George C. Hopkins

George C. Hopkins Partner, Environmental & Natural Resources

Casey advises and represents clients in a wide variety of matters relating to environmental laws. In transactional contexts, he has structured allocations of liability in mergers and acquisitions, assisted clients in creative approaches to restructuring environmental requirements, and led the conduct of diligence and negotiations on environmental requirements in connection with asset sales and project financings within the United States and internationally.

 In addition, he has advised clients on environmental issues in connection with securities offerings and private placements, and represented various companies in obtaining environmental approvals required for energy infrastructure projects. Casey has defended civil and criminal enforcement actions in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies, and has also advised companies on various regulatory issues, including pipeline and fuel regulatory issues.

Experience Highlights

  • Represented a company with hazardous liquids pipelines in resolving several PHMSA enforcement actions, disclosure of other violations, and outsourcing the operation and maintenance of pipelines
  • Represented a leading private equity group in the acquisition of 300,000-barrel-per-day crude oil refinery in Philadelphia, including in connection with obtaining groundbreaking environmental approvals from federal, state, and local governments
  • Part of briefing team that obtained dismissal by trial court of Clean Air Act enforcement action against a former owner of a coal-fired power plant seeking extensive injunctive relief; Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal in unanimous 68-page opinion
  • Representing a manufacturer of processed biomass fuel in connection with the requirements of the North Carolina Environmental Policy and Coastal Management Acts, as well as environmental permitting related to the development of an export facility for low-carbon fuel used in energy production; representation included the analysis of the impacts and benefits of using lower carbon fuels on greenhouse gas emissions

Regulatory

  • Represented pipeline companies in obtaining FERC environmental approvals for several pipeline projects, including one that introduced natural gas into southwestern Virginia by crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail
  • Represented a company with hazardous liquids pipelines in resolving several PHMSA enforcement actions, disclosure of other violations, and outsourcing the operation and maintenance of pipelines
  • Represented a pipeline company on various issues relating to fuel blending requirements under federal law

Transactional

  • Represented a leading private equity group in the acquisition of 300,000-barrel-per-day crude oil refinery in Philadelphia, including in connection with obtaining groundbreaking environmental approvals from federal, state, and local governments
  • Represented a leading private equity company in multiple acquisitions of pipeline and bulk storage businesses
  • Represented a leading energy company on environmental matters in connection with construction and operation of coal-fired power plant in South America
  • Lead environmental diligence and risk allocation in connection with coal reserves and coal-mining operations in mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, private placements, and financings
  • Lead environmental diligence in mergers and acquisitions transactions involving solid waste landfill businesses
  • Represented issuers and underwriters with respect to environmental issues in connection with public offerings in coal, pipeline, maritime, and other industries
  • Negotiated environmental deed and indemnity allocating liabilities under law of Netherlands and EU directives for acquisition of a chemical plant in Holland
  • Negotiated environmental indemnity for acquisition of an electricity distribution company in South America and a compliance plan to address outstanding environmental requirements
  • Represented a major energy company on environmental issues associated with the construction of an energy plant in the Czech Republic
  • Represented a leading independent power producer on environmental issues associated with construction and multilateral financing of the first project-financed, merchant-power-plant in South America
  • Represented a major international lender on environmental issues regarding political risk guarantee for a significant greenfield project in Central America
  • Conducted due diligence on environmental liabilities and negotiated environmental indemnity for the sale of a petroleum and ammonia pipeline, and bulk storage MLP
  • Represented a leading energy company in connection with the acquisition of a merchant, gas-fired power plant in Southern California
  • Represented a leading energy private equity group in the acquisition of a significant natural gas production, transportation and storage business
  • Negotiated brokerage and related agreements for international carbon transactions on behalf of a leading U.S. private equity group looking to develop a carbon portfolio
  • Assisted clients with various aspects of international carbon transactions, including negotiating language for Emission Reduction Purchase Agreements and related agreements, and advising on the requirements to trade carbon credits in the EU
  • Advised a Fortune 50 U.S. company regarding requirements for registration of REDD projects
  • Advised a Fortune 50 U.S. company regarding CDM-eligibility requirements for energy efficiency projects
  • Advise companies regarding various regulatory compliance issues under EPA and DOT regulations, including fuels, pipeline, and motor carrier requirements, and represent companies before EPA and DOT regarding the same in connection with regulatory interpretations and voluntary disclosures
  • Advise issuers regarding Dodd-Frank requirements applicable to resource extraction issuers
  • Significant knowledge in environmental requirements applicable to exploration and production of oil and natural gas, midstream operations, and bulk storage facilities 

