Earl W. Phillips Jr.

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Earl Phillips is co-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. His passion for client service, substantive knowledge, geographic breadth of experience (matters in over 35 states and numerous countries), composure under fire, and academic currency contribute to his strategic counseling and legal relationship management.

    Risk Management/Compliance

    Mr. Phillips’ practice includes 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. 
    He regularly provides risk management counsel, and helps clients triage, prioritize, sequence and undertake corrective measures, including Voluntary Disclosures.

    Transactions

    For sites, operations, and transactions with environmental or energy issues, Mr. Phillips regularly 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. 

    Project Development

    Mr. Phillips serves 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, development of brownfields, 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.

    Energy

    Mr. Phillips regularly represents energy clients with respect to project evaluation, permitting, and transactional matters. On the generation side, he has advised owners, developers and operators of combined cycle power plants as well as co-generation, waste-to-energy plants, solar arrays, hydropower facilities, 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.

    Remediation

    Mr. Phillips 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 over $100 million.

    Emergency Preparation and Crisis Management

    Mr. Phillips helps clients both with preparing for emergencies and responding to them. He has experience with preparing for “unthinkable” events and helping clients during chaotic crises. Mr. Phillips 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.  

    Dispute Resolution

    Mr. Phillips 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. Mr. Phillips has negotiated consent decrees and stipulated judgments on behalf of clients. He has successfully mediated liability and allocation disputes involving multiple parties.

    Mr. Phillips 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® for Environmental Law for more than a decade (Copyright 2016 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC). Mr. Phillips has taught courses in environmental, water, and land use law at Wesleyan University, the University of Connecticut, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is currently a Visiting Scholar/Adjunct at Wesleyan University’s College of Environmental Studies. 

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Compliance and Environmental Health Safety Management

      • Developed the organizational Environmental Health Safety (EHS) architecture and oversaw the implementation of a comprehensive EHS management system and auditing campaign for a mid-size public company with operations in 8 states.

      • Served as lead outside counsel for a large public company engaged in a national EHS auditing and voluntary disclosure effort.

      • Assisted a public company in developing its EHS Compliance and Auditing approach and training, while acting as lead outside counsel.

      • Successfully counseled over 50 clients through Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigations and all related follow up compliance efforts, voluntary disclosures, and enforcement proceedings.

      • Project Development

      • Served as lead counsel for the design, permitting, remediation, liability protection, and construction of a global development corporate headquarters for a Fortune 500 public company on a waterfront brownfield.

      • Negotiated resolution of all site, compliance, permitting, and lease/contract issues for the relocation of a major manufacturing company, while serving as lead counsel. Project required lease negotiations, permitting, and construction for new site, which needed infrastructure and operational improvements, including a closed loop wastewater system.

      • Lead environmental counsel for hundreds of transactions with efforts including drafting and negotiating Site Access Agreements, representations and warranties, hold harmless and indemnification provisions, remediation obligations, and environmental land use restrictions.

      • Resolved major on and off-site remedial obligations and liabilities for a private manufacturer interest through the permitting, contracting, design, development and procurement of western water rights and ultimate construction of two separate water supplies and related infrastructure to serve two separate municipalities.

      • Served as co-lead counsel for the property acquisition, permitting, environmental justice process, and drafting of all Community Benefits and Tax Agreements for a large independent energy company siting a new power plant. 

      • Secured all rights and permits to raise the dam and expand a water supply reservoir on behalf of a municipality.

      • Secured all rights and permits for a private solid waste/bulky waste landfill and a private hazardous waste treatment facility. 

      • Site Remediation

      • Successfully structured the acquisition of a brownfield site for the development of a corporate facility by securing liability protection from the government that included: No Further Action letter, Comfort Letter that the Government would not pursue the client, and a formal obligation of the State to conduct any and all investigatory and remedial work that might be required in the future.

      • Assisted client with conversion of an above ground tank farm to a high end condominium development. Served as lead counsel, and successfully advanced alternative remediation standards that were the first of their kind in the state.

      • Served as co-lead counsel in developing a remedial approach for onsite and offsite conditions related to historic operations. This approach involved the creative reuse of groundwater extracted/treated as part of the remedial effort for irrigation and other non-potable water supply, and onsite soil remediation/reuse. This approach helped limit and resolve third party exposures, governmental, as well as natural resources damages claims.

      • Negotiated a unique consent order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency whereby investigation and remedial obligations were limited to the client's property.

      • Served as lead counsel in well over 100 site investigation/remediation projects throughout the U.S. and beyond. Projects have ranged in size - from providing representation in some of this country's largest and most significant superfund sites, to negotiating remedial approaches at single site locations.

      • Defense, Allocation and Dispute Resolution

      • Served as lead counsel to the American Dental Association and approximately 50 dentists relative to superfund exposures related to dental amalgam containing mercury. 

      • Successfully defended several mid-size private companies alleged to have violated Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) generator and treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDF) requirements.  

      • Served as lead counsel in successful resolution of multiple complaints and orders brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and various state environmental agencies. The matters have included complaints and orders related to water discharge, hazardous waste, air pollution, oil pollution, toxic substances, and PCBs.

      • Successfully mediated remedial obligations on behalf of a small private company vs. major public petroleum company.  

      • Emergency Preparation and Crisis Management

      • Served as lead counsel for several multistate fuel oil supply companies with respect to emergency planning and all crisis management, such as transportation accidents and releases, tank failures, and building spills.

      • Represented large pharmaceutical company, as lead counsel, for explosion, fire, and chemical release, including assisting with all incident and regulatory responses and cause analysis. Achieved successful conclusion with all governmental authorities and cost recovery against third party suppliers.

      • Provides lead representation for several regional gasoline and fuel oil suppliers, with respect to response to all emergency incidents, such as failure of underground storage tanks posing threats to the public drinking water supply, and regional pipeline distribution failures.

      • Served as lead counsel for a water supply company relative to well head protection and response, as well as responses to potential threats to wells or critical aquifers.

      • Acted as lead counsel to a large public/private company experiencing a rooftop petroleum release at a commercial building housing highly sensitive equipment in Silicon Valley. 

      • For major utility client, reviewed and analyzed its emergency preparedness and crisis management procedures and approach.  

      • Legal Relationship Management

      • Served as outside legal relationship manager and informal general counsel for a mid-size manufacturing (metal) interest with an international manufacturing and distribution presence. Helped the company manage its investigation and remediation risks, conduct environmental, health, and safety risk management, structure  transactions, secure permits, evaluate corporate and organizational structure, and address employment issues.

      • Counseled a mid-size manufacturing (chemical and consumer products) interest with a national and international manufacturing and distribution presence acquire facilities, expand operations, and resolve employment, environmental, health, and safety exposures. 

      • Provided outside legal relationship manager and informal general counsel services for a highly diversified private company with multi-state wholesale and retail holdings, multiple hospitality and real estate interests, and multi-state renewable energy interests. Structured all of the transactional and risk management work, performed all of the energy siting, real estate, and permitting for the renewable energy interests, and assisted with the structuring of all transactional and permitting work for the hospitality interests.

      • back to top
    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association
      Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, Co-chair of Waste and Resource Recovery Committee

      United States Law Firm Group
      Past Chair of Environmental Section

      American College of Environmental Lawyers
      Fellow

      Wesleyan University - College of the Environment
      Visiting Scholar and Instructor

      National Institute of Municipal Law Officers
      Past Chair of Environmental Section

      Connecticut Business & Industry Association
      Environmental Policies Council, Past Executive Steering Committee

      Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality
      Past Member
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Connecticut Bar Foundation, James W. Cooper Fellow, 2013

      Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® as Hartford Lawyer of the Year in the area of Environmental Law for 2013 (Copyright 2012 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC)

      Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Environmental Law since 1993 (Copyright 2016 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC)

      Listed in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Environmental Law since 2007 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      Listed in Who's Who Legal: The International Who's Who of Environment Lawyers 2009, 2013 (Copyright by Law Business Research Ltd)

      Listed in Who's Who Legal: The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers 2010 in the area of Environment (Copyright by Law Business Research Ltd)

      Ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in the state of Connecticut in the area of Environment

      AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell™ for Substantive Law (Environmental) and Ethics

