Climate, Energy and Sustainability

Climate change represents one of the most complex issues facing businesses today. McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA) attorneys in the Climate, Energy and Sustainability practice group assist clients in developing creative and effective strategies for addressing the risks and leveraging the opportunities associated with climate change.   

Developing an effective strategy to tackle challenges related to climate change requires an interdisciplinary approach. Beginning in 2005, MLA brought together a team of attorneys and professionals from across the firm to counsel clients on the myriad legal issues involved in climate change and clean energy development. Our team includes former Ambassadors, Congressional representatives, State Governors, and recognized leaders of prominent non-governmental organizations. Our regional, national, and international experience in the environmental, energy, real estate, finance, government affairs, government contracts, and litigation arenas position us to support virtually every type of climate change issue.

MLA attorneys help clients navigate the regulatory landscape associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions monitoring and reduction, as well as the host of legal issues associated with the development of energy sources, including natural gas, solar, wind, fuel cells, biomass, and biofuels technologies. Our attorneys provide a full spectrum of legal services to clients throughout the unconventional (e.g., shale gas fracturing) and renewable energy industries, from the sponsors, developers, power purchasers, and financing sources of renewable energy projects, to the manufacturers and providers of new sustainable technologies, and the companies that insure evolving categories of climate change risk.

MLA's diverse team blends its expertise in the numerous areas of law involved in climate change issues with its strategic, policy development, political, and technical skills.  Our cross-disciplinary team boasts experience in the following core areas:

MLA attorneys have experience advising companies on climate change-related disclosures, including voluntary disclosures and reporting obligations pursuant to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules and state law requirements. The firm also counsels clients in all stages of the development of unconventional energy or renewable energy facilities, including the contractual relationships necessary to support these facilities and their corporate structures. We assist clients in developing agreements with contractors and subcontractors, state and local governments, private owners and developers, engineers, architects, financial institutions, suppliers, and customers. Our attorneys draft and negotiate agreements specific to the renewable energy field, such as biofuel feedstock and offtake marketing agreements. 

MLA attorneys counsel clients in virtually every sector of the energy industry: electric and gas utility services, independent power production, gas and power marketing services, renewable energy project development, and national trade associations, as well as major energy consumers. We help clients find their way through the complex legal and regulatory environment, assisting them with sophisticated business, contractual, financing and regulatory issues.  Our California team, in particular, has significant experience with the California Public Utilities Commission and other state agencies that oversee the energy sector. Our attorneys have experience supporting all stages of electric generation project development, including renewable energy projects.

MLA’s environmental attorneys are well versed in the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other federal and local environmental statutes. Our environmental attorneys also have vast experience handling matters ranging from environmental audits to litigation. We assist clients in preventing and resolving compliance problems at both facility and corporate levels in all aspects of federal, state, and local law. Our environmental attorneys also frequently support real estate transactional attorneys involved in renewable and unconventional energy projects.

MLA attorneys have helped clients provide prospective lenders with proxies for more readily financeable agreements, including detailed market and engineering analyses. We counsel owners, developers, operators, and lending institutions in connection with equity and debt financing and financial service and credit support agreements. We also help clients to secure financing through venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds and have the wide-ranging construction lending experience necessary to appropriately manage the development of renewable energy projects.  

Government Affairs and Policy Monitoring
MLA monitors legal developments in the climate change, energy, and sustainability fields at the state, national, and international levels for numerous clients. In this dynamic area, MLA professionals add significant value by reporting and advising on developments.  We assist clients in integrating current legal/regulatory changes into effective policy, litigation, and regulatory approaches. Such guidance helps clients seize new opportunities and mitigate the costs of regulation.

Increasingly sophisticated approaches are required to achieve client objectives in a complex legal environment. MLA’s government affairs attorneys provide effective solutions and create opportunities for clients seeking to impact government policy and decision-making or engage in business with governments on the local, state, national, and international levels. Many of the attorneys and policy experts who practice in this area have held senior positions in the executive and legislative branches of federal, state, and local government. Our professionals have extensive experience in the energy and natural resources sectors. 

