White Collar, Investigations, and Compliance

Downey Brand attorneys have the experience to guide you, your company, and your board through high-stakes matters that require experienced attorneys to provide counsel and guidance in matters that pose significant legal and reputational risk.

Our white collar, investigations, and compliance group is experienced in advocacy, advice, and representation in wide-ranging government and internal investigations, parallel civil and criminal litigation, avoidance of risk, and compliance issues. These matters can be sensitive, and require comprehensive strategic legal advice, responsiveness, coordination between civil and criminal teams, and aggressive advocacy. Downey Brand attorneys have deep experience and significant capabilities to counsel you and your company through all stages of advice, investigation, litigation, and even trial.

Areas of focus and experience include:

  • Government investigations and enforcement actions (state and federal)
  • Internal investigations
  • White collar criminal defense
  • Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act
  • Corporate Governance
  • Ethics & Compliance
  • False Claims Act
  • FCPA and Anti-Corruption

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Energy

Downey Brand attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to help clients navigate virtually every aspect of California’s energy market. Our attorneys represent clients in all aspects of energy project development, generation, transmission, storage, procurement, environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, administrative proceedings, and litigation.

Our energy attorneys routinely represent clients before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Our expertise extends from conventional gas-fired generation and petroleum pipelines and terminals to all types of renewable generation and cutting-edge technologies. We have represented developers, regulated utilities, generators, electric and natural gas service providers, oil pipelines, financial institutions, local governments, and other energy market stakeholders in a wide array of regulatory and litigation matters. Our attorneys understand the unique challenges posed by California’s legal and regulatory environment for energy projects and market participants, and we have the expertise to help our clients navigate those challenges.


Selected Experience

  • Represented Trans-Elect as state regulatory counsel for the Path 15 Upgrade Project in partnership with WAPA and PG&E. This major upgrade of the Central Valley transmission link between northern and southern California was the first privately-financed high voltage transmission project in the U.S.
  • Represented Wild Goose Storage, LLP in obtaining the first certificate of public convenience and necessity for an independent natural gas storage provider in California and three subsequent approvals for expansions of that facility.
  • Represented energy company on EIR for expansion and development of oil wellfield and construction of pipeline for importation of recycled water for oil production activities. The EIR addressed major issues including climate change and air quality, endangered species, public safety and emergency response, and water quality.
  • Advised energy clients on successful applications for air permits for new equipment including generators, and compost operations and digesters. These complex permit applications include review of best Available Control Technology, New Source Review (NSR), and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements, modeling, emission reduction credits, and offsets.
  • Advised a purchaser of grid-scale solar photovoltaic projects and prepared an analysis of regulatory and permitting risks of more than 30 solar facilities.
  • Performed a due diligence analysis of regulatory issues for the financing of several large energy storage facilities.
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Renewable Generation Projects

  • Represented several lenders in connection with all real estate aspects of financings secured by solar and wind generation projects located in California.
  • Represented NextEra Energy in providing regulatory review of tariffs, power purchase agreements, environmental permitting, and transactional documents in connection with the sale of the Shaffer Solar and Adelanto I and II solar projects.
  • Obtained the first Renewables Portfolio Standard certification for an out-of-country generation facility.
  • Advised a public water and energy agency on an EIR for a 200 MW photovoltaic solar farm located in Southern Owens Valley.
  • Land use and environmental due diligence for transmission (gen-tie) line, high voltage substation, and 60-turbine wind energy generation project (252 MW).
  • Represented two utility-scale solar developers in rehearing before the California Public Utilities Commission on CEQA compliance for the El Dorado/Ivanpah Transmission Project, a project to install a new substation and transmission line upgrades in San Bernardino County.
  • Secured retroactive eligibility for several months’ worth of Renewable Energy Credits for three solar projects.
  • Advised a large automaker regarding the use of landfill gas to generate energy and to power boilers at several manufacturing facilities.  This representation also involved representing a coalition of auto manufacturers in EPA’s development of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Boilers.

Traditional Generation and Energy Resources

  • Represented Babcock & Brown and Pattern Energy in the development, permitting, and construction of the Trans Bay Cable Project, a 400 MW direct current underwater transmission cable linking Pittsburg, CA with San Francisco, providing the first additional transmission connection for the isolated San Francisco electric grid.
  • Represented PacifiCorp in the sale of its Deer Creek Mine assets, obtaining authorization for the sale of the assets.
  • Advised clients on compliance with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and California State Fire Marshal pipeline safety and spill response planning requirements. Land use, environmental, and real estate entitlements and permitting work to support replacement of oil transmission pipeline over three counties and private, state, and federal lands.
  • Land use and environmental due diligence for a 240-megawatt natural gas-fired combustion gas turbine electrical power generating plant.
  • Negotiated a significant reduction in gas transportation rates for a large gas-fired generator.
  • Provided regulatory advice and representation for the developer of two large upgrades to the California electric transmission system.

Air Quality Compliance

  • Advised an operator of a cogeneration facility on air permit amendments and compliance issues for a gas-fired turbine. Assisted clients with acquiring air permits for installation of gas turbines at peaker plants in California.  The work involved advocating for Best Available Control Technology determinations regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advised energy clients on the mechanics of and obligations under Cap-and-Trade, following its implementation.
  • Developed an overarching greenhouse gas emissions analysis and mitigation strategy for an oil and gas extraction project.

Representative Litigation

  • Led legal team in advising and defending power facility owners and operating partner in enforcement action filed by Circuit Prosecutor for alleged discharge and placement of material into wetlands
  • Defended a biomass power facility against enforcement action by county air pollution control district alleging hundreds of violations of county, state, and federal air quality regulations and permit requirements.
  • Represented an energy company in CAA enforcement action by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, alleging five years of violations at a central valley biomass power plant.
  • Represented a petroleum company in parallel state and federal enforcement actions involving the release of thousands of barrels of oil from an oil pipeline in the Los Angeles Region. The matter involved claims under the Clean Water Act and California Fish & Game Code, as well as claims of Unfair Competition under Business & Professions Code 17200.
  • Represented a major oil company in connection with extensive remediation matters for terminals, including related litigation regarding natural resource and development damage claims.

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Energy Project Development

California’s energy market is complex and dynamic, and will evolve and expand significantly in the coming decades. California is also a unique legal and regulatory environment for siting, constructing, and operating energy projects of all types. Downey Brand attorneys are valued by clients and co-counsel headquartered both in- and out-of-state for our expertise in California requirements for all aspects of energy project development and operation.

Our attorneys have broad experience representing clients who operate conventional and renewable generating plants and who participate in the energy market. We counsel clients on generation facility siting, project finance, environmental permitting and litigation defense, greenhouse gas and other pollutant credits and trading, power purchase agreements, interconnection, and electric transmission. We have also represented a variety of energy clients before the California Public Utilities Commission and other regulatory bodies. We can provide legal advice through the entire development process, from market assessment, regulatory compliance, commercial agreements, and project siting, permitting and development, and regulatory policy monitoring to ensure changing regulations do not pull the rug out from under a project.

Renewable Energy Sector

Our experience in renewable energy resources extends to solar thermal, small- and utility-scale photovoltaic solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric resources. Our attorneys have the expertise and experience to assist clients in virtually all aspects of developing emerging sectors of California’s energy market, such as offshore wind, including the crucial state-level planning for resource and transmission development. In addition to our expertise in the areas necessary to bring offshore wind projects online, our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the issues that will be integral to building out California’s ports to enable assembly and transportation of offshore wind turbine generator units, including the public trust doctrine and the regulatory and environmental requirements for waterfront development.

Conventional Energy Sector

We have extensive experience representing clients that own and operate crude and refined petroleum product production and transportation facilities, natural gas storage and transmission facilities, and gas-fired generation plants.

Facility Siting

We obtain right-of-way easements from private and public entities as needed for pipelines, transmission lines, power generation stations, and oil and gas facilities. We also conduct environmental and title due diligence, facilitate land purchase and financing, and navigate local and state agency approval processes.

Environmental Permitting

Our attorneys have in-depth experience with all aspects of CEQA and NEPA permitting and compliance, as well as other state and federal regulatory requirements, including those under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, common law Public Trust Doctrine, and federal and state Endangered Species Acts. We routinely assist clients in evaluating the appropriate level of environmental review for a project and assessing compliance strategies; we also evaluate negative declarations, environmental impact reports, and environmental impact statements for legal adequacy and revise those documents as needed to ensure compliance and minimize litigation risk. We advise clients in the preparation of applications, negotiation of conditions, and establishment of compliance programs for permits, including those issued for the operation of air emissions sources under the Clean Air Act; and for discharges of water or dredge-and-fill under the Clean Water Act and California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.

