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. There is an 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 maintains a large focused Environmental Litigation practice, with nearly 25 percent 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 and California’s most significant and contentious matters. Often, these are precedent-setting and high-stakes disputes. BB&K 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 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 & 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. This breadth of experience provides us with insights into the perspectives of the various players. We know the challenges and how to work around them and, through decades of handling environmental matters, we have established an outstanding reputation with judges and good working relationships with regulators, which means that our clients are in the best possible position to get their issues resolved.

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


As counsel to public agencies that collectively provide water to more than two-thirds of California’s population, we have brokered water rights disputes between states and have developed water policies internationally. 

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 were 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 – at both the trial and appellate levels – the Riverside County Transportation Commission 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 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 Los Angeles in administrative proceedings before the California Department of Toxic Substances Control regarding the BKK Landfill in Carson, Calif. 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.
Areas of Focus: Endangered Species | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | General & Special Counsel | Special Districts | Water
Areas of Focus: Endangered Species | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Government Relations | National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) | Public-Private Partnerships | Water | Water Quality
Areas of Focus: Municipal Law | Special Districts
Areas of Focus: Economic Development, Real Estate & Affordable Housing | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Public Agency Litigation | Special Districts | Water
Areas of Focus: Endangered Species | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water | Water Quality | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) | Economic Development, Real Estate & Affordable Housing | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Land Use, Planning & Zoning | Municipal Law | Public Agency Litigation
Areas of Focus: Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: Economic Development, Real Estate & Affordable Housing | Environmental Litigation | Government Relations | Municipal Law | Public Agency Litigation
Areas of Focus: Eminent Domain | Environmental Litigation | Hazardous Waste | Public Agency Litigation | Public Contracts & Construction
Areas of Focus: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) | Environmental Litigation | Land Use, Planning & Zoning | National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) | Public Agency Litigation
Authored Articles & Publications Apr 13, 2021

Court Grants Attorneys' Fees Against City in Development Litigation

CEQA Appellate Court Decision Analyzed by BB&K's Amanda Daams in PublicCEO

Legal Alerts Mar 25, 2021

Appellate Decisions Limiting Groundwater Pumping in an Overdrafted Basin

Antelope Valley Groundwater Basin Adjudication

Client Successes Mar 17, 2021

BB&K Secures Key Groundwater Pumping Rights Ruling

Decision in Antelope Valley Groundwater Basin Adjudication First of its Kind

Press Releases Jan 26, 2021

Six BB&K Attorneys Make Southern California Super Lawyers List

BB&K Attorneys Spanning Across Los Angeles and Irvine Receive 2021 Honor

Legal Alerts Jan 11, 2021

Bringing a Case to Arbitration Should be Easier Following Recent Ninth Circuit Decision

Court Raises the Bar on Appeals Following Voluntary Dismissal

Legal Alerts Dec 10, 2020

EPA Issues Guidance on Groundwater Releases in Wake of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund

Clarity Provided for New “Functional Equivalent” Test

Event Nov 20, 2020

California Land Use Law & Policy Conference 2020

Argent Communications Group

Press Releases Nov 05, 2020

BB&K’s 2021 Best Law Firms Rankings Include New Tier 1 Recognitions

Annual U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers List

Client Successes Sep 22, 2020

Nevada Water Rights Victory

BB&K Attorney Rod Walston Successful in Public Trust Doctrine Dispute in Nevada Supreme Court

Event Sep 21, 2020

IMLA 2020 Annual Conference

International Municipal Lawyers Association

Legal Alerts Sep 01, 2020

California Supreme Court Clarifies Ministerial vs. Discretionary Actions Under CEQA for Well Construction Permits

Decision in Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County of Stanislaus Case

Press Releases Aug 20, 2020

36 BB&K Attorneys Recognized on The Best Lawyers in America List for 2021

Three Named “Lawyers of the Year” and One Included on “Ones to Watch” List

Press Releases Jul 10, 2020

Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars 2020

BB&K Attorneys Honored by Legal Industry

Legal Alerts Jan 13, 2020

New Environmental and Telecommunications Laws

Part 3: California Laws Impacting Public Agencies for 2020

Press Releases Dec 17, 2019

Managing Partner Eric Garner Named Environmental Law MVP

Water Law Veteran Honored by Law360

Press Releases Nov 01, 2019

BB&K Achieves High Marks in “Best Law Firms” Rankings for 2020

U.S. News-Best Lawyers in America Annual List Recognizes Many of the Firm’s Premier Practice Areas

Legal Alerts Oct 30, 2019

Clean Water Act: 2015 Jurisdiction Rule Repeal Set to Take Effect Dec. 23

WOTUS Definition Court Challenges Continue

Client Successes Oct 08, 2019

Budget-Based Water Rates Challenge Dismissed

BB&K Successfully Defends Water District

Event Sep 18, 2019

IMLA 2019 Annual Conference

International Municipal Lawyers Association

Legal Alerts Aug 20, 2019

California Supreme Court Clarifies CEQA’s Most Fundamental Question: What is a “Project?”

Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego

Press Releases Aug 15, 2019

The Best Lawyers Recognizes 31 BB&K Attorneys on 2020 List

Including Seven Named as “Lawyer of the Year”

Legal Alerts Aug 09, 2019

PFAS Concerns Trigger Regulatory and Legal Responses

Federal and State Governments and Courts Concerned About Toxicity and Water Contamination

Event Jul 25, 2019

SGMA’s Next Phase

Sustainable Groundwater Planning in California

Legal Alerts Jul 09, 2019

Irrigation District May Refuse Water Delivery to Rule Violators

Calif. Appellate Court Decision May Also Apply to Other Types of Water Providers

Press Releases Jul 02, 2019

BB&K on 2019 Nor. Cal. Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists

Annual List Acknowledges Attorneys for Professional Achievements

Authored Articles & Publications May 22, 2019

Expert Witnesses: Effective Questioning

Litigator Scott Ditfurth Shares Best Practices in Riverside Lawyer

Authored Articles & Publications May 22, 2019

Rooms with a View: Cross-Examining Experts in Depositions

BB&K Partner Mark Easter Walks Us Through the House of Depositions in Riverside Lawyer Magazine

Authored Articles & Publications Apr 30, 2019

"California Water," Third Edition

Eric Garner’s Updates to Text on Historical, Legal and Policy Issues Affecting California Water Use

Press Releases Apr 24, 2019

BB&K’s Christi Hogin and Andre Monette Honored for Amicus Work by IMLA

The Attorneys Argued About Short-Term Rentals and the Clean Water Act in the Ninth Circuit

Client Successes Apr 24, 2019

Tribe Lacks Standing in Water Suit

Representing Desert Water Agency, BB&K Attorneys Won Partial Dismissal of Case

Press Releases Apr 02, 2019

BB&K a Top Litigation Firm in Sacramento

Sacramento Business Journal Also Gives High Rank for Women Attorney Numbers

Event Mar 25, 2019

2019 AEP California State Conference

Association of Environmental Professionals

Event Mar 18, 2019

California Land Use Law & Policy Conference 2019

Argent Communications Group

Authored Articles & Publications Mar 18, 2019

CEQA Compliance for Businesses

BB&K’s Charity Schiller and Amanda Daams Warn Why Businesses Should Heed CEQA’s Changing Processes

Press Releases Feb 22, 2019

Groundwater Rights Trial Earns Top Verdict Honor from Daily Journal

BB&K Leads Water Agencies’ Defense

Event Feb 02, 2019

The Elephant in the Room: Adjudication Under SGMA

15th Annual California Water Law Symposium

Legal Alerts Jan 11, 2019

California Supreme Court Addresses Standard of Review for EIRs and Air Quality Impact Analyses

Decision in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno Case

Press Releases Dec 17, 2018

BB&K Welcomes Water and Environmental Partner Lowry Crook

Served Senior Positions with the Army Corps of Engineers and the White House

Authored Articles & Publications Dec 13, 2018

Hastings Environmental Law Journal: CEQA’s Judicial Remedies and Reform Recommendations

BB&K’s Michelle Ouellette and Ali Tehrani Authored Law Review Article

BB&K In the News Dec 04, 2018

Partner Andre Monette Discusses SCOTUS Clean Water Act Question with Law360

Invitation to Solicitor General for Opinion is Encouraging, He Says

Press Releases Nov 02, 2018

BB&K Proud to be Among the Best

U.S. News-Best Lawyers 2019 Rankings Released

Event Oct 17, 2018

IMLA 2018 Annual Conference

International Municipal Lawyers Association

Press Releases Oct 08, 2018

BB&K’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources Practice Expands

Firm Welcomes Four New Attorneys to Group

Client Successes Oct 01, 2018

Groundwater Rights Jury Finds in Favor of Public Water Suppliers

BB&K Team Successfully Defends City in First-of-its-Kind Trial in California

Press Releases Sep 17, 2018

Partner Charity Schiller a “Woman Worth Watching”

Profiles in Diversity Journal Recognizes Professionals for their Leadership

Legal Alerts Aug 27, 2018

Court Upholds Approval of Superstore Zoning Ordinance

California Appellate Court Supports the Broad Use of CEQA Addenda

Press Releases Aug 21, 2018

Best Lawyers in America Lists 27 BB&K Attorneys for 2019

Representing a Variety of Practice Areas

Videos Aug 14, 2018

Lauren Langer Video Bio

Partner

BB&K In the News Jul 20, 2018

Kavanaugh and the Clean Water Act

Partner Andre Monette Interviewed by Bloomberg Environment on SCOTUS Nominee

Press Releases Jul 16, 2018

10 BB&K Attorneys Honored on 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers List

One Recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star

Press Releases Jun 22, 2018

BB&K Partner Lauren Langer on Daily Journal 40 Under 40 List

Annual List Recognizes Attorneys for their Achievements

Client Successes May 31, 2018

CEQA Challenge to Billboard Project Defeated

BB&K Attorneys Defended West Hollywood’s Sunset Blvd. Sign Approval

BB&K In the News May 16, 2018

Profile: BB&K CEQA Attorney Amanda Daams

Riverside Lawyer Magazine Features the RCBA Barristers' Past President

Client Successes May 02, 2018

Appellate Court Rejects Challenges to Residential Development in Montebello

BB&K Defends City from CEQA, Brown Act and Planning and Zoning Law Claims

Event Apr 21, 2018

Telecommunications, Disaster Planning and Clean Water Act Updates

IMLA Mid-Year Seminar

Event Apr 18, 2018

2018 Federal Civil Practice Seminar

Federal Bar Association Inland Empire Chapter

Event Apr 17, 2018

Does a Federal Reserved Right to Surface Water Extend to Groundwater?

ABA Water Law Conference

Legal Alerts Apr 05, 2018

Parking Impacts Warrant Only Limited Consideration under CEQA for Infill Projects in Transit Priority Areas

Court Upholds City of Covina Infill Project

Event Mar 25, 2018

2018 AEP State Conference

Association of Environmental Professionals

Legal Alerts Feb 23, 2018

California Water Board Lacks Jurisdiction to Curtail Water Use by Senior Water Rights Holders

Court Decision on California Water Code Authority

Press Releases Feb 08, 2018

Southern California Super Lawyers 2018

Environmental, Public Agency, Litigation and Bankruptcy Partners Recognized

Client Successes Feb 05, 2018

Water Law Case Overturned for City

BB&K Partners Gene Tanaka and Shawn Hagerty Win in California Appellate Court

Legal Alerts Feb 02, 2018

Decision Could Expand Clean Water Act NPDES Permit Requirements

Ninth Circuit Rules in Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui

Legal Alerts Dec 11, 2017

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Increases CEQA Document Filing Fees

Filing Fees for CEQA Notices of Determination Increase Jan. 1

Event Nov 13, 2017

The Scott River Litigation

Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Groundwater Extractions?

Press Releases Nov 01, 2017

Local and National Best Law Firm Recognitions from U.S. News-Best Lawyers in America

BB&K Ranked for a Variety of Areas and Practices on 2018 List

Press Releases Oct 04, 2017

BB&K Attorneys Appointed to State Bar of California Committees

Public, Labor & Employment, Environmental and Insolvency Law Sections

Authored Articles & Publications Sep 28, 2017

Town vs. Gown

How Land Use and Environmental Laws Mediate Disputes Between Universities, Colleges and Communities

Legal Alerts Aug 03, 2017

CEQA Not Preempted in State-Owned Rail Project

California Supreme Court Decision Could Impact High-Speed Rail Project

Client Successes Jul 19, 2017

Mid County Parkway Freeway Infrastructure Project Prevails for Second Time

BB&K Attorneys Represent RCTC; Defeat Environmental Challenges

Legal Alerts Jul 10, 2017

Property Owner Forfeited Right to Challenge Coastal Commission Permit by Constructing Seawall

California Supreme Court Decision Applies to Other Development Permits

Press Releases Jul 07, 2017

Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars 2017

Congratulations to the Nine BB&K Attorneys on this Year’s Lists

BB&K In the News Jun 22, 2017

Calif. County Tax On Leased Tribal Lands Gets Judge's OK

Law360 Interviews Partner Rod Walston on Ruling

Client Successes Jun 22, 2017

Local Taxes on Non-Indian Possessory Interests in Indian Country OK’d by Court

BB&K Wins Major Victory for Local Agencies Confirming Authority for Taxation

Event Jun 12, 2017

Coping with Drought, Floods and the New Federal Administration

Argent's 2017 California Water Law & Policy MCLE Conference

Client Successes Jun 01, 2017

NEPA Victory for Freeway Infrastructure Project in Riverside County

BB&K Team Represents RCTC in Mid County Parkway Project Dispute

Client Successes May 25, 2017

Appellate Court Rejects CEQA Challenges to Development in Santa Ana

BB&K Team Represented City

Press Releases May 25, 2017

Partners Michelle Ouellette and Kelly Salt Named Top Women Lawyers

Daily Journal’s Annual List of California’s Best Female Attorneys

Event May 18, 2017

AEP 2017: Bridging the Gap

California State Conference

Event Apr 25, 2017

Water Laws and Regulations

HalfMoon Education Seminars

Event Apr 20, 2017

2017 Federal Civil Practice Seminar

Federal Bar Association Inland Empire Chapter

Client Successes Mar 30, 2017

Art Museum Can Proceed Following BB&K CEQA Victory

Court Strikes Down Challenges to City’s Approval of Pomona College Master Plan Update

Press Releases Mar 23, 2017

BB&K Breaks on to Los Angeles Business Journal’s Top Law Firms List

Firm’s Los Angeles Office Makes Debut at No. 173

Press Releases Mar 23, 2017

Sacramento Business Journal Again Ranks BB&K as a Top Litigation Firm

Based on Number of Attorneys

Authored Articles & Publications Mar 16, 2017

Public Trust Doctrine & Water Rights

The Walker Case: Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Water Rights Established in Judicial Decrees?

Event Feb 28, 2017

Advanced CEQA Workshop (Riverside)

Association of Environmental Professionals

Client Successes Feb 08, 2017

BB&K Represents Water District in Historic Indian Water Rights Settlement

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indian Water Rights Settlement Act

Legal Alerts Jan 25, 2017

WOTUS Rule on Hold in Sixth Circuit

Challenge to Waters of the U.S. Rule Delayed Pending Supreme Court Review

Press Releases Jan 20, 2017

Southern California Super Lawyers 2017

Five BB&K Partners Receive Honor

Legal Alerts Jan 18, 2017

Waters of the U.S. Rule to Go to Supreme Court

Nation’s High Court Agreed to Hear Challenges to Controversial Rule

Legal Alerts Dec 13, 2016

CEQA Document Filing Fees Increase

Fee Increase for CEQA Notices of Determination Effective Jan. 1

Videos Nov 30, 2016

John Holloway Video Bio

Partner

Videos Nov 18, 2016

Eric L. Garner Video Bio

Managing Partner

Legal Alerts Nov 10, 2016

Evaluating a Project’s “Exacerbation” on Existing Environmental Hazards

Substantial Evidence Proving “Exacerbation” Required, California Appellate Court Says

Press Releases Sep 21, 2016

BB&K Partner Jeffrey V. Dunn Named One of the Top 100 Lawyers in California

Resolutions in Two Major Water Rights Matters Cited by the Daily Journal

Legal Alerts Sep 21, 2016

CEQA Allows Developers to Recover Administrative Record Costs when Reimbursing Agency

Appellate Victory for Developers and Public Agencies

Press Releases Aug 31, 2016

BB&K Partner Kara Ueda Among 2016 Sacramento Business Journal’s Best of the Bar

This is Her Third Consecutive Year on the List

Legal Alerts Aug 30, 2016

Environmental Groups to Sue Fish & Wildlife Service Over Listing of 417 Species

Development Projects in California May be Impacted

Legal Alerts Aug 29, 2016

California Supreme Court Requires State to Fund Local Stormwater Programs

Funding Sources Potentially Impacted for Cities and Counties

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