A former US EPA attorney, Sam brings deep knowledge and practical experience to his clients’ environmental concerns, helping them address numerous issues that include day-to-day compliance, government investigations and enforcement actions. 

Clients from a wide range of sectors, including general manufacturing, mining, municipal utilities, land development, electric utilities and food processing rely on Sam to advise and counsel them on a variety of issues that include permitting, compliance counseling, administrative and civil enforcement defense, internal audits, transactional due diligence and litigation.

Sam has a particular focus on water quality; wetlands; and groundwater matters under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act; multimedia government investigations; incident response; and enforcement actions. His clients also rely on his experience when navigating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Clean Air Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; the Toxic Substances Control Act; the National Environmental Policy Act; the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act; the Endangered Species Act; and state-equivalent environmental, health and safety, and consumer product-related statutes.

Sam’s sophisticated approach to engaging with regulatory agencies and deep knowledge of environmental regulatory programs is grounded in his experience as a former attorney in the EPA Office of Regional Counsel in San Francisco (Region 9) and the EPA Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC. His experience at EPA makes him effective and efficient at problem solving with federal and state regulatory agencies, in particular US EPA and California environmental and natural resources agencies.

Sam is frequently invited to speak on issues associated with environmental law, particularly on enforcement, federal and California regulatory agencies and how they operate, and trending issues in environmental law. 

He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, where he teaches environmental law. He is a former guest lecturer at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv School of Law in Ukraine, where he taught on matters related to unconventional oil and natural gas development in Eastern Europe. He is also a former adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Pace University School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law and The George Washington University School of Law, where he taught environmental, energy and land use subject matter.

Representative Experience

Enforcement Defense

Sam represents clients in government investigations, citizen suits, and administrative and civil enforcement actions associated with environmental statutes. His experience as a former US EPA enforcement attorney provides invaluable insight into how enforcement decisions are made, the process to resolve or litigate an enforcement action and the associated strategies and risks. His clients seek his experience to maintain compliance and avoid enforcement actions.

  • Currently represents chemical manufacturer in US enforcement action for alleged violations of RCRA, CERCLA and EPCRA.
  • Currently represents city and county in US civil enforcement action for alleged violations of the CWA.
  • Currently represents industrial client in US enforcement action for alleged violations of OPA related to a train derailment.
  • Successfully negotiated settlement agreement with EPA for alleged EPCRA and CERCLA violations associated with an ammonia release from food processing facility.
  • Successfully convinced EPA to not pursue civil enforcement action against real estate developer for alleged unauthorized filling of wetlands; favorable administrative settlement agreement.
  • Secured administrative settlement agreement with EPA for commercial facility for alleged violations of SDWA underground injection control prohibitions.

Compliance Counseling, Permitting & Due Diligence

Sam counsels clients on strategies to efficiently obtain required permit and other authorizations and maintain compliance with a diverse range of regulatory programs. He has significant experience working collaboratively with federal and state regulatory agencies.

  • Currently represents mining clients in obtaining CWA Section 404 permits from the US Army Corps associated with new mining projects, which include engagement with other regulatory agencies like EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies.
  • Currently represents oil and gas client in meeting its SDWA underground injection control compliance obligations associated with upstream operations.
  • Currently advise manufacturing client on the jurisdictional scope of the CWA and its permitting obligations under CWA Section 404.
  • Counseled energy client during its permitting and licensing of a natural gas pipeline, including meeting its NEPA, ESA and CWA obligations.
  • Advised oil and gas client on its federal and state hazardous waste compliance obligations associated with its refinery operations.
  • Counseled food processing client on potential federal, state and local environmental liabilities associated with the purchase of manufacturing and distribution assets.

Administrative Law & Rulemaking

Sam counsels clients on agency rulemaking and other actions, in particular those by EPA, the EPA regional offices and California regulatory agencies. He represents clients and associations in developing strategies for engaging agencies during the rulemaking process, reviewing and commenting on proposed rules and permits, and challenging final agency actions under environmental statutes and the federal and California Administrative Procedures Act.

  • Currently represents client in EPA rulemaking on financial assurance requirements under CERCLA associated with mining operations.
  • Currently represents client in California State Water Resources Control Board rulemaking on the state’s wetland regulatory program.
  • Currently represents electric utility client in EPA rulemaking on SPCC requirements for hazardous substances.
  • Represented client on EPA rulemaking on Risk Management Program under CAA Section 112(r).
  • Represented municipal client in developing a strategy for responding to regulatory agency calls for stringent nutrient-based permit requirements under California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.
  • Secured modifications to an EPA-issued general permit under the CWA to address industry-specific concerns with specific permit terms.

Memberships

  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Vice Chair, Water Quality and Wetlands Committee
  • California Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • The Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental Law Section

Awards & Recognition

  • 2017 Chambers USA Environment Law Firm of the Year
  • US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division Commendation, 2014
  • EPA Silver Medal for Superior Service, 2015, 2009
  • EPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2008, 2009

Insights

Sam’s practice focuses on environmental and administrative law.

