We recently spoke with Todd Kantorczyk, a partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP, to learn more about the firm and their capabilities in assisting oil and natural gas companies in the Appalachian Basin. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. To start, could you introduce yourself, Manko Gold, and give a brief history of the practice?
My name is Todd Kantorczyk, and I’m an environmental attorney. I’ve been practicing for about 20 years and have been exclusively doing environmental law for most of that time. I first started my career with a large firm in Washington, D.C., but then I eventually moved to the Philadelphia area and joined Manko Gold, where I became partner in 2009.
Manko Gold was founded in 1989, so last year we were fortunate enough to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We focus exclusively on environmental and energy work, so we’re a “boutique” in that sense.
We have a total of thirty-two attorneys and three technical professionals. And while we’re relatively small in number of attorneys, I’d say one thing that sets us apart is that we have one of the largest environmental practices in the region. Basically, we have a very deep bench.
Q. How did the firm come to develop the practice in the Appalachian Basin?
We had deep roots in this region to begin with – particularly in Pennsylvania and the neighboring states of New Jersey, Ohio and Delaware. And historically, we’ve always had a number of clients in the energy space – whether they were pipeline companies, refineries, electric power companies, etc. – that looked to us to help them navigate complex environmental legal issues. When the Marcellus industry started to take off in Pennsylvania around 2007-2008, we already had clients in that sphere, so it was a natural fit for us to continue to service our clients who were trying to be a part of the Marcellus Shale exploration.
Q. How do you support your clients in the energy space?
We do a wide range of things for clients in the natural gas industry. For example, part of my background is in air quality standards and regulations. So, I’ve done a lot with emission permitting in the upstream and midstream sectors. Lately, I have also been assisting midstream clients with earth disturbance and water resource permitting issues. Similarly, my colleague Michael Meloy, does a lot of work with the industry on the waste and remediation side.
Early on, when hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale was relatively new, we helped navigate and create industry standards and regulations as they evolved, both at the national and state level. For example, we have worked very closely with the MSC and with clients in the HF service industry with chemical disclosure laws.
We also have a very vibrant, sophisticated environmental litigation practice. Our litigation team has achieved some significant victories related to the Mariner East Pipeline, which has allowed this very important infrastructure project for the industry and the Commonwealth to continue.
Q. What would you say differentiates Manko Gold from other law firms?
First, is the depth of our bench: While we are small in numbers, we have one of the largest and most experienced environmental practices in the region. We have people working here who were at the forefront of law and regulation just when it was emerging in the early to mid-1970s. So, chances are if you’ve got a complicated environmental issue – we’ve seen it.
Second is that we are a smaller firm, which allows us to be a bit nimbler in terms of being able to service our clients. We pride ourselves on being creative, flexible problem solvers. We strive to understand our clients’ businesses and their business objectives so we can best achieve their goals.
Third, I’d say is our technical sophistication when it comes to environmental issues. Our firm realized early on that there is a very important technical aspect to environmental law, and when it comes to trying to resolve the issues we’re presented with. To that end, we have always had technical professionals who are not attorneys but are folks who are scientists and engineers – and we’re able to use them not just internally, but our clients can use them directly to be a source of finding technical solutions. We even have some clients who call us up just to speak with our technical staff.
Q. When did Manko Gold join the MSC? What value have you experienced since becoming a member?
We’ve been MSC members since almost the very beginning – I remember being at the membership receptions when they were in a small office space in Southpointe and you could barely move! And throughout that time, being a member has certainly allowed us to be on the front lines with the evolving regulation of the oil and gas industry. As I alluded to earlier, we have been able to not only react to changing policies but also shape those regulations as they evolve.
Another thing we’ve enjoyed is being able to interact and bounce ideas off of a whole array people with various roles within the industry. And last, I’d say is that they’re just a bunch of good folks – people who are really passionate about the industry and the good that the industry provides not only the Commonwealth, but the country. I truly enjoy being able to interact and break bread with these folks. It’s been such a positive experience overall.
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