People

Frank L. Merrill

Frank Merrill is a partner and former chair Bricker & Eckler's Energy, Public Utilities & Environmental law group. His practice focuses on the effect of environmental law on real estate transactions, solid and hazardous waste representation, land use, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act litigation and commercial real estate transactions. He is the environmental counsel for the Ohio Manufacturers' Association.

Frank has successfully obtained and defended through the administrative process operating permits for several solid waste disposal facilities; has successfully defended hazardous waste burning facilities from various regulatory and citizen-group challenges; and counsels hazardous waste disposal facilities and hazardous waste generators on compliance with RCRA, TSCA, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. In addition, he counsels real estate developers and private property owners on wetlands issues and regulatory takings claims.

"Frank Merrill is a highly regarded environmental lawyer whose broad expertise encompasses CWA and CAA matters, hazardous waste issues, Superfunds and the environmental aspects of business transactions."

As quoted in Chambers USA, 2018

"Frank Merrill is praised for his ability to 'quickly break down the elements of a complex subject and focus on the main issues.'"

As quoted in Chambers USA, 2012

Experience

  • Immediate access to construct interstate gas pipeline

    Served as appellate counsel in an appeal from a federal district court order granting a natural gas pipeline company immediate access to property in order to construct the pipeline. This was a case of first impression for the Sixth Circuit, as it considered whether to adopt the Sage approach. The Sage decision is the seminal case that outlines the process for obtaining injunctive relief to begin construction of a FERC-approved pipeline while the underlying condemnation/valuation case proceeds.

  • Oil and gas transactions and disputes

    Provide Ohio-specific legal counsel to Gulfport Energy Corporation on a variety of transactional and litigation matters primarily involving title issues and oil and gas lease disputes, including several appeals. 

  • Landfill clean-up litigation

    Serve as litigation counsel for the Dayton Power & Light Company relating to a clean-up of an old landfill pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Clean-up at the site could exceed $100 million, involves dozens of parties and has a long procedural history.

  • International manufacturer facility in central Ohio

    Retained by an Italian-based company to provide all legal services in the construction and development of a 1.4 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in central Ohio. One of the main aspects of the site selection involved the environmental conditions of the site and environmental permitting issues in the project’s development. In this engagement, the firm assisted with various real estate, environmental and tax matters, including the negotiation of a variety of easements. The PUCO has approved energy efficiency rebates for the company’s combined heat and power systems which will result in significant cost savings and operational benefits.

  • CERCLA litigation

    Served as trial counsel in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) litigation representing a current owner against various potentially responsible parties.

  • $40 million natural gas pipeline siting

    Represent NRG Ohio Pipeline Co. LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., in the siting of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline, 24 inches in diameter and 20 miles in length. The pipeline will supply NRG’s Avon Lake generation facility, which is being converted from a coal-fired plant to natural gas-fired plant. As part of this process, we assisted NRG in the formation of this pipeline subsidiary and represented the pipeline company through the permitting procedures of the Ohio Power Siting Board. After a fully-litigated proceeding, the client obtained its required certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board in 2015. Obtaining this certificate was crucial to the future viability of the NRG plant in Avon Lake. The pipeline gives the company an alternative to $422 million in pollution control devices that would have been necessary to comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency pollution guidelines. Most recently, we have been working with NRG to assist with its easement acquisition efforts, including both voluntary easement negotiations and assistance with state court eminent domain proceedings.

  • Injunctive relief to obtain survey access to construct natural gas pipeline

    Obtained injunctive relief in federal court permitting our client to access landowners' property to conduct survey activities during the FERC pre-application process in conjunction with its construction of a $450 million, 75-mile natural gas pipeline. 

  • Multiple lawsuits filed in Ohio Courts of Common Pleas to obtain survey access under Ohio law for $2 billion project

    Obtained injunctive relief for pipeline company client as trial counsel in 11 Ohio courts of common pleas in proceedings against landowners and organized opposition, allowing client access to property to conduct civil, cultural, environmental and cultural survey activities required for FERC application process in conjunction with the client’s construction of a $2 billion, 256-mile interstate natural gas pipeline originating in Ohio. The complexity of issues in these matters required sophisticated organization, detailed planning, and fine-tuned litigation management skills.

