Cozen O’Connor: Fontaine, Peter J.

Peter J. Fontaine

Co-Chair, Utility, Environmental & Energy

Philadelphia

(215) 665-2723

(856) 910-5075

Peter will be speaking at an upcoming event:

The Changing PFAS Landscape

Needham, MA 05/30/2019

Pete Fontaine will share his insights into the difficult legal and regulatory issues associated with the growing problem of PFAS at a seminar hosted by Eurofins Environmental Testing.

Event Details 

Pete is co-chair of the firm's Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice and the Climate Change Practice. 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. Pete initiated Cozen O’Connor’s formation in 2004 of an integrated environmental and energy practice to provide comprehensive environmental and energy guidance to energy companies, public utilities, and independent power providers in the evolving marketplace of energy and environmental regulations. 

Pete is environmental counsel to two natural gas pipeline projects that will increase natural gas supplies to communities in the northeast and thereby lower electricity and heating costs for millions of consumers while also reducing carbon emissions and criteria air pollution. In this capacity, he advises the pipeline owners on a multitude of environmental regulatory issues and interfaces with state and federal agencies. He is assisting an offshore wind energy company to secure regulatory approvals for a new project on the Outer Continental Shelf off of the New Jersey Coast. Pete also helps a wide range of businesses assess, manage, and resolve environmental liabilities associated with soil, water, and air pollution. He has deep experience advising laboratories and testing services companies on data integrity issues. He also leads the firm's Brownfields Development Practice, which assists landowners and developers in identifying, managing, and resolving the 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 helps Fortune 500 companies structure and implement internal environmental compliance programs, including compliance audits, policy development and implementation, and internal investigations. He 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 also represents 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 advocated for legislation to level the playing field for electric vehicles and secured a federal investment tax credit for electrical vehicle charging infrastructure. 

Prior to private practice, Pete served as an enforcement lawyer with the 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 EPA's 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 deeply committed to civic engagement 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, since 1999, 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 former board member of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the state's oldest land conservation organization.

Pete is a thought leader on issues surrounding climate change and has authored a number of articles on the topic. 

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

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.

Peter Fontaine Discusses Harassment by Climate Change Denialists in The Guardian

January 09, 2014

In an article titled “Harassment of climate scientists needs to stop,” Peter Fontaine, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Utility, Environmental & Energy Practice Group, discusses the harassment of climate scientist Michael Mann by climate change denial groups that are “on a fishing expedition for anything they can find to embarrass Mann and cast doubt on the validity of his work.”

Peter Fontaine's article on Marcellus Shale published on PennLive

August 30, 2011

Peter Fontaine's article on Marcellus Shale published on PennLive

Cozen O’Connor Launches Public Strategies LLC - New Entity Offers Enhanced Government Relations Assistance in Public Policy Advocacy, Regulatory Compliance and Contract Procurement

September 22, 2009

Cozen O’Connor Launches Public Strategies LLC - New Entity Offers Enhanced Government Relations Assistance in Public Policy Advocacy, Regulatory Compliance and Contract Procurement

Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Speak At DELVACCA Climate Change Seminar

February 10, 2009

Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Speak At DELVACCA Climate Change Seminar

Cozen O’Connor to Present Climate Change Seminar

April 22, 2008

Cozen O’Connor to Present Climate Change Seminar

Publications

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

Rebuttal: AG's Pursuit of Oil Giants Is Legally Sound [The National Law Journal]

January 25, 2016

Two Cozen O'Connor attorneys discuss New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation of energy companies.

Historic U.S.-China Agreement to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

November 12, 2014

In a surprise announcement last evening from Beijing, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to ambitious cuts in carbon emissions over the next 15 years with the hope of preventing catastrophic global warming. The joint announcement calls for the United States, by 2025, to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels and for China to reduce net carbon emissions starting in 2030 or earlier and to increase the overall share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030.

Preventing Hazardous Material Catastrophes In A Changing World [Webcast]

June 17, 2014

Cozen O'Connor's Energy Environmental & Public Utility Group convenes a symposium of national experts in Philadelphia to discuss emerging issues surrounding catastrophic releases of hazardous materials.

Supreme Court Issues Landmark Clean Air Act Ruling, Revives Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

April 30, 2014

On April 29, 2014, in a very significant 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR or the Rule), overturning a 2012 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision invalidating the Rule. The decision in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. is a major victory for downwind states adversely impacted by power plant emissions originating in upwind states. For example, a substantial portion of air pollution in New Jersey comes from major emitting facilities in upwind states.

White House Initiative to Tackle Methane Emissions: New Regulations, Funding Opportunities Expected [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

March 31, 2014

On March 28, the White House announced a set of new policy initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The Climate Action Plan—Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (Methane Plan) outlines the administration’s plans for new regulations, voluntary efforts and measurement technology to reduce and track methane emissions.

Let New Jersey Vote on Open Space [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

July 24, 2013

The New Jersey Legislature is considering a bill that would pose this question to voters in November: Should a small portion of the state sales tax be dedicated to preserve critical open spaces and farmland in New Jersey? For anyone concerned about the quality of life and property values in New Jersey, the answer should be "Yes!"

EPA Issues Final Emissions Standards for Oil & Natural Gas Sector [Energy, Environmental and Utilities Alert]

May 04, 2012

EPA Issues Final Emissions Standards for Oil & Natural Gas Sector - Energy, Environmental and Utilities Alert - On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized performance and emissions standards for emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells and
other source categories in the oil and natural gas sector. Specifically, the rule revises New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) under 40 C.F.R. part 60, subparts KKK, LLL and new OOOO as well as National Emissions Standards for hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) under 40 C.F.R. part
63, subparts HH and HHH.