Environmental Litigation

When necessary, we litigate CEQA, NEPA, and related environmental challenges in both state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings before state and federal regulatory agencies. Our attorneys have successfully defended many projects at trial and on appeal, including before the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Air Pollutant Credits and Trading

Our air quality attorneys have extensive experience advising clients regarding California’s greenhouse gas reporting system and Cap-and-Trade program. We have also helped clients reach solutions with regulators to promote California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals while also ensuring that business operations remain feasible.

Interconnection and Power Purchase Agreements

Our energy regulatory attorneys advise independent renewable and conventional generators on the details of power purchase agreements and interconnection agreements. We also guide clients through the federal and state regulatory requirements that affect the economic and legal viability of generating facilities and renewable energy projects.

Transmission Projects

We have provided key regulatory advice and representation to independent transmission developers throughout the approval and development of their innovative and privately financed transmission projects.  Our representation has included CPUC environmental review and construction approval, and wildfire safety compliance.


Representative Energy Projects

Renewable Energy

  • Advised a solar energy project developer on the process for terminating Williamson Act and Farmland Security Zone protections.
  • Refinancing of Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Projects, California. Represented several lenders in connection with all real estate aspects of financings secured by solar and wind generation projects located in California.
  • Solano Wind Project, Solano County. CEQA review for 128 MW project involving 75 wind turbine generators and associated transmission in the Collinsville-Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area, including review of avian and bat mortality, air traffic control radar, construction-related air quality emissions, and aesthetics.
  • UtilityScale Wind Project, Oregon. Helped obtain the California Public Utility Commission’s approval for a Power Purchase Agreement for the nation’s largest (at the time) wind project.
  • Utility-Scale Wind Project, San Diego County. Land use and environmental due diligence for transmission (gen-tie) line, a high-voltage substation, and 60-turbine 252 MW wind energy generation project.
  • Utility-Scale Wind Project Repowering, Alameda County. Advised renewable energy company on permitting due diligence and related real estate matters on sale of wind energy facility and repowering project.
  • Utility-Scale Solar Power Plants, California and Nevada. Advised developer on regulatory strategies under NEPA and CEQA for development of thermal-solar power plants in California and Nevada with planned output of 750 MW.
  • Distribution Station, Southern California. Advised public water and energy agency on CEQA compliance for an EIR for the construction of a new power distribution station.
  • Photovoltaic Solar Project, Southern Owens Valley. Advised public water and energy agency on an EIR for a 200 MW photovoltaic solar farm.
  • Landfill Gas-to-Energy, Midwest. Advised a large automaker regarding the use of landfill gas to generate energy and to power boilers at several manufacturing facilities. This representation also involved representing a coalition of auto manufacturers in EPA’s development of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Boilers.
  • GHG Reduction for Retail Energy Service Provider, California. Represented a large retail service provider in the comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction proceedings in California under Assembly Bill 32 before the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, and CPUC.
  • Air Permitting for Cogeneration and Peaker Plants. Advised operator of a cogeneration facility on air permit amendments and compliance issues for a gas-fired turbine. Assisted clients with acquiring air permits for installation of gas turbines at peaker plants in California.  The work involved advocating for Best Available Control Technology determinations regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
  • GHG Emissions and Mitigation. Developed an overarching greenhouse gas emissions analysis and mitigation strategy for an oil and gas extraction project.
  • Clean Air Act Compliance. Advised developers regarding compliance with federal greenhouse gas requirements under the Clean Air Act.
  • Cap-and-Trade Participation and Compliance. Advised energy clients on the mechanics of and obligations under Cap-and-Trade, following its implementation.

Energy Storage Projects

  • Large-Scale Storage Facility Financing, California. Performed due diligence analysis of regulatory issues for the financing of several large energy storage facilities.
  • Regulatory Approval Process for Utility-Owned Storage, California. Represented a nationwide developer of large-scale energy storage projects at the CPUC in connection with a utility-owned storage proposal that raised interconnection issues.

