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Thomas G. Echikson

1101 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 600
Washington, District of Columbia 20036
Phone:  202.775.6410
Fax:  202.775.6401
885 Third Avenue
Sixteenth Floor
New York, New York 10022
Phone:  212.697.6555
Fax:  212.986.3509

Biography

Tom Echikson has nearly 25 years of experience practicing environmental and natural resource law. His work is focused on environmental and toxic tort litigation, regulatory counseling, permitting and advocacy. He has defended clients in a variety of industries in civil and criminal litigation, enforcement and cleanup matters brought under all the federal environmental laws, as well as the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Tom also has substantial experience representing clients in rulemaking, permitting and variance proceedings before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Surface Transportation Board.

Representative Experience

Enforcement

  • Defended, litigated and settled Clean Air Act New Source Review enforcement matters on behalf of utilities and chemical manufacturers.
  • Successfully defended chemical manufacturer in Clean Air Act citizen suits concerning compliance with state construction and operating permits.
  • Defended client in a civil and criminal enforcement matter involving multiple facilities throughout country. Ultimately resolved through plea agreement, consent decree and compliance agreement with EPA’s Debarment and Suspension Office.
  • Defended clients in civil and criminal enforcement matters involving alleged violations of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
  • Defended several clients in enforcement actions regarding alleged violations of stormwater discharge requirements under the Clean Water Act. Matters resolved through civil judicial consent decrees.
  • Defended railroad in citizen suit enforcement action under RCRA and the Clean Water Act challenging operations at waste transfer stations in New Jersey.
  • Defended manufacturers in enforcement of energy efficiency standards and ENERGY STAR® programs by the Department of Energy under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

Permitting

  • Represented client in administrative and judicial challenge to Clean Air Act permit for construction and operation of new facility in Arkansas.
  • Assisted facility in obtaining a variance from thermal discharge limits and in demonstrating that the plant was using best technology available for its once-through cooling water intake, thereby avoiding expensive retrofitting.
  • Obtained for chemical manufacturing facility a fundamentally different factors variance from the OCPSF effluent guidelines under the Clean Water Act.
  • Represented proposed new natural gas pipelines with respect to NEPA compliance and other permitting and federal authorizations.
  • Advised clients on wetlands permitting for new and modified facilities.
  • Represented railroads in proposed mergers and line abandonments with respect to NEPA and other environmental matters before the Surface Transportation Board.

Contaminated Sites and Remedial Matters

  • Represented numerous clients at federal and state Superfund sites in defense and prosecution of government and private party cost recovery and NRD claims, including chairing PRP groups at several sites.
  • Represented client in CERCLA matter involving PCB contamination in large Northeastern river. Work included oversight of technical and legal advocacy to EPA, State and natural resource trustees.
  • Represented client before EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board challenging modification of RCRA corrective action permit. Matter ultimately settled.

Toxic Tort Defense and Other Litigation

  • Defended manufacturer in class action case in Oklahoma brought by Indian Tribe and neighbors asserting claims for property damages, personal injuries and medical monitoring resulting from client’s emissions. Settled after successful leading successful Daubert challenges to key plaintiff experts.
  • Defended utilities in public nuisance case brought by eight states and land trusts seeking injunctive relief for alleged contributions to global warming.
  • Represented client in novel District Court challenge to constitutionality of unilateral administrative order authority under CERCLA.
  • Litigated legality of BLM’s oil and gas leasing practices under the Mineral Leasing Act.

Regulatory and Legislative Advocacy

  • Prepared comments on and led judicial petitions for review to Clean Air Act and RCRA rulemakings and guidance materials, including the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule, Renewable Fuel Standards, Coal Combustion Wastes, ozone NAAQS, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, Greenhouse Gas permitting guidance, Guidance on Fees under Section 185 of the Clean Air Act, and Special 4(d) Rule for Polar Bears under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Prepared comments on and engaged in advocacy regarding draft NEPA guidance documents issued by the Council on Environmental Quality.
  • Assisted clients on legislative matters involving the reauthorization of CERCLA and the Clean Water Act, including analyses of legislation, meetings with staff, development of legislative text, preparation of testimony, and defense of investigations by Congressional committees.

Published Works

  • Author, "Flood of Decisions Washes Away EPA Permits on Stormwater," Environmental Law360, February 20, 2014
  • Quoted, "Records of Obama’s Four D.C. Circuit Picks Offer Minimal Insight on Environmental Views," Bloomberg BNA Environment Reporter, February 14, 2014

Legal Experience

  • LeClairRyan, Washington, D.C., May 2012 – Present
  • Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, D.C., 1990 – 2012
  • Kirkland & Ellis, Washington, DC, 1988 – 1990

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Bar Association: Member, Environment, Energy and Resources and Litigation Sections
  • Defense Research Institute: Member, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee

Distinctions

  • Environmental Law360, Editorial Advisory Board Member, 2014

Education

  • J.D., cum laude, Northwestern University School of Law, 1988
  • A.B., Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, 1984

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • New York

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit