Successfully navigating the environmental regulatory landscape takes two things: knowledge and relationships. Our lawyers bring that—and more.

Morrison & Foerster's environment and energy lawyers know that the permitting and regulatory process can seem endless and unmanageable at times. We apply our unmatched experience and insider knowledge to provide practical advice to businesses and public agencies on a broad variety of environmental, natural resources and product-related regulatory and enforcement issues, helping them obtain associated local, state and federal government permits and approvals.

Our lawyers have substantial experience in the full spectrum of environmental, natural resources and product-related laws and regulations. Our lawyers' value, however, goes beyond knowledge of substantive requirements. We take a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to develop a holistic solution that meets our clients' business objectives.

Our practice strengths include:

  • Compliance and Enforcement: We help our clients develop proactive approaches to avoid litigation. We also work with clients and their consultants to audit compliance programs, develop associated training and address instances of potential non-compliance in advance of enforcement action being initiated. When enforcement is threatened or initiated, we work with our clients to assess the issues raised, present defenses and, when necessary, negotiate settlements on acceptable and sensible terms.
  • Due Diligence and Counseling: We perform both environmental and land use due diligence and counseling, advise on associated risks and environmental impact review processes, and assist with structuring environmental and entitlement provisions of corporate asset and real property transactions.
  • Natural Resources: We have a broad practice in natural resource permitting, endangered species; wetlands; coastal development; water rights and transfers; and timber, mining and water regulation. We know how to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and state resources and water agencies to get permits and navigate the approval process.
  • Consumer Products Law and Regulation: We are widely recognized as having a premier consumer products law and regulatory practice. We represent companies on consumer protection, disclosure/warning and regulatory issues. We provide advice on the entire life cycle of products, including their development, production, labeling, packaging, marketing, sale and disposal.
  • Emerging Issues: We advise clients on cutting-edge environmental, natural resource and land use entitlement issues involving climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, and renewable and non-renewable energy. Our lawyers also are authorities on sustainability and “green” advertising, building and chemistry-related issues and their associated emerging regulatory regimes.

Having served on the inside, our lawyers have intimate knowledge of the workings of state and federal agencies, including those within the EPA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice. We also have valued relationships with senior officials in key California agencies, such as the Attorney General's Office, the California Air Resources Board, state and regional water boards, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Toxic Substances Control.

Our lawyers are also recognized as leaders in their field and are seen as emerging cleantech leaders. They include fellows of the American College of Environmental Law, a former U.S. EPA general counsel, a former chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Environmental Law and a former federal environmental prosecutor. We are members of San Francisco's Clean Technology Advisory Council, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association's Climate Change Advisory Committee and the AB 32 Implementation Group's Steering Committee, among other organizations.

American Pacific Corporation
In addition to our work for American Pacific in its space flight and fine chemicals activities, we advise the company regarding the development and sale of water treatment chemicals and systems for on-shore and off-shore petroleum production facilities, as well as in water-related issues associated with production of specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals. American Pacific is a manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and registered intermediates, energetic products used primarily in space flight and defense systems, clean fire-extinguishing agents and water treatment equipment and chemicals.
California's Proposition 65
We managed an industry response to California’s development of drinking water criteria, drinking water standards, and the scope of hazard identification of perchlorate.  Our administrative efforts succeeded in raising the concentration levels adopted by agencies sixfold above the proposed levels and secured agreements that perchlorate would not be regulated as a reproductive toxicant under California’s Proposition 65.
Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District
We represented the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District in its efforts to control the largest source of particulate air emissions in the country, the Owens Dry Lake bed, enacting new provisions of the State Implementation Plan under the federal Clean Air Act that will involve replacing water in the lake bed and as a consequence, restoring a portion of the lost ecosystem.
Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.
We conducted environmental due diligence in connection with Sumitomo's acquisition of German injection moulder Demag Plastics Group from MPM Holdings, including drafting indemnity provisions in connection with Demag's existing and historical operations.
Union Pacific Railroad Company
We currently are representing Union Pacific Railroad Company in an effort to mediate the settlement of a case pending on appeal where the trial court granted our client's claims to invalidate air pollution rules. We also are advising Union Pacific on additional environmental matters, including health risk assessments to predict the incidence of cancer and other diseases in neighborhoods surrounding major railyards throughout CA, greenhouse gas inventory, and emissions reduction strategy.
Apple Inc.'s New Cupertino Campus
Serving as land use, CEQA and natural resource permitting counsel to Apple in connection with a new, approximately 3.4-million-square-foot campus in Cupertino, California.
EOA, Inc. / Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff
Represents 15 Silicon Valley municipalities on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permitting issues resulting from the federal Clean Water Act and California Water Code. Also represents these municipalities in total maximum daily load (TMDL) and other water quality-related proceedings and on unfunded mandate claims. Representation of the City of Sunnyvale, California also extends to permitting and enforcement issues related to its publicly owned wastewater treatment plant (POTW).
Genentech’s Headquarters Expansion Project
Advise Genentech in replanning its headquarters campus in South San Francisco, assisting in land acquisition, and securing all authorizations to double (more than 6 million square feet) the campus through approval of a new master plan, environmental impact report, and expansion of the Genentech R&D district. This project involves replacing existing buildings, infrastructure improvements, and financing for the new buildings.

Chambers USA 2018
California: Environment

Legal 500 US 2017
Environmental Litigation
Environmental Transactional/Regulatory

U.S. News – Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms 2019
National: Land Use & Zoning Law (Tier 1)
National: Litigation – Environmental (Tier 1)
National: Natural Resources Law (Tier 1)
National: Timber Law (Tier 1)
National: Environmental Law (Tier 2)
Los Angeles: Litigation – Environmental (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Environmental Law (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Land Use & Zoning Law (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Litigation – Environmental (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Natural Resources Law (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Timber Law (Tier 1)

Here is what they say about us:

“They can always access the right agencies and understand the law thoroughly. They are always responsive and deliver a good work product.”
(Chambers USA 2016)

“We look to them to bring depth and knowledge for some very complicated regulatory requirements.”
(Chambers USA 2015)

“Morrison & Foerster LLP’s environmental litigators show ‘great strategic capabilities.’”
(Legal 500 US 2015)

“They understand and always consider the client’s business and operations when counseling and providing advice.”
(Chambers USA 2014)

“Morrison & Foerster LLP is ‘excellent’ for transactional and regulatory advice.”
(Legal 500 US 2014)

“‘Tremendous depth of knowledge’ and ‘great response time’ is what Morrison & Foerster LLP is known for, and its overall ‘fantastic service.’”
(Legal 500 US 2013)

Filter Results

2012 Mergers + Acquisitions Annual Review

The Recorder has named Morrison & Foerster to its inaugural list of "Leading Northern California Environmental Law Practice Groups."

“They can always access the right agencies and understand the law thoroughly. They are always responsive and deliver a good work product.”
(Chambers USA 2016)

“We look to them to bring depth and knowledge for some very complicated regulatory requirements.”
(Chambers USA 2015)

“Morrison & Foerster LLP’s environmental litigators show ‘great strategic capabilities.’”
(Legal 500 US 2015)

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