Practice Specialties & Significant Cases

Montana and Federal Environmental and Natural Resource Law –

My practice focuses exclusively on public interest litigation, representing NGOs large and small, as well as concerned citizens, in litigation against government agencies and private parties and corporations. Over the past 30 years I have developed several sub-specialties within the broad field of Montana and federal environmental and natural resource law. Download some of my successful cases before the Montana Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals below.

Water Law
“Whiskey’s for drinkin and water’s for fighting” or so they say, and in the American west today that is certainly as true today as it was 150 years ago. As the owner of an 1892 water right, I certainly appreciate the role that water plays in both human and natural ecosystems. My legal work focuses on pollution prevention and TMDLs under the Clean Water Act, protection of public access and recreation rights in water, and protecting water quality and quantity for ranchers and sportsmen.

Cases:


Land Use and Subdivision Development
I have handled over a dozen cases under Montana’s subdivision and zoning laws, including three precedent-setting cases at the Montana Supreme Court. I work with local citizens and homeowner associations to insure that Montana’s land use laws create responsible and sustainable development, and require local governments take a hard look at all of the impacts of development before it happens. I also represent land trusts to enforce conservation easements.

Cases:


Energy
Fossil fuel development leaves a heavy imprint on Montana’s landscape and adds to our carbon footprint that drives climate change. I have worked with ranchers and conservationists in a decades-long campaign to stop the Tongue River Railroad, limit new and expanded coal mines, and protect watersheds from irresponsible coal bed methane development. My work on the Tongue River Railroad has provided considerable expertise on legal proceedings before the Surface Transportation Board.

Cases:

  • Northern Plains v. Fidelity, 325 F. 3d 1155 (9th Cir. 2003)

NEPA/MEPA
Impact assessment under NEPA and Montana’s environmental laws is the cornerstone of public involvement and environmental protection. I have handled numerous NEPA cases against the Forest Service, BLM and Montana state agencies to insure that these laws serve their robust role in resource protection.

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Wildlife Protection
Our wildlife heritage is one of Montana’s greatest resources. I support the federal Endangered Species Act and have been lead counsel in a 17-year legal campaign to protect bull trout, Montana’s largest native fish. I have also represented Montana groups to protect wolves and grizzly bears. In addition I have worked with sportsmen’s groups to limit irresponsible game farms via citizen-initiated legislation, and to protect fair-chase hunting.

Cases:


Constitutional Law
The Montana Constitution is the backbone of Montana environmental law. I have been at the forefront of using Montana’s constitution to protect our right to a clean and healthy environment, to insure that water resources remain in the public trust, and to insure our right to participate in government affairs. I oppose efforts to inflate private takings claims based on environmental regulation. Due process rights are also at the core of our democratic governance, and I represent individuals and groups on due process claims as well.

Cases:

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