People

Matthew G. Adams

Partner

San Francisco Office
628.209.4151

Education

J.D., University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 2003
M.A., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, 2003
M.A., Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1999
B.A., Northwestern University, 1998

Bar and Court Admissions

California
U.S. Courts of Appeal for the D.C. and Ninth Circuits
U.S. District Courts for the Central, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Matthew G. Adams

Matt Adams helps clients address environmental issues related to energy, transportation, infrastructure, and natural resource development projects.  He advises on a full range of transactional, regulatory, and litigation matters, with a specialized focus on issues arising under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and other environmental impact assessment laws.  

An experienced litigator, Matt has successfully argued matters of first impression before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (NEPA, NHPA) and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (NEPA, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

Matt regularly counsels tribal governments and tribally owned businesses on environmental and land use issues affecting Indian country.  He also advises a variety of stakeholders on matters related to the protection of indigenous cultural and historic resources.

Prior to joining the Firm, Matt served as chair of the U.S. environment and natural resources practice at an international law firm.

Representative Experience

James River Litigation
Lead counsel in successful NEPA and NHPA litigation arising from Army Corps of Engineers projects on Virginia’s James River.  The case involved two matters of first impression in the DC Circuit, including the first successful NHPA Section 110(f) claim in the 40-year history of the statute.  

Phoenix Flight Path Litigation
Counsel for petitioners in successful NEPA, NHPA, and Section 4(f) litigation challenging Federal Aviation Administration changes to flight paths in and around Phoenix.  The case was the first successful challenge to FAA flight procedures based on non-compliance with environmental review laws.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Advise the Commonwealth government on environmental and natural resource matters arising under its Covenant with the United States, including negotiations with the Defense Department regarding the environmental impacts of military training exercises.

Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Land Restoration and Development 
Environmental review, regulatory approvals, and litigation defense for a Northern California tribal resort development which restores land taken improperly from the tribe in the 1960s for the construction of Oroville Dam; Successfully defended the project against three federal lawsuits raising claims under NEPA, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and the Indian Reorganization Act.

Wind Project Development
Environmental review, permitting, and litigation defense for the developer of a 315 MW wind project located on land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; completed all state and federal environmental review and permitting processes in 18 months, allowing the client to meet key financing deadlines

Forestry Offset Projects
Counsel for a range of offset projects and related regulatory proceedings, including the first sustainable forestry offset credit project to be developed on tribal lands for the California compliance market. 

Guam Firing Ranges
Successful NEPA and CZMA litigation securing the protection of Chamorro Traditional Cultural Properties in the U.S. territory of Guam

Professional and Civic Activities / Awards

  • Chambers USA, Native American Law (2015–Present)
  • Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation (2019)
  • Governor of Arizona’s Heritage Preservation Award (2018)
  • Law360 MVP Award, Law and Policy (2016)
  • Law360, Top Attorneys Under 40 (2016)
  • Board of Directors, San Francisco Heritage (2020-Present)
  • Member, Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (2017–Present)
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Publications

Trump Administration Continues to Overhaul Climate Change Regulations
Energy Law Report
November 2018

Making the National Environmental Policy Act Process Work
Environmental Law Institute
03.22.18

Defense Policy and Cultural Resource Protection in the Western Pacific
National Trust for Historic Preservation
06.13.17

Successfully Navigating the NEPA Process
Environmental Law Institute
03.16.17

Impact of the New Administration on National Offshore Wind Strategy: Three Things to Watch
Renewable Energy World
03.02.17

Pacific Outpost
Civil Beat
12.12.16

Worldview
National Public Radio
12.22.15

Traditional Cultural Properties and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act
National Trust for Historic Preservation
02.25.15

Education

J.D., University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 2003
M.A., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, 2003
M.A., Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1999
B.A., Northwestern University, 1998

Bar and Court Admissions

California
U.S. Courts of Appeal for the D.C. and Ninth Circuits
U.S. District Courts for the Central, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin