Peter J. Fontaine

Chair, Environmental

Philadelphia

(215) 665-2723

(856) 910-5075

Pete is chair of the firm's Environmental Practice and co-chair of the Climate Change Team. He counsels large, medium, and small companies across the United States to help them manage and resolve their environmental liabilities and capture new business opportunities arising from the convergence of the energy and environmental demands of the world.  A thought leader on issues surrounding climate change, Pete has authored a number of articles on the topic.

Pete has helped an offshore wind energy company with regulatory approvals for a new project on the Outer Continental Shelf. He also is environmental counsel to two natural gas pipeline projects designed to increase natural gas supplies to communities in the northeast to lower electricity and heating costs and reduce carbon emissions and criteria air pollution. He advises pipeline owners on a multitude of environmental regulatory issues and interfaces with state and federal agencies. He has deep experience counseling a wide range of businesses to assess, manage, and resolve environmental liabilities associated with soil, water, and air pollution. Pete leads Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfields Development Practice, which assists landowners and developers to identify, manage, and resolve challenges posed by real or perceived soil and groundwater contamination. This includes helping manage due diligence, negotiate environmental provisions in purchase agreements, procure liability protection from insurers and regulatory agencies, and structure remediation projects. He has advised landowners and developers on some of the most complex brownfields projects, including helping secure closure, remediation, and redevelopment of sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland. He has deep experience advising laboratories and testing services companies on data integrity issues. He also helps companies to structure and implement internal environmental compliance programs, including compliance audits, policy development and implementation, and internal investigations. He routinely defends and prosecutes environmental claims in state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board and the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law. He advises consumer product manufacturers in connection with toxic and hazardous substances subject to California's Proposition 65 and similar state and federal laws.

Pete has represented several clean technology companies including energy storage companies and electric vehicle companies, seeking to develop projects and explore new markets. In 2008, he conceived and helped form the Battery Electric Vehicle Coalition, which successfully advanced federal legislation creating a federal investment tax credit for electrical vehicle charging infrastructure to level the playing field for electric vehicles.

Prior to private practice, he was an enforcement lawyer with the Office of Enforcement, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., where he helped write regulations implementing the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, prosecuted civil violations of environmental laws, and served as a Special Assistant to the Director of Civil Enforcement. He received the EPA's Award for Excellence for his contribution to the EPA's first multimedia enforcement team. He routinely draws on his EPA experience to help clients navigate EPA and state agency regulations to achieve practical solutions to their environmental problems.

Outside the office, Pete is active in several civic engagements in the Greater Philadelphia community. He helped secure passage of three open space public referendum questions in 1998, 2005, and 2006, which created stable funding for preserving open spaces, farms, historic sites, and recreational areas in Camden County, N.J. From 1999 to 2013, he chaired Camden County's Open Space Advisory Committee, which has preserved more than 2,000 acres of farmland and open space. He recently served on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's environmental and energy transition committee where he developed a set of policy recommendations to address climate change. He is a board member of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, a conservancy dedicated to protecting birds of prey through raptor conservation science and education. He is a former board member of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the state's oldest land conservation organization.

Pete earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Hampshire in 1986, where he was a member of the varsity soccer team. He received his J.D. from George Washington University Law School in 1990.

Experience

News

Environmental Lawyer Serves Clients at the Intersection

January 01, 2021

Peter Fontaine, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Environmental Practice, was interviewed by Of Counsel to discuss the practice, his career, most significant cases, and his likes and dislikes about the legal profession.

Cozen O’Connor Gets “A” Grade on the 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard

October 06, 2020

To receive an A grade, Cozen O’Connor met the criteria for an A grade in either litigation, transactions, or lobbying and has no lobbying nor transactional work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and no cases exacerbating climate change.

Climate Scientist Defamation Ruling Could Affect Climate Debate

December 23, 2016

Peter Fontaine discusses Dr. Michael Mann’s libel claims against the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Scientists Prepare for ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Under Trump

December 15, 2016

Peter Fontaine discusses representing Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist, in ClimateWire.

Cozen O’Connor Attorney Secures Significant Academic Freedom and Privacy Victory for Climate Scientist

April 18, 2014

Peter J. Fontaine, co-chair of the firm's Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice Group, helped secure a precedential decision from the Supreme Court of Virginia holding that the electronic correspondence of former University of Virginia faculty-member and climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, is exempt from disclosure under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.

Publications

Businesses Using PFAS Chemicals Now Subject to TRI Reporting and Greater Scrutiny

December 01, 2020

Pete Fontaine and Marcia Mulkey discuss the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory reports required for 172 PFOS and PFOA compounds.

Choosing Safe & Effective Disinfection in the Post-COVID-19-World

June 01, 2020

Pete Fontaine partnered with Aramark to provide owners and operators of commercial and institutional facilities with insight into the important differences in SARS-CoV-2 disinfection methods for interior spaces.

Environmental Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic [Alert]

April 15, 2020

Pete Fontaine, Marcia Mulkey, and Amorie Hummel discuss how various state and federal orders are impacting the environmental industry.

PFAS in California — Impact of the 2020 Defense Authorization Act [Alert]

February 10, 2020

Peter Fontaine and Marcia Mulkey discuss California’s active involvement in the emerging PFAS challenges and how extensive reporting requirements will result in rapid expansion of information.

Congress Passes Federal PFAS Legislation in Defense Authorization Act [Alert]

December 19, 2019

Pete Fontaine and Marcia Mulkey discuss the 2020 Defense Authorization Act, which will speed investigations and cleanups of military facilities contaminated with per- and poly-fluorinated compounds.

States Ratcheting Down on PFAS Compounds, Moving Ahead of Federal Government [Alert]

July 31, 2019

Marcia Mulkey and Peter J. Fontaine discuss New Hampshire's drinking water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOS and PFOA, which will go into effect October 1, 2019.

PFAS and Public Water Supply in Pennsylvania: Challenges & Opportunities [Alert]

May 20, 2019

Peter Fontaine, Michael Klein, and Marcia Mulkey discuss the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's tracking approximately 19 sites with known contamination with PFOA and PFOS and its PFAS sampling plan, targeting 300 public water supplies with elevated potential for contamination and testing for six PFAS compounds

Events & Seminars

Past Events

PFAS Sampling 101; Phytoremediation at HC-Impacted Site

February 06, 2020 - Burlingame, CA

The Changing PFAS Landscape

May 30, 2019 - Needham, MA

AGU-Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Symposium

December 14, 2016 - San Francisco, CA

Industry Sectors

Education

  • George Washington University Law School, J.D., 1990
  • University of New Hampshire, B.A., 1986

Awards & Honors

Selected to Chambers & Partners USA 2015-2018. This award is conferred by Chambers & Partners. A description of the selection methodology can be found here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Defender of Science Award, 2017

Selected to New Jersey Super Lawyers: Environmental Law, 2005. This award is conferred by Super Lawyers. A description of the selection methodology can be found here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Philadelphia Business Journal “40 Under 40 Award,” 2003

New Jersey Volunteer of the Century Award, Camden County, 2000

New Jersey Environmental Federation Environmental Achievement Award, 1999

U.S. EPA Special Act Achievement Awards, 1991-1994

U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator’s Award for Excellence, 1993

  • District of Columbia
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • Superior Court of New Jersey
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court -- New Jersey
  • American Bar Association
  • New Jersey State Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association