Insurance and Risk Management
MLA counsels insurance clients on mitigating the risks and leveraging the opportunities associated with climate change. We advise the insurance industry on the potential impacts of climate change and related regulations on claims, underwriting, investment, and product development.  Our team provides support for the design and implementation of climate change enterprise risk assessments. We monitor and advise clients on the latest climate change-related regulatory, legislative, and judicial developments potentially impacting the insurance sector.

We also assist clients in responding to voluntary and mandatory climate change risk disclosure surveys such as the Carbon Disclosure Project, NAIC, and other state requirements. Given our experience with insurance and environmental litigation and counseling, we are well positioned to handle climate change-related litigation. In the sustainability area, we also advise clients on product offerings and legal developments related to green replacement coverage, green building, greenwashing, and renewable energy. As regulators, the insurance industry, and other interested parties focus more and more on the potential physical impacts of climate change, our team assists clients with developing policies and strategies related to disaster management, claims handling practices, flood coverage, resilience, adaptation, and land use regulations. MLA’s Brussels office professionals provide insight on emerging weather derivatives and climate change-related developments in the EU. Whether it is a litigation matter or a counseling matter, our professionals can help design and implement a creative strategy to address the evolving impacts of climate change on the insurance industry.

Intellectual Property
Strong intellectual property protection is essential for success in today’s diverse and dynamic renewable energy and green technology industries. As green innovation surges ahead, energy and technology companies increasingly turn to IP lawyers with industry experience. Our attorneys have broad technical and legal experience with the full range of IP issues, including U.S. and global IP litigation, patent and trademark prosecution, green branding, international trade disputes, and IP transactions and licensing. We draw from our experience in the IP field to guide clients through the unique challenges faced in all phases of the energy and technology company life cycle.  We provide businesses with the full scope of IP protection they need for their green innovations.   

Renewable Energy and the Military
MLA carefully follows developments within the Department of Defense to ensure that our clients can seize opportunities presented by changes in military bases and in military procurement.  For example, as the military services have shifted their focus in the housing and energy areas, we have represented the private sector in pursuing opportunities for developing housing and renewable energy projects on and/or near military bases.

Real Estate and Facility Siting
MLA professionals have expertise in assisting clients with the development of green buildings, including obtaining LEED certification and achieving GHG reduction goals.  We routinely assist clients in all aspects of the development process, from due diligence and land acquisition through financing, development, leasing and disposition, particularly in the development of energy plants and associated facilities.

The siting of energy facilities frequently requires the development of an early proactive multi-component strategy to obtain agreement among stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations, Native Americans, the scientific community, local ad hoc opposition groups, the financial community, and, on occasion. multilateral development banks and venture capital firms. From time to time, project development may be opposed by media-oriented groups that seek public attention. On such occasions, we work with the client's crisis management team to respond to high profile opposition to clients' proposed projects.

MLA’s tax attorneys provide comprehensive services in all areas of international, federal, and state taxation. MLA has experience addressing the tax ramifications of specific business transactions, including energy project development and the construction of renewable energy facilities. Our attorneys advise on maximizing tax incentives for renewable energy, including designing investment strategies and monetizing tax benefits. Our tax practice has been involved in many of the specific projects described here.  

Climate change represents one of the most complex issues facing businesses today. McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA) attorneys in the Climate, Energy and Sustainability practice group assist clients in developing creative and effective strategies for addressing the risks and leveraging the opportunities associated with climate change.    

Representative Engagements

Other Experience

  • In an effort to create a forum for stakeholders in this area, MLA helped to found the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the first organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of climate change professionals. MLA Partner Peter Gray serves on its board.

For a complete list of our climate change, energy and sustainability matters, please contact Christina Carroll or John Leslie.

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