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W. Blaine Early III

W. Blaine Early III

Dr. Early's Ph.D. in Biology and experience as a college professor help set him apart as an environmental lawyer, where technical expertise is an important complement to the practice of law. His legal practice is a broad approach to environmental law that includes a focus on water and land issues, agriculture, natural resources and energy, and the intersection of surety law and environmental regulatory matters.  He counsels clients on environmental compliance and environmental considerations in real estate and business transactions and is active in civil and administrative litigation.

Recent Assignments

  • Defending mineral mining operations against citizens' suits alleging unauthorized water pollution
  • Defending power plant's wastewater discharge permit against citizens' challenge
  • Counseling clients on the validity of permit requirements and challenging permits when necessary
  • Part of the legal team for surety companies addressing bankruptcy, mine reclamation, black lung and workers compensation issues
  • Led the legal team on behalf of a major metropolitan area to challenge a wastewater discharge permit upstream of the city's drinking water intake and to protect upstream source water
  • Counsel to major animal agriculture producers in litigation and compliance with environmental laws including Clean Water Act, CERCLA, EPCRA, waste and common law nuisance
  • Counsel for real estate and business transactions and mineral, natural gas and oil development
  • Represented parties in litigation involving water intrusion and mold growth in buildings
  • Defending manufacturers in actions alleging exposure to toxic materials such as lead in the workplace and homes

Recent News, Articles & Speaking Engagements

  • "Compliance With Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Regulations and Unusual Stormwater Conditions," 27th Annual Business and Industry's Sustanability and Environmental, Health & Safety Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, March 27-28, 2018
  • "The Remains of Water Quality Regulation," 20th Annual Kentucky Environmental Permitting and Reporting Conference, Lexington, KY, August 10-11, 2017
  • "Regulatory Climate Under the Trump Administration: Dodd-Frank Act and the CFPB," with Brian M. BennettRichard A. VanceDustyn B. Jones,  Creditors' Rights & Bankruptcy Seminar, Keeneland Race Track, Lexington, KY, April 13, 2017
  • "Best Practices in Sustainability: Zero Waste, Cradle-to-Cradle, Life Cycle Assessment," 28th Annual Sustainabilityand Environmental, Health & Safety Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, March 2017
  • "Current Issues and Perspectives on SMCRA Reclamation Bonding," with William T. Gorton III,  presented before U.S. Dept. of Interior, Office of Surface Mining, Washington, DC, February 11, 2016
  • "Managing the Risks of Climate Change," 14th Annual Kentucky Environmental Conference, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Lexington, Ky., February 10, 2016
  • "Complying with your KPDES Permit Part 2: Details," The Goods, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, May 2015
  • "Hot Topics in Banking and Real Estate Litigation," with Brian R. PollockChrisandrea L. TurnerRichard A. Vance,  Keeneland, April 23, 2015
  • "Stormwater is Everyone’s Challenge," 13th Annual Kentucky Environmental Conference, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, February 10, 2015
  • "Read It, Do It, Document It: Complying with your KPDES Permit, Part 1: Implementing Plans," The Goods, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, January 2015
  • "Sustainability and Biofuels," Sustain, Issue 31, Fall/Winter 2015, Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development, UofL, December 2014
  • "Waters, waters everywhere: Does the proposed definition of waters of the United States expand the Clean Water Act's reach?," Trends, Vol. 46 No. 2, published by the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, November/December 2014
  • "Facing High-Tide Successfully: Getting Stormwater Policies Put into Practice," participant in a Committee Program Call sponsored by three committees of the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, October 2014
  • "Environmental Compliance and Drinking Water Protection: The Roles of Permits, Plans, and Reports," 17th Annual Kentucky Environmental Permitting & Reporting Conference, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, August 20, 2014
  • "You Thought You Had a Permit for That Discharge?," 17th Annual Kentucky Environmental Permitting & Reporting Conference, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, August 19, 2014
  • "From Production to Market," Oil and Gas Rights in Kentucky, Lorman Education Services, Louisville (May 16, 2014) and Lexington, Ky. (May 21, 2014)
  • "Kentucky Regulatory Changes in Water Quality Standards," Environmental Law CLE, Kentucky Bar Association, April 2014
  • "Development of Kentucky Water Laws," and "Complying with Water Quality Laws and Regulations, Kentucky Waters Laws and Regulations, HalfMoon Seminars, Louisville, Ky., January 2014
  • "Stormwater Regulation, It’s Time to Get Serious," 2013 Kentucky Chamber of Commerce 16th Annual Environmental Permitting & Reporting Conference, August 21, 2013
  • "Legal and tax issues for energy generation in Kentucky," Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, May 2013
  • "Natural resources law update: Issues in surface mining," Kentucky Bar Association, April 2013
  • "Water-related initiatives concerning central Appalachian coal mining," Key Environmental Issues in U.S. Region 4, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, February 2013
  • "What do you do with an old power plant?," Stites & Harbison, PLLC, Client Alert, December 14, 2012
  • "You don’t miss it until it’s gone: Drought highlights the importance of water management," Water Quality and Wetlands Committee Newsletter, American Bar Association, Vol. 10, No. 2, August 1, 2012
  • "Reclamation Bonds, The Law of Commercial Surety and Miscellaneous Bonds," with William T. Gorton III,  Second Edition, American Bar Association Fidelity & Surety Law Committee (with George Thompson), May 2012
  • "Trends in Water Quality Issues for Appalachian Mining," Kentucky Water Resources Annual Symposium, March 19, 2012
  • "Current and Emerging Legal Issues on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining," with William T. Gorton III,  webinar presented by BloombergBNA, February 28, 2012
  • "Court says the EPA and Corps of Engineers must follow the law," Stites & Harbison, PLLC, Client Alert, October 19, 2011
  • "The Balancing Act of Biofuels," presented at the Louisville Bar Association, June 8, 2011
  • "Intergovernmental Cooperating and Coercion in Environmental Law," presented at the CLE Seminar sponsored by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, Frankfort, Ky., June 1, 2011
  • "Kentucky Water Laws and Regulations," author and presenter, HalfMoon Seminars, Lexington, Ky., March 31, 2011
  • "Environmental/Reclamation Financial Assurances: Back to the Future," with William T. Gorton III,  56th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Annual Institute, Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 22-24, 2010 (click here to view paper)
  • "Not All Biofuels are Green," Kentucky Bar Association, Bench & Bar, March 2010
  • "SEC Describes Disclosure Requirements on Climate Change," Stites & Harbison, PLLC, Client Alert, February 5, 2010
  • "Big Waters: Everyone’s Resource but Whose Responsibility?," presented as introduction to panel discussion on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, Fall 2009 meeting of the American Bar Association Section on Environmental, Energy, and Resources, Baltimore, Md., September 2009
  • "Property Rights in a Sustainable World: More than Minerals and Surface," Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, presented at the Annual Institute, Hilton Head, S.C., May 2009
  • "Biofuel Production and Water Quality," Newsletter of the Water Quality and Wetlands Committee, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, July 2008
  • "Toilet to Tap and the Clean Water Act," Newsletter of the Water Quality and Wetlands Committee, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, April 2008
  • "Carbon Concerns: Law, Policy, and Business," Environmental Law Update, Kentucky Bar Association, August 2007
  • "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed: The Marriage of Nuisance and Environmental Regulation," presented as part of the panel on CAFO Litigation: Anticipatory Nuisance and CERCLA/EPCRA Liability, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Thirteenth Section Fall Meeting, Nashville, Tenn., September 21-25, 2005
  • "Mold Litigation & Risk Management," presented at Concurring Tomorrow Together, hosted by Park Supply at Caesar's Indiana, January 29, 2005
  • "Surety’s Rights and Obligations Under SMCRA," with William T. Gorton III,  Energy and Mineral Law Foundation's 29th Mineral Law Conference, October 14-15, 2004
  • "The Blending of Bankruptcy and Environmental Law Issues," 19th Annual Environmental Law Institute, University of Kentucky College of Law, November 14, 2003
  • "Managing Risks of Mold," Center for Higher Education Law, Morehead State University October 3, 2003
  • "Mold Fundamentals and the Law," Seminar presentation: Solving Water Intrusion and Mold Problems in Kentucky

