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Steven A. Burns

  • (205) 226-8736
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  • Georgetown University Law Center
    J.D., 1995
  • Rhodes College
    B.A., 1990, cum laude
Bar Admissions
  • Alabama, 2004
  • District of Columbia, 1998
  • Virginia, 1995
About Steven
Steven is the lead contributor of @CCR_Source, a resource for coal combustion residuals and coal ash news.
  • What types of matters do you work on most often?

    Right now, coal ash is the big one, with efforts to comply with coal combustion residual requirements well underway. Every plant is unique when it comes to CCR and wastewater management. The design, engineering, and construction involved are massive. Add to that a threat of citizen suit litigation and it can be daunting.

    New developments continue to unfold, as always. We’ve been thinking about environmental justice for many years, but the events of 2020 and since have rightfully elevated considerations of justice and equity in the environmental space. Climate change is driving major changes in how we think about how we produce, deliver, and store energy. And of course, PFAS regulation and remediation promise to keep environmental practitioners busy for years to come.

    Waterway issues are another constant. We have a waterway infrastructure that provides very fuel-efficient transportation for bulk goods and containers, but many inland waterways are severely underfunded and in need of significant improvements.

  • What previous experiences, prior to your work at Balch, influence your practice?
  • What do you find most exciting about your work?

Select Matters

  • Coal ash: Advise electric utilities on the disposal and recycling of coal ash, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) waste or gypsum, and other CCR, including potential issues under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), CWA, groundwater requirements, and dust issues.
  • Waste, spill response, and contamination: Advise clients under federal and state waste management programs, including contamination and spill and incident responses and changes made under RCRA or CERCLA
  • Government inspections and information requests: Manage regulatory inspections and government information requests under Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 114, CERLCA Section 104(e), the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and related authorities
  • Chemical management: Advise clients as to chemical management programs, including the Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program and related Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) issues, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program of DHS.
  • Waterways: Advise waterway associations and users on waterway issues, including water resource project funding, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation, water supply, and Corps of Engineers regulatory programs such as Section 10, Section 404, and Section 408.
    • Waterway associations: Regularly provide counsel on regulatory, legislative and legal issues to Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association and other Alabama waterway associations.
    • Officer (Counsel and Secretary) for the National Waterways Conference.
    • Expert in Corps of Engineers authorities for operations, regulations, and funding mechanisms, including annual appropriations and public-private partnership structures and opportunities.
  • Homeland security: Advise business clients on preparedness and resilience issues, including business continuity planning and risk protections under the SAFETY Act.
  • Due diligence for mergers and acquisitions: Perform environmental due diligence and review in support of purchase and sale of electric generating units and manufacturing facilities and for corporate mergers and acquisitions.



      Speaking Engagements


        • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1995
        • Rhodes College, B.A., 1990, cum laude
        Bar Admissions
        • Alabama, 2004
        • District of Columbia, 1998
        • Virginia, 1995
        Professional Affiliations
        • National Waterways Conference (NWC), Counsel and Secretary
        • NWC Legislative Policy Committee, Chair
        • Air and Waste Management Association (A&WMA), Alabama Chapter, Vice Chair, former Chapter Chair
        Awards & Accolades
        • Chambers USA, Environment 
        • The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2016-present
        Community Involvement
        • Kiwanis Club of Birmingham