    Cases:

    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Haubert, Columbiana C.P. No. 2015CV275 (June 2, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sprague, Erie C.P. No. 2015 CV 0349 (Oct. 29, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sean S. Shinaberry Trust, Fulton C.P. No. 15CV000154 (July 17, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Snyder, Fulton C.P. No. 16CV128 (July 7, 2016)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Patricia A. Wolf, Trustee, Huron C.P. No. CVH20150491 (July 21, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Karen M. Fridenstein & Kristin H. McDonough, Trustees, Lorain C.P. No. 15CV186926 (July 15, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Pandy Farm, LLC, Lorain C.P. No. 15CV186926 (Sept. 4, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Hozakski, Lorain C.P. No. 16 CV 189911 (July 5, 2016)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Lonnie Perry Farms Ltd., Lucas C.P. No. CI201503111 (June 25, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Houston, Medina C.P. No. 15CIV0636 (Oct. 6, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Ohms Acres LLC, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV535 (June 15, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Scott L. Rathfelder, Trustee, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV908 (Sept. 17, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Scott L. Rathfelder, Trustee, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV908 (Sept. 29, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Destefano, Stark C.P. No. 2015CV01586 (July 31, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Camelback, Ltd., Stark C.P. No. 2015CV01586 (Sept. 2, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Linhart, Stark C.P. 2015CV02073 (Oct. 7, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Srock, Wayne C.P. No. CVC-H 000304 (Aug. 10, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Adkins, Wayne C.P. No. CVC-H 000304 (Oct. 14, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. North, Wayne C.P. No. 2016 CVC-H 000327 (July 6, 2016)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Griffith, Wood C.P. No. 15 CV 330 (July 14, 2015)
    NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sprague, 6th Dist. Erie No. E-15-069, 2016-Ohio-4901 (July 7, 2016)

  • Federal eminent domain proceeding to construct $450 million natural gas pipeline

    Obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on an expedited timeline authorizing a natural gas pipeline company to access property subject to acquisition by eminent domain to conduct tree clearing activities in advance of moratoriums imposed on such activities in order to protect migratory birds and endangered bat species; contempt orders against property owners refusing to honor the order permitting access for tree clearing activities; and immediate injunctive relief against landowners refusing to permit access to their property via eminent domain for construction of a 75-mile natural gas pipeline in eastern Ohio. Also, negotiated settlements with landowners who permitted access and complex, technical settlements with public utilities to resolve overlapping easement situations.

  • API government affairs and lobbying activities

    Represent API-Ohio, a state affiliate office of the American Petroleum Institute in governmental affairs and lobbying activities before the Ohio General Assembly, the Governor’s Office and related statewide executive agencies. The firm has participated in high-profile and successful lobbying efforts regarding proposed legislative changes to the oil and gas severance tax and other oil and gas statutes in Ohio. In addition, we played an active role in numerous rule-makings before the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, including the horizontal well-site construction rules and emergency/incident notification rules. The firm has also been involved in negotiating various rule packages before Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio relating to incident notifications, air emissions from compressors and other facilities, and call before you dig procedures.

Professional & Community Activities

  • Member, Bricker & Eckler’s Southeast Ohio team
  • Past President and Advisor to the Board of Directors, Ohio Alliance for the Environment

Presentations & Published Works

  • Presenter, “Environmental Permitting Appeals and Pipeline Construction: Are the Circuit Courts the New Environmental Review Courts?,” Institute for Energy Law, June 2020
  • Presenter, "Environmental Permitting and Issues for the Petrochemical Industry," Energy & Mineral Law Foundation (EMLF), Special Institute on Petrochemicals, April 2018

Bar Admissions & Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association; Ohio State Bar Association; Columbus Bar Association

Awards & Recognition

  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Litigation - Environmental), 2005–2020
  • Recognized, ChambersUSA, Natural Resources & Environment with a Band 2 ranking, 2012–2020; Band 3 ranking, 2008–2011
  • Columbus Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America (Litigation - Environmental), 2014
  • Listed, Ohio Super Lawyers, 2008–2009
  • Rated, BV Distinguished, Martindale-Hubbell

Education

  • University of Cincinnati College of Law (J.D., 1987)
  • Dartmouth College (B.A., 1981)