Environmental Law Section

News from the Section

Chair's Message from the March Environmental Law eNews

Sandy Crocket Dear Environmental Law Section members:

This issue of the Environmental Law Section's e-News highlights some of the benefits you receive as Section members.

One of my favorite benefits is the Environmental Law Section Update, which is a comprehensive report on the most recent environmental cases from the California and Federal courts as well as legislative and regulatory developments related to environmental law. The Update is issued quarterly, and each issue breaks down the previous quarter's developments by subject-matter area so you can quickly review the topics relevant to your particular practice. This is a valuable benefit is available only to members of the Environmental Law Section, and you can access it in the "Members Only" section of our website. You can also find further information below, along with direct web links to the current issue (covering the 4th quarter of 2013). I encourage you to check out the Update if you are not already using it.

A second valuable benefit we are highlighting in this e-News is the four free hours of ethics MCLE self-study credits we have recently begun offering to all Section members. These self-study credits will allow you to complete your entire MCLE ethics requirement for your current compliance period, free of charge, without even having to leave your desk. This benefit is available on the website's "Members Only" section as well, and further information is also provided below.

And of course, these benefits come on top of the many valuable conferences and webinars that the Section sponsors, our Section journal Environmental Law News, our legislative bill tracking service, and much more.

Thank you for being a member of the Environmental Law Section, and we hope that you will take advantage of these benefits of your membership!

Alexander “Sandy” Crockett
Chair, Environmental Law Section Executive Committee

Upcoming Education

Webinar on California Water Rights 101: An Introduction

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 12 noon - 1 p.m. (Pacific)

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

As California experiences a record-breaking drought, water right issues are becoming increasingly important. In California, the diversion and use of water is subject to a complex and changing mix of common law and state permitted rights, state and federal regulatory requirements, the public trust doctrine and the constitutional prohibition against the waste or unreasonable use of water. This webinar provides an overview of the applicable laws and explains the institutional framework.


  • Barry H. Epstein is a partner in the San Francisco office of Allen Matkins (www.allenmatkins.com) with a cross-disciplinary practice focusing on land use, water rights, natural resources, and energy law. In the water arena, Mr. Epstein he has represented a wide range of clients with regard to surface water and groundwater rights matters, and regarding water supply contracts, transfers and Water Supply Assessments, including major utilities, land trusts, farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners. Mr. Epstein holds an "AV Preeminent" rating from the Martindale-Hubbell and in 2009 was listed as one of the Daily Journal's "Top 100 Lawyers in California." A native San Franciscan, Mr. Epstein received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, and a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business.

  • Andrew Sawyer is an Assistant Chief Counsel at the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) in Sacramento, California, where his responsibilities include managing the activities of the Office of Chief Counsel involving the State Water Board's water right and underground storage tank programs. Sawyer has held his current position since 1988, and worked for the State Water Board since 1977. Before coming to the State Water Board, he had a clerkship with Justice Samuel J. Roberts of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Sawyer is a former chair of the Environmental Law Section of Sacramento County Bar Association, and a former chair of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California. Sawyer received his J.D. in 1976 from the University of California at Berkeley and his A.B in 1973 from Harvard.

Webinar: Water Rights Enforcement

Thursday, May 1, 2014, 12 noon - 1 p.m. (Pacific)

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

This webinar will focus on state enforcement as a tool to protect surface water rights, including information about the State Water Resources Control Board's Office of Enforcement and its role within the Board's Division of Water Rights. The speakers will discuss recent developments, including the confirmation of the Board's authority in Young [Woods Irrigation] v. State Water Resources Control Board (Petition for Review denied 11/13/13);how the passage of SB 104 (3/1/14) affects regulators and water rights holders; and recent Board enforcement efforts. The speakers will also talk about the role of water rights enforcement in light of California's current drought, and alternatives to Board proceedings, including Superior Court civil actions for nuisance and trespass.


  • Pricing Rob Sawyer: For over 38 years Rob -- presently Of Counsel with Remy Moose Manley in Sacramento - has practiced in the areas of water rights, water quality, wastewater treatment, water supply contracts and water projects. His clients have included public water agencies, farmers and ranchers, and real estate developers, and his experience includes assisting public and private water project operators and federal and state water contractors in complying with state and federal endangered species acts, CEQA, NEPA, state and federal clean water acts, California State Water Resources Control Board orders and decisions, and local agency ordinances and regulations

    Rob has served as General Counsel to the Casitas Municipal Water District in Ventura County, California, and as special counsel to the Friant Water Authority for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. In addition to his law practice, since 1985 Rob has been a Director (and is currently Vice Chair, and Chair of the company's Water Committee) of Limoneira Company (LMNR), a publicly-traded agribusiness and real estate development company founded in 1893 that owns and operates agricultural properties in California's Central Coast, the San Joaquin Valley, and Yuma AZ. He is also a Director of Ventura County-based Farmers Irrigation Company, an agricultural mutual water company.

    Rob is a graduate of Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and holds a Certificate in Land Use and Environmental Planning from the University of California Santa Barbara Extension. He is currently an Advisor to the Executive Committee of the State Bar's Environmental Law Section.

