Gravel & Shea PC

December 2018

Gravel & Shea Attorney Presents on Environmental Liability for Tenants

Last month, Gravel & Shea associate Jeff Polubinski presented a session on environmental due diligence at the White & Burke Development Conference. Attended by lenders, developers, environmental consultants, and attorneys, the session provided an overview of environmental protections for owners and operators — with a specific emphasis on recent legislation that impacts tenants.

Since 1986, a variety of legislative actions have been taken to encourage property developers to purchase and rehabilitate potentially contaminated properties. These laws have provided safe harbors for purchasers who take certain actions, such as completing a Phase I Environmental Assessment.

But the legal landscape for tenant operators has been murky, especially since strict liability prevails at both the state and federal level — meaning operators can be held liable for contamination regardless of their culpability.

Tenants often enter into decades-long leases and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars outfitting a space to meet their needs, says Polubinski. “Many think the liability protections under state and federal law just pertain to owners, but there are protections available to tenants. Just like owners, tenants can take a number of steps to mitigate the risks. But they have to know about them in order to take them.”

Polubinski highlighted recent Vermont legislation known as the BUILD Act, which provides clarity about the steps tenants can take to qualify for environmental protections. Tenants who want to take advantage of the law must sure certain actions have been taken at the time of the contract signing.

Polubinski acknowledges that fully understanding the hazardous waste provisions in a contract can be tedious and boring for a potential tenant, but he says, “tenants have to be very careful about the lease they’re signing and potential liability exposure.”

Polubinski joined Gravel & Shea in 2013 after almost a decade working as a geologist at an environmental consulting firm and co-authoring over 100 Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.

New Vermont Association to Support Blockchain Technology Initiatives

Burlington, Vermont (December 10, 2018): On the heels of the Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s announcement of the interagency working group to study the opportunities and challenges presented by blockchain technology in Vermont, the leaders of the newly-formed Vermont Distributed Ledger Governance Association (DLGA) are excited to announce the founding of the DLGA. The DLGA will serve as a landing area for companies and other stakeholders looking to drive commercialization of their blockchain applications while working with the State agencies to pilot those applications and develop best practices for the industry.

The four agencies comprising the State working group will be the Attorney General’s Office; the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR); the Secretary of State; and the Department of Economic Development, Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD). The Vermont DLGA looks forward to working closely with this State working group.

DLGA Executive Director Jeremy Friesen remarked, “Blockchain [DLT] technology is developing at a rapid pace. Over the past several years, Vermont has taken real steps to reinforce its position as a leading state to encourage responsible technology innovation that has the potential to enhance consumer protection while spurring economic development, including jobs, across Vermont and beyond.”

DLGA Board Chair and South Burlington resident John Burton adds “The global DLT industry welcomes the opportunity to pilot and demonstrate the potential benefits of blockchain-enabled technology in Vermont and to collaborate with State agencies where appropriate to help prove the technology. We founded DLGA to help this effort succeed.”

Friesen concludes “We look forward to participating in the planned Interagency Working Group meeting in January, and welcome additional companies, academic institutions and other stakeholders in and outside Vermont to join this very important effort.”

Members of the DLGA will hold a press conference at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at One Lawson Lane, Suite 340 in Burlington, VT.

For more information, contact:

Jeremy Friesen – Executive Director  802-735-2271  (

John Burton – Board Chair  802-448-3530  (

David Thelander – Board Member  415-608-7418  (


VT Blockchain Law blog

Gravel & Shea’s Blockchain Technology group specializes in analyzing and resolving legal issues related to blockchain technology.