Don Patterson graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1982, and moved to Washington, D.C. to begin his 35-year career in the private practice of environmental law and environmental litigation. Don has built his practice around the principle that varied experience in a wide-range of substantive areas of environmental law and in multiple types of representation allows him to deliver sophisticated, innovative and cost-effective environmental and related legal services to his pharmaceutical, oil and gas, natural resources, retail and other clients.
Don’s extensive environmental counseling practice enables him to represent his clients effectively in rulemakings and appellate litigation. His environmental litigation, negotiation and enforcement experience allows him to evaluate complex and nuanced environmental issues that arise in environmental due diligence and the drafting of stock and asset purchase agreements. Moreover, his experience with many federal and state environmental programs – Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous and solid waste, state medical and infectious waste, the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), federal and state reporting, and others – enables him to approach and settle environmental problems—including government and citizen suit enforcement—with a holistic approach that resolves environmental and health claims, economic issues, and toxic tort and reputational concerns. Facilitated by his broad experience, Don currently serves in an outside general counsel role for the Pharmaceutical Product Stewardship Working Group and the MED-Project, consortiums of pharmaceutical companies formed to respond to and comply with multiple local household unwanted medicine and sharps takeback programs in California, Washington and New York, and an opioid product stewardship program passed in Massachusetts.
Don is a former member of the Firm’s Management Committee and previous chair of the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group.
Don is AV Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized by Law Business Research in Who’s Who Legal: Environmental 2017 .
A critical and ongoing part of Don’s representation is his environmental enforcement, negotiation and litigation practice. In recent years, Don has defended clients in the following enforcement matters:
Don also represents clients in EPA and “state equivalent” Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability (CERCLA or “Superfund”) actions for clients in the mineral processing, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, printing and other industries. This representation, in scores of cases across the country, has ranged from allocation battles to the resolution of complex remedial issues, at sites with hundreds of potentially responsible parties to single party sites. Don also represents clients in natural resource damages (NRD) cases and in claims against the U.S. government, and has performed a number of internal investigations in response to threatened government environmental enforcement.
Don provides daily counseling on challenges involving hazardous and solid waste and related recycling operations, medical, sharps and infectious waste disposal, water discharges, air emissions, Drug Enforcement Agency-compliant disposal of controlled substances, Department of Transportation transport of hazardous materials, and other regulatory issues. He has been heavily involved for many years in counseling mining and mineral processing industry clients with regard to the RCRA regulatory definition of solid waste and the Bevill Amendment. He also represents clients with regard to a range of rulemakings before EPA.
Don has advised many companies, and successfully negotiated with private parties and states and federal entities, with regard to the full range of regulatory and remediation issues associated with legacy contamination sites and contaminated properties, including waste management, notification, and options for cleanup. He has negotiated “guaranteed fixed price” remediation approaches on brownfields properties. Additionally, he counsels clients on the pros and cons of “voluntary disclosures” under federal and state programs.
In his appellate litigation practice, which focuses on challenging or defending EPA RCRA rulemakings, Don has represented the National Mining Association (“NMA”) (among other clients) for thirty years. He successfully challenged EPA’s unlawful expansion of its regulatory definition of solid waste in Association of Battery Recyclers, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , 208 F.3d 1047 (D.C. Cir. 2000). He is awaiting the D.C. Circuit’s decision in American Petroleum Institute v. EPA , No. 09-1038, where he argued in defense of an environmentalist challenge to EPA’s decision not to expand regulation to 32 existing RCRA regulatory exclusions. He also recently represented NMA in Appalachian Voices v. McCarthy , Civ. No. 1:12-cv-00523-RBW, where the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with NMA and dismissed environmental plaintiffs’ claims that RCRA Section 2002(b) required review of Bevill Amendment regulatory provisions and the RCRA “toxicity characteristic” every three years.
Don represents clients in multi-billion dollar international deals in the pharmaceutical and natural resources industry, among others, with regard to the four potential environmental elements of major mergers and acquisitions:
For such representation, Don typically partners with deal counsel, handling the environmental and related issues and functioning as an integral part of the internal and external deal team.