Aaron C. Courtney
Aaron Courtney is a partner practicing in the Environment, Land Use and Natural Resources group. He represents energy, municipal, industrial, agricultural and developer clients on compliance, permitting and litigation issues under the Clean Water Act (CWA) (with a particular emphasis on Section 404 permitting), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) (focusing on Bureau of Land Management authorizations), and federal and state clean-up laws. Aaron's public sector work includes representing numerous public wastewater treatment entities on water quality and distribution matters. He also applies his extensive practical skills in conducting environmental due diligence as part of business transactions (a course he teaches as an adjunct faculty member at Lewis and Clark Law School), and advises clients on sustainable business practices.
- CWA Permitting. Counseling clients on CWA permitting and compliance matters throughout the United States. This includes advising clients on Section 10 and 404 permitting for project impacts to wetlands or other jurisdictional waters, and on compliance with the related state and federal environmental and natural resource regulatory programs that accompany these CWA permits (e.g., ESA, NEPA, Section 401). This work also entails water quality permitting under the CWA's Section 402 NPDES program. Representative current and past projects involving such legal assistance are:
- Columbia River Shoreline Industrial Entities (ongoing). Represent several major industrial entities along the Lower Columbia River in ongoing Section 404, ESA, and NEPA compliance matters relating to regular maintenance dredging, dock construction and maintenance, berth construction and general in-water operational expansions.
- Mitigation Banks (ongoing). Represent wetland, salmon, and Natural Resource Damage mitigation banks on the Columbia River, including permitting the significant dredge and fill activities fundamental to the creation of the banks and associated habitat enhancements.
- Sand and Gravel Mining (ongoing). Serving as general counsel to gravel mining and cement/asphalt processing company on permitting and compliance issues for island and several other waterfront facilities in downtown Portland, as well as for numerous sites in the Columbia River Gorge.
- Missouri River Dredgers Permitting and Appeal (pending). Represent sand and gravel mining company on an appeal of Section 404/10 proffered permit (and associated NEPA record) for sand mining across 550 miles of the Missouri River.
- Nationwide Permit Rulemaking (completed). Represented renewable energy trade association and certain members in providing extensive comments on the reissuance of the CWA Section 10/4004 Nationwide Permit Program.
- Agricultural Operations (ongoing). Representing a 90,000-acre Oregon agricultural operation (one of the largest dairy and organic farms in the United States) on permitting and public outreach matters. The representation has included creating a habitat conservation agreement under the ESA, acquiring and trading water rights to achieve mitigation credit for salmon habitat impacts associated with irrigation activities, overseeing dairy (CAFO) permitting, strategizing on issues related to the development of the farm's unprecedented sustainable, closed-loop operations, and permitting the development and operation of several digesters.
- Watershed Permitting (ongoing). Assisting a wastewater treatment public utility that serves 12 Oregon cities in obtaining and complying with its unprecedented watershed-based CWA permit. The permit is based on an effluent trading program within the Tualatin River basin that responds to ESA and total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements.
- Public Wastewater Permitting (ongoing). Representing the cities of Gresham, Hermiston and Klamath Falls, Oregon, on treatment plant water quality matters, including pretreatment programs, stormwater (MS4), TMDL and ESA issues.
- Energy Project Permitting. Overseeing state and federal environmental and land use permitting (CWA (emphasis on Section 404), ESA, NEPA, FLPMA) relating to wind, solar, natural gas, ethanol and other energy development projects throughout the United States. This includes counseling clients on facility siting, managing generation and pipeline and transmission permitting and construction, facilitating regulatory and public (NGO) outreach, and defending project proponents against regulatory enforcement actions and third-party environmental lawsuits. Representative current and past projects involving such legal assistance are:
- Ruby Pipeline (in service 2011). Approximately 675-mile, 42-inch natural gas transmission pipeline, beginning at the Opal Hub in Wyoming, crossing Utah and Nevada and terminating at interconnects near Malin, Oregon. At the time of construction, it was the largest federal lands pipeline project in the nation in more than a decade.
- Palomar Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline (pending FERC project). Proposed 220-mile, 36-inch diameter underground natural gas pipeline in Oregon that will cross BLM, USFS, private and Tribal lands.
