Negotiating Consent Decrees for Environmental Violations: Critical Strategies for Modifying and Managing Compliance

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

Conducted on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will guide lawyers negotiating consent decrees for violations of environmental regulations. Our panel will offer violation-specific best practices and present fellow practitioners with mission-critical pointers on navigating the long and arduous process of negotiating and entering a consent decree after a notice of violation. The panel will also address how to avoid missteps in negotiating modifications of consent decrees after entry.


Negotiating settlement for violations of environmental regulations is a long and potentially arduous process. Negotiations over the resulting consent decree may have occurred over several years against a continually shifting landscape. The replacement of critical decisionmakers, changes in the law, and differing enforcement priorities from one administration to the next can combine to create significant challenges to crafting a long-range solution.

During the negotiation process, practitioners representing enforcement targets must also consider the potential for litigation in the event settlement is unattainable. This not only requires an ongoing evaluation of potential defenses and readiness to downshift into trial prep but also a deep enough understanding of the issues and stakes to offer strategic advice on ways to potentially maximize the benefits of the process. Consent decree obligations may be more agreeable, for example, if the terms provide the target a strategic advantage over competitors regarding cost or innovation.

Listen as our panel of environmental attorneys shares from their deep experience negotiating consent decrees and provides other practitioners fresh insight on navigating the process, pitfalls to avoid, and how to maximize potential advantages along the way.



  1. Overview of consent decrees
    1. Violation-specific considerations
    2. Available defenses
  2. Enforcement actions
  3. Citizen suits
  4. Potential strategic advantages
  5. Modifying consent decrees
    1. Change of circumstances
    2. Change of law
    3. Force majeure


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • How can counsel leverage available defenses to gain better long-range footing when negotiating consent decrees?
  • What adjustments should counsel make to accommodate apparent differences in enforcement priorities under the current administration?
  • What steps can counsel take to manage changes in personnel, law, and circumstances during the negotiation process?


Chermak, Douglas
Douglas J. Chermak

Of Counsel
Lozeau Drury LLP & Super Law Group

Mr. Chermak is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley School of Law with a certificate in Environmental...  |  Read More

Haroff, Kevin
Kevin Haroff

Managing Partner
Haroff Law

Mr. Haroff is a highly regarded litigator with significant expertise and experience in complex environmental matters....  |  Read More

McDonough, Michael
Michael S. McDonough

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Mr. McDonough focuses on defending enforcement actions, bringing regulatory challenges, and litigating with regulatory...  |  Read More

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