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Richard Alonso is a partner in the firm's Environmental Strategies Group in its Washington, D.C. office. He advises manufacturers and energy companies on environmental, permitting, compliance and enforcement issues before state and federal agencies. His practice focuses on Clean Air Act issues such as complex New Source Review applicability and permitting, mobile source regulations, EPA rulemaking efforts, legal challenges to EPA actions, and Clean Air Act enforcement defense and compliance counseling. He also advises companies on multi-media enforcement matters, include Clean Water Act compliance issues.
Mr. Alonso's environmental enforcement defense docket include cases with EPA, States, and national environmental groups. He is called upon by various industrial clients for his knowledge of EPA federal enforcement and how EPA's enforcement office interacts with the rest of the Agency and with national environmental groups.
Before joining Bracewell, Mr. Alonso was the Chief of the Stationary Source Enforcement Branch at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. In this capacity, he was EPA’s second-ranking official for Clean Air Act enforcement. As the national program manager of the stationary source enforcement program under the Clean Air Act, he worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA Regional offices, and States to develop enforcement policies and priorities through guidance, rulemakings, settlements and litigation. He has nearly 10 years of service with EPA's enforcement office, principally with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act programs. He managed and negotiated Clean Air Act enforcement cases involving issues of national significance representing billions of dollars in injunctive relief, including the New Source Review coal-fired power plant enforcement initiative.
At the EPA, Mr. Alonso was also instrumental in the development and implementation of national enforcement and compliance initiatives addressing alleged non-compliance from various industrial and agricultural industries, as well as efforts addressing the importation of products that were in non-conformance with U.S. environmental law. He has experience in regulatory and policy development in the areas of New Source Review (NSR), clean air market-based programs, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). His duties also included oversight of EPA Regional enforcement programs, training EPA regional and state staff and managers in legal theories and case development techniques.
Some of the major policy issues he tackled include addressing excess air emissions in State Implementation Plans, the use and availability of Credible Evidence under the Clean Air Act, and the development of NSR reforms. Mr. Alonso also was the special assistant to the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Compliance and Assurance, J.P. Suarez, where he ensured coordination of the national enforcement program with all other EPA Headquarters and Regional offices.
Before obtaining his experience in Clean Air Act matters, Mr. Alonso was a staff attorney in the Water Enforcement Division at EPA Headquarters. He was a key player in the enforcement of the National Pollutant Discharge Effluent Standards program with a concentration in wet weather issues such as Combined Sewer Overflows, Sanitary Sewer Overflows and Stormwater compliance issues. Mr. Alonso also represented EPA in pretreatment and industrial discharge matters, led targeting efforts, and worked closely with EPA’s Office of Water in policy development. While in the Water Enforcement Division, Mr. Alonso gained knowledge and experience in EPA’s regulatory process through participating in the variance and exemption, consumer confidence report, public notification and arsenic regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Prior to his EPA service relating to the Clean Air Act, Mr. Alonso was an associate at Bracewell.
Defended a major terminal operation against USEPA flaring and tank emission enforcement using advance monitoring devices such as IR cameras.
Advise a national refinery company on its response to a nationwide USEPA investigation relating to flaring issues at its refineries.
Represented a State agency in an NSR settlement with EPA and national environmental groups to allow for the startup of a coal-fired power plant in interior Alaska.
Provided enforcement defense and assistance to a major oil company in response to an EPA investigation alleging NSR compliance issues under the CAA at a California refinery.
Assist various coal-fired utilities, refineries, terminals, and other industrial clients with responding to EPA information requests issued for regulatory and enforcement proceedings.
Compliance Counseling and Permitting
Handled successful litigation for a power producer for permit issues in the D.C. Federal District Court in a first-of-its-kind "deadline suit" litigation against the EPA, alleging EPA's failure to issue a permit by the statutory deadline. This suit was unique in that all other deadline suits have settled with the federal government.
Advise a major coal mining company on addressing national environmental groups’ attempts to force regulation of GHG and other pollutants at coal mines nationwide.
Handled and helped obtain more GHG PSD permits than any other law firm in the country.
Advise an LNG export facility on permitting strategy to avoid challenge from national environmental groups.
Successfully defended the first GHG permit in the State of Texas before the U.S. Environmental Appeals Board.
Successfully defended an air permit for a major oil and gas company seeking an NSR permit for an oil and gas field from a challenge from an environmental group.
Completed a settlement with a major national environmental organization avoiding a challenge to a GHG permit relating to an expansion of a major industrial site.
