Experience in Environment Cases

After spending eight years as the Maryland Attorney General Division Chief for Environmental Crimes, Michelle Barnes has the experience and contacts you need to best address your environment and natural resources cases. With that experience, Michelle knows how the Maryland Department of Environment and the Office of the Attorney General evaluate civil and criminal cases and has been on the inside regarding how administrative penalties are assessed. She has worked closely with the chief counsel for both the Maryland Department of Environment and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, as well as all levels of the Natural Resources Police. Additionally, Michelle has been involved in numerous referrals and criminal cases involving the Maryland Critical Area Commission (CAC). For seven years Michelle sat on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Environmental Enforcement Project, a United States regional association for prosecutors, civil agency attorneys and inspectors. You need Michelle’s unique, current and expansive knowledge in your corner.

Natural Resources

Michelle has worked for years with Natural Resources Police on many matters. She understands how the cases are brought and how to handle them. Do you know that anytime you pay a Natural Resources fine you are admitting guilt and the result is a misdemeanor natural resources criminal conviction? And that just like a driving record at MVA, you accumulate a Natural Resources record that is accessible to agencies and courts? And each of those assessments can affect future actions taken against you and penalties involved. Even one ticket can affect you down the road.

Commercial watermen face tougher and tougher sanctions. Legislation allowing administrative hearings to revoke your license have been increasing. Your license is crucial to your livelihood. Don’t take chances. Michelle has the experience and knowledge to get you through any matter.

Additional Areas:

  • Forest conservation
  • Endangered species


Michelle has in-depth knowledge and experience in the environmental regulatory framework that can help in all types of situations:

  • Regulatory Agency Administrative Hearings
  • Inspection Review and Follow-up
  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal Charges

Many individuals and companies don’t realize that you can face BOTH civil/administrative AND criminal actions taken against you for the same activities. And disposition in one area does not offset the penalty in another. You need strong representation to deal with these various possibilities as soon as a concern arises. Michelle is the attorney with the experience and knowledge of the State’s representatives in BOTH those arenas.

Michelle can handle the matter from the beginning through negotiation of administrative consent orders and penalty assessment. She can help you in the entire process of any civil filing by either an agency or private party, as well as any possible criminal matter.

Agencies have become more restrictive and their interpretations, resulting in more filings and higher penalties. Administrations have moved the focus from evidence based proof to speed in filing and Michelle can help you get through the conflicting and confusing regulations and requirements imposed. She can work on your behalf in addressing concerns raised by non-profits and advocacy groups, as well as appear in any permitting, zoning boards or hearings.

Michelle is prepared to represent you in a full range of environmental law matters, including tidal and nontidal wetlands, contaminated site remediation, water pollution, solid waste disposal, hazardous waste storage and disposal, asbestos and more.

Environmental Act Regulations include:

  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)
  • Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • Clean Water Act (CWA) or Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)
  • Oil Pollution Act (OPA)
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)