      Listed as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Connecticut by Connecticut Super Lawyers® 2011 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Nuisance Claims – Making the Big Uneasy Easier," co-authored with Richard M. Fil, at the Annual Convention of the Institute Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) in new Orleans (4/26/2017)
      • » more info

      "Of Counsel: Old Refrigerant Regulations, New Interpretations," published in Scrap, co-authored with Megan E. Baroni and Richard M. Fil (July/August 2013)

      "Of Counsel," published in Scrap, co-authored with Richard M. Fil (January/February 2012)

      "Climate Change: Law and Economics of Cap-and-Trade (chapter in LEXIS/NEXIS Global Climate Change Series)," published in LexisNexis Global Climate Change Special Pamphlet Series, co-authored with Brian C. Freeman and Kirstin M. Etela (1/2010)
      • » more info

      Coauthor of chapter on state environmental law, Treatise on Environmental Law, published by Matthew Bender

      Coauthor of Connecticut Chapter, Environmental Law Practice Guide, published by Matthew Bender

      "Mandated Penalties Under the Proposed Federal Environmental Sentencing for Business Organizations," published in ABA Environmental Litigation Section Newsletter, coauthor

      "The Cleanup and Redevelopment of Contaminated Land," published in Brownfields Law & Practice, coauthored for Matthew Bender

      "Enforcement Issues Under the New Clean Air Act," published in National Business Institute, coauthor

      Coauthor of chapter, Brownfields Law and Practice: The Cleanup and Redevelopment of Contaminated Land, published by Matthew Bender

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Environmental Regulatory Trends and Outlook for 2017: What You Need To Know," presented at R+C Environmental & Utilities Practice Group webinar/seminar, co-presented with Brian C. Freeman, Robert S. Melvin, Todd R. Berman and Emilee Mooney Scott (1/18/2017)
      • » more info

      "Council of Counsel Luncheon," at NSSGA 2014 Convention

      "Water Supply, Conservation & Use: Market Drivers & Responses," co-presented with W. Richard Smith Jr., presented to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (3/2014)

      "Planning for Shale Development: Booms, Busts, and Beyond," sponsored by the American Planning Association, Panelist (10/26/2012)

      "Meeting the Challenges in Siting, Moving or Expanding Operations," at ISRI Convention and Exposition, Panelist (4/17/2012)

      "Getting a Good Deal Buying or Selling an SSG Business – Business and Environmental Legal Strategies," at National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, co-presented with W. Richard Smith Jr. (3/21/2011)

      "Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Dimensions: The laws and regulations that affect ownership, liability, remediation, and land use," at Rebuilding Our Cities & Towns: Planning for the Redevelopment of Environmentally Impaired Properties Workshop, Berlin, CT, co-presented with Robert S. Melvin and Kirstin M. Etela (Spring 2006)

      "Superfund and Solid Waste: The Municipal Perspective," presented for the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers, 53rd Annual Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, lecturer and coauthor

      "Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know: The Municipal Perspective," presented at the Annual Conference of New England Finance Officer's Association, lecturer and coauthor

      "Environmental Issues Confronting the Business Community," at Penn State University and published in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, lecturer and author

      "Buying and Selling Environmentally Challenged Businesses and Properties," presented for the New England Fuel Institute, lecturer and author

      "Security and Crisis Management," presented for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, lecturer and author

      "Local Groundwater Protection," presented for the American Planning Association in Denver, Colorado, lecturer and author

      "Bankruptcy Law Meets Environmental Law: Toxic Gridlock," presented for the Commercial and Bankruptcy Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, lecturer and author

      "Ground Water Protection and Mitigation Measures," presented for the Urban Land Institute in San Francisco, California, lecturer and coauthor

      "Environmental Risk Management" and "Environmental Inspections" presented for Executive Enterprises Course in Boston, Massachusetts, lecturer and author

      "Hazardous Waste: The Resource Conservation Recovery Act," presented for the National Business Institute, lecturer and coauthor

      "Thinking About the Unthinkable: Crisis Preparation and Management," presented for the New England Fuel Institute, lecturer and author

      "Expanding Profit Potentials Through Environmental Risk Management," presented for the National Real Estate Development Center in Miami, Florida, lecturer and coauthor

