Viviana L. Heger
Viviana Heger is Of Counsel in the firm’s Land Use and Environmental Law Practice Group. She is an accomplished regulatory attorney with deep experience in a wide variety of complex environmental compliance matters, including more than two decades of experience in environmental permitting for industrial and infrastructure projects, emissions trading programs, and counseling energy, manufacturing, recreation, food and beverage, and municipal clients.
Viviana’s extensive experience equips her to strategically and comprehensively tackle the numerous challenges clients face complying in California with federal, state and local laws regulating air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, hazardous waste and materials management and disposal, chemicals regulations, and remediation and right-to-know requirements, including California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65).
Her depth of experience includes historical expertise in air quality law in California as well as the unique preemption issues facing ports, railroads, and airport facilities. Viviana has been assisting clients in both policy and rulemaking issues since the inception of California’s climate change law, local indirect source rules, and technology-forcing programs that the state relies upon for its State Implementation Plan (SIP). She has consistently advocated for the interests of her clients, including formulating best strategies and practices to comply with California’s cap-and-trade regulation for greenhouse gases.
Viviana’s experience includes compliance counseling and complex litigation (including writs of mandamus, claims of property damage, toxic torts, and environmental citizen suits), administrative petitions and appeals, defense in enforcement, procurement of permits, and abandonment and closure of hazardous material structures. She must often advise and defend clients in crisis or emergency situations involving accidents, spills, releases or other scenarios such as safely closing or abandoning pipelines and underground storage tanks, which all require reporting and immediate response actions under state and federal laws.
Based on years of expertise, Viviana quickly identifies practical regulatory strategies that clients can implement effectively in the field to help eliminate or minimize potential liabilities. Viviana’s experience also includes advising on health, safety and emergency management plans, as well as litigating claims of property damage, toxic torts, and environmental citizen suits. She also is relied upon to assist in conducting compliance audits and due diligence associated with mergers, acquisitions and financing.
Viviana has assisted clients with contested and non-contested permitting matters in both formal and informal proceeding with state and local regulatory agencies including the South Coast Air Quality Management District and other air districts, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and regional water quality control boards. She has achieved numerous dismissals, resolutions, and settlements for clients facing violations operating contrary to federally enforceable permit limits, constructing and operating without proper air quality permits, and failure to maintain proper health, safety, and emergency management plans.
Her regulatory expertise includes working with both mobile and stationary sources of pollution and contesting or refining application of onerous Best Achievable Control Technology (BACT) determinations, reporting and compliance under the greenhouse gas regulation, and complying or finding defenses or exclusions to environmental laws involving hazardous waste and materials management, the Clean Water Act (CWA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and consumer protection laws including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and California’s Safe Consumer Product regulations and Proposition 65.
Viviana’s regularly utilizes well-formed strong relationships with state and local regulators and attorneys at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, regional water quality control boards, California Air Resources Board and local air pollution control districts (including South Coast Air Quality Management District), allow her to strategically advocate and defend contested environmental administrative and litigated matters. She has succeeded in excess of 100 matters before the South Coast Air Quality Management District, including dozens of contested hearings, and is among a specialty set of practitioners who know how to succeed within the air district’s administrative framework. She also regularly works with other state and local regulators, including the California Fire Marshal’s Pipeline Safety Unit and local Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs).
Viviana’s clients include major oil and energy companies as well as public entities that operate airports, landfills, and waste treatment facilities. Her unique background includes nearly 10 years in the legal department of a global petrochemical company where she handled environmental compliance and litigation matters relating to marketing, manufacturing and distribution operations. In addition to analyzing state and federal environmental claim liabilities, Viviana compiled the company’s compliance manual that covered federal laws and laws of numerous states.
Prior to private practice, Viviana served as a part-time judicial extern for the Honorable A. Howard Matz.