Overview

An accomplished and knowledgeable environmental lawyer and litigator, Alex works efficiently to achieve clients’ goals in North Carolina and throughout the country. He provides strategic counsel on all manner of environmental, natural resources and land use matters, and represents clients in permitting and transactional matters as well as litigation before state and federal administrative tribunals, and trial and appellate courts. Alex often represents companies in the mining, timber, real estate, manufacturing, and waste management industry sectors, as well as municipal governments and individuals. Alex’s main area of practice includes working with clients on clean water act and other regulatory permitting, with a focus on complex wetland and water issues.

My Practices

  • Alex focuses his practice on environmental, natural resources, and land use law.  He often appears before state and federal administrative, trial, and appellate courts. He has extensive experience counseling and representing clients in virtually all manner of environmental compliance, transactional, permitting and litigation matters. Examples of Alex’s work include: obtaining complex and contested Clean Water Act wetlands and discharge permits; counseling clients on a myriad of regulatory compliance and permitting matters under federal, state, and local requirements – including water, land, air, endangered species, hazardous waste, environmental assessment and remediation, etc.; counseling light and heavy industry and development clients on environmental, health and safety issues; and litigation involving permitting, government fines and penalties, and contaminated properties.

    Alex is recognized by clients and peers as a leading environmental lawyer and litigator. This recognition includes listings in The Best Lawyers in America© (Environmental Law), Business North Carolina’sLegal Elite” (Environmental Law) and North Carolina "Super Lawyers" (Environmental Litigation).

  • Alex’s trial and appellate litigation practice involves representing individual and corporate clients in all manner of environmental, natural resources and land use disputes before local, state and federal administrative tribunals, and trial and appellate judicial courts. Alex regularly litigates a broad range of complex matters involving mining, real estate, contaminated properties, toxic torts, permits, waste, and various other land use and environmental matters.

    Alex’s decades of litigation experience include matters before: the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Administrative Hearings and Environmental Management Commission, Superior Courts throughout the state, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Appeals Board; Federal District Courts in North Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia; and United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Sixth, and District of Columbia Circuits.

  • Alex maintains a land use practice in which he counsels and represents clients in relation to all manner of zoning and land use matters, including representation before local boards, city councils and county boards of commissioners, as well as related litigation before trial and appellate courts when appropriate to achieve clients' goals.

    Alex understands that each matter is unique to the project, land, and legal, political and technical circumstances presented. He tailors his approach to pragmatically and efficiently achieve clients' goals. His role may range from "behind the scenes" counselor to comprehensive representation in which he takes the lead in communicating with landowners, regulators, municipal staff, and elected officials to minimize opposition and garner support.

    His experience includes successfully working throughout North Carolina – from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast - on matters involving rezonings, variances, special use permits, CAMA and wetlands permitting, stream buffer and stormwater issues, and other concerns. Alex has helped clients obtain government authorizations for highly contested projects, and has skillfully litigated numerous real estate and land use matters. He very much enjoys the multifaceted nature of land use matters and working creatively to achieve his client’s goals.

  • Alex has extensive experience representing clients before local, state, and federal regulatory agencies and administrative tribunals on a wide range of complex environmental, natural resources, and land use matters. Alex handles permitting and regulatory compliance issues, variances, administrative rule-making and interpretation, environmental investigation, audit and penalty matters, and administrative contested cases.

Experience

Litigation

  • Trial and appellate litigation to judgment in defense of mining and real estate development clients against advocacy groups' challenges of Clean Water Act wetlands and discharge permits - including a case involving the successful defense of a state 401 Certification allowing one of the largest areas of wetlands impact, mitigation and preservation ever authorized. [See Pamlico-Tar River Foundation et al. v. NC DENR (Office of Administrative Hearings, Environmental Management Commission, and Wake County Superior Court)]
  • Trial and appellate litigation to judgment in defense of manufacturing clients against multiple personal injury and property claims based on alleged groundwater contamination. The clients' success stands as the leading toxic tort decision under North Carolina law. [See Curl et al. v. American Multimedia et al. (Alamance County Superior Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals)]
  • Appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court in defense of a real estate development client against state government fines and penalties issued for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. The client's success stands as a leading decision on third-party intervention and government penalties under North Carolina law. [See Holly Ridge v. NC DENR (North Carolina Supreme Court)]
  • Trial and appellate litigation to judgment in successful defense of a real estate client in a matter involving a commercial lease and contract dispute. [See Kennedy v. Gardner (Guilford County Superior Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals)]
  • Trial litigation to judgment in successful defense of a law firm client against business tort and contract claims arising out of real estate development and securities matters. [See Synergy Financial, LLC v. Zarro et al. (Federal District Court for the Western District of North Carolina)]
  • Defense of a manufacturing company client and successful resolution of federal government fines and penalties issued for alleged violations of environmental reporting requirements. [See U.S. Environmental Protection Agency v. Greenfiber, LLC (U.S. EPA Region IX)]

Credentials

Honors & Recognitions

Recognized by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Environmental Law (2013-2021), Natural Resources Law (2021)

Selected by his peers for inclusion in Business North Carolina's "Legal Elite" in Environmental Law (2012, 2014, 2019-2021) 

Recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) for Environmental Litigation (2016-2017, 2019); named a “Rising Star” in Environmental Litigation (2012-2013)

Recognized as a "Future Star" by Benchmark Litigation (2019-2021)

2010 Herb Falk Society Pro Bono Award (Greensboro Bar Association)

2014 Pro Bono Award (Greensboro Bar Association)

Education

University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D., 2003

Duke University, M.E.M., 1996

Union College, B.S., 1991

Certifications

Certified North Carolina Superior Court Mediator

Admissions

North Carolina

New York

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th, 6th and D.C. Circuits

U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts North Carolina

Newsroom

News

Publications

Professional & Civic

Professional & Civic Activities

Adjunct Law Professor, Environmental Law, Elon University School of Law (2016-2019)

American Bar Association, Litigation and Environmental Sections (2003-present)

North Carolina Bar Association, Litigation and Environmental Sections (2003-present)

North Carolina Bar Association, Environmental Section Council (2006-2012, 2016-present)

Chair, Pro Bono Committee, North Carolina Bar Association (2015-present)

Defense Research Institute, Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation Committee (2004-2008)

Greensboro Bar Association (2003-present)

Greensboro Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section Board of Directors (2004-2006)

United Way of Greater Greensboro, Community Grants Committee (2006-2010)

Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro Future Fund, Grants Committee (2007-2010)

President, Board of Directors, Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art (2005-2011)

YMCA and GUSA, Youth Athletics Coach (2005-2015)

About Me

I grew up on a farm and learned diligence and perseverance working in the agriculture, construction, and commercial fishing industries. My education and experience prior to earning a law degree include: earning a masters degree in coastal ecology and an "all-but-dissertation" doctorate in environmental science and policy; and working as a commercial fisherman in the North Pacific Ocean, a volunteer in West Africa, an ecological research scientist in the Gulf of Mexico, a staffer in the U.S. Senate, and a teaching and research associate and environmental policy consultant in North Carolina.

I deeply appreciate the interconnectedness of our economy and environment, and enjoy using my scientific and legal expertise to creatively address complex matters. While I find it particularly rewarding to counsel clients at a stage when we can work together to foresee and address issues before they become problems, I also relish the opportunity to solve problems when they arise and litigate matters to final judgment when appropriate to achieve clients' goals.

  • 20+
    20+ years of counseling clients on complex environmental matters
  • 105
    105 acre amateur farm and forestry operation
  • 50+
    50+ enthusiastic years of wilderness adventure activities
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