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Woodland Path

Environmental Practice

G. Macy Nelson has successfully litigated environmental cases in the United States District Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Maryland’s circuit courts, the Maryland Appellate Court, and the Supreme Court of Maryland, as well as administrative agencies. His firm’s cases have been at the leading edge of the law.
 
Environmental Law practice areas:
 

  • Environmental litigation

  • Groundwater contamination

  • Forest conservation

  • Surface water pollution

  • Air pollution

  • Industrial permits for discharge of pollutants

  • Nuisances caused by industry

  • Wetlands permits

  • Storm water management

  • Watershed protection

During the 2020s
 

  • The firm is working on forest conservation issues in several Maryland counties. We believe that the decision-makers are routinely approving forest conservation plans and variances to the requirements of various forest conservation ordinances without requiring the developers to satisfy the applicable requirements. In Prince George’s County, we successfully litigated the question of whether a citizen has the right to go to court to challenge an agency’s approval of a forest conservation plan. In Anne Arundel County, we successfully argued that the City of Annapolis Planning Commission issued a legally deficient opinion which approved variances to the forest conservation ordinance.  In all of our forest conservation cases we are advocating for a more robust review of the legal requirements for removing a forest.

  • The firm has in recent years secured high-value settlements in undisclosed locations throughout the state of Maryland, and in doing so has protected the interests of residential homeowners, bolstered forest and watershed conservation efforts, and resolved several matters of residential contamination, with meaningful commitments by opposing parties in all cases to rectify past harms alongside monetary compensation.

  • May 2023 – The firm supported a group of citizens and farmers in their opposition of a flawed solar facility ordinance that would have destroyed prime and productive agricultural land in Carroll County and undermined farmers' livelihoods.

During the 2010s
 

  • In 2018, Carroll County settled the Piney Run Preservation Association’s long-standing legal challenge to Carroll County’s illegal thermal pollution from the Hampstead Wastewater Treatment Plant into the Piney Run trout stream. Carroll County agreed to perpetually limit the volume of the discharge to a maximum of 550,000 gallons per day.​

  • The firm won a precedent-setting case in which Maryland’s highest court held that the law permits a land owner to sue the Maryland Department of the Environment for inverse condemnation where the landowner’s property became contaminated as a result of the Department failure to enforce the applicable environmental laws. Litz v. Maryland Dep’t of Env’t, 446 Md. 254 (2016).

  • The firm persuaded Maryland’s highest court to rule that the statute of limitations did not bar claim for damages caused by chronic pollution. Litz v. Maryland Dep’t of Env't, 434 Md. 623 (2013).

  • The firm established Maryland’s new rule for standing in cases where a citizen-plaintiff challenges an environmental permit issued by the State of Maryland. Patuxent Riverkeeper v. Md. Dep’t of the Env’t, 422 Md. 294 (2011).

During the 2000s

  • The firm successfully established that Prince George’s County, Maryland must consider its General Plan’s limitation on nonresidential development in that county’s rural areas. Md.-Nat’l Capital Park & Planning Comm’n v. Greater Baden-Aquasco Citizens Ass’n, 412 Md. 73, 985 A.2d 1160 (2009).

  • The firm obtained a jury verdict in Washington County of $407,000 for damages caused by an oil company's negligent discharge of oil into his clients’ home.

  • The firm successfully persuaded the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to reject Carroll County's argument that its permit to discharge treated sewage into a small trout stream was too strict. County Commissioners of Carroll County v. Dorothy Rowland, et al., No. 2338, September Term, 2004 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. January 17, 2006) (Eyler, Deborah S., J.).

  • The firm successfully persuaded the Final Decision Maker of the Maryland Department of the Environment to affirm the proposed decision of an Administrative Law Judge to disapprove a permit to discharge treated sewage. Jerry W. Cecil, Sr., et al. v. Maryland Department of the Environment, OAH No. MDE-WMA-063-200000005 (November 14, 2005).

  • The firm successfully persuaded the Final Decision Maker of the Maryland Department of the Environment to deny Carroll County's request for a variance from the prohibition against discharging heated effluent into a trout stream. Dorothy Rowland, et al. v. Maryland Department of the Environment, OAH Nos. MDE-WMA-063-200000001, MDE-WMA-063-200000002 (November 18, 2003).

  • The firm successfully persuaded an Administrative Law Judge to order that a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit not be renewed for a sewage treatment plant. Jerry W. Cecil, Sr., et al. v. Maryland Department of the Environment, OAH No. MDE-WMA-063-200000005 (September 20, 2001)

  • The firm successfully persuaded the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to vacate a decision by the Maryland Department of the Environment to renew a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Jerry W. Cecil, Sr., et al. v. Maryland Department of the Environment, No. 6923, September Term, 1998 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. April 12, 2000) (Murphy, C.J.).

During the 1990s
 

  • G. Macy Nelson obtained a jury verdict of $650,000 for clients in Dorchester County for contamination caused by nearby industry. 

  • G. Macy Nelson represented Baltimore City residents who lived adjacent to a scrap yard and used a common law nuisance theory to successfully sue the scrap yard. See Hoffman v. United Iron & Metal Co., Inc., 108 Md. App. 117, 671 A.2d 55 (1996).

  • G. Macy Nelson established that the law prohibited sewage treatment plants from discharging heat into trout streams. C. Victoria Woodward, et al. v. the Maryland Department of Environment, No. 1660, September Term, 1997 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. August, 17, 1998) (Salmon, J.). That victory required the Maryland Department of the Environment to restrict the discharge of heat from many sewage treatment plants throughout the state.

During the 1980s
 

  • G. Macy Nelson  won the first citizens Clean Water Act case in Maryland. Sierra Club v. Simkins Indus., Inc., 617 F. Supp. 1120 (D. Md. 1985),aff’d Sierra Club v. Simkins Indus., Inc., 847 F.2d 1109 (4th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 109 S. Ct. 3185 (1989).

  • G. Macy Nelson won the first citizens Clean Air Act case in Maryland. Md. Waste Coal. v. SCM Corp., 616 F. Supp. 1474 (D. Md. 1985).

  • G. Macy Nelson initiated a citizen’s RCRA notice of intention to file suit against Allied Chemical which triggered the signing of a Consent Decree between the Maryland Department of the Environment and Allied Chemical. The Consent Decree required the remediation of the Allied Chemical site in Baltimore City.

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