Gene Lucero is Of Counsel in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins and is a member of the Environment, Land and Resources Department. He joined Latham as a partner in December 1992 and retired from the Partnership on December 31, 2011.
Mr. Lucero is a former Chair of the firm's Global Environment, Land and Resources Department. Prior to being in private practice, Mr. Lucero directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement of the federal environmental laws governing hazardous waste for nearly six years. As the Director of the Office of Waste Programs Enforcement from 1982 to 1988, Mr. Lucero shaped many of EPA's regulations and policies concerning environmental liability and directed federal enforcement of a number of laws, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Underground Storage Tanks law. He testified regularly before Congress about federal and state environmental enforcement and played a key role in the Congressional reauthorization of RCRA and Superfund.
Mr. Lucero is regularly listed as a prominent environmental lawyer by many publications. He was recognized as a "significant force in matters concerning superfunds and environmental enforcement" by Chambers USA 2013 and was cited as a leading environmental attorney in the 2010 Who's Who Legal. He was also listed in the environmental law category of the 2010 Best Lawyers in America survey and was named among a select group of national environmental attorneys in Ethisphere's list of "2009 Attorneys Who Matter." Rated by one source as "a very accomplished lawyer," his litigation skills, particularly in the Superfund area, were noted. Mr. Lucero's work on hazardous waste regulation and air and water quality was also brought to attention.
Mr. Lucero is also a fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, a professional association of distinguished private sector lawyers who practice in the field of environmental law.
He began his environmental practice as an Assistant Attorney General litigating air and water laws for the State of Colorado; spent two years as Deputy Regional Administrator directing the execution of federal environmental laws in the six-state EPA region headquartered in Denver (Region VIII); and then helped develop the Superfund response program as Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency and Remedial Response before taking over the enforcement office.
Mr. Lucero has defended numerous clients in a number of significant criminal and civil enforcement actions brought by EPA and state agencies under such statutes as RCRA, the Clean Water Act (CWA) and CERCLA. He has been involved in representing companies in a range of governmental rulemaking procedures and has successfully appealed several RCRA rules. He also has extensive experience in dealing with environmental issues that affect land use and development, including Superfund, hazardous waste regulation, water quality and supply laws, and air quality requirements. He is regularly called upon to help with the assessment and allocation of environmental liabilities in business transactions, as well as to handle mediation or litigation of disputes concerning such matters. Because of his experience in both governmental and private capacities, Mr. Lucero is often sought out to counsel companies on environmental compliance and to develop and execute strategies in complex environmental cases.
Mr. Lucero is the author of numerous publications, including:
- "Son of the Superfund: Can the Program Meet Expectations," The Environmental Forum, Vol. 5 No. 1, March/April, 1988
- Principal author, Superfund Handbook, Third Edition, Sidley & Austin/ENSR, September, 1989
- Co-author, "Managing a Superfund Case," Corporate Counsel's Guide to Environmental Law, 1989 Business Law, Inc.
- "Public Law, Private Policemen: Revitalizing Private Regulation through Pollution Liability Insurance Requirements," Environmental Claims Journal/Vol. 1, No. 3/Spring, 1989
- "Recent Regulatory Developments Affecting Medical Waste Management and Disposal," Health Law Series, 1990 Health Law Handbook, Clark Boardman Company, Ltd.
Since 1998, Mr. Lucero regularly updates the ABA publication known as "CERCLA Rights and Liabilities" which is published annually as part of the ABA-ALI seminar entitled The Impact of Environmental Law on Real Estate and Other Commercial Transactions.
Mr. Lucero's representative matters include:
- In United States v. TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, the United States and the State of Arizona initiated civil and criminal enforcement actions against TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc. and its parent, TRW Inc., for alleged RCRA violations at TRW's air bag manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona. The governments contended that for more than a decade TRW had improperly shipped off-site hazardous wastewater generated during the manufacture of airbag propellant at its Mesa, Arizona facility, and sought more than $50 million in penalties and corrective action. Mr. Lucero served as lead civil counsel and co-counsel in the criminal matter, both of which were ultimately settled to the client's satisfaction.
- Since 2001, Mr. Lucero has served as lead environmental counsel for Playa Capital Company, which has been engaged in developing a large mixed-used project on land that had been formerly used for the manufacture and testing of aircraft by the Hughes Aircraft Company and McDonnell-Douglas Helicopters Company. Because of intense opposition from certain citizen groups to the development of such a large amount of open space and wetlands in West Los Angeles, the company has encountered special scrutiny from USEPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board –Los Angeles Region, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board. Mr. Lucero has helped the company to address successfully a wide range of issues, including defeating the proposed listing of the site on the CERCLA National Priorities List, challenges to the cleanup standards developed for the project, and claims of alleged non-compliance with a number of federal and state environmental laws. In this ongoing role, he regularly works with the top managers in these agencies as well as with the appointed members of the Regional and State Water Boards.
- Mr. Lucero represented The Walt Disney Company in the Glendale Superfund Site, an area listed as a National Priorities List site because of groundwater contamination. The contamination resulted not only from the activities of Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) in the Glendale area but also from the Lockheed facility in the upgradient Burbank Superfund Site. Mr. Lucero played an instrumental role in the arbitration addressing the allocation of liability between the two operable units, served for a time as chair of the PRP group, and helped to mediate the final allocation of liability among the Glendale PRPs.
- Since 1992, Mr. Lucero has been representing a set of clients in the Puente Valley Operable Unit, an area of groundwater contamination located in the San Gabriel Superfund Area. Most recently, as chair of a group of 10 PRPs, Mr. Lucero has negotiated cash-out settlements with the major work party and the United States. Mr. Lucero successfully persuaded the District Court that a non-settler that sought to challenge the entry of the cash-out consent decree on the grounds that the settlement would increase its share of liability did not have an adequate interest to justify its intervention in the case.