Christopher J. Carr

Christopher J. Carr

Partner

San Francisco, (415) 268-7246

Education

University of California, Berkeley (B.A., 1990)
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (J.D., 1994)
University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 2004)

Bar Admissions

California

Chris Carr serves as chair of the Environment and Energy Group and as co-chair of the firm’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)/Drone Group and the Clean Technology Group. Drawing from his experience with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Carr represents businesses, land developers, private individuals, public agencies, and nonprofits in all areas of environmental and natural resource law, including energy, transportation, water, forestry, mining, coastal and marine resources, and agriculture.

In particular, Mr. Carr’s practice focuses on permitting and litigation under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as their California counterparts: the California ESA, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). He is an expert in local, state, federal, and international laws, regulations, initiatives, and programs to promote the development of clean energy.

Mr. Carr regularly advises clients on permitting for large projects by, and in investigations by and administrative proceedings before, federal, state, and local agencies, including:

  • Bureau of Land Management
  • California Board of Forestry
  • California Coastal Commission
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Fish and Game Commission
  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • NOAA Fisheries (formerly National Marine Fisheries Service)
  • Regional Water Quality Control Boards
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • State Water Resources Control Board
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service

He frequently litigates challenges to environmental permits, approvals, and review documents issued by such agencies in federal and state courts, and defends against “citizen suits” brought under federal environmental statutes.

Mr. Carr is recommended by Chambers USA (2015, 2016), Legal 500 US (2012-2016), and Best Lawyers (2009-2017). In 2013 and 2016, he was recognized by Best Lawyers as “San Francisco Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year,” an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area.

Mr. Carr has served on the City of San Francisco’s Clean Technology Advisory Council, the Wine Institute’s Public Policy Committee, the California Forestry Association’s Legal Affairs Committee, and the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association’s Environment Committee, as well as on the National Advisory Council of the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

Consolidated Edison Development
Defended Panoche Valley Solar project in federal and California courts against motions for preliminary injunction alleging violations of protected species, wetlands permitting, and environmental review requirements.
The Alliance for Solar Choice (Solar City and Sunrun)
Successfully prosecuted Nevada state court challenge to Nevada Public Utilities Commission order altering the tariff for rooftop solar energy.
First Solar, Inc.
Advise First Solar on environmental and land use aspects of solar development, including compliance with NEPA, CEQA, the federal and California ESAs, the Williamson Act, and local zoning and related laws and regulations.
EDF Renewable Energy, Inc.
Advise and represent EDF on environmental and land use aspects of wind and solar development, including securing dismissal of CEQA suit challenging approval of Avalon Wind Energy Project brought by downwind wind farm on novel ground that “wind wake” is an environmental impact that must be analyzed.
City and County of San Francisco
Advised Department of the Environment on local, state, and federal regulatory and permitting requirements for siting, in collaboration with PG&E, tidal energy generation project in San Francisco Bay and wave energy generation project off Ocean Beach.
Silicon Valley Employee Shuttle Litigation
Represent Genentech and lead tech company coalition’s defense of the City and County of San Francisco’s employee shuttle program against a California Environmental Quality Act challenge by the SEIU.
Concerned Dublin Citizens v. City of Dublin
Obtained dismissal for Avalon Bay Communities, Inc. of a CEQA lawsuit (affirmed on appeal) brought by the Carpenters Union to stop development of transit-oriented apartment complex.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Represent CDFA with respect to California Environmental Quality Act compliance for its development of regulations for a medical cannabis cultivation licensing program.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Represented MWD in challenges to Biological Opinions restricting water exports from the Bay Delta because of their alleged impacts on delta smelt and salmonids, issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, respectively.
Northern California River Watch v. Wilcox
Obtained summary judgment dismissal (affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in a published decision) of a citizen suit alleging that California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and developer client violated the ESA when the officials removed an endangered plant that they concluded had been illegally transplanted to our client’s property to block a proposed residential development.
Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council
Advise Council on the federal and state legal requirements for the development and implementation of a Land Conservation Plan for PG&E lands to promote beneficial public values.
California Forestry Association
Serve as outside counsel to California’s timber industry trade association on natural resources and environmental regulatory and litigation matters.
The Nature Conservancy
Advise TNC with respect to domestic and international marine fisheries conservation, including Pacific tuna management reforms, California Central Coast groundfish permit buyback program, and technology use (including drones) for improved fisheries compliance.  Also advised TNC on rice field-flooding contracts for Pacific Flyway waterfowl conservation.
Consolidated Edison Development
Defended Panoche Valley Solar project in federal and California courts against motions for preliminary injunction alleging violations of protected species, wetlands permitting, and environmental review requirements.
The Alliance for Solar Choice (Solar City and Sunrun)
Successfully prosecuted Nevada state court challenge to Nevada Public Utilities Commission order altering the tariff for rooftop solar energy.
First Solar, Inc.
Advise First Solar on environmental and land use aspects of solar development, including compliance with NEPA, CEQA, the federal and California ESAs, the Williamson Act, and local zoning and related laws and regulations.
EDF Renewable Energy, Inc.
Advise and represent EDF on environmental and land use aspects of wind and solar development, including securing dismissal of CEQA suit challenging approval of Avalon Wind Energy Project brought by downwind wind farm on novel ground that “wind wake” is an environmental impact that must be analyzed.
City and County of San Francisco
Advised Department of the Environment on local, state, and federal regulatory and permitting requirements for siting, in collaboration with PG&E, tidal energy generation project in San Francisco Bay and wave energy generation project off Ocean Beach.
Silicon Valley Employee Shuttle Litigation
Represent Genentech and lead tech company coalition’s defense of the City and County of San Francisco’s employee shuttle program against a California Environmental Quality Act challenge by the SEIU.
Concerned Dublin Citizens v. City of Dublin
Obtained dismissal for Avalon Bay Communities, Inc. of a CEQA lawsuit (affirmed on appeal) brought by the Carpenters Union to stop development of transit-oriented apartment complex.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Represent CDFA with respect to California Environmental Quality Act compliance for its development of regulations for a medical cannabis cultivation licensing program.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Represented MWD in challenges to Biological Opinions restricting water exports from the Bay Delta because of their alleged impacts on delta smelt and salmonids, issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, respectively.
Northern California River Watch v. Wilcox
Obtained summary judgment dismissal (affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in a published decision) of a citizen suit alleging that California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and developer client violated the ESA when the officials removed an endangered plant that they concluded had been illegally transplanted to our client’s property to block a proposed residential development.
Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council
Advise Council on the federal and state legal requirements for the development and implementation of a Land Conservation Plan for PG&E lands to promote beneficial public values.
California Forestry Association
Serve as outside counsel to California’s timber industry trade association on natural resources and environmental regulatory and litigation matters.
The Nature Conservancy
Advise TNC with respect to domestic and international marine fisheries conservation, including Pacific tuna management reforms, California Central Coast groundfish permit buyback program, and technology use (including drones) for improved fisheries compliance.  Also advised TNC on rice field-flooding contracts for Pacific Flyway waterfowl conservation.

Mr. Carr is recommended by Chambers USA (2015, 2016), Legal 500 US (2012-2016), and Best Lawyers (2009-2017). In 2013 and 2016, he was recognized by Best Lawyers as “San Francisco Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year,” an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area.

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