More Than Stites & Harbison

Law is Blaine's second career. He served on the biology faculty of Cumberland College (now the University of the Cumberlands) in Williamsburg, Ky., from 1979 until 1993, chairing the department (1984 to 1993) and earning the rank of full professor. Prior to joining the firm in September 1998, Blaine was Judicial Law Clerk to Hon. Jennifer B. Coffman, United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, in London, Kentucky. Blaine is current vice-chair of the Lexington Environmental Commission and is a member of the Executive Board of Bluegrass Tomorrow. He is a member of the board and pro-bono legal counsel for the Upper Cumberland River Watershed Watch and is a member of the board of the state-wide organization Watershed Watch in Kentucky, Inc. Blaine is a fomer member of the Board of Trustees of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation. He is a former chair of the Water Quality and Wetlands Committee of the American Bar Association's Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources; former chair of the Natural Resources Section of the Kentucky Bar Association; and, a former president of the Kentucky Academy of Science.

Professional Accolades

Best Lawyers in America®, Energy Law, Environmental Law and Water Law (2007-19)

Kentucky Super Lawyers® (2016-18)

International Law Office and Lexology, Client Choice Award for Excellence in Client Service (2015)

Robert N. Clay President's Award, Bluegrass Tomorrow Awards Breakfast (2010)

Community Involvement

  • Lexington Environmental Commission, Vice-Chair
  • Bluegrass Tomorrow, Executive Board
  • Upper Cumberland River Watershed Watch, board member and pro-bono legal counsel
  • Watershed Watch in Kentucky, Inc., board member