Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental | Fennemore Craig
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We have a long history in natural resources, energy and environmental law. Our attorneys work primarily in the natural resources and environmental area and they actively serve on boards, committees and organizations dedicated to environmental, natural resources, and water rule-making, policy development, and legislation. Related environmental and natural resources experience in other practice areas includes tax, corporate law, commercial and white collar criminal litigation, real estate, government relations, workman’s compensation, and personal injury and business torts litigation.

We represent clients in diverse and complex matters before the Arizona Corporation Commission and also represents large industrial users of electricity, as well as power plant project developers/owner in both traditional and renewable forms of generation. We provide legal services to two of the state’s largest investor-owned water and wastewater providers, in additional to smaller private water and wastewater utilities in northern and central Arizona. We also assist a variety of clients with state and federal pipeline and railroad safety matters in Arizona and Nevada. Our utilities and regulatory practice also extends to other state agencies, state boards and commissions, as well as related litigation in state and federal courts.

Specific work on behalf of clients includes representation in regulatory proceedings, rule-making, arbitrations, rate-setting, certificates of convenience and necessity, power plant and line siting cases, financing proceedings, appeals to courts from administrative decisions and prosecution of claims to water rights.

We offer a full range of services to clients in:

  • Agribusiness
  • Energy and petroleum
  • Finance
  • Life sciences
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Real estate development
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Utilities and communications
  • Administrative

    We routinely prepare appeals and make presentations on behalf of clients before state and federal administrative bodies and tribunals charged with acting upon permit requests, water rights issues, contamination issues, underground storage tank disputes, and many other environmental, water and natural resource matters.

  • Climate Change

    Climate change has assumed a high-profile role in policy making at all levels of government, both domestically and internationally. Whether one agrees on the science and conclusions relating to climate change, its related policy and rule-making are very real issues for business. Laws and government programs to address climate change have the potential to significantly affect industrial, residential and commercial development, land use, energy, transportation, and agriculture sectors. Government at all levels is enacting climate change-related laws, and businesses and utilities will incur costs as a result. The dominant element driving climate change regulation and rule-making is greenhouse gas emissions and the desire to reduce greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, produced primarily from combustion; methane, produced from landfills, agriculture and coal mines; nitrous oxide, produced from combustion and fertilizers; hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons, produced by refrigeration and semiconductor industries; and sulfur hexafluoride produced from electricity generation and transfer equipment. Our Climate Change attorneys are well versed in domestic and international developments on emerging legal and corporate policies on Climate Change, including the regulation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions affecting businesses.

  • Endangered Species

    We have substantial experience with the federal Endangered Species Act and related laws and regulatory requirements. We represent clients in connection with administrative and court proceedings concerning the listing of species, the designation of critical habitat, Section 7 consultation and prohibitions on the "taking" of species. We have successfully challenged species’ listings, critical habitat designations and biological opinions, and defends clients in lawsuits based on alleged violations of the ESA, as well as NEPA, the Clean Water Act, and other statutes and regulatory programs affecting land and resource use.

  • Environment

    We provide due diligence advice and counseling, and real property and environmental impact assessments for business. We offer environmental compliance and permit counseling for industry and business. The firm routinely works in the areas of:

    • Air quality
    • Endangered species
    • Federal and State Superfund laws
    • Groundwater quality protection
    • Hazardous and solid waste management
    • Historic preservation and archeology
    • Native plant protection
    • Storm water and wastewater management
    • Underground storage tanks (UST)
    • Wetlands regulation
    • Pesticide regulation

    We assist clients to obtain and comply with air permits for major and minor sources, surface (NPDES) and groundwater quality (aquifer protection) permits (APP), and Section 404 permits. We also provide advice regarding management of storm water, wastewater, and solid and hazardous waste, the development and implementation of pollution prevention plans for industry, environmental audits and site assessments, OSHA and EPCRA compliance, coordination of remedial actions and cost recovery efforts, and a multitude of other environmental compliance issues.

  • Legislation

    We represent clients before the Arizona Legislature on environmental and natural resource matters, including water and air quality, solid and hazardous waste, water rights, tax policy and underground storage tank issues. We have helped draft and lobby most of Arizona's major environmental laws, including the Environmental Quality Act of 1986, the state's Air Quality Act, Underground Storage Tank Act, Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (State Superfund), the Groundwater Code and the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment Act.
  • Litigation

    Our civil and criminal litigation experience includes all aspects of environmental and natural resources claims. We represent clients in connection with state and federal and Superfund matters; pursuing and defending private cost recovery actions under state and federal statutes and common law; defending investigations and civil enforcement and criminal prosecutions by state, local and federal prosecuting agencies under the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and all other federal and state statutes; and water rights claims.
  • Public Lands

    We provide a wide range of representation concerning natural resources issues on public and Tribal lands. This includes trials and appeals in federal and state courts, proceedings before various administrative agencies, permitting, and commercial transactions. 

    Our attorneys represent natural resources companies, mining companies, ranchers, developers and other public land users in federal court litigation on a full range of natural resources issues. Our experience includes regularly defending challenges to projects and activities on federal lands involving the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act, as well as other federal and state statutes affecting the use and development of public lands. In addition, we represent clients in administrative appeals and federal court proceedings relating to the issuance of permits and other regulatory matters affecting the development and use of natural resources. We are also experienced in negotiating contracts and water rights settlements with American Indian Tribes and government agencies.

    In addition to litigation, we advise and assist clients on various permitting and transactional matters, rights-of way, grazing permits and other permits relating to the use and occupancy of public lands. The firm also assists clients in connection with rule-making proceedings and administrative appeals and contested cases relating to permits under federal and state land use statutes.

  • Rule-Making and Policy Development

    We regularly participate in and submit comments on behalf of clients in the public process on the formulation of national rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and other federal agencies. We interact frequently with state agencies on the promulgation of rules as well as the development and implementation of policy.

  • Toxic Torts

    Toxic tort litigation involves claims for personal injury and property damage arising out of exposure to a toxic substance. We are experienced in representing clients in toxic tort matters, including claims for:

    • Alleged pulmonary damage from air pollutants, methane gas migration
    • Chemical damage to crops
    • Groundwater contamination involving polychlorinated biphenyls, petrochemicals, trichloroethylene and other industrial solvents
    • Property devaluation
    • Personal injuries and medical monitoring resulting from exposure to various substances, including TCE and other volatile organic compounds
    • Personal injury from exposure to pesticides and asbestos
    • Toxic shock syndrome and cancerphobia
    • Toxic mold

    We defend business clients in the context of workers' compensation claims for injury or disease from toxic substances, including arsenic, aluminum, asbestos, solvents, silica dust, acids and other chemicals. Additionally, we have experience defending drug manufacturers in cases involving adverse reactions allegedly attributable to prescription drugs. As a result of our toxic tort experience, we have experience in medical, scientific and legal causation, and the identification, retention and presentation of qualified medical, toxicological and other appropriate expert witnesses.

  • Utility Representations

    The following are examples of our utility representations:


    • Continued development of the Arizona Corporation Commission's rules and regulations for electric deregulation, including statutory legislation for the introduction of competitive generation service in Salt River Project’s service territory.
    • Project development for utility scale solar projects in Arizona, including permitting and land acquisition, as well as negotiation of related interconnection and power purchase agreements.
    • Project development of biogas facilities, including permitting and negotiation of interconnection and power purchase agreements.
    • Representation of mining and other commercial interests in rate case and related matters before the Arizona Corporation Commission.
    • Representation of various entities in power plant and transmission line siting matters before the Arizona Power Plant and Line Siting Committee.
    • Representation of pipeline owners concerning adoption and implementation of state safety rules.
    • Represent various clients in connection with the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Renewable Energy Standard rules and regulations, energy efficiency, demand side management and distributed energy initiatives throughout the />
    • Representation of railroad in crossing safety and other regulatory matters before the Arizona Corporation Commission.
    • Represented one of Arizona's largest home development companies in negotiations for its utility contracts valued at over $125 million covering water and sewer utility services.
    • Negotiate on behalf of private water and wastewater companies in dealing with groundwater management plans, which impose conservation requirements on municipal water providers.
    • Represent Arizona private water and wastewater companies in all regulatory matters before the Arizona Corporation Commission.
    • Represent businesses, developers and homebuilders in the extension of water, sewer and electric services throughout the state of Arizona.
    • Represent Tribal interests in creation of Tribal Utility Authority for development of utility services, including management of federal power allocations.


  • Water Law

    We offer clients decades of experience in surface water, groundwater, water rights, water supply, river adjudications and litigation, and all types of water-related litigation. We also provide assistance with water resource planning and the interplay between utilization of water resources and the impact of various environmental laws. Our signal strength – in depth understanding of water rights and supplies and increasingly critical environmental restrictions affecting those rights and supplies – positions us to assist in addressing and resolving the most complex water issues facing the business world. 

    Water Permitting and Compliance
    We assist clients in formulating strategies to protect and utilize water rights. We negotiate and document numerous water rights conveyances, water service agreements and water infrastructure instruments. We frequently conduct due diligence in connection with transactions involving the acquisition of real property and water rights.

    We advise clients on compliance with regulatory and permitting matters involving federal, state and local laws, rules and policies, including the assured water supply program, water conservation requirements, Central Arizona Project issues, and the environmental implications of exercising water rights.

    Water Legislation and Regulation
    We have a long history of representing clients in drafting and negotiating water legislation that includes Arizona’s landmark Groundwater Management Act and the legislation giving rise to the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District. We regularly represent clients in rule-making and regulatory matters before state and federal agencies.

    Water Litigation
    We represent major claimants in river adjudications and water rights litigation, including the Gila River Adjudication and the Little Colorado River Adjudication. In addition to serving as trial counsel, we are involved settlement negotiations for these and other water controversies through agreements among both American Indian and non-Indian claimants. In addition, we represent clients in interstate stream litigation and related negotiations. We also have experience representing state governments in interstate water banking negotiations.

    Water Rights and Supply
    Fennemore Craig represents clients in water supply, water rights and development issues that include:

    • Planning for the use and protection of water rights
    • Conducting due diligence on water-related matters associated with purchase of raw land, subdivided land, and planned developments
    • Drafting and negotiating purchase and sale contracts relating to water issues
    • Analyzing title and survey matters concerning water
    • Drafting and negotiating water-related agreements including line extension agreements, water supply wheeling agreements and development agreements between landowners, developers and municipal and private water providers
    • Securing effluent for recreational, development and industrial uses
    • Demonstrating an Assured and Adequate Water Supply under Arizona law, including obtaining Analyses, Designations, and Certificates of Assured Water Supply and Water Reports
    • Providing counsel on water conservation requirements to municipal providers, developments, homeowner’s associations, golf courses, and industrial interests
    • Participating in the development of legislation, rulemaking and water-related policy at the state and regional level
    • Representation in administrative law proceedings involving water resource, rights, and compliance matters.
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