• James G. Votaw

    Energy, Environment and Natural Resources
    Download Contact (.vcf)

    Direct: 202.585.6610
    General: 202.585.6500
    Fax: 202.585.6600


    Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, J.D., 1989.
    Assistant Lead Articles Editor, The Catholic University of America Law Review.


    Dickinson College, B.A., 1986.

    Bar Admissions

    New York

    Washington, D.C.

    • Profile
    • Representative Matters
    • Honors & Awards
    • Publications
    • Memberships & Activities
    • Speaking Engagements


    James Votaw is a partner in the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources practice in the Washington, D.C., office.  Mr. Votaw represents clients in a wide range of environmental defense, counseling, permitting and transactional matters.  His practice encompasses environmental matters under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the federal hazardous waste statute, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and other principal environmental laws, including pesticide registration and pesticidal device compliance under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  He helps clients recognize and manage their environmental risks and liabilities intelligently and cost-effectively.  He has particular experience assisting companies involved in manufacturing or using engineered nanomaterials and is a frequent speaker on this topic.

    He assists clients in a range of industries, including high tech, nanomaterials and other chemicals, pharmaceutical, life sciences, research and development, property development and management, metal finishing, rail and air transport support services, fire protection, surface coating and other manufacturing sectors.  Mr. Votaw also represents businesses and trade associations in federal rulemaking proceedings and federal administrative litigation. 

    Mr. Votaw has defended clients involved in criminal and administrative investigations and enforcement proceedings, and advised clients regarding development, implementation and management of internal environmental audit programs and investigations.

    Mr. Votaw has experience with the full range of environmental and health and safety issues faced by companies in the nanomaterials, chemical, pharmaceutical, life sciences, pesticide, research and development, electronics and other high-tech sectors.  He advises clients in these sectors regarding premanufacture notice and other chemical reporting obligations under TSCA, pesticide registration and production, and pesticidal device regulation under FIFRA; chemical safety and chemical waste management in lab and manufacturing facilities; air, water and waste permits, authorizations and compliance assistance; regulatory enforcement auditing and defense; support to companies and financial institutions in connection with transactions, chemical services and waste outsourcing; environmental aspects of property management, such as lease negotiations and end-of-life facility decommissioning; and protective redevelopment and reuse strategies for brownfield properties.

    Mr. Votaw also represents both claimant and defendant companies in federal RCRA corrective action and Superfund matters, as well as similar claims seeking remediation, cost recovery, and property value diminution damages under state laws and in connection with contractual obligations.

    Mr. Votaw also conducts environmental audits and directs due diligence efforts with respect to current and future environmental liabilities for buyers and sellers in various merger/acquisition and similar transactional contexts.  With experience grounded in real permitting, compliance and remediation counseling, and enforcement defense matters, he is well prepared to advise concerning environmental transactional matters in their full business and legal context, to separate the important from the trivial, and to timely devise workable contractual and other mechanisms to practically and effectively resolve or manage such risks over time.  He has negotiated environmental provisions of acquisition contracts, leases, investigation and remediation agreements; advised in respect of applicable property transfer requirements triggered by acquisitions; and counseled public companies with respect to SEC disclosure obligations for environmental issues.

    Representative Matters

    Criminal and Administrative Investigations and Enforcement Proceedings

    Recent experience includes defense of:

    • Consumer products manufacturers and retailers in federal antimicrobial product claims enforcement actions under FIFRA;
    • An international industrial products manufacturer in a multi-facility FIFRA regulatory compliance audit conducted under an audit agreement negotiated with U.S. EPA;
    • A major chemical manufacturer in a joint state-federal criminal investigation involving air permitting and hazardous substance release reporting matters, and a related corporate internal investigation;
    • Offshore drilling rig operator in multiagency investigation of accidental oil release;
    • Nanomaterials manufacturer in federal investigation of TSCA R&D exemption and export compliance, and
    • A national rail services firm in separate hazardous waste, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) investigations and enforcement proceedings initiated by EPA regional and state authorities.

    Environmental and Health and Safety Issues

    Recent experience includes representation of:

    • Carbon nanotube and other nanomaterials manufacturers obtaining new chemical premarket approvals and exemptions under TSCA, including negotiation of consent orders and testing requirements;
    • Industrial products manufacturers seeking EPA approval under TSCA of new uses for nanomaterials restricted by rule or order;
    • A major semiconductor manufacturer in connection with toxic release reporting obligations and self-auditing practice, administrative air enforcement matters, chemical services outsourcing, and leased fab decommissioning strategy;
    • A European optical networking component manufacturer in connection with establishing a U.S. manufacturing facility, including environmental aspects of commercial lease negotiations; obtaining all necessary preconstruction and premanufacturing environmental approvals and permits; and guidance in establishing appropriate occupational safety and air, waste, water and toxics reporting environmental compliance programs;
    • A midsize pharmaceutical/ inerts manufacturer and R&D laboratory concerning occupational health and safety, lab hazardous waste management and air emissions controls;
    • A major chemical manufacturer in a joint state-federal criminal investigation involving air permitting and hazardous substance release reporting matters, and a related corporate internal investigation, and
    • A life sciences/homeland security products manufacturer regarding pesticide registration and exemption issues under FIFRA and state pesticide programs, and related Clean Air Act requirements.