Initiated dialogue with a national environmental group thus avoiding challenge to the GHG permit for a proposed natural gas power generation plant.
Advise a national refining company on GHG permit applications at various refineries throughout the US.
Advise a major refining company on air permitting of mid-stream assets, including developing a strategy to avoid GHG permitting.
Review many GHG permit applications for various industry sectors to ensure permit record is defensible.
Represent a major electric utility company in its challenge to EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule.
Represent a major electric utility company in its challenge to EPA’s Mercury Air Toxic Rule.
Represent a major electric utility company in its challgenge to EPA’s New source Performance Standard regulation GHG emissions from electric generating units.
Advise a large industrial association on performance specifications relating to particulate matter continuous emission monitors.
Represent a major electric utility before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit challenging EPA's approval of Virginia's electric utility cap and trade program under the CAA.
Publications and Speeches
Co-author, “EPA’s Regional Consistency Regs Tilt The Playing Field,” Law360, October 28, 2016.
Co-author, “DC Circ.'s Clean Power Plan Hearing: Key Points,” Law360, October 25, 2016.
“EPA’s Next Generation Enforcement Initiative: What It Means for the Next Generation of Environmental Auditing,” Auditing Roundtable Webinar, October 7, 2015.
Co-author, “Under Attack: How to Protect Your Power Generation Project Against Environmental Group Opposition,” Power Engineering, November 25, 2014.
Panelist, "Cleaning Up the Air and Carbon Too," Society of Environmental Journalists 24th Annual Conference, Sept. 6, 2014.
Co-author, "First Texas GHG Permit Upheld by EPA Appeals Board," Electric Power & Light, May 13, 2014.
Co-author, "Environmental Enforcement and Crimes" Chapter, The Year in Review 2013, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association, March 2014.
Co-author, "First Texas GHG Permit Upheld by EPA Appeals Board," Electric Light & Power, May 13, 2014.
"Source Aggregation: Federal Appeals Court Reverses 30 Years of Faulty EPA Precedent," Legal Backgrounder, Washington Legal Foundation, November 16, 2012.
Panelist, “MACT Impact: How Will the Power Sector Manage to Comply?” SNL Center for Financial Education Webinar, November 22, 2011.
Panelist, "EPA and Clean Air Act," SNL Power, Policy and Investments Forum, New York, June 7, 2011.
"The Basics of Clean Air Law," Clean Air: Law, Policy and Practice, Fourth Annual Advanced ALI-ABA Course of Study, December 2, 2010.
"EPA's New Emissions Standards and Their Impact on the Portland Cement Industry," 2nd Argus Petroleum Coke Summit Americas, September 17, 2010.
"Enforcement in the New EPA," Seminar: EPA's Proposal to Disapprove Changes to the Texas Air Permitting Program, September 22, 2009.
"Analysis of the Use of International Offsets in a Cap & Trade Program in U.S. Environmental Laws and Their Impact on Mexico," National (Mexico) Association of Corporate Lawyers (ANADE) Annual Convention, September 15, 2009 (in Spanish).
"Burlington Northern and the Future of PRP Liability Under CERCLA," ABA Environment, Energy, and Resources Law Summit, September 2009.
"EPA Mulls Proposal to Limit Carbon Emissions from Stationary Sources," Energy Legal Blog, August 27, 2009.
Co-author, "A New Enforcement Reality," Energy Lawyer, May 18, 2009.
Co-author, "Prepare for Tougher Environmental Enforcement," Bloomberg Environmental Law Report, Vol. 1, No. 3, March 2009.
Co-author, "The New Look Of Environmental Enforcement And What Companies Can Do To Prepare," New Jersey Law Journal, February 23, 2009.
"A Primer on EPA Enforcement," The New Enforcement Agenda and How to Prepare, Bracewell Seminar, February 2009.
Co-author, "Deseret Decision Regarding CO2 Avoids the Key Question and Creates Significant Uncertainty," Environmental Law Update, November 2008.
J.D., Syracuse University College of Law, 1996
M.S., Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University, 1996
B.S., Civil Engineering, Florida International University, 1992
District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Co-Chair, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, 2015-2016
Vice Chair, Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, American Bar Association - Environment, Energy and Resources Section
Legalease, The Legal 500 Unites States, Environment: Transactional, 2016; Environment: Litigation, 2012
Groundbreaking Lawyers of 2009, Clean Air Compliance, Public Utilities Fortnightly
Syracuse Law Review