 Transmission Projects

  • Land-based Transmission Line Construction. Our team provided California regulatory representation of Trans Elect, the sponsor of the Path 15 Upgrade project, the first independently financed high voltage transmission project in the United States.
  • Underwater Transmission Line Construction, California. Represented Babcock & Brown and Pattern Energy in the development, permitting, and construction of the Trans Bay Cable Project, a 400 MW direct current underwater transmission cable linking Pittsburg, CA with San Francisco, providing the first additional transmission connection for the isolated San Francisco electric grid.
  • El Dorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project, San Bernardino County. Represented two utility-scale solar developers in supporting CEQA compliance for new substation and transmission line upgrades approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.
  • Gates and Round Mountain Dynamic Reactive Support Projects. Represented the developer of two major upgrades to the California transmission system in proceedings seeking the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Conventional Generation

  • Cogeneration Plant, Contra Costa County. Land use and environmental due diligence for a 240 MW natural gas-fired combustion gas turbine electrical power generating plant.
  • Power Plant Refinancing. Provided permitting due diligence in support of refinancing of two natural gas fired peaker plants in the Bay Area.
  •  Power Plant Fuel Costs. Negotiated a significant reduction in gas transportation rates for a large gas-fired generator.

Natural Gas Transmission and Storage

  • Natural Gas Storage Field Permitting and Development. Represented the first independent natural gas storage providers in California to obtain necessary regulatory approvals to commence operations. We provide ongoing regulatory advice and representation to the storage field operators before the CPUC.
  • Natural Gas Transmission. Routinely advise and represent natural gas storage providers and independent power producers in natural gas transmission and rate design proceedings at the CPUC.

Pipelines and Terminals

  • Oil Drilling and Production, Santa Barbara County. Comprehensive CEQA review of oil wellfield and infrastructure needed to deliver recycled water for production process. Significant issues included compliance with California’s Cap-and-Trade program, climate change impacts and mitigation, and consultations with federal and state wildlife agencies on endangered species.
  • Lines 901/903 Replacement, Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Kern. Land use, environmental, and real estate and permitting work to support replacement of 123-mile oil transmission pipeline over three counties and private, state, and federal lands.
  • Acquisition of Oil and Gas Pipeline, California. Supported permitting and land acquisition for large oil and gas pipeline. Addressed concerns regarding safety, impacts to wetlands and wetland species, and impacts to migratory birds.  Resolved CalTrans needs regarding right-of-way for needed highway crossing and modified pipeline sizing to accommodate future users without expanding environmental analysis.
  • Environmental Remediation, California. Represented major oil company in connection with terminals’ extensive remediation matters, including related litigation regarding natural resource and development damages claims.
  • Accidental Release Reporting and Compliance, California. Assisted client in responding to reporting requirements and information requests from multiple federal and state agencies in the aftermath of an accidental release.

Representative Litigation

  • CEQA and ALUP Compliance. Defending regional power utility district in litigation defending 92 MW repowering project for wind turbine generators in Montezuma Hills Wind Resources Area, Solano County.  Land use claims include CEQA, Government Code, and Public Utilities Code.
  • Air Quality Compliance. Defended biomass energy company in enforcement action brought by air pollution control district alleging hundreds of violations of local and state air quality statutes and permit requirements.
  • Hazardous Substances. Represented national energy company in action brought by circuit prosecutors for alleged violations of California’s Hazardous Substances Account Act (HSAA) and Water Code.
  • Land Use and Development. Advised and represented a major regional land developer in action brought by the California Attorney General’s Office for alleged violations of the California Water Code and Fish & Game Code.
  • Accidental Release Litigation. Represented petroleum company in parallel state and federal enforcement actions involving the release of thousands of barrels of oil from an oil pipeline in the Los Angeles Region.  The matter involved claims under the Clean Water Act and California Fish & Game Code, as well as claims of Unfair Competition under Business & Professions Code 17200.

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Public Utility Regulation

Downey Brand’s public utility regulation attorneys possess a wealth of experience representing clients before California agencies that regulate electric, natural gas, energy and water utilities, telecommunications providers, and certain groundwater and transportation companies. We guide clients through the regulatory process and related appellate matters, and provide support for our clients’ efforts to achieve legislative solutions to regulatory challenges.

