Clifton J. McFarland

Clifton J. McFarland


Clif McFarland is an experienced environmental lawyer with a strong science background who represents aerospace, energy, real estate, natural resources and other companies and investor groups.

He works with clients throughout California and nationally on remediation, administrative and regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters.  Clif regularly defends clients in contaminated property and regional groundwater contamination litigation. Clients also rely on Clif for advice and counsel on a broad range of environmental law and policy questions.  Representative clients include Lockheed Martin, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, General Electric, Sierra Pacific Industries, and Plains All-American Pipeline.

Clients from a variety of industries look to Clif, an MIT-trained engineer, to resolve difficult legal problems that are intertwined with complex scientific issues.  He is skilled at helping clients resolve unique one-off problems where there is no “cookbook” or standard practice to follow, particularly problems involving issues of environmental law and science.

Clif is experienced in regulatory standard setting proceedings.  These matters often involve complex scientific issues—from toxicology to exposure assessment.  He has been active with both federal and California agencies on Safe Drinking Water Act issues, including the on-going perchlorate rulemaking.

Multi-party groundwater contamination cases may all appear similar at the outset.  However, the strategies to minimize or avoid liability can vary dramatically from case to case.  Clif has represented numerous clients in multi-party groundwater matters, and is adept at identifying the key issues and strategies that will lead to favorable outcomes.

Clif has helped close hundreds of commercial real estate deals involving potentially contaminated property.  He is adept at providing practical advice under transactional pressure to enable clients to make critical decisions.  He knows how to press for real-time discussions with regulators to bring increased certainty to liability determinations, move properties through the cleanup process and obtain closure.

Environmental enforcement matters usually require more attention to factual and scientific issues than to legal issues.  Clif has handled numerous enforcement matters opposite EPA, the Regional Boards, DTSC and various Air Districts.  His persistence, tenacity and strong grasp of the scientific and factual issues have allowed his clients to minimize or avoid fines and penalties.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Member, California EPA—Brownfields Redevelopment Advisory Group, 2008-present
  • Former Commissioner, City of Davis, Natural Resources Commission, 2011-2013
  • Former Commissioner, City of Davis, Historical Resources Management Commission, 2009-2011
  • Former Member, Environmental Law Institute, Council of Partners, 2005-2007
  • Former Senior Editor, ABA Natural Resources & Environmental magazine, 1994-2005
  • Chair, Board of Directors, Capital Stage Theater, 2007-present
  • Member, MIT Educational Council, 1981-1985; 2007-present

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