Posts Tagged Ventura County

Environmental Lawyers in Ventura County

Posted by on Saturday, 29 May, 2010

Environmental lawyers are lawyers who specialize in environmental suits. These include claims against companies such as BP for disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon crisis. Another major area is asbestos litigation, since asbestos causes the disease mesothelioma and it is very difficult to remove from buildings safely. Environmental lawyers also take cases involving topics such as toxic mold, that can grow inside walls if inspectors do not properly examine a building.

Knowledge of environmental topics is necessary, in addition to having the credentials to practice law. Michael Lyons, a local lawyer, mentions on his web site that he has experience in environmental remediation, as well as a degree in environmental studies. It’s necessary to know how to appropriately clean up a contaminated site so a lawyer can explain what a company or individual should have done. This includes knowledge about pesticides and other harmful chemicals that drain into the groundwater.

Real estate overlaps with environmental law. Some of the major fights in Ventura County are over the conversion of farmland into new housing tracts. Apartments and condos replace the strawberry and orange fields that were once much more common in this area. The firm of Richard Francis handles real estate and the environment, and works with other groups on initiatives such as the greenbelt legislation that regulates development in cities such as Oxnard and Camarillo.

There are specific rules that affect environmental lawyers. Typically an environmental law firm performs an audit for a client to determine the extent of damage, such as pollution. Janet Dillon notes that this audit can be used against a client in court unless the lawyer requests the audit, which provides confidentiality.

Environmental law involves compliance with federal and California regulations about air and water quality. This is especially important in cities near the San Fernando Valley, since the structure of the valley traps smog and there are many cars on the 101 and other freeways which produce lots of smog. Attorneys such as Gregory Regier may specialize in compliance with national legislation such as the National Environmental Policy Act, or state regulation such as the California Environmental Quality Act.

Special projects such as the liquid natural gas terminal I wrote about yesterday are also a topic in environmental law. Lawyers can delay or even block a dangerous project. Some lawyers also advise state governments about the risks of a liquid natural gas terminal project, such as Matthew Berger.

Food litigation is another topic in environmental law. A product must be grown according to specific rules if the seller wishes to make certain claims. Organic products, grown without many pesticides, sell for greater amounts because customers want healthy foods. Becki Kammerling provides consulting services for companies who want to certify produce as USDA Organic.

Greening the Courthouse

Posted by on Friday, 7 May, 2010

Jury duty is a responsibility of all citizens, so yesterday I took the jury duty summons and traveled to the Ventura County Courthouse. While I was there I asked myself whether the courthouse design includes environmental sustainability. Surprisingly enough it does include green design concepts.

The first thing I see when walking in, other than the metal detector and the x ray machine, is the Energy Star plaque on the wall. Reading the plaque informs me that this courthouse is built to be Energy Star compliant, and it uses at least twenty five percent less power than comparable buildings. That is a major improvement, since the Ventura Hall of Justice is not a small building, and it contains many courtrooms, as well as other devices that use energy such as lights and computers.

Notification of jury service itself is available in an environmentally friendly manner. To check which day I was assigned to attend, I simply looked up the time on the Ventura County website. This saves paper required for sending out a specific notice to attend on a specific day, although the initial notice of jury duty was sent as a letter through the mail. Electronic communication is helpful in all areas of business to save on printing paper which will be thrown away quickly once it is received.

Transportation is a weakness of the jury duty system. Some of the other jurors were told to travel to the Simi Valley courthouse, since Simi Valley is also in Ventura County so jurors have to serve on cases there. Many of the jurors traveled there using their own cars. A mass transit system which connects the courthouses in each city would be helpful, since it’s unlikely that taking a bus from the Ventura courthouse to Simi Valley would arrive in the hour and a half lunch break, and using individual cars produces additional pollution. There are mass transit options available, such as the Metrolink, but the train tracks do not pass anywhere near the Ventura Government center, stops are at least a mile and a half away.