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Fern A. Paterson

Charlotte | 704.335.9891
Fax | 704.335.4456

Manufacturers, developers, and other businesses turn to Fern Paterson to navigate environmental compliance. She is a leader within the state and local environmental community. She serves on the council of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section, as well as on the Mecklenburg County Air Quality Commission and on the board of the Carolinas Air Pollution Control Association (CAPCA).

Fern represents clients in environmental investigations, audits, and enforcement actions. She has significant experience negotiating with federal, state, and local authorities to resolve compliance disputes. She also advises on the environmental requirements and challenges associated with large capital projects and development of properties with environmental impacts. She has particular experience in Brownfields redevelopments and South Carolina’s Voluntary Cleanup Contract (VCC) Program. Fern also helps manufacturers track and navigate evolving regulations at the federal and state levels concerning environmental justice and climate change.

Fern has represented a wide variety of clients, including utility, renewable energy (solar, wind, biogas, and biomass), chemical manufacturing, food and beverage manufacturing, wood products, waste management, real estate development, and other commercial and manufacturing clients. Fern also assists in professional negligence and product liability litigation, including litigation alleging personal injury. She is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Prior to joining Parker Poe, Fern was a private environmental consultant focusing on technical air issues and, later, a chemical engineer for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality – Division of Air Quality (DAQ). While at DAQ, Fern drafted and negotiated permits for manufacturers and provided litigation support to the North Carolina Department of Justice. She also coordinated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulated industrial community, environmental groups, and individuals affected by various legal and technical issues. Fern is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) in North Carolina.

Fern regularly speaks on environmental topics such as emerging issues in environmental law, air quality compliance, environmental audits, and endangered species consultations. She also maintains an active pro bono practice, helping indigent clients expunge criminal records and representing abused and neglected children through North Carolina's Guardian ad Litem program.

While at North Carolina Central University, Fern was a senior editor of the North Carolina Central Law Review.

Representative Experience

  • Advised clients on federal, state, and local environmental permitting requirements, including New Source Review construction permits, Title V operating permits, wetlands permits, solid waste permits, and stormwater and industrial wastewater permits.
  • Negotiated consent decrees with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice, as well as settlement agreements and consent orders with various state and local regulatory agencies, and advised clients on operating under and meeting their obligations under such agreements.
  • Supported renewable energy clients in permitting, due diligence, and compliance counsel, including support for solar farms, wind farms, and biogas and biomass facilities.
  • Conducted multimedia environmental audits of manufacturing operations.
  • Represented a solid waste services client in several odor and nuisance compliance lawsuits concerning a municipal solid waste landfill.
  • Advised developers and municipalities through the process of obtaining Brownfields agreements for redevelopment of contaminated properties.
  • Represented condemning parties in eminent domain and condemnation actions.
  • Defended third-party challenges to agency actions, including permitting decisions and interbasin transfers.
  • Advised industrial and manufacturing clients on third-party CERCLA (Superfund) contribution and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) cost recovery claims.
  • Counseled banking, industrial, and commercial clients on Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) consultations related to greenfield developments.
  • Advised manufacturing clients on the Toxic Substances Control Act.
  • Prepared and submitted self-disclosures under EPA and state policies and procedures.

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Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers in Environmental Law, 2021-2022
  • North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, 2019
  • North Carolina State University Caldwell Scholarship
  • North Carolina State University Fellows Program


  • North Carolina Bar Association Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Law Section, Council, 2020-present
  • Carolinas Air Pollution Control Association, Board of Directors, 2021-present
  • Mecklenburg County Air Quality Commission, 2013-pressent
  • Clayworks, Board of Directors, 2020-present