Environmental Impact Reviews

Environmental impact assessment laws are an area of particular expertise, and clients across the country count on us to help navigate federal environmental review proceedings under the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and other statutes, as well as counterpart state environmental laws such as the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Unlike most law firms, our clients include a full range of stakeholders: local and state agencies; private project proponents; Indian tribes and tribal businesses; territorial governments; non-governmental organizations; and sectoral coalitions.  We have successfully guided some of the nation’s largest and most complex transportation and infrastructure projects through environmental review and permitting processes.  And our attorneys have also helped secure important protections for ecological and historic resources of national importance, including matters of first impression in both the D.C. and Ninth Circuits.  Our team understands the importance of tailoring our counsel to the specific perspectives, interests, and responsibilities of each of our clients, and the breadth and depth of our experience allows us to provide the specialized advice necessary for informed, timely, and strategic decision-making.

Consistent with that approach, we help clients address potential impacts to a full range of ecological, historic, and social resources, in contexts ranging from urban centers to wilderness.  Our substantive expertise extends across environmental media, and including air quality, water, noise, historic and cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, environmental justice, wetlands, coastal resources, and climate, among others.

Representative Cases

Nat’l Parks Conservation Ass’n v. Semonite, 916 F.3d 1075 (D.C. Cir. 2019).  NEPA and NHPA litigation challenging Army Corps of Engineers projects on Virginia’s James River, including the first successful NHPA Section 110(f) claim in the 40-year history of the statute.

Zepplin v. FHWA, 305 F. Supp. 3d 1189 (D. Colo. 2018); Sierra Club v. FHWA, 2018 US Dist. Lexis 56243 (D. Colo. 2018).  Defended $1.2 billion I-70 highway improvement project against NEPA challenge; defeated preliminary injunction motion and secured dismissal of NEPA claims.

City of Phoenix v. Huerta, 869 F.3d 963 (D.C. Cir. 2017).  Represented the City of Phoenix in successful NEPA, NHPA, and Section 4(f) challenge to FAA flight procedures.

Coalition to Make Art Smart v. FTA, 843 F.3d 886 (10th Cir. 2016).  Defended approval of Albuquerque Bus Rapid Transit project on Route 66 against NEPA and NHPA claims, including defeating multiple requests for emergency injunctive relief in both the district court and the Tenth Circuit.

Rags Over the Ark. River, Inc. v. BLM, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 324 (D. Colo. Jan. 2, 2015) Successful defense of permitting for controversial landscape-scale public art project on BLM land.

River Runners for Wilderness v. Martin, 574 F.3d 723 (9th Cir. 2009):  Represented outdoor recreation association in successful defense of  permit allocation and management prescriptions for the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park

Representative Experience

Airport and Airspace

  • Counseled airport sponsors on environmental review, related documentation, and managing public engagement for runway development, terminal infrastructure, access roads, drainage facilities, collateral development, and other major projects at airports across the country, including in Las Vegas; Chicago; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Denver; Dallas-Fort Worth; Seattle-Tacoma; Burbank; West Palm Beach; Homestead, Florida; and Raleigh-Durham.
  • Counseled airport sponsors on environmental reviews for new greenfield airports, including in in Denver; Las Vegas; and Sun Valley, Idaho.
  • Worked with airports throughout the country, including facilities located in Illinois, California, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, on environmental review of multi-modal airport access roads and transit connections.
  • Advise airport, state, and municipal stakeholders in the assessment of proposed airspace changes arising from both airport-initiated programs to reduce noise impacts and FAA-initiated capacity enhancement efforts

Transit and Rail

  • Represent Seattle transit agency on Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) matters relating to the buildout of multiple light rail lines, including successful defense of federal litigation challenging  Federal Transit Administration approvals.
  • Represented a California transit agency in ensuring compliance with environmental review requirements associated with infrastructure and service expansion.
  • Represented a Georgia district in strategies for compliance with environmental requirements arising in conversion of rail property to transit, park, and other uses.


  • Developed and implemented effective strategies for the approval of, or opposition to, highway projects throughout the country.
  • Worked with private entity proposing innovative public–private partnership concession to address capacity needs in a complex mountain corridor.
  • Represented a Colorado local government seeking to implement a preferred alternative to improvements to a critical freeway, including litigation regarding project review requirements under the Colorado Areas and Activities of Statewide Interest statute.
  • Represented a Colorado local government seeking to stop or mitigate detrimental beltway proposal and implement preferred highway improvements.
  • Represented one of the largest entertainment firms in the world on NEPA, NHPA, and Section 4(f) matters relating to the construction of a new highway interchange to serve a proposed theme park.

Tribal Matters

  • Represent a Northern California tribal government on NEPA, NHPA, and CEQA matters relating to the preservation of tribal cultural resources.
  • Advising a Northern California tribal government on casino relocation and resort development project, including NEPA compliance and CEQA litigation relating to off-site infrastructure.
  • Advised on environmental review and regulatory approvals for a Northern California tribal resort development.  The project restores land improperly taken from the tribe in the 1960s for construction of the State Water Project.
  • Our attorneys advised a California tribal government on development of on- and off-trust wastewater treatment infrastructure, including successful defense of the project against multiple CEQA challenges.   
  • Our attorneys represented a Pacific Northwest tribe in successfully challenging the NEPA process for a coal export terminal based on evidence of interference with treaty-protected fishing grounds.
  • Advised on successful environmental review and permitting for an $800 million tribal gaming facility in the Bay Area.  Successfully defended the project against multiple federal lawsuits. in the assessment of proposed airspace changes arising from both airport-initiated programs to reduce noise impacts and FAA-initiated capacity enhancement efforts.

Energy Projects

  • Advise on environmental review and permitting for energy generation and storage projects at airports across the country.
  • Our attorneys advised on the successful environmental review, permitting, and litigation defense for a 315 MW wind project located on federal land, completing all federal and California environmental review and permitting processes in 18 months in order to meet key financing deadlines.
  • Our attorneys advised the developer of a California solar project on successful compliance with CEQA and the California Endangered Species Act.

Water and Utility Projects

  • Represent California public agencies in complex NEPA and CEQA litigation addressing coordinated long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.
  • Serve as special counsel to a California water agency for NEPA and CEQA matters, including development of mitigation programs for regional water banking and exchange programs.
  • Represented Colorado municipality in NEPA process relating to a large water diversion project that would affect city drinking water infrastructure and park lands; helped secure analysis and measures to address concerns.
  • Assisted in securing a federal environmental assessment for Denver Water through an innovative applicant-led procedure that saved the client considerable time and reduced the controversy and mitigation requirements that would have been required had a full federal EIS been required.
  • Represented nonprofit advocacy organizations in navigating the environmental review process and in litigation over the adequacy of environmental impact documentation for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-licensed power facilities in Maine and Nebraska.
  • Represented a major water utility in designing one of the first applicant-prepared environmental reviews of a FERC relicensing for a water/power project in the Rocky Mountain region.


  • Serve as counsel to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on NEPA matters arising from United States military activities within the Commonwealth.
  • Firm attorneys led successful NEPA and CZMA litigation securing the protection of Chamorro Traditional Cultural Properties in the U.S. territory of Guam.
  • Our team has advised local, state, and tribal governments on the drafting of new environmental review statutes and regulations.
  • Assisted the real estate development affiliate of the PGA Tour in matters relating to several large real estate development projects, including the preparation of a federal EIS necessitated by a federal land transfer and federal wetlands permits.