Earl Phillips is the founding chair of the firm’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group. The majority of his practice is devoted to identifying and achieving strategic project, transactional, or compliance/risk management objectives, with particular focus on environmental, energy, and health/safety considerations.
Earl’s practice daily involves risk management and compliance counseling. He regularly serves as lead outside counsel helping clients develop, improve and implement compliance auditing and Environmental/Health/Safety (EHS) Management Systems.
In serving as risk management counsel, he helps clients triage, prioritize, sequence and undertake corrective measures, including Voluntary Disclosures.
For sites, operations, and transactions with environmental or energy issues, Earl provides comprehensive transactional services: performing due diligence, evaluating risk/reward, drafting and negotiating letters of intent, site access agreements, options to purchase, rights of first refusal, leases, and purchase and sale agreements. He structures environmental liability allocation agreements and risk transfer instruments, negotiates specialty environmental insurance products, and secures private and public environmental land use restrictions. Post closing, he helps clients with compliance and remediation obligations, risk management, and the allocation of responsibility.
Earl has served as the lead outside counsel for a wide range of project development efforts, helping clients move from the planning/vision stage to project permitting to construction to completion. Projects have included: the relocation, expansion, and siting of manufacturing operations, the siting of global corporate facilities and commercial scale energy production facilities, development of brownfields, permitting of large hospitality complexes in environmentally sensitive areas, conversion of tank farms to mixed and residential use, expansion and modification of water supply reservoirs and dams, and the repositioning of operations and facilities both in and out of the country.
Earl regularly represents energy clients with respect to project evaluation, permitting, and transactional matters. On the generation side, he has permitted or repermitted natural gas fired generation, and hydropower facilities, greenfield, brownfield, and rooftop solar arrays, and fuel cells. He has also advised companies involved in the bulk storage of petroleum and the transmission (pipelines) for natural gas and fuel oil.
Earl guides clients through the complex rules, regulations, and policies related to contaminated site investigation and remediation. He advises clients so they can make the best decisions regarding if, when, and how to remediate a site. His strategic advice and advocacy, coupled with his understanding of the legal and political factors associated with remediation, have achieved protective results while saving clients hundreds of millions of dollars.
Emergency Preparation and Crisis Management
Earl helps clients in preparing for emergencies and responding to them. He has experience with preparing for “unthinkable” events and helping clients during chaotic crises. He has successfully guided small, medium and large institutions through a wide range of disasters. These include major explosions, groundwater contamination impacting public drinking water, tank truck accidents, major tank farm failures, and governmental civil and criminal investigations.
Earl efficiently helps clients resolve disputes which arise over environmental health, safety, and energy matters. He has successfully defended cases around the country involving compliance enforcement and remediation matters initiated by state and federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state environmental agencies, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as third parties. Beyond this, he has successfully pursued third parties in allocation disputes. He has negotiated consent decrees and stipulated judgments on behalf of clients. He has successfully mediated liability and allocation disputes involving multiple parties.
Earl has taught courses in environmental, water, and land use law at Wesleyan University, Tufts University, University of Connecticut and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is currently a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Visiting Scholar at Wesleyan University College of Environmental Studies, and Adjunct Instructor at Tufts University's Graduate School of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy.
Earl is a Fellow in the highly selective American College of Environmental Lawyers and past chair of the Environment Section of the U.S. Law Firm Group. He is ranked in the top tier of environmental lawyers in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, has received the highest ratings (AV® Preeminent™) from Martindale-Hubbell™ for his entire career, and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Environmental Law for more than a decade.