Downey Brand’s public utilities team is comprised of some of the most expert and veteran practitioners in California. Senior partners in our practice have held influential positions in state regulatory agencies, giving us unparalleled acumen in utilities law and practice. Our team works diligently with clients to navigate matters overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), and the Office of Energy Infrastructure and Safety. Notably, our lawyers have achieved great success representing new entrants into the energy and telecommunications markets.

Whether our client is a regulated utility, an energy market participant, an energy project or housing developer, a transportation service provider, a local government entity, a telecommunications service provider, or an entity that is impacted by a public utility, our understanding of the applicable regulatory requirements and our ability to achieve client goals, navigate the regulatory process, and work with regulators and a multitude of agency professions make us the counsel of choice for clients with ambitious goals throughout the region.

Our lawyers represent regulated electric and gas utilities in ratemaking proceedings before the CPUC, as well as independent natural gas storage and suppliers in certification proceedings, regulatory compliance, rate setting, and utility general rate cases. We assist commercial and industrial customers, as well as other large energy users, with issues involving siting, development, interconnection, Power Purchase Agreements, and market incentives for cogeneration, energy storage, demand response, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Our team also advises on Renewables Portfolio Standard certification at the CEC for renewable energy projects.

We advise on the purchase and sale of regulated utility assets, and the siting and construction of utility assets, such as transmission lines and power generation facilities. We also represent clients in connection with decommissioning of utility assets, such as the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and the four dams in the Lower Klamath Project. We also provide counsel and assistance to the Legislature and our clients by crafting legislation affecting regulated utilities, the California energy market, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and wildfire safety and de-energization.

Our lawyers provide expert representation to providers of wireless and wireline telecommunications services, including CPUC certification and regulatory oversight matters.

We represent a broad range of clients in transportation matters. We assist charter-party carriers, vessel ferry and freight service providers, and airport shuttles obtain regulatory approvals for operations and rates. We also assist local governments and railroad corporations with matters relating to rail crossings.

In the event of an enforcement proceeding, we aggressively defend CPUC enforcement actions for renewable energy procurement obligations and telecommunications and transportation services. Our attorneys represent clients in enforcement proceedings against regulated utilities for wildfire liability and other failures to abide by regulatory obligations and assist with appeals of CPUC decisions to the California appellate courts.

As change is both inevitable and a constant in the utilities industries, our team remains diligently proactive in identifying and anticipating developments involving complex utilities regulations. We focus not only on working with our clients to anticipate and meet existing and changed regulatory requirements, but also with assisting them to thrive within their industries’ transformational framework.


Selected Experience

Selected Experience

  • Our attorneys have played a central role in the drafting and enactment of statutes modernizing the CPUC’s century-old procedures, including crafting measures providing for Internet access to CPUC documents, expanding the opportunity for parties to comment on proposed CPUC orders, evolving CPUC authority to exempt certain financial transactions from otherwise applicable statutory requirements for formal CPUC approval, and revising legislation in which CPUC decisions are published.
  • During the 1997-1998 legislative session, our attorneys participated in the drafting and advocacy leading to the enactment of the Calderon-Peace-MacBride Judicial Review Act of 1998 (SB 779), greatly enlarging the scope of judicial review of CPUC decisions, permitting review of most CPUC decisions in the Court of Appeal; prior to the enactment of the measure CPUC decision were only subject to review in the California Supreme Court by discretionary writ.
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CPUC Procedures and Legislation

  • Our attorneys have played a central role in the drafting and enactment of statutes modernizing the CPUC’s century-old procedures, including crafting measures providing for Internet access to CPUC documents, expanding the opportunity for parties to comment on proposed CPUC orders, evolving CPUC authority to exempt certain financial transactions from otherwise applicable statutory requirements for formal CPUC approval, and revising legislation in which CPUC decisions are published.
  • During the 1997-1998 legislative session, our attorneys participated in the drafting and advocacy leading to the enactment of the Calderon-Peace-MacBride Judicial Review Act of 1998 (SB 779), greatly enlarging the scope of judicial review of CPUC decisions, permitting review of most CPUC decisions in the Court of Appeal; prior to the enactment of the measure CPUC decision were only subject to review in the California Supreme Court by discretionary writ.