    Rob may be contacted at rsawyer@rmmenvirolaw.com, or (916)443-2745.

  • Yvonne West is a Senior Staff Counsel with the State Water Resources Control Board Office of Enforcement in Sacramento, California, where her responsibilities include representing the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights enforcement staff in water rights enforcement matters. Ms. West has been with the Office of Enforcement since its formation in 2006. Before coming to the State Water Board, Ms. West was an associate with the Sacramento law firm of Barkewicz, Kronick and Shanahan.

    Ms. West received a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the George Washington University. She can be reached at Yvonne.West@waterboards.ca.gov or (916) 322-3626.

Your Voice, Your Future: Climate Change on the North Coast -- Global Events, California's Vision, North Coast Choices

Friday, May 2, 2014
Wharfinger Building, Eureka

You can now REGISTER ONLINE for this program.

The "Your Voice" conference series is designed to empower citizens, their elected officials and organizations of all types to prepare for and shape their future locally.

On May 2, 2014, the Environmental Law Section will be presenting a conference in Eureka on how environmental issues -- and especially climate change -- are affecting and will continue to affect California's North Coast.

This year's North Coast conference again draws speakers from the high levels of Sacramento's regulatory agencies and academia, as well as local expertise on tribal issues, environmental destruction and sea level rise. Come hear insights and perspectives from attorneys, regulators, scientists, and others about both the State's understanding, vision and response to climate change statewide and locally, and more specifically how local people and institutions can engage decision-making to address future impacts on the North Coast. Further details, including registration information, are available at Your Voice, Your Future.

Webinar: Legislative Development and Trends in California and Federal Environmental Regulatory Compliance

Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

What happened in 2013 and what to expect in 2014 with a focus on CEQA Reform, Fracking Legislation, CUPA regulatory reforms, Community Choice Aggregation and renewable energy, Air Toxics identification and mitigation, Water Rights, Water Supply, Water Bond, Water Quality, underground storage tank cleanup, Hazardous Waste TSDFs, and solid waste enforcement and waste management, and Proposition 65 relief for small business.

Speaker: Gary Luck is a partner in ERM's Performance and Assurance practice where he advises clients on environmental compliance and sustainability strategies. He is a licensed attorney, a scientist, and a Certified Professional Environmental Auditor with over 28 years of environmental regulatory experience. Gary specializes in environmental compliance auditing, compliance management systems (CMS), compliance counseling, environmental management systems (EMS), environmental training, and environmental permitting.

He has published extensively on environmental law, legislation, and policy. Gary coauthored a book entitled California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide (Solano Press) and is a regular contributor to the California Environmental Law Reporter. He also wrote the Environmental Auditing Chapter in the California Environmental Law and Land Use Treatise. Gary currently serves as an advisor to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and has served on the California State Bar Environmental Legislation Committee for over ten years.

Webinar: Understanding and Implementing the New Industrial General Permit for Storm Water Discharges

Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

California's new Industrial General Permit for storm water discharges has been adopted, after much debate and many drafts. Before it takes effect on July 1, 2015, nearly 10,000 dischargers subject to the IGP (and many more now subject to new "no exposure" provisions) will need to get up to speed on the significant changes that have been made from the current IGP. Some of these changes will take time to implement and it is important to learn what will be required early, so you or your clients can develop compliance strategies and be prepared when those new requirements take effect -- and become enforceable.


  • John Epperson is a partner at Cooper, White & Cooper's San Francisco office with a broad environmental, health and safety law practice, advising clients regarding regulatory compliance counseling, transactional, and permitting issues. He represents clients in enforcement actions by state and federal environmental and occupational safety agencies, as well as advising clients in their efforts to investigate and remediate contaminated properties, including cost recovery efforts. John counsels clients regarding compliance with a wide variety of state and federal environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including Clean Water Act issues related to permitting, stormwater and citizens' suits. John is also an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law teaching a class on "Toxics and Brownfield Law." He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the California State Bar Environmental Law Section and currently serves as co-chair of the Section's Legislation Committee.
  • Matthew Q. Lentz has over 17 years of experience providing storm water and multi-media compliance support to industry, the public sector, and the legal community. He has successfully managed large, logistically challenging projects and has extensive experience developing compliance programs involving storm water, hazardous waste, hazardous materials, air quality, wastewater, and a variety of health and safety related programs. A significant portion of Matthew's practice has involved assisting hundreds of industrial, municipal and construction industry clients comply with NPDES storm water regulations and development and implementation of their compliance programs. He has supported NPDES permit compliance including evaluation and recommendation of Best Management Practices, development and review of compliance documents, analytical data evaluations, review and comment on new regulations/permits, and regulatory agency interaction/support. He has also supported industrial dischargers faced with third-party enforcement actions related to alleged Clean Water Act noncompliance. As co-chair of the California Stormwater Quality Association's (CASQA) Industrial subcommittee, he is heavily involved in the re-issuance of California's Industrial General Permit. He is also a certified Trainer of Record, qualified to provide QSD/QSP training under California's Construction General Permit.
  • Philip Wyels is Assistant Chief Counsel in the State