Arguing for Liability Reform to Help Solve an Old Problem

April 01, 2012

Thousands of current and future Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction wells are located near Pennsylvania’s 250,000- plus abandoned coal mines, many of which discharge acid mine drainage into local streams and rivers. Acid mine drainage, which leaches heavy metals from surrounding rocks and kills aquatic life, is the biggest single cause of stream impairment in Pennsylvania. It has rendered unusable more than 5,500 miles of streams, contaminated untold numbers of household water wells and left Pennsylvania’s citizens with a toxic legacy projected to cost billions of dollars. While Pennsylvania historically spends about $19 million annually on abandoned mine reclamation, this modest effort is dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the problem. For the first time in five generations there is a real opportunity to address this intractable issue by aligning the interests of the state and environmentalists with Marcellus Shale drillers if legislators will only seize it.

The Business of Climate Change [PowerPoint Presentation]

November 12, 2008

The Business of Climate Change - PowerPoint Presentation - Obama Energy/Climate Plan

Recent Energy Tax Credit Legislation

New Jersey Energy/Climate Plan

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Shortening The Path To Energy Independence: A Policy Agenda To Commercialize Battery-Electric Vehicles [Electricity Journal]

August 01, 2008

Shortening The Path To Energy Independence: A Policy Agenda To Commercialize Battery-Electric Vehicles - Electricity Journal - Battery electric vehicles (“BEVs”)—highway vehicles primarily powered by electricity stored in a battery—present the best near term solution to reduce America’s dependence on petroleum and to curb carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions, the primary pollutant contributing to climate change. Our nation’s almost total dependence
on petroleum to power our cars and trucks is dragging down our economy, entangling our military in foreign conflicts, and saddling our children with an ecological disaster.

Climate Change: The Future Is Upon Us [The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel]

April 01, 2008

I’ve been an environmental lawyer since 1990. I graduated from George Washington University School of Law that year and accepted an honors position at the EPA, where I worked in the enforcement program until 1995. Since that time I’ve been in private practice working on a variety of different environmental law matters, including environmental litigation, cleanup obligations, compliance counseling with respect to environmental regulatory requirements and, most recently, climate change counseling, which involves helping companies position themselves in the rapidly evolving climate change legal regime and address the risks and opportunities presented by climate change.

The Business of Global Warming: Managing the Risks and Opportunities of Climate Change [Cozen O'Connor Whitepaper]

January 02, 2008

The Business of Global Warming: Managing the Risks and Opportunities of Climate Change - Cozen O'Connor Whitepaper - The majority of scientists believe that we are altering the earth’s “carbon balance,” launching mankind on a harmful collision course with nature. If this view is correct, climate change will be the defining risk management issue of our lifetimes, quite possibly exceeding terrorism, population expansion, and the end
of oil as the greatest cause of casualty and human suffering in the 21st century.

A New World Order [FortNightly]

April 01, 2005

Domestic and international pressures are building rapidly on the United States to enact some form of legislation to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, as a spate of recent developments turns up the heat on the Bush administration. Internal pressure is building on several fronts. First, coalitions of nine Northeast states and three West Coast states are moving forward with their own regional greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade programs, raising the prospect of uneven CO2 regulation across the nation and electricity market distortions. Second, the bi-partisan National Commission on Energy Policy published a report in December urging the Congress and the White House to implement national legislation establishing a mandatory, economy-wide, tradable-permits program to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The regional greenhouse-gas programs and the recommendations of the National Commission on Energy Policy are likely preludes to the reintroduction in early 2005 of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. The bill would establish a national greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to reduce CO2 to year 2000 emission levels over the period 2010 to 2015.

Global Warming: The Gathering Storm [Fortnightly]

August 01, 2004

In June 2001, the Bush administration withdrew an earlier campaign pledge to support the Kyoto Protocol, claiming that the treaty was fatally flawed in not requiring China and India to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and that the science underpinning the treaty was not yet definitive enough to justify the costs of compliance.

Shifting the Energy Paradigm [Risk & Insurance]

December 01, 2002

In early June 2002, a little-known buoy 26 miles off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey registered a water temperature of 83.1 degrees. It was the highest ocean temperature ever recorded off the New Jersey coast (14 degrees above normal) and a level typically found only in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Four months later, in the span of just 12 hours, Hurricane Lili intensified over the Gulf of Mexico from a weak Category 2 hurricane to a strong Category 4 storm. Before mysteriously weakening and just before making landfall in Louisiana, Lili’s winds, just above the ocean surface, were clocked at an astounding 226 miles per hour.

Events & Seminars

Upcoming Events

The Changing PFAS Landscape

May 30, 2019 - Needham, MA

Pete Fontaine will share his insights into the difficult legal and regulatory issues associated with the growing problem of PFAS at a seminar hosted by Eurofins Environmental Testing.

Past Events

AGU-Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Symposium

December 14, 2016 - San Francisco, CA

PIPSO Fall Claims & Underwriting Seminar

November 03, 2014 - Naples, FL

LEA 82nd Spring Meeting & Educational Conference

June 05, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

DVGBC PA / NJ Sustainability Symposium 2013

March 12, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case

October 22, 2012 - Webinar

U.S.-Israel Clean Tech Conference

November 09, 2010 - Philadelphia, PA

The Risks and Opportunities of Climate Change

June 17, 2008 - Philadelphia, PA

Education

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

Awards & Honors

Chambers & Partners USA 2015 - 2018

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Defender of Science Award, 2017

New Jersey Super Lawyers: Environmental Law, 2005

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