World demand for oil and natural gas has never been higher, and in the past few years the U.S. has significantly increased supply through use of tight oil and gas resources. In supplying the world's energy needs, pipeline companies face unprecedented regulatory and environmental challenges. As the country expands its energy infrastructure, the safe and reliable delivery of oil and gas via the nation's pipelines has come under intense scrutiny.
The Hunton & Williams pipeline practice has national experience resolving the regulatory, environmental and enforcement issues that arise during the construction, permitting, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines. Leveraging the talent and experience of more than 75 regulatory lawyers, and strong working relationships with the various federal and state agencies that regulate pipeline activities, Hunton & Williams addresses its clients' evolving legal and business needs as efficiently and effectively as possible. As the pipeline industry becomes subject to increased scrutiny from both the government and private sectors, it is essential that companies coordinate the way in which they address regulatory, civil and potential criminal issues, which often arise simultaneously. Hunton & Williams is experienced in balancing these complex strategic issues while working to preserve all applicable defenses and privileges.
Our lawyers have worked on numerous pipeline matters with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), DOT's Office of Inspector General (OIG) as well as various state agencies that regulate pipeline activities. DOJ, OIG and EPA have increased their oversight, investigation and regulation of pipeline matters. With the recent amendments to the federal Pipeline Safety Act, PHMSA is working to develop and implement new regulations, while it is also increasing its enforcement activity. In conjunction with these developments and trends, administrative and judicial issues continue to arise. Hunton & Williams has routinely played an important role in the issues that shape this area of law, and provides its clients with advice based on decades of experience.
Although enforcement defense and litigation are important parts of the service we provide, a substantial portion of our practice involves compliance assistance and the avoidance of litigation, as well as involvement in federal and state rulemaking. This approach has won our lawyers and individual clients the respect and trust of the agencies, as well as from environmental and citizen groups.
With our extensive experience with oil and gas pipelines, we are often called upon to assist with transactional matters associated with mergers, acquisitions or divestitures of pipeline assets. Our involvement has ranged from managing the due diligence effort to assisting new owners with navigating the applicable regulatory framework, for both experienced pipeline companies as well as asset management firms.
Hunton & Williams' knowledge of the pipeline industry is further demonstrated by the Pipeline Legal Issues and Policy Roundtables that it has hosted over the past several years. Our most recent Roundtable focused on pipeline infrastructure expansion issues.