Gregg Braker has been providing effective environmental legal support to clients for more than 28 years, particularly on issues affecting property acquisition, development, and management; transportation and distribution; and heavy industrial operations (including utility, mining, and manufacturing companies). He provides a strong working knowledge of:
- Natural resource impacts from development and operations – including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, National Historic Preservation Act compliance, and Endangered Species Act (and related RTE species) clearance/permitting;
- Site assessment, remediation, and revitalization in Superfund, RCRA, and transactional contexts;
- Clean water compliance — wetland permitting, discharge permitting, storm water management, and spill-response planning;
- Hazardous substance compliance — Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitting, underground storage tank (UST) management, and reporting related to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA), and Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements; and
- Clean air compliance and related Occupational Health and Safety Act risk management — including management of asbestos, lead, mold, and vapor intrusion concerns.
Mr. Braker has directed teams of legal and technical experts in siting and obtaining environmental permitting for many large, complex development projects – from electric infrastructure and industrial facilities to shopping centers and residential communities. He also helps clients assess, remediate and clear contaminated sites, often in the context of corporate and real estate transactions that require comprehensive yet realistic solutions for risk management. In addition, he frequently directs environmental health and safety (EHS) audits for his clients; advises them on corrective actions and any disclosure issues; helps them to design and implement corporate compliance programs and environmental management systems; and defends them in federal and state enforcement actions. Mr. Braker also advises clients on supply chain management and environmental sustainability issues, and recently completed Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) certification training.
Complex Development/Redevelopment Projects:
Headed a multidisciplinary team responsible for NEPA review, environmental permitting/approvals, and acquisition of property rights for a $1.2 billion, 165-mile, high-voltage transmission line from Virginia to Delaware planned to run under the Chesapeake Bay and through environmentally sensitive areas on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He has supported several electric utility clients on more than a dozen other infrastructure projects and currently is negotiating passage of a streamlined permitting process for an electric utility client’s urgent maintenance/upgrade projects.
Assisted a large retail client’s in-house construction department with a program to redevelop 20 stores/shopping centers and build 5 to 7 new stores/centers per year for an 8 year period.
Headed a multi-disciplinary team that supported a gold mining company in obtaining environmental approvals and permits in “record time” (3 years) to mine a 4500-acre site, including coordination of its NEPA review and all federal, state, and local environmental review and permitting related to the project. Currently assisting with permitting expansion of this mine and advising on its ongoing EHS compliance program.
Assisted with environmental issues associated with acquisition and construction of the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium. Also, supported environmental cleanup and private redevelopment of nearby commercial sites.
Due Diligence for Corporate and Real Estate Transactions:
Has assisted hundreds of sellers, buyers, and lenders with formal environmental due diligence, in-depth risk analyses, and tiered risk management strategies (including environmental insurance coverage) to support complex real estate and corporate transactions.
Authored chapter in the ABA’s seminal text on environmental due diligence: Environmental Aspects of Real Estate and Commercial Transactions (4th edition).
Performed environmental compliance and contamination risk review for a $1 billion bid to purchase one of the largest steel mills in the United States. He and his team identified numerous and latent material risks/liabilities that otherwise would have gone unaddressed.
Represented a contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense in managing the environmental disclosures, review, and risk negotiations associated with the sale of its company to a major supplier of aerospace and missile products and services.
Site Remediation and Brownfields Clearance:
Negotiated with the EPA to amend a 30-year-old RCRA Corrective Action Permit to clear a portion of a former industrial site for sale and redevelopment. Then supported his client with further clearance of the site by the Maryland Department of the Environment for residential use prior to redevelopment as a community of several hundred single family homes. Cleared federal and state processes for the site to build in less than 1 year.
Aided a major transportation and distribution facility in remediating underground storage tank contamination associated with its vehicle-maintenance operations. Also assisted in the facility’s response to, and cleanup of, a 10,000-gallon oil spill, including negotiating a nominal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fine.
Guided developers through difficult mold/moisture intrusion issues — one related to a 200-unit apartment complex and another involved a multi-million-dollar clubhouse and recreational facility that experienced mold and moisture management issues related to the ventilation and de-humidification of its indoor swimming pool.
Assisted a developer with remediation of a 100-year-old bulk-petroleum storage facility (that housed 28 USTs) so that the site can accommodate residential condominium and light commercial development.
Succeeded in getting a $7.5 million UST contamination claim in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed with prejudice. His mortgage lender client had foreclosed on property in the District of Columbia where service stations had previously operated USTs, which the plaintiff alleged were leaking onto his down-gradient property.
Environmental Audits and Implementation of Environmental Management Systems:
Assisted dozens of companies (from heavy industrial to light commercial to real estate development) with EHS audits of companywide operations and implementation of related corrective actions.
Handled voluntary disclosures of compliance deficiencies (from Clean Air Act permitting to EPCRA reporting) for numerous companies under EPA and various state audit/disclosure programs.
Worked closely with numerous clients (including industrial, trade/distribution, and real estate development companies) to formulate and implement effective across-the-board environmental compliance programs. These programs dramatically diminish the risk of enforcement actions and third-party liabilities, while simplifying environmental recordkeeping and reporting, usually through use of software that helps to “bullet proof” compliance. These programs often identify simple changes to operations and/or compliance methods that result in substantial cost savings for clients, as well.
Performed companywide audits and helped implement an environmental management system for one of the largest pipe and tank manufacturers in the world. Work entailed multiple rounds of stem-to-stern audits at 22 facilities nationwide, in-depth reviews of complex compliance issues, and assistance in implementing new environmental health and safety procedures across the company. This work resulted in ISO certifications and EPA and OSHA recognition of the client as an industry leader in EHS compliance, and also entailed negotiating a novel and favorable global civil settlement with DOJ and EPA for multi-media violations at all company facilities that became the template for DOJ and EPA nationwide enforcement actions going forward.
Publications and Speeches
- “Environmental Mitigation in Mining: Unique Challenges and Opportunities,” Natural Resources & Environment (ABA / Winter 2013).
- Environmental Aspects of Commercial and Real Estate Transactions (4th Edition) (ABA / 2011), Chapter 6: “Liability for Environmental Enforcement Matters.”
- The Knock on the Door: Preparing for and Responding to an Environmental Investigation (American Chemistry Council / 2002).
- Environmental Crimes Deskbook (Environmental Law Institute / 1996).
Council for Court Excellence (CCE), Recent Board Member
Olney Boys & Girls Club, Coach
Appalachian Service Project, Team Leader
Memberships and Affiliations
- Maryland State Bar
- DC Bar
News, Events & Insights
Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.
University of Maryland, M.A.
- summa cum laude
Evangel University, B.A.
- magna cum laude
- Venable LLP, Partner
Areas of Practice
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia