • Authorized User, Chemical-terrorism Vulnerability Information, US Department of Homeland Security

Professional Activities and Experience

  • 2017 Chambers USA Environment Law Firm of the Year
  • Listed for Environment: Litigation, Legal 500 United States, 2016, 2017
  • Selected as a Rising Star in environmental litigation, Northern California, Super Lawyer magazine, 2009, 2011-2013. A description of the selection methodology can be found on Super Lawyers’ webpage.
  • Received US Department of Justice Special Commendations as a trial attorney, 2002-2005
  • Awarded the US EPA Administrator’s Exceptional Service Gold Medal, 2002
  • Awarded the US EPA Administrator’s Commendable Service Silver Medal, 2000 and 2010
  • Awarded US EPA Regional/Assistant Administrator’s Superior Service Bronze Medals, 1999, 2000 and 2005

Articles

  • New Federal Initiatives Target Food Industry Facilities for Inspection and Enforcement, Food Safety Magazine
  • Regulating Seawater Desalination in California, The Water Report #137
  • EPA Updates Priorities: First Time In Years, Daily Journal
  • The State of Fracking, Daily Journal
  • Rage Rises To The Top At BLM’s New Fracking Rules, Law360
  • New Water Rule is Not the End of the Story, Daily Journal
  • State to Redefine “Wetlands”: Proposed California Regulations Conflict with Federal Law and Subject Potentially Vast Areas of New Land to Permitting Requirements, The Recorder
  • Ammonia Refrigeration: Increasing Regulatory Requirements, Facility Executive
  • Endangered Species Act Requires Enforceable Mitigation, Washington Legal Foundation Backgrounder
  • Chemical Safety Board Remains on the Federal Budgetary Chopping Block, Food Quality & Safety Magazine
  • Supreme Court Decision in Hawkes: A Shot Across the Bow, Natural Resources & Environment, Volume 31, Number 2
  • New WOTUS Rule Could Have Widespread Impact, The Recorder
  • Citizen Suit Trends in California: A Harbinger for the Future of Environmental Enforcement?, ABA Natural Resources & Environment Magazine, Volume 34, Number 1, Summer
  • Five Regulatory Traps Retailers Selling Pesticides Encounter, Progressive Grocer
  • Q&A: Safety On Ice, Food Manufacturing Magazine
  • EPA Seeks Public Comment on Regulation of Fracking Chemicals, Power Magazine
  • Vapor Intrusion: Acute Exposure Regulatory Developments and Litigation Trends, ABA Natural Resources & Environment Magazine, Volume 32, Number 1
  • EPA Is Holding Flare Users’ Feet To The Fire, Law360
  • A Proposal Off The Rails: California’s Fill and Dredge Policy, The Registry
  • Shifting Landscape: California Wants to Expand the Territory Described as Wetlands, The Registry
  • EPA’s Concern Over TCE Vapor Intrusion Is Misguided, Law360

WSG's members are independent firms and are not affiliated in the joint practice of professional services. Each member exercises its own individual judgments on all client matters.

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