- Coos County Pipeline (in service 2005). 60-mile, 12-inch pipeline extending from Roseburg, Oregon, across the Coastal Range to Coos Bay.
- Zephyr Power Transmission Project (pending). Proposed 900-mile, 500-kilovolt DC transmission line from Wyoming, across Colorado and Utah, terminating in souther Nevada.
- PGE Cascade Crossing (pending). Proposed 200-mile, double-circuit, 500-kilovolt transmission line, from Boardman, Oregon, to Salem that will cross BLM, USFS, private and Tribal lands.
- EDP Renewables (formerly Horizon Wind Energy) Oregon Projects (pending). Several large wind farms under development in central and eastern Oregon on private and public lands and involving significant wildlife, CWA Section 404 permitting and state environmental regulatory compliance/permitting issues.
- Cascade Grain (completed). The largest corn ethanol processing plant on the West Coast (113.2 million gallons a year) in Clatskanie, Oregon, involving significant ESA and Section 404 permitting issues.
- SunPower solar projects (pending). Numerous federal lands solar projects in California and Arizona currently in the nascent phases of permitting.
- Served as lead environmental counsel in numerous mergers and acquisitions, including the $2.15 billion sale of Longview Fibre Company in its wood products facilities and timber holdings located across the country, and the $124.5 million sale of the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort, one of the largest hotel sale transactions in the U.S.
- Providing legal support for the establishment (through federal legislation) of the 20,827-acre Opal Creek Wilderness, the 13,538-acre Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area, and the 3,066-acre Wild and Scenic River corridor, and associated timberland transfers and mine tailings remediation.
Professional Honors & Activities
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America® (currently: Natural Resources Law), 2012-2013
- Adjunct faculty, Lewis & Clark Law School
- Environment Committee, Oregon Business Association
- Former Vice Chair, Marine Resources Subcommittee, American Bar Association
- Vice Chair, Public Lands Committee, American Bar Association
- Member, Oregon State Bar
- Member, Multnomah Bar Association
- Presenter, AWEA WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition, Atlanta, Georgia, June 2012
- AWEA Wind Project Siting Seminar, Las Vegas, 2012
- Environmental Law Institute, Annual Environmental Law Bootcamp, Washington, D.C., 2003-2006
- International Conference on Invasive Species, Yokohama, Japan, 2004
- Sea Grant Law Center Conference on Interjurisdictional Fisheries Management, Toledo, Ohio, 2003
- Council of Great Lakes Fishery Agencies 2001 Annual Meeting, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
- Society for Conservation Biology 1992 Annual Meeting, Blacksburg, Virginia
- Regular presenter at regional environmental law seminars
- Served on Federal Advisory Council, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
- Board member, Illahee—Environmental Forum
- Former board member, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette
- Former board chair, Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
- Former coach, Portland Youth Soccer
- "Ocean Dumping and Marine Pollution Law," Ocean Law and Policy (American Bar Association), 2008
- "Oregon Greenhouse Gas Reduction" and "Oregon Toxics in Water Reduction," Oregon Insider (Envirotech Publications), Oct. 2007
- "Legal Strategies for Combating Invasive Species," Proceedings of the International Conference on Invasive Species, IUCN (World Conservation Union), 2006
- "Marine Resources" and "Invasive Species," Year in Review (American Bar Association), 2002-2006
- "Multijurisdictional Regulation of Cruise Ship Discharges," Natural Resources & Environment (American Bar Association), Summer 2004
- "Industry Targeted for Compliance with Stormwater Requirements," The Real Estate Finance Journal (West Publications), Summer 2004
- "Challenging NMFS' 2000 Biological Opinion," The Osprey (Federation of Fly Fishers), Sept. 2001
- "Individual Area Relationships: The Relationship Between Animal Population Density and Area," Ecology, Mar. 2000
- "Developments in Private Party Cost Recoveries and UST Cleanups," Oregon Environmental & Natural Resources Law News (Oregon State Bar), Summer 1996
- University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1992
Editorial Board and Public Affairs chair, Virginia Environmental Law Journal, 1990-1992
- University of Virginia College of Arts & Sciences, M.S., Environmental Sciences, 1993
- University of Virginia, B.A., Environmental Sciences/Ecology and Biology, 1989
Sigma Gamma Epsilon
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- U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit