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Environmental Litigation

Environmental litigation is particularly complex and can take the form of short-term administrative or writ proceedings or longer-term litigation and appeals. With the interplay between state and federal laws and regulations, policy considerations, and a variety of competing interests, results can have widespread, long-term implications for future development projects and entire communities.

Best Best & Krieger LLP (BBK) maintains a large focused Environmental Litigation practice, with nearly 25% of our attorneys regularly handling all phases of trial and appellate proceedings. Our environmental litigators are among the most highly qualified and experienced in the nation and have represented clients in many of the nation’s most significant and contentious matters. Often, these are precedent-setting and high-stakes disputes. BBK attorneys have an excellent record of favorably resolving multi-party and multi-district environmental challenges and citizens’ suits in federal and state courts. 

Our Environmental Litigation attorneys also resolve matters beyond the courtroom through arbitration, mediation, and negotiated settlements, and we have extensive experience representing public and private clients in investigations and enforcement actions and hearings before federal, state, and local regulatory agencies, including: 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency
  • The California Public Utilities Commission
  • Air quality management districts 
  • Departments of public health
  • State and regional water resources control boards
  • The Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Land use and zoning authorities 

Unrivaled Depth and Breadth
Our team has the necessary combination of scientific knowledge, regulatory experience, and litigation skill, plus broad-based experience representing clients from a wide variety of industries. These include agri-business, energy, chemical, health care, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and transportation. We represent public entities, cities, water, and other special districts and utilities. Through decades of handling environmental matters, we know the challenges and how to work around them. We have established an outstanding reputation with judges and good working relationships with regulators, which helps us resolve client issues.

Comprehensive Services
We have effectively resolved a wide array of challenges involving:

Our Approach
Our litigation teams are appropriately staffed with litigators and paralegal support and are structured to deliver cost-efficient, effective legal solutions based on each client’s specific needs and goals. Further, we employ the latest technologies to streamline document review, efficiently manage litigation and enhance the presentation of evidence in court.

Representing clients in and out of court, we have litigators fighting the lawsuit, former members of the media helping to communicate our clients’ messages and legislative advocates conveying our clients’ position to legislators and agency officials.

  • Successfully defended the Santa Margarita Water District against six separate lawsuits all challenging the District’s approval of the Cadiz Project under CEQA, which would secure an annual average of 50,000 acre-feet of water, over 50 years, for delivery to SMWD and other water users in Southern California. Following weeks of oral argument, the trial court rejected every one of the petitions and upheld the SMWD’s approvals. (Tetra v. Santa Margarita Water District, Orange County Superior Court, Case No. 30-2012-00576715; et al.)
  • In the Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 747 F.3d 581 (9th Cir. 2014), successfully litigated the State Water Contractors’ challenge against the federal government for failing to perform any NEPA review prior to approval and implementation of a biological opinion with drastic water supply impacts.
  • Successfully defended the Coachella Valley Water District in the Quantification Settlement Agreement litigation, obtaining a ruling from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the environmental review performed under the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Air Act for the Colorado River Water Delivery Agreement was valid. (People of the State of California Ex Rel. Imperial County Air Pollution Control District, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., U.S. District Court, Case No. 09-02233.) Also successfully defended the Coachella Valley Water District in the related state action. 
  • Successfully defended the City of Riverside’s approval of the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project, an approximately 12-mile-long transmission line that would introduce a section source of bulk power delivery to the City. Although the petitioner in the case alleged that the City’s EIR was inadequate, the trial court rejected the lawsuit in its entirety — upholding the City’s approvals. (City of Jurupa Valley v. City of Riverside, et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BS143085.)
  • Successfully defended the City of Pasadena against a CEQA challenge to its approval of the Glenarm Power Plant Project, which would replace an outdated and inefficient steam turbine with a cleaner, more efficient, and more reliable combined cycle turbine. (California Clean Energy Committee v. City of Pasadena; Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BS 142693.)
  • Resolution of CEQA litigation involving the Perris Valley Line commuter rail project. Successfully negotiated the dismissal of the case, the resolution of all issues, and the preclusion of any appeal or federal litigation through a settlement process. (Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. Riverside County Transportation Commission et al., Riverside County Superior Court, Case No. RIC 1113896.)
  • Resolution of two CEQA lawsuits filed by a local community group and the Attorney General of California regarding a warehouse development. Ultimately, the settlement fully resolved the CEQA claims before the administrative record was prepared or the briefs were written, thus avoiding substantial legal fees and delay. (Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. County of Riverside et al., Riverside County Superior Court Case No. RIC 1112063.)
  • Successfully represented the Riverside County Transportation Commission at the trial and appellate levels in an action before the Department of Toxic Substances Control involving the approval of a Remedial Action Plan related to property purchased for a regional transportation project.
  • Represented the City of Colton in approximately 10 state and federal lawsuits spanning almost a decade. The cases recently settled with Colton recovering almost all of its damages, and the responsible parties agreeing to clean up the perchlorate contamination. 
  • Represented the City of Merced in a case involving more than 2,200 plaintiffs claiming damages for toxic torts, and seeking injunctions under RCRA and the Clean Water Act. Merced settled for a relatively minor amount.
  • Represented the County of Los Angeles in administrative proceedings before the California Department of Toxic Substances Control regarding the BKK Landfill in Carson, California. Cost recovery involves numerous public agencies and private corporations, including the California Department of Transportation, which owns a portion of the former landfill and excavated waste for its construction of the San Diego (405) Freeway.  
  • Represented the City of Avalon in the cleanup of legacy contamination from a municipal gas plant before the DTSC.
  • Represented the City of Ontario before the Regional Board Water Control Board regarding alleged contamination from its wastewater treatment plant and the Ontario International Airport.

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