Natural Resources

Our lawyers collectively have several decades of experience assisting natural resource development companies succeed in their endeavors.  Our practices have focused on mineral exploration and development, including solid minerals, oil and gas.  We have expertise in all areas of project development, from initial acquisition of land positions, project permitting, environmental compliance, and ultimately through project closure and reclamation.  Our years of experience provide us a comprehensive understanding of client needs and objectives.  We serve our natural resource clients in a variety of roles, from counselor to litigator.

Public Lands/Land Tenure

With much of the western United States' land-base being owned by federal or state governments, we have developed a high level of expertise in public land law.  We frequently work with clients and land management agencies in obtaining and maintaining the necessary rights to conduct operations on public lands.  We have worked extensively with various land management agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and State land agencies.

We have extensive experience working under the federal mining laws, and managing the unique property rights granted by those laws.  We also have broad experience under the federal mineral leasing laws that govern the disposition of oil, gas, coal and other mineral resources. 

Our public lands experience transcends mineral activities, and we have worked with other public land users, such as water users, ski areas and resort developers, to obtain and manage a variety of public land-use authorizations, such as rights of way and special-use permits.  We also have experience facilitating federal land exchanges.

Permitting

We have broad experience navigating the often complex permitting regime that governs natural resource exploration and development projects.  We have facilitated permitting on a diverse range of projects, ranging from BLM authorization of short-term seismic exploration projects to multi-agency permitting for major mining projects.  We have worked extensively in obtaining necessary permits and authorizations under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Forest Management Act and numerous state regulatory programs.

We have assisted clients in permitting numerous projects on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands under the BLM's 3809 regulations and Forest Service regulations governing hard rock mining, plus various permitting requirements for oil and gas operations and water supply facilities. We also have substantial expertise in matters arising under the jurisdiction of state reclamation agencies, water quality and use commissions/courts, and oil and gas commissions.

Our efforts in this arena focus on achieving clients’ joint goals of obtaining permits in a timely manner, while ensuring that those permits contain terms that will be workable over the project life.  Given the often contentious atmosphere surrounding the permitting of many major natural resource development projects, we also work to assist the client and responsible agencies in building a solid administrative record to ensure that issued permits will ultimately stand up to legal challenge.

Environmental Compliance

We have a strong working knowledge of the federal and state environmental regulatory programs that govern natural resources exploration and development projects, and have extensive experience counseling clients and coordinating with the responsible agencies to interpret and implement those regulations.  The scope of our experience is broad and covers many substantive areas, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Oil Pollution Act, Endangered Species Act, CERCLA and RCRA, as well as many state programs. 

Where compliance issues have been identified, we frequently work with clients to resolve those issues on-the-ground, and to address potential legal ramifications with the responsible agencies in order to manage the client's legal exposure.  Where agencies have taken the step of initiating formal enforcement actions, such as issuing notices of violation or compliance orders, we have experience in resolving such disputes through settlement negotiations or, if necessary, administrative appeals and litigation. 

We have developed and managed internal environmental compliance audits for clients related to ongoing operations throughout the western United States and across the globe.  These efforts are designed to balance the multiple objectives of ensuring compliance, managing future risk and fulfilling company-specific environmental policies.

Litigation

We have a strong track record and extensive experience litigating a wide array of natural resource-related disputes.  We frequently appear before various administrative agencies, including the Interior Board of Land Appeals, the Forest Service and various state commissions, as well as state and federal courts though out the United States. 

Where project opponents file actions against the responsible agencies challenging permitting decisions in connection with project approvals, we often appear on behalf of client-interveners to assist in defending those permitting actions.  We have represented clients in such appeals arising under a variety of laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  We also have broad experience litigating environmental citizen suits under a variety of statutes, including CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and RCRA. 

Our attorneys have also litigated many private disputes surrounding natural resource exploration and development projects.  Those matters have involved a wide range of substantive issues including mining claim contests, surface use and access disputes, water rights disputes, lease and venture agreement disputes, and various breach of contract claims and other commercial disputes.

Transactions

We have assisted clients in preparing and negotiating a variety of transactions surrounding natural resource exploration and development projects.  As examples, we have prepared and negotiated venture agreements, surface and underground access agreements, leases, rights-of-way, purchase and sale agreements, rights-of-first refusal, exploration agreements, option agreements and conservation easements.