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Eric T. Olsen

Eric assists clients in and outside of Florida on issues related to environmental regulation.
Practicing in this area for over 25 years, he primarily focuses on wetland regulation, mitigation banking, stormwater regulation, consumptive use or water use permitting, water supply, and underground injection control. Eric started as an in-house attorney with the St. Johns River Water Management District, where he worked with other water management districts to develop the Environmental Resource Permitting program, statutes and rules governing wetland mitigation banks, and rules and policies affecting water supply and water use. He also worked on evaluating permit applications and resolving enforcement issues – gaining key understanding of how agency staff evaluate regulatory issues. Since joining HGS, Eric represents industry associations and regulated entities before the Florida Legislature and federal and state regulatory agencies, with the goal of keeping laws and rules reasonable and obtaining permits and other authorizations in a timely, cost-efficient manner. He aspires to develop innovative approaches to regulatory problems that satisfy client needs while meeting mandatory agency requirements. Eric is a lifelong Florida resident, growing and working up in in Jacksonville and Cocoa, Florida, before joining HGS in Tallahassee.
Education
  • University of Florida College of Law, J.D., with honors
  • Clemson University, B.A.
Bar & Court Admissions
  • Florida
  • U.S. District Court (Middle District of Florida)
Professional Affiliations
  • Florida Bar, Environmental and Land Use Law Section, Chair
  • Florida Bar, Environmental Law and Land Use Section Legislative Committee
  • Florida Bar, Administrative Law Section
  • Environmental Restoration Business Association (formerly the National Mitigation Banking Association)
  • Florida Association of Mitigation Bankers
Community Involvement
  • Rotary Club of Tallahassee
  • Apalachee Bay Yacht Club, Vice Commodore
Awards & Recognition
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, for Environmental Law, Litigation – Environmental and Water Law, 2007-2021 editions
  • Listed in Chambers USA, 2012-2020 editions
  • Listed in Florida Trend Magazine’s “Up and Coming Legal Elite” for Environmental and Land Use Law
  • Named the Best Lawyers 2013 “Lawyer of the Year” in Tallahassee for Water
Legal Experience
Wetland Mitigation & Conservation Banking: Worked on over 35 wetland mitigation banks and conservation banks both inside and outside of Florida. Obtained state and federal mitigation bank authorizations. Set up various financial responsibility assurance instruments and drafted site protection instruments such as conservation easements and restrictive covenants. Litigated disputes over wetland mitigation banks. Defended mitigation bank permits from challenges by competing mitigation banks. Fought to have correct number of mitigation credits awarded and allow proper credit usage. Negotiated and drafted mitigation bank transaction agreements such as contracts between landowners and mitigation bank operators and agreements to buy, sell and finance mitigation banks. Worked with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve issues relating to financial responsibility, site protection, proper credit award, mitigation bank operation, and adequate mitigation service area.
Wetland Impact Approvals to Support Development: Helped clients overcome issues and obtain state and federal permits to construct projects involving wetland impacts. Expedited permits through the process. Demonstrated compliance with applicable wetland avoidance and minimization criteria. Demonstrated adequacy of client’s mitigation proposal. Demonstrated that proposed stormwater management system provides adequate treatment. Successfully defended permits from legal challenges brought by third party challengers involving disputes over impacts to threatened or endangered species, impacts to offsite properties, adequacy of stormwater treatment, and whether a project’s proposed mitigation is sufficient. Settled many disputes favorably to the client saving time and litigation costs. Involved in drafting and lobbying legislation governing Environmental Resource Permitting, wetland delineation, mitigation banking and water use regulation. Represented clients before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to obtain permits and solve enforcement issues under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Demonstrated to Corps that wetland impacts could not be avoided and proposed mitigation was adequate.
Water Supply and Consumptive Use Permitting: Helped clients obtain permits for various water uses such as public water supply, agriculture, electric power generation, mining, and other industry. Showed sufficient need for the requested water, demonstrated that proposed water withdraw would not cause environmental harm, ensured compliance with minimum flows and levels, addressed impacts to other existing legal users, and established sufficient permit duration. Worked on protecting clients’ rights in water supply planning ensuring water needs are accurately set forth and reasonable water sources are identified. Helped develop many water use regulations and policies. This includes statutes and regulations affecting water conservation and policies on potable reuse.
Underground Injection Control: Worked on obtaining approvals for over 20 underground injection projects. Steered through approvals for exploratory wells, well construction and operational testing, and operation of injection wells. Worked on various types of underground injection projects including aquifer storage and recovery, aquifer recharge, and Class I disposal. Defended UIC permits in administrative and legal challenges.
Publications & Presentations
Regularly lectures on the subjects of wetland delineation, wetland permitting, and mitigation banking at Florida Chamber of Commerce environmental permitting courses, Florida Bar presentations, CLE International courses, and National Mitigation Banking Conferences.
Regularly lectures on the topics of consumptive use permitting and water supply at Florida Chamber of Commerce environmental permitting courses, CLE International courses, and Public Utility Research Center and the Askew Institute, University of Florida, conferences.
Legislative summaries published in the Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law Section Reporter.
Representative Published Decisions
Southwest Florida Water Management District v. Save the Manatee Club, 773 So.2d 594 (Fla 1st DCA 2000) (assisted in)
In the News
Aug 20, 2020
Hopping Green & Sams attorneys recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2021
Eric Olsen mentioned
Aug 17, 2020
HGS recognized in Chambers USA 2020
Eric Olsen mentioned
Aug 15, 2019
HGS attorneys recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020
Eric Olsen mentioned
Jul 15, 2019
Twelve HGS Attorneys among Environmental Permitting Summer School Faculty
Eric Olsen mentioned