Environmental Enforcement Defense

  • Part of briefing team that obtained dismissal by trial court of Clean Air Act enforcement action against a former owner of a coal-fired power plant seeking extensive injunctive relief; Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal in unanimous 68-page opinion
  • Defending a client against an NSR initiative against the sulfuric acid industry 
  • Played a leading role in defending a joint federal and state investigation into an inland oil spill that entailed collection, review, and production of millions of documents, interviews of witnesses, meeting with prosecutors and preparation of presentations, and resolution of investigation on terms satisfactory to the client 
  • Played a leading role in defending criminal prosecutions against a small business and reached favorable dispositions on them 
  • Member of trial team in defending Clean Water Act penalty action and oil spill cost recovery claim; in pretrial settlement, United States dropped all claims for penalties and costs in exchange for client agreeing not to pursue its right to recover based on act-of-God defense 
  • Defended EPA civil administrative enforcement action on behalf of a Fortune 100 client that was resolved by payment of less than 15 percent of the penalties that were initially sought 
  • Defended state Clean Water Act enforcement action on behalf of a specialty chemical manufacturer in New Jersey that was resolved by payment of penalties for less than 10 percent of the amount originally assessed 
  • Structured and implemented a multi-facility audit of environmental compliance for a Fortune 50 client leading to the voluntary disclosure of violations without any enforcement action being initiated by federal, state, or citizen groups 

Environmental Litigation

  • Defended a private arbitration arising out of the sale of a plant targeted in EPA’s New Source Review Initiative wherein the seller paid less than fifty cents on the dollar for costs of restoring plant to compliance
  • Played a leading role in a trial and appellate team that overturned a lower court decision holding a client liable for 20 percent of a $36 million site in a reported decision
  • Defended a Fortune 50 client in a CERCLA private cost recovery action involving seven sites in seven states with a potential liability exceeding $100 million by developing novel theories of economic benefit and culpability for the contamination; resolved on highly favorable terms involving a payout of 17 cents on the dollar, despite client’s ownership of many of the sites for as long as 75 years
  • Defended a CERCLA private cost recovery action on behalf of a Fortune 50 client involving a high-profile site in New York; through aggressive fact-finding and challenges to many of the costs at issue, resolved the matter for roughly 12 percent of the claimed costs despite its longstanding ownership of the site

Case Citations

  • Pneumo Abex Corp v. High Point, Thomasville & Denton R.R. Co., 142 F.3d 769 (4th Cir. 1998)
  • United States v. EME Homer City Generation L.P., 823 F. Supp. 2d 274 (W.D. Pa. 2011), aff’d 43 ELR 20194 (3d Cir. Aug. 21, 2013)

Insights

Contact Details

Washington

T +1.202.639.6641
M +1.571.224.5151
F +1.202.879.8841
ghopkins@velaw.com
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 500 West
Washington, DC 20037-1701
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Casey's Practices

  • Boston College Law School, J.D., 1985
  • Tufts University, B.A. cum laude, 1981
  • Admitted to practice: New Jersey, 1986; Pennsylvania, 1985; District of Columbia, 1993
  • Legal 500 U.S.environmental litigation, 2013