Energy

  • Firm attorneys have advised clients on various aspects of the emerging energy storage industry, on topics ranging from integrating storage with residential rooftop solar facilities to developing and obtaining regulatory approvals for large energy storage facilities that will help maintain the reliability of the electric grid, integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into the electric system, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the efficiency of the generation fleet.
  • Firm attorneys assist in performing due diligence and analyzing legal and regulatory risks for companies seeking to acquire, finance, or invest in California energy companies of all types. In addition, our attorneys review and analyze power purchase agreements, and have advised clients on California regulatory issues for some of the most innovative structured financings in the industry. These include the Trans-Elect Path 15 Upgrade, the first privately financed transmission development project in North America.
  • Our regulatory attorneys work with independent renewable and conventional generators to negotiate power purchase agreements and interconnection agreements, and to navigate through the federal and state regulatory requirements that affect the economic and legal viability of generating plants. The firm also represents the Independent Energy Producers Association, the largest and oldest trade association of California independent generating companies.
  • Firm attorneys have long been active in advising and representing the developers and operators of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydroelectric, and other renewable resources. In addition to its representation of individual companies and projects, the firm advises and represents the oldest and largest trade association of California renewable energy producers. Our attorneys represent clients in every phase of the renewable development process, as well as in ongoing regulatory policy proceedings that renewable developers must actively follow.
  • Firm attorneys have provided key regulatory representation to independent transmission developers, such as Trans Elect and the Trans Bay Cable project, throughout their innovative privately financed transmission projects.
  • Firm attorneys were successful in obtaining certification from the Public Utilities Commission for the state’s first independent storage provider.
  • Our regulatory attorneys have represented several major interstate pipelines in their efforts to secure effective state policies for ensuring entry of their gas into the state and allowing gas-on-gas competition to occur within California, unimpeded by anti-competitive rate structures of in-state utilities.

Communications

  • Our attorneys played a significant role in proceedings where much of the current regulatory framework governing telecommunications was developed. For example, firm attorneys, on behalf of their clients, largely drafted the current rules governing Commission approval for mergers and acquisitions of telecommunications providers. Goodin MacBride has played a major role in consumer protection regulation as well as ongoing proceedings which seek to conform regulation to the changing needs of customers seeking to acquire and develop the latest telecommunications technology.
  • Firm attorneys represent many clients with networks that are directly engaged in increasing broadband access in California. Our attorneys have frequently assisted in explaining how market-oriented policies have fostered the multiple forms of telecommunications network competition, bringing California customers more choices and more competitive options.
  • Our regulatory attorneys have represented regulated and unregulated industry participants for over 25 years in proceedings before the CPUC and FCC. These include transactions and disputes involving commercial end-users, major equipment vendors, sales agents, wholesale services and interconnection, access to conduit and other private and public rights-of-way, asset transfers, and construction of fiber optic facilities. Our work has encompassed tax compliance law and enforcement issues, and a myriad of other matters affecting members of the telecommunications industry in California.
  • Firm attorneys have been instrumental in shaping and defining the regulation of wireless carriers at the state level in California. Through coordination with CTIA-The Wireless Association®, the nation’s largest wireless trade association, our attorneys have successfully assisted wireless carriers in obtaining California state regulatory policies that are consistent with continued growth and innovation in the wireless market, while continuing to provide more services and improved technology for consumers at lower rates.

Water

  • Firm attorneys have represented CPUC-regulated water companies, government entities operating water systems, developers seeking extensions of water service into new projects, and homeowners associations.
  • Firm attorneys assisted a large state water project contractor in its unprecedented, but successful, effort to acquire the stock (rather than the assets) of a large CPUC regulated water company through eminent domain.
  • Our regulatory attorneys sought and obtained authority for Del Oro Water Company to finance and construct a two-mile pipeline from Lake Oroville service areas to the north and west of the Lake. The matter involved the balancing of ratepayer concerns, advanced by the CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates, as well as the appropriate allocation of funds obtained through the state’s Safe Drinking Water Bond Act.