Sam’s practice focuses on federal and California-specific environmental and administrative law matters. He advises a wide range of public and private clients on all aspects of environmental law, including permitting, compliance counseling, internal audits, participation in agency rulemaking, due diligence, administrative and civil enforcement defense, and litigation. His practice has a particular focus on water related matters across the country.

Sam has extensive government experience from his prior role as an attorney in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Regional Counsel in San Francisco and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC. In that role he focused on the national implementation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. 

Relevant Experience

  • Administrative Law. Sam counsels clients on federal agency rulemaking actions, in particular those by EPA’s Office of Water and EPA Regions implementing the Clean Water Act. He represents clients and associations in developing strategies for engaging EPA during the rulemaking process, reviewing and commenting on proposed rules, and challenging final agency actions under the environmental statutes and the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • Regulatory Compliance Counseling. Sam counsels clients in diverse regulatory programs under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, among others. His experience includes working directly with EPA and the state agencies that implement delegated federal environmental programs. He has unique experience and relationships with California’s State Water Resources Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
  • Enforcement Defense. Sam represents clients in investigations and defending against administrative and civil enforcement actions, particularly related to water. His experience as a former EPA enforcement attorney provides invaluable insight into how enforcement decisions are made, the process to resolve an enforcement action, and the associated risks.
  • US Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to joining Hunton & Williams LLP, Sam was an attorney at EPA in the Office of Regional Counsel in San Francisco and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC, where he focused on the national implementation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Sam worked on issues ranging from developing technology-based effluent limitation guidelines for specific industrial sectors, reviewing and approving state water quality standards, developing national water quality criteria, drafting individual NPDES permits and defending those permits before the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board, drafting general NPDES permits and defending those permits in federal court, developing EPA guidance on issues ranging from “waters of the United States” to numeric stormwater limitations, and advising the EPA Administrator and EPA General Counsel during rulemaking on the legal risks and defensibility of proposed regulatory actions. He worked closely with state agencies on the implementation and enforcement of delegated federal programs. Sam led investigations of regulated facilities for violations of environmental laws and pursued administrative and civil enforcement actions, including for violations of NPDES and UIC permits, the SPCC and Facility Response Plan regulations, the industrial wastewater pretreatment regulations, the Oil Pollution Act, discharges associated with industrial and municipal stormwater, and unauthorized discharges of dredged or fill material under CWA Section 404.
  • Public Speaking Experience. Sam speaks at events nationally on issues related to environmental law, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco where he teaches Environmental Law. He is a former guest lecturer at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv School of Law in Ukraine, where he taught on matters related to unconventional oil and natural gas development in Eastern Europe. He is also a former adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Pace University School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law and The George Washington University School of Law where he taught environmental, energy and land use subject matter.

Compliance Counseling, Permitting & Due Diligence

Sam counsels clients on strategies to efficiently obtain required permit and other authorizations and maintain compliance with a diverse range of regulatory programs. He has significant experience working collaboratively with federal and state regulatory agencies.

  • Currently represents mining clients in obtaining CWA Section 404 permits from the US Army Corps associated with new mining projects, which include engagement with other regulatory agencies like EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies.
  • Currently represents oil and gas client in meeting its SDWA underground injection control compliance obligations associated with upstream operations.
  • Currently advise manufacturing client on the jurisdictional scope of the CWA and its permitting obligations under CWA Section 404.
  • Counseled energy client during its permitting and licensing of a natural gas pipeline, including meeting its NEPA, ESA and CWA obligations.
  • Advised oil and gas client on its federal and state hazardous waste compliance obligations associated with its refinery operations.
  • Counseled food processing client on potential federal, state and local environmental liabilities associated with the purchase of manufacturing and distribution assets.

Administrative Law & Rulemaking

Sam counsels clients on agency rulemaking and other actions, in particular those by EPA, the EPA regional offices and California regulatory agencies. He represents clients and associations in developing strategies for engaging agencies during the rulemaking process, reviewing and commenting on proposed rules and permits, and challenging final agency actions under environmental statutes and the federal and California Administrative Procedures Act.

  • Currently represents client in EPA rulemaking on financial assurance requirements under CERCLA associated with mining operations.
  • Currently represents client in California State Water Resources Control Board rulemaking on the state’s wetland regulatory program.
  • Currently represents electric utility client in EPA rulemaking on SPCC requirements for hazardous substances.
  • Represented client on EPA rulemaking on Risk Management Program under CAA Section 112(r).
  • Represented municipal client in developing a strategy for responding to regulatory agency calls for stringent nutrient-based permit requirements under California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.
  • Secured modifications to an EPA-issued general permit under the CWA to address industry-specific concerns with specific permit terms.

Memberships

  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Vice Chair, Water Quality and Wetlands Committee
  • California Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • The Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental Law Section

Awards & Recognition

  • 2017 Chambers USA Environment Law Firm of the Year
  • US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division Commendation, 2014
  • EPA Silver Medal for Superior Service, 2015, 2009
  • EPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2008, 2009

Insights