Mary Katherine Stukes is head of the firm’s Environmental practice. She advises clients on environmental issues involved in all types of business transactions, as well as regulatory compliance issues and environmental litigation. Ranked in Chambers Partners USA since 2017, clients describe her as a “zealous but practical advocate.”

Overview

Mary Katherine helps manufacturers, real estate developers, lenders, local governments, and other clients find creative solutions in real estate, financing, and corporate transactions involving environmental risk.

In addition, Mary Katherine regularly leads her clients through the process of obtaining Brownfields agreements for redevelopment of contaminated properties. She negotiates agreements with environmental agencies and counsels clients on eligibility, assessment, tax benefits, and effective structuring of associated real estate and financing transactions.

She also counsels manufacturers, lenders, and other corporate clients on a broad range of environmental risk and compliance issues. Her work in this area includes release investigation and remediation oversight, incident closure, environmental permitting, audits, reporting, and self-disclosure, participation in CERCLA potentially responsible party (PRP) negotiations, appeals of agency orders, defense of notices of violation and enforcement actions, assistance with waste and materials handling and disposal practices, stormwater and wastewater management issues, state and federal wetlands and other natural resource issues, and other aspects of regulatory compliance across a variety of state and federal regulatory programs.

Mary Katherine is an experienced litigator in federal, state, and administrative courts. She has represented clients in disputes over contamination, water quality and sedimentation issues, PFAS, landfills, asbestos-containing materials, underground storage tanks, and a variety of other environmental issues.

“She’s practical, knows the substance very well, and could get down to the issues quickly,” one of Mary Katherine’s clients told Chambers USA, which develops rankings using in-depth interviews and objective research. Another client praised her ability to navigate what can be a complex regulatory landscape: “Mary Katherine helped break down the walls and get the process moving.”

Representative Experience

  • Obtained numerous Brownfields agreements and associated tax incentives on behalf of clients redeveloping contaminated sites, including high-density commercial sites in the downtown cores of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Wilmington, each valued between $50 million and more than $600 million. Her projects involve the development of various multifamily residential, hotel, office, governmental, hospitality, community development and industrial projects, including the transformation of former landfills, drycleaners, and gas stations into high-density developments such as a minor league baseball stadium, a free-standing emergency department, a police station, a large-scale youth soccer complex, a national craft brewery, and other adaptive reuse projects
  • Advised lenders on environmental aspects of loan initiation, foreclosure, and bank-owned property portfolios
  • Guided a manufacturer in the acquisition of a company subject to an EPA consent order in connection with its use of certain Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) “new chemicals"
  • Counseled manufacturers in managing environmental risk associated with legacy assets
  • Assisted a manufacturer in the purchase of a World War I-era manufacturing site with numerous Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) and ongoing remediation
  • Guided renewable energy developers and investors on environmental issues in connection with large-scale renewable energy project portfolios
  • Counseled clients on a broad variety of environmental subjects, including endangered species and wetlands issues, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, Section 401 water quality certifications, wastewater and stormwater discharge issues, hazardous and solid waste management, vapor intrusion issues, requests for Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) variances, administration of North Carolina's Dry Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program, issues involving underground and aboveground storage tanks and pre-regulatory landfills, environmental insurance and statutory environmental property transfer requirements
  • Negotiated numerous complex indemnity agreements, access agreements, tolling agreements, beneficial reuse agreements, escrow and remediation agreements, land-based and subaqueous easements, water withdrawal agreements, restrictive covenants, and settlement agreements and releases
  • Represented a county in a dispute concerning water quality, water rights, and the relicensing of hydropower operations
  • Represented a national waste services company in several odor litigation matters concerning a municipal solid waste landfill

Notable

Notable

  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law "Lawyer of the Year," 2023 
  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2020-2023; Litigation - Environmental, 2023 
  • Chambers USA – North Carolina, Environmental Law, 2017-2022
  • Business North Carolina’s, Legal Elite, 2015-2016, 2018-2022
  • Co-head, Women of Moore & Van Allen (WoMVA)

News

Affiliations

Affiliations

  • North Carolina Bar Association Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Law Section, Council Member, Newsletter Co-Editor, Annual Meeting CLE Co-Planner, Treasurer, Secretary 
  • Community Link, Board of Directors; Marketing & Development Committee, Former Co-Chair
  • Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Stewardship Committee & Former Annual Campaign Co-Chair
  • Mint Museum Auxiliary
  • Board of Directors Member, NAIOP, Charlotte Chapter, 2021; National Environment and Infrastructure Committee, 2022; Environment and Infrastructure Subcommittee, 2023
  • Member, Association of Vapor Intrusion Professionals, 2021

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

  • Panelist: Waters of the United States’ Definition Evolution: Meandering Riffles, Pools and Runs, National Association of Environmental Professionals, August 31, 2022
  • North Carolina Regulatory Update (Panelist), Environmental Bankers Association Conference, June 14, 2022
  • Navigating Risks Posed by Immediate Action Standards for TCE, April 4, 2022, Global EnviroSummit, Charlotte, NC 
  • Here Comes the Sun:  Regulation of Solar Power in South Carolina (Panelist), January 21, 2022, South Carolina Bar Convention, Greenville, SC
  • Panelist:  Hot Topics (Methane), 2021 Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section Program, May 13, 2021

  • Panelist, Strategies to Incorporate Brownfields Into Local Sites & Building Initiatives, North Carolina Economic Development Association Triad Networking Luncheon, January 2020
  • Moderator, Brownfields Development in the Region, Joint Program of Environmental Law Sections of NC, SC, and GA, May 2018
  • Vapor Intrusion: Legal Aspects, Charlotte Area Environmental Breakfast Club, March 2018
  • DEQ's Risk Calculator: What It Is and How You Can Use It at Contaminated Sites, N.C. Chamber Environmental Compliance Conference, Durham, NC, February 2018
  • When Things Go Wrong, South Carolina Association of Special Purpose Districts (SCSPD) Conference, October 2017
  • The Use of Legal Privileges to Protect Important and Sensitive Documents From Disclosure, Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference, Raleigh, NC, June 2015
  • Odor Nuisance Lawsuits: The Next Wave of Litigation Against Manufacturers, Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference, Raleigh, NC, June 2015

Education

J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007, with honors

B.A., Duke University, 2004

Admissions

  • South Carolina, 2008
  • North Carolina, 2007
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Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law "Lawyer of the Year," 2023

Chambers USA – North Carolina, Environmental Law, 2017-2022
"A spectacular attorney." "Mary is a top quality attorney and enjoyable to deal with. She is efficient in discussing complex environmental law matters." - Chambers, 2022

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