Press Releases
January 3, 2013

Van Oot Named to Brownfields Task Force

(Montpelier, VT) Attorney Peter D. Van Oot of Norwich has been appointed to a Vermont-based panel that seeks to rehabilitate industrial properties that have been plagued by chemical contamination. The task force will recommend and support efforts by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to recover “Brownfield” sites across the state in order to clean up the contamination, attract new business development and create jobs.

“Remediation of Brownfield sites across the state has been one of Vermont’s most persistent and vexing problems,” Van Oot said. “As an environmental lawyer, I know of a number of industrial sites where a now-defunct industry went out of business,  leaving a property that has some level of contamination.  In many cases, these sites could be cleaned up and reused for another viable businesses, but well-intended statutes, regulations or policies have made such progress impossible. Vermont wants to get the best thinkers in government and the private sector together to solve some of these puzzles once and for all.”

In his environmental law practice, Van Oot has represented a series of responsible parties in environmental actions ranging from remediation of Superfund-level properties to new construction. Because of this experience, he was asked to moderate three panels dealing with site acquisition, planning, finance and remediation at a well-attended forum on Brownfield remediation held in Stowe on Oct. 24. Government panelists included representatives of the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation. Private sector participants included environmental groups and environmental lawyers, real estate professionals, economic development agencies and finance companies.

“The primary consensus from all of these interests, was that cleaning up Brownfield sites and returning them to productive use is worthwhile, important and achievable,” Van Oot said. “The new task force will make this happen.”

In more than 25 years of advising clients at the top levels of the company and of guiding companies through the tricky area of environmental law, Van Oot has been appointed to numerous boards, commissions, advisory panels and task forces, and won a number of honors. At the recent annual meeting of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, Van Oot and 19 other environmental lawyers from across the country were recognized as founding regents of the peer-reviewed organization, which now numbers 160 members in 48 states. Van Oot currently chairs the membership committee for the ACOEL for EPA Region I, which covers the northeastern United States.

Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC is a full-service law firm with more than 60 attorneys and six offices in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Downs Rachlin provides legal services to local, national and international clients in practice areas that include bankruptcy and business restructuring, business law, captive insurance, energy and telecommunications, health law, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, real estate and land use, environmental law, tax law and trusts and estates. The firm represents clients in legislative, regulatory and public affairs through the Government and Public Affairs group.

DRM is the exclusive member firm in Vermont for Lex Mundi – the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience throughout the United States and in more than 100 countries worldwide.


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