Environmental Audits: Privilege, Voluntary Disclosure, and Other Legal Issues

Ensuring Compliance With Environmental Laws, Responding When Violations Are Discovered

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will guide counsel on leveraging environmental audits to enhance compliance and on mitigating risks associated with audit discoveries. The panel will discuss privilege, voluntary disclosure, and best practices for responding to violations.


Environmental audits allow companies to proactively identify and address environmental problems before civil litigation or enforcement actions arise. The EPA and many states offer companies incentives to encourage compliance, including the potential for reduced or eliminated penalties.

Whether a newly acquired or long-standing business, companies and their counsel must take measures to ensure ongoing environmental compliance and environmental audits provide an avenue for detecting and correcting potential problems. Regular self-auditing can help reduce penalties and limit injunctive relief faced in enforcement actions, apart from voluntary disclosure of noncompliance to regulatory agencies.

There are potential risks associated with voluntarily uncovering and documenting violations, as well as with the disclosure of violations. Audit findings can be evidence of compliance gaps and a company's knowledge of those holes. And audit disclosures may not always lead to a clean resolution of disclosed violations with the regulatory agency. Disclosed information could lead to enforcement action and also may provide unfortunate ammunition in private actions against the disclosing party.

Listen as our panel of environmental attorneys examines environmental enforcement policies and environmental auditing programs. The panel will discuss privilege and its exceptions, as well as the pros and cons of voluntary disclosure. The panel will also offer strategies for responding to enforcement actions.



  1. Environmental compliance auditing
  2. Privileges available to protect audit-derived information
  3. Voluntary audit disclosure
    1. EPA program
    2. State programs
  4. Audit opportunities for new owners
  5. Complications for auditing and disclosure arising from recent enforcement trends


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How can companies and their counsel use environmental audits to improve compliance and soften the impact of a government enforcement action?
  • What are the best practices for counsel to advise clients that are considering utilizing environmental compliance audits?
  • What are the expected costs and risks of environmental self-audits from a legal standpoint?


Stewart, Andrew
Andrew R. Stewart

Sidley Austin

Mr. Stewart counsels clients on a broad range of compliance and enforcement matters. With over 20 years of experience...  |  Read More

Wilkins, Timothy
Timothy A. Wilkins

Managing Partner

Ms. Wilkins’ practice is focused on providing strategic environmental permitting assistance, the defense of...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video