Transportation

  • Firm attorneys represented the largest airport ground transportation provider in the United States, addressing a multitude of regulatory issues including initial licensing, service area expansion, rate flexibility, and approval for mergers and acquisitions of regulated carriers. Specifically, in late 2009, our regulatory attorneys were successful in obtaining operating authority from the California Public Utilities Commission permitting SuperShuttle to provide service between the Sacramento International Airport and the Napa Valley. The new authority assisted the Sacramento Airport in its efforts to promote the Sacramento Airport as the closest major airport in Northern California to the Wine Country. The new service permits travelers to the Sacramento Airport to enjoy an economic, reliable regularly scheduled service between the airport and the Wine Country.
  • Our attorneys frequently assist companies in the hospitality and tourism industries, such as hotels, ski resorts, and parking facility operators, among others, with transportation licensing and enforcement requirements.
  • Our regulatory attorneys obtain operating authority and tariffs for a variety of regulated transportation providers, including transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, passenger and freight vessels, and chartered transportation.

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Infrastructure

From project inception through construction and beyond, Downey Brand delivers the requisite focus, deep bench of specialized legal counsel, and practical solutions needed to accomplish even the most ambitious infrastructure projects.

California is poised for an unprecedented era of infrastructure development with billions of dollars of investment flowing into the state. Maximizing public and private infrastructure ventures and partnerships, and negotiating and executing complex projects require an interdisciplinary legal team that knows the Golden State’s legal and regulatory terrain, inside and out.

Downey Brand’s infrastructure team delivers the proven skill and honed experience vital to navigate a broad range of legal issues encountered in infrastructure development throughout the state, including regulatory, environmental and land use, real estate and commercial transactional law, construction, and litigation. Our firm maintains a stellar reputation and established network of relationships with project consultants and the many government entities involved in the infrastructure process. Our attorneys are committed to consistently rendering legal counsel that is results-oriented, creative, and nimble, particularly in the face of adamant objection, community opposition, and legal challenges.

When guiding clients through assembling the many pieces of the infrastructure puzzle, our team advises on:

  • Infrastructure planning, including integrating legal strategy with engineering, operations, and construction teams to bolster success, and reduce opposition and litigation risk
  • Permitting and entitlement, including defense of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Local, state, and federal regulatory and environmental permitting issues including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act
  • Project development matters such as land and easement acquisition, and condemnation
  • Construction contracts and implementation, public and private bid contests, mechanics liens, and related labor, safety, and employment issues
  • Dispute resolution at all stages of development, including engagement with government and community stakeholders

The firm represents public agencies and private businesses responsible for planning, developing, building, upgrading, and operating all types of infrastructure initiatives across diverse asset classes — ranging from utilities, power, energy and water to transportation and social infrastructure — and including:

  • Flood control, water supply and distribution, including dams and reservoirs, wastewater treatment, and storm water
  • Ports, airports, roadways, bridges, tunnels, mass transit, and light rail
  • Educational facilities such as schools, universities, and student housing
  • Solar, onshore and offshore wind, biomass, biofuels, waste-to-energy, geothermal, and carbon capture
  • Conventional power generation, transmission, and distribution
  • Upstream, midstream, and downstream oil and gas, including pipelines and related energy transmission facilities
  • Public facilities ranging from courthouses, civic centers, and prisons to stadiums, multi-use facilities and health centers
  • Telecommunications

Pragmatism, productive communication, and the ability to establish trust and rapport among various stakeholders allow us to overcome the complex obstacles our clients face when it comes to project development, implementation, and completion. We are valued for our ability to:

  • Navigate the regulatory maze facing infrastructure development
  • Solve problems associated with complicated regulatory challenges
  • Streamline infrastructure projects, the decision-making process, and various matters involved
  • Collaborate with an integrated team comprised of consultants, engineers, contractors, and public affairs experts to achieve client goals
  • Work within the client’s financial goals and constraints
  • Meet project deadlines and milestones
  • Overcome project opposition, whenever possible through negotiation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution
  • Litigate in state and federal courts to facilitate or defend project approvals when necessary

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Practices


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Natural Resources


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Litigation


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Business

Business


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Air Quality & Climate Change

California’s air quality requirements and the State’s pioneering efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions are constantly evolving and present many challenges and opportunities for California businesses of all sizes. These businesses turn to Downey Brand to lead them through California’s stringent air quality regulations and complex greenhouse gas reduction requirements.

Our air quality attorneys stay current on the latest legal developments and provide cost-efficient environmental compliance solutions for our wide range of clients. Whether it is an energy trader participating in the Cap-and-Trade program, a food processor permitting a new or expanded facility, an oil and gas developer analyzing their carbon impact under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), or a manufacturing facility trying to figure out how to maintain compliance with Clean Air Act (CAA) permits and reporting obligations, Downey Brand’s air quality attorneys can provide strategic, practical counsel.