      "Environmental Investigations, Audits and Assessments," presented for Executive Enterprises Environmental Regulation Course in Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts, lecturer and coauthor

      "Environmental Risk Management," presented for Executive Enterprises Environmental Regulation Course, lecturer and author

      "Responsibilities and Risks in Training the Risk Manager and Response Team Under Title III," at the Conference Sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association, lecturer and coauthor

      U.S. environmental law paper and lecture presented to a consortium of large law firms principally located in London, United Kingdom, lecturer

      "Environmental Considerations in the Transactional Setting," presented for Executive Enterprises Environmental Regulation Course, lecturer and author

      "Crisis Preparation and Response," presented for the Massachusetts Chemical Technology Association, lecturer and author

      "Clean Water Act Programs and the Water Quality Act of 1987 (An Overview)," presented for Executive Enterprises in Boston, Massaschusetts, lecturer and coauthor

      "The Clean Air Act; Business Impacts and Public Relations," presented for Ruder-Finn (New York Academy of Science) in New York, New York, lecturer and coauthor

      "Brownfield Redevelopment Along The Coastal Edge: New England Experiences," at Coastal Zone National Conference, Baltimore, MD
      • » more info

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • June 2, 2017

        Environmental + Utilities Group Members Volunteer to Keep Bushnell Park Beautiful

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 8, 2017

        Earl Phillips and Rich Fil Speak at Annual ISRI Convention

        • » more info
      • November 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole's Environmental + Utilities Group Holds Annual Summit

        • » more info
      • June 23, 2015

        Earl Phillips Has Been Elected to Co-chair the American Bar Association's Waste and Resource Recovery Committee

        • » more info
      • June 11, 2014

        Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Recognizes Robinson+Cole for Sponsoring Home Run for Heroes

        • » more info
      • August 9, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Featured in Scrap Magazine

        • » more info
      • December 5, 2012

        Earl Phillips and Sorell Negro Discuss Shale Development for American Planning Association Webinar

        • » more info
      • May 2, 2012

        Environmental Attorneys Discuss Siting, Moving and Expanding Operations at Scrap Metal Convention

        • » more info
      • February 16, 2012

        Environmental Attorneys Offer Key Points for a Successful Property Transfer in Scrap Magazine

        • » more info
      • April 8, 2011

        Earl Phillips and Rich Smith Present at National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association Convention

        • » more info
      • July 8, 2010

        Earl Phillips Jr. Featured in the Connecticut Law Tribune’s “Gulf Lessons”

        • » more info
      • March 8, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Author Chapter in Global Climate Change Special Pamphlet Series

        • » more info
      • July 11, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Partner Joins American College of Environmental Lawyers

        • » more info

      R+C News Releases

      • August 15, 2017

        Fifty-Eight Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 26, 2017

        Chambers USA Recognizes Robinson+Cole Lawyers and Practice Groups

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 27, 2016

        Chambers USA Recognizes Robinson+Cole Lawyers and Practice Groups

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 19, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 18, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 19, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Earns Six Practice Area Rankings in Chambers USA 2015

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 17, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 19, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 29, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Earns Rankings in Chambers USA 2014 in all Connecticut Practice Areas

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 16, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 10, 2013

        Chambers USA Ranks Robinson & Cole in Five Practices, Names 17 Attorneys as Leading Lawyers

      • March 1, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Selected as James W. Cooper Fellows of the Connecticut Bar Foundation

      • October 22, 2012

        Super Lawyers® Names 49 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2012 List and Recognizes 26 as Rising Stars

        • » more info
        • View article
      • September 14, 2012

        Ten Robinson & Cole Attorneys Selected as “Lawyers of the Year”

        • » more info
        • View article
      • August 28, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 7, 2012

        Chambers USA Ranks Robinson & Cole in Five Practices, Names 16 Attorneys as Leading Lawyers

        • » more info
        • View article
      • September 12, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 17, 2011

        Chambers USA Ranks Robinson & Cole in Six Practices, Names 12 Attorneys as Leading Lawyers

    • Newsletters

      Newsletters

      EPA Launches eDisclosure Portal and Modifies FOIA Presumption, co-authored with Robert S. Melvin, Megan E. Baroni and Jonathan H. Schaefer (Dec 2015)