Plant Development, Facility Siting and Permitting


In the current political and regulatory climate, obtaining permits and authorizations for industrial projects (such as development, modification or rehabilitation of plants, facilities and marine structures) is a critical element in meeting timelines, financial goals and business objectives. We work with clients to identify permitting requirements, develop strategies to obtain regulatory authorizations and protect environmental permits essential to project launch. In addition, we help clients manage disputes and appeals related to citizen suits and respond to regulatory actions and decisions.

Tribal treaty rights

Projects that may impact the environment (or even projects that just involve commodities that may impact the environment) often bring substantial scrutiny from environmental non-government organizations (NGOs) and local citizen activists. Schwabe’s attorneys know when and how to deploy communications and government affairs strategies, coordinate with communications specialists and collaborate effectively with politicians, regulators and stakeholders. Our attorneys have represented ports, manufacturers, energy companies, utilities, transportation and water-based industries, and related industry groups in dealings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Land Management, and many other federal and state and local agencies, tribal governments and environmental NGOs.


  • Successfully negotiated state and federal permits for a deep draft dock for crude oil and an ethanol export dock on the Columbia River, despite significant opposition from local tribes and national environmental groups. The permitting involved significant analysis under the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Columbia River Tribal Treaty.
  • Assisted a steel company with air toxic emissions and air permit compliance for a metal foundry in an urban neighborhood, maintaining good neighborhood relations without interruption to operations.
  • Coordinated engineering design and permitting to maneuver a seafood-processing company through a complex but fast-tracked permitting process in order to obtain funding through state and local financing, grants and agreements.
  • Assisted a port in responding to a sudden influx of comments from tribes and national NGOs in opposition to a dock expansion. Work required additional negotiation with the Corps to maintain scope. The permit was issued on time and the dock project was completed successfully.
  • Guided a client through environmental due diligence during an exclusive option to purchase a crude-by-rail storage facility in Washington state. Our team identified significant concerns with the SEPA analysis related to species, analysis of rail impact and air permitting strategy, resulting in the client walking away from deal. Years later, the facility remains locked in litigation and unpermitted for crude oil storage.
  • Successfully defended an air permit for an oil and ethanol storage facility in a complex and sophisticated prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit challenge.

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