    Federal RCRA Corrective Action and Superfund Matters

    Recent experience includes representation of:

    • Commercial real estate management firm recovering response costs from the United States in a settlement concerning the release of radiological materials associated with the Manhattan Project;
    • Government contractor resolving federal and state remediation liabilities associated with government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) facilities at U.S. military base, and related recapture of costs under government contracts;
    • A metal finishing facility in connection with completing the RCRA corrective action obligations at permitted post-closure facility for on- and off-site chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination in karst geology, including termination of parallel federal RCRA permit, parceling the facility to promote redevelopment, and negotiations with state and local officials and adjoining landowner to implement a low-cost, off-site protective strategy in lieu of continuing a technically impracticable on-site remedy; and
    • Metal products manufacturer in the successful settlement of multiple property-diminution suits in connection with chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination after affirmative use of RCRA environmental indicators assessment.

    Honors & Awards

    Named as one of the Top-Ranked Attorneys in Environmental Law, Chambers USA, 2015.


    Interviewed, "ACC Urges EPA To Re-Propose Nano Data Rule Due To Unclear Provisions," Inside EPA, June 15, 2015.

    Author, "EPA Commits to Voluntary Compliance Auditing Program, Streamlines Enforcement Incentives Process," Environmental Leader, June 17, 2015.

    Interviewed, "EPA, OMB Strike Deal On TSCA Rules For Nano Data After Years Of Delay," Inside EPA, October 7, 2014. 

    "Regulatory Definitions of 'Nanomaterials'" Environmental Leader, November 22, 2011.

    "Antibacterial Product Claims Trigger EPA Enforcement Against Retailers and Manufacturers," May 11, 2010.

    "U.S. EPA Announces March 2009 TSCA Enforcement Campaign Against Certain Carbon Nanotube Manufacturers and Importers," November 6, 2008.

    "Children's Products Importers Given 60 Days to Submit Unpublished Lead Studies to EPA," February 28, 2008.

    "U.S. EPA Asks Nanomaterial Firms to Submit Hazard and Exposure Data Within Six Months– Voluntary Program Raises Strategic and Practical Issues for Firms Using Nanomaterials," January 31, 2008.

    "Massachusetts Opening Environmental and Safety Dialog with Nanotechnology Companies– Agencies to Hold First 'Safe Development' Workshop," November 6, 2007.

    "Prepare Now for Future Nanotech Legal Issues," Mass High Tech, Volume 24, Issue 48, November 2006.

    "EPA to Seek Voluntary Disclosure from Nanomaterials Manufacturers to Assess Environmental Risks and Guide Regulation Under TSCA Notice of June 23, 2005, Public Meeting Highlights Uncertain Regulatory Status of Nanomaterials; EPA Advises Companies to Seek an Affirmative Ruling," May 27, 2005.

    "Imminent EPA Determination May Impose New Costs, Regulatory Burdens and Enforcement Risk on the Nanotech Materials Industry," January 7, 2005.

    "Federally Permitted Releases: New EPA Guidance on the CERCLA/EPCRA Release Reporting Exemptions for Certain Air Emissions," November 12, 2002.

    "Grace Period for CERCLA/EPCRA Release Reporting of Certain Air Emissions Expires," September 10, 2002.

    Memberships & Activities

    Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and the state of New York, and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    Member, Environmental Law Institute.

    Member, Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Section of the District of Columbia Bar.

    Member, Environmental Law Section of the New York Bar.

    Member, Natural Resources Section of the American Bar Association.

    Affiliate Member, American Chemical Society.

    Member, Materials Research Society.

    Member, American Nano Society.

    Member, Society for Risk Assessment.

    Member, ASTM E56 Committee on Nanotechnology.

    Member, Northern Virginia Technology Council.

    External policy advisor to the Massachusetts Interagency Nanotechnology Committee.

    Member of the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) Nanotechnology Working Group.

    Member, Nanotechnology Expert Group of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

    Speaking Engagements

    "Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act:  Challenges Opportunities and Timing," Society of Toxicology 2011 Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., March 7, 2011.

    "How Best to Worry About Nanotechnology," Defense Research Institute: Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-19, 2010.

    "A Legal Perspective on the Environmental, Health & Safety Aspects of Nanomaterials: Navigating the Uncertainties," Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry: International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry,
    Edmonton, Canada, June 24, 2009.

    "Breaking the Barriers to Nanomanufacturing to Enable the Commercialization of Nanotechnology," Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing: 6th New England International Nanomanufacturing Workshop, Boston, Massachusetts, September 12, 2008.

    "Regulation of Nanomaterials: Developments and Trends at U.S. EPA," Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Risk Assessment for Nanomaterials: Current Developments and Trends
    Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 29, 2007.

    "Nanotech EHS Legal Risk Management Strategies – Navigating the Uncertainties," Society For Risk Analysis: Analyzing Nanotech Risks Across the Lifecycle, Baltimore, Maryland, December 5, 2006.

    "Nanotechnology and Environment: Navigating the Uncertainties – A Legal Perspective," Nano Science and Technology Institute: 2006 Nanotech Conference and Trade Show, Boston, Massachusetts, May 10, 2006.

    "Nanoscale Materials – In Search of a Consistent International Regulatory Approach," Society for Risk Analysis: Past, Present and Future of Risk Analysis, Orlando, Florida, December 5, 2005.

    Speaker at the Materials Research Society: Policy and Legal Approaches for Nanotechnology, Boston, Massachusetts, December 1, 2005.

    "Nanomaterials in the Workplace: Policy," National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Nanotechnology Occupational Safety and Health Policy and Planning Workshop, Arlington, Virginia, October 17, 2005.