Eric J. Murdock is head of the firm’s administrative law team, comprising the environmental practice group and the regulated industries and government relations practice group. He is respected for his business-minded approach to environmental compliance and risk management, whether in the context of litigation, business transactions, administrative processes or day-to-day facility operations.
Clients from a wide array of industries, including energy companies, chemical manufacturers, waste management companies, banks and other financial service institutions and developers rely on Eric’s pragmatism and problem solving to navigate the complex network of laws at play in the environmental sphere.
Clients appreciate his ability to communicate effectively when helping them assess and manage environmental risks affecting their business operations. In a 2009 interview with Law 360, counsel representing a co-defendant in an 8-year long case described Eric as “thoughtful and creative… [a] first-rate environmental litigator who proactively looked for ways to solve problems…[and] avoid costly and needless process.”
Eric has 30 years of experience litigating a wide range of environmental matters, including defense of enforcement actions, challenges to environmental permits, contractual disputes regarding environmental indemnities, challenges to administrative rulemakings and actions for recovery and allocation of costs for environmental cleanups.
At the same time, a significant portion of Eric’s practice involves managing the environmental aspects of complex business transactions and major development projects. His extensive experience in both litigation and transactional matters gives him distinct insights into client needs, allowing him to balance their business objectives with practical aspects of the case at hand.
Eric’s practice encompasses all major environmental regulatory programs, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), CERCLA, RCRA, NEPA, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other resource and wildlife protection laws.
- Eric has litigated cases in numerous federal and state courts across the country and is admitted to practice before the US Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eighth, DC and Federal Circuits and the US Supreme Court. He has argued appeals before the Third, Fourth and Eighth Circuits.
- Currently represents electric utility company in defense of permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers for major new transmission line project in lawsuits asserting claims under NEPA, CWA and National Historic Preservation Act. Successfully opposed motions for preliminary injunction and obtained dismissal of claims on summary judgment by trial court.
- Currently represents electric utility company defending citizen suit enforcement actions asserting claims under CWA and RCRA related to coal ash management. Successfully moved for dismissal of claims by trial court.
- Currently represents electric utility company responding to notice of violation of water quality standards allegedly caused by power plant operations.
- Currently represents electric cooperative in litigation challenging EPA rule regulating coal combustion residuals.
- Currently represents electric utility in litigation challenging US EPA Clean Power Plan regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.
- Currently represents energy company in litigation raising claims under NEPA, ESA, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act seeking to set aside Presidential Permit for generation tie line connecting wind generating facility in Mexico to the electric grid in California.
- Currently represents waste management company in CERCLA cost recovery action related to Superfund site in Puerto Rico.
- Represented electric utility company defending CWA citizen enforcement action related to discharge permit.
- Defended electric utility company in CWA permit enforcement action resolved through a favorable settlement.
- On behalf of major educational institution, defeated motion for preliminary injunction and secured eventual settlement resulting in dismissal of CWA citizen suit alleging unauthorized filling of wetlands in connection with housing project.
- Defeated motion for preliminary injunction and won summary judgment for utility company joint venture dismissing challenge to permit for a major transmission line project alleging violations of NEPA and National Park Service Organic Act.
- Secured settlements that sustained permits for new electric generating facility in litigation alleging violations of Section 404 of the CWA, NEPA and the ESA.
- Won summary judgment for an electric utility company against NEPA challenge to Department of Energy loan guarantees for new IGCC generating facility.
- Defeated motion for preliminary injunction and won summary judgment dismissing suit alleging violations of NEPA and the CWA in connection with a wetlands fill permit for a major redevelopment project at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal of district court rulings.
- Secured favorable settlement for waste management company against cost recovery claims under the New Jersey Spill Act by successfully negotiating agreement with regulatory agency to accept an innovative, low-cost, alternative remedy for groundwater contamination.
- Successfully defended energy company against claim for injunctive relief to prohibit the operation of an electric transmission line connecting new generating facilities in Mexico with the US electric grid in California pending supplemental NEPA review for permit action.
- Secured dismissal for waste management company from toxic tort suit related to Superfund site by demonstrating that the company was not the legal successor to the party responsible for the release.
- Won judgment in favor of chemical manufacturing company in ICC arbitration in connection with contract indemnity claim regarding environmental, health and safety matters at facilities in Mexico.
- Successfully argued appeal requesting new trial for beverage company operator convicted of criminal violations of CWA reporting requirements.
- Secured dismissal of criminal indictment against operator of vegetable canning facility for failure to report a release from an underground storage tank by disproving factual allegations underlying the charges.
- Advised tax equity investors on environmental diligence and risk management related to protected wildlife for more than two dozen successful wind and solar energy projects across the United States.
- Led environmental diligence and drafted environmental contract provisions related to the acquisition of numerous operating electric power plants.
- Led environmental diligence and drafted environmental contract provisions related to the acquisition of large commercial nursery with operations in several states and Caribbean islands.
- Negotiated agreements to allocate environmental liabilities and secured certification of completion of remediation under state voluntary cleanup program for major mixed-use development project.
- Advised developers, investors and lenders on environmental matters in connection with the development and acquisition of commercial and industrial facilities.
- Supervised environmental due diligence and negotiated and drafted environmental agreements for dozens of real estate transactions and commercial financings.
- Represents electric utility company in connection with CERCLA investigation and eventual cleanup of Anacostia River sediments.
- Regularly counsels electric utility companies regarding compliance with EPA regulation of coal ash.
- Negotiated CERCLA consent decree that excluded a waste management company from operation and management requirements at Superfund site in Puerto Rico following completion of remedy construction, thereby reducing exposure to long-term risks and uncertainties.
- Represented a chemical manufacturing company in connection with CERCLA response actions at former chemical weapons testing and manufacturing facility in North Carolina and persuaded EPA to discontinue expensive but ineffective groundwater pump and treat remedy in favor of targeted in situ bioremediation supplemented monitored natural attenuation.
- Represents electric utility company on RCRA compliance, SPCC compliance, PCB management and NPDES permitting and provides counsel in support of initiatives to improve internal programs and control and mitigate enforcement risks.
- Represents electric utility in connection with Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study for power plant site and adjacent river sediments.
- Led comprehensive evaluation of environmental management and compliance programs for utility company to identify program improvements to reduce enforcement risks at multiple generating plants.
- JD, Duke University School of Law, with honors, Editorial Board, Duke Law Journal, 1985
- AB, Princeton University, cum laude, 1982
- District of Columbia
- Assistant Special Counsel to the Secretary of the US Department of Defense
- Assistant to General Counsel, US Secretary of the Army
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