The sea with waves and ripples and the shore with rocks. This image was photographed from above with a drone.

Department of Commerce & National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Companies seeking to conduct activities or build projects in areas that might impact marine species regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) must first work with NOAA and obtain the proper permits. In addition, projects constructed in federal waters — such as offshore wind, other marine renewable projects, oil and gas development, submerged pipelines, and mineral mining — require permits and compliance under many environmental laws and regulations. These include a variety of authorities, such as: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Particular projects may also require working with state and local regulators, consulting with other federal agencies and American Indian tribes, and managing complex stakeholder relationships, as well as addressing opposition and legal challenges. Similarly, in the case of an oil spill or hazardous substance release impacting coastal and marine resources, NOAA acts as a Natural Resources Trustee under numerous laws.

Leading companies involved in the development and financing of large-scale coastal and ocean projects, or involved with incidents in the coastal and marine environment, need to know the expectations and how to prevail when working with NOAA officials, including:

  • Obtaining necessary permits and approvals, while also establishing an administrative record that renders the environmental and regulatory permits and land use entitlements as “litigation proof” as possible
  • Managing stakeholder relationships and opposition, in a way that provides certainty for project development and protects the project proponent and backers from reputational and economic risks
  • Calculating and negotiating natural resource damages, if necessary 

Latham lawyers have worked for decades within and with the federal government. The team includes a number of practitioners who have held high-ranking leadership positions in the agencies that work most with NOAA officials, such as: the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department, the Justice Department, and the White House. Latham’s Project Siting & Approvals Practice lawyers frequently represent complex projects through all phases of development, including land acquisition and leasing, entitlement, financing, permitting, construction, and operation. Latham’s deep subject knowledge extends to experienced litigators capable of defending projects against a wide range of administrative and judicial claims. Latham lawyers know the relevant federal agencies inside and out and can help clients complete a project quickly and efficiently or, if needed, obtain resolution of challenging claims in a way that will stand up to potential opposition.