Shearman & Sterling's environmental attorneys counsel industrial, commercial and financial entities regarding a broad array of environmental challenges, including helping them manage environmental risks in the context of business and real estate transactions and achieve compliance with environmental laws and regulations. This work includes coordinating environmental site assessments and compliance audits, and drafting and negotiating the environmental provisions of transaction documents, including real estate acquisitions or divestitures, collateralized loans and leases. Our environmental lawyers practice under US, English, French and German law.
We are actively involved with green building and sustainable development initiatives, including LEED and the new six-part European Union climate and energy legislative package, and regularly advise clients on risks and opportunities presented by climate change and sustainable development. We also have experience with site remediation, including brownfields programs and related tax incentives. In addition, our environmental team has extensive experience advising clients in connection with environmental claims, counseling issuers and underwriters regarding environmental and climate change disclosure requirements and trends, and advising financial institutions in connection with liability and portfolio risks associated with their borrowers’ businesses and secured assets.
On behalf of our clients, we:
- Negotiate environmental aspects of corporate transactions, including structuring purchase, sale and merger documentation to allocate and mitigate environmental risk in order to protect clients from unanticipated post-closing responsibilities.
- Provide counsel regarding real estate transfers, site characterization and remediation, development projects and associated land use issues, including the negotiation of environmental deed restrictions, conservation easements and environmental insurance policies.
- Provide counsel regarding carbon emissions and related financial products, including guidance concerning compliance with the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and U.S. regional cap and trade programs, constructing or investing in Clean Development Mechanism projects under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, and climate change disclosure trends and practices.
- Assist in navigating a variety of tax and other incentives associated with brownfields redevelopment, green building and energy efficiency.
- Advise financial institutions and other investors on environmental challenges of target entities (including borrowers), exposure to environmental liabilities, managing properties acquired in foreclosure and structuring transactions to minimize environmental exposure.
- Design and coordinate the implementation (by environmental engineers and other experts) of environmental site assessments, environmental management practices, compliance audits and other investigations to identify, delineate and estimate costs to address environmental conditions and environmental liabilities.
- Work with underwriters and issuers of securities to identify environmental conditions that may trigger disclosure requirements and to draft or otherwise assess the adequacy of proposed or filed disclosure under SEC regulations and other relevant law.
- Advise companies on environmental and “Corporate Social Responsibility” reports prepared for stakeholders, including pursuant to the Global Reporting Initiative’s G3 Guidelines and the AA1000 Assurance Standard.
- Provide advice on cross-border environmental compliance, such as with respect to the European Union REACH chemicals legislation for importers of industrial products.
- Advise individuals in establishing conservation easements to protect open-space property from development, including drafting easement documentation that satisfies relevant state conservation regulations and preserves tax benefits under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, and negotiating easement and fee gift agreements between donors and conservation charities.