Environmental, Natural Resources and Public Policy Disputes


Bickerman Dispute Resolution, PLLC, brings significant experience and subject matter expertise to resolving environmental, natural resources, land use and public policy disputes.

John Bickerman has resolved dozens of environmental and natural resource disputes in which federal, state and local governments have been parties, as well as disputes between and among private parties. Mr. Bickerman has extensive experience resolving claims brought by the United States under land, air and water statutes, including the landmark Clean Air Act case that set the model for subsequent negotiations with oil refineries. He has resolved dozens of disputes under CERCLA (Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) including government contractor cases where the United States has been a defendant. He has worked with almost every regional office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition to the statutory and regulatory disputes, Mr. Bickerman is a nationally recognized mediator of natural resource and land use disputes. He also has experience mediating the highest profile public disputes in which the United States has been a party, such as a class action Indian Trust dispute in which the plaintiffs' claims totaled $146 billion.

Highlighted Projects:

Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation v. Foss Maritime: Resolution of dispute between the Tribe and Foss Maritime under the federal Oil Spill Act for damages to a sacred site as a consequence of a Christmas Eve oil spill in the Puget Sound.
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe v. the State of Washington: Successfully mediated a highly controversial and emotional dispute over the return of tribal remains to an historic burial ground in Port Angeles, Washington. Perhaps one of the oldest archaeological sites in the United States, the settlement may become a precedent for Indian burial disputes throughout the United States.
Hanford Nuclear Site: Mediation between the State of Washington, the United States Department of Energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency over implementation of the a tri-party agreement to retrieve hazardous waste and groundwater issues in connection with the operation of the Hanford facility from 1944 until 1987. Presently, the United States is spending $2 billion annually for clean-up activities.
Crane Co. v. United States: Successfully resolved a CERCLA cost dispute against the United States over unexploded World War II ordnance.
Washington Group International, Inc.: Effectively resolved CERCLA dispute where principle PRP was a debtor who had emerged from Chapter 11 and key assets were the debtor's insurance policies.
In re: Raymark: Mediated brownfields dispute concerning potential commercial development of former CERCLA site.
Metlakatla Indian Community: Developed protocol for allocating financial responsibility for remediation of more than one hundred hazardous waste sites on Annette Island, Alaska. Parties included the Metlakatla Indian Community, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Aviation Administration, Chevron, United States EPA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Regulatory Water Disputes

Washington Navy Yard: Successfully mediated first negotiated NPDES permit for Region 3 involving discharges into the Anacostia River.
MS4 Dispute: Mediation among the District of Columbia, EarthJustice, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3 over storm water permitting. Issues involve long-range and far-reaching activities to improve runoff.

Regulatory Air Disputes

United States v. British Petroleum/Amoco: Successfully resolved first enforcement action by United States against an oil refinery under the New Source Review rules. The settlement negotiated by Region 5 of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Justice and the company became a model for subsequent negotiations between the federal government and other oil refiners.
United States v. Boise Cascade: Successfully resolved Clean Air Act enforcement action under the New Source Review rules against wood products manufacturer.
B.F. Goodrich, et al. v. Murtha, et al.: Resolved liability and apportionment issues associated with the alleged dumping of hazardous materials by multiple PRPs at two CERCLA sites in Connecticut.

Public Policy

Cobell v. Norton: Mediation of dispute over the Department of Interior's historical and current fiduciary responsibilities to Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust account beneficiaries. After the unsuccessful mediation between the principal parties, Congress sought the assistance of the mediators to help craft a legislative solution. The parties subsequently reached an agreement with the new administration.
Denver Water Board v. West Slope Entities: Mediation of decades-old dispute over the use and control of water from the Colorado River Basin. In addition to Denver, participating parties include representatives from the headwaters counties, and agricultural interests from Grand Valley on the West Slope. The mediation was proposed by board members from the Denver Water Board and the Colorado River Water Conservation District as a means to reduce the cycle of litigation and plan constructively for the risk and uncertainty that continued development in the state and climate change will impose on all parties.
Wisconsin v. Illinois: The Great Lakes Water Rights Dispute. Successfully mediated 90-year-old dispute between states of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the United States concerning diversion of water from Lake Michigan allegedly in violation of two Supreme Court consent decrees. The dispute was deemed to be intractable at the outset of mediation. However, in a little more than a year, the parties reached a comprehensive settlement that assured that they would never need to return to the Supreme Court for relief.