Businesses operating in California face some of the nation’s most stringent air quality requirements and these requirements may vary significantly based on location of operations. Our attorneys have strong knowledge of the myriad of federal, state and air district regulations and the practical experience to guide clients through permitting, compliance, and reporting obligations. We work with US EPA and California Air Districts to ensure our client’s operating needs are met during the rulemaking process. We assist clients in obtaining air permits required at new facilities and major expansions, including New Source Review (NSR), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Our air quality lawyers advise clients on reporting requirements and compliance certifications, including Title V, and defend clients when being investigated by state or federal agencies.

Assembly Bill 32 (commonly referred to as AB 32) has charged the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CARB’s actions to meet this challenge have resulted in compliance obligations that affect almost all industries in California. These obligations include reporting GHG emissions, participation in the Cap-and-Trade program, and restrictions on emissions of short-lived climate pollutants including methane. Our main office is located in Sacramento, just blocks from CARB headquarters and the other state agencies that are developing California’s greenhouse gas law and policy. Our close proximity to these agencies has given us the unique ability to get to know the key climate change regulators on a personal level. These relationships have helped us address our clients’ climate change related issues as quickly and accurately as possible.

Our air quality lawyers have been involved in climate change regulation from the start, participating in the development of regulations to establish California’s greenhouse gas reporting system and the Cap-and Trade program. We have also participated in regulations impacting municipal utilities by the California Energy Commission, and in the statewide rules requiring the increased use of renewable energy resources as a source of power. Our attorneys are keenly aware of the risk that over-regulation of greenhouse gas emissions may cause companies to leave California (also known as emissions “leakage”). To that end, we have helped clients reach solutions with regulators to ensure that California remains on track for its greenhouse gas reduction goals, while ensuring that business operations remain feasible. We advocate on behalf of clients in proceedings to establish who will get rebates from their electric utility. We also obtained a favorable decision that set statewide precedent for how greenhouse gas impacts from gas fired power plants are analyzed in California.

Clients also turn to Downey Brand’s environmental attorneys for advice on addressing greenhouse gas impacts within the construct of CEQA. Where significance standards have not already been set under CEQA, we help develop and apply such standards in a way that is both acceptable to the government and feasible for our clients. We work with our clients and consultants to develop defensible greenhouse gas impact analyses for our clients’ projects. Where necessary, we work to create feasible mitigation strategies to ensure that development is both financially viable and environmentally responsible. We represent our clients in court proceedings to defend appropriate greenhouse gas analyses, and to challenge inappropriate analyses, all with the goal of advancing our clients’ interests.

Our clients include power plant developers, oil and gas developers, transportation companies, food processors, cement manufacturers, aggregate mines, residential developers, and many other types of companies.


Selected Experience

Selected Experience

  • Assisted clients with developing legally-defensible greenhouse gas significance thresholds under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  • Advised large industrial and commercial operations included in phase one implementation of the greenhouse gas reporting regulations on their obligations and potential upcoming liability for greenhouse gas emissions. Following implementation of Cap-and-Trade, advised energy clients on the mechanics of and obligations under Cap-and Trade.
  • Developed an overarching greenhouse gas emissions analysis and mitigation strategy for an oil and gas extraction project.
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  • Assisted clients with developing legally-defensible greenhouse gas significance thresholds under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  • Advised large industrial and commercial operations included in phase one implementation of the greenhouse gas reporting regulations on their obligations and potential upcoming liability for greenhouse gas emissions. Following implementation of Cap-and-Trade, advised energy clients on the mechanics of and obligations under Cap-and Trade.
  • Developed an overarching greenhouse gas emissions analysis and mitigation strategy for an oil and gas extraction project.
  • Advised developers regarding compliance with federal greenhouse gas requirements under the Clean Air Act. Represented a large retail service provider in the comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction proceedings in California under Assembly Bill 32 before the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission.
  • Advised clients regarding their ability to participate in California’s existing greenhouse gas emission offset development protocols.
  • Worked with CARB to advocate for the development of new statewide greenhouse gas emission offset development protocols to provide new business opportunities for agricultural clients.

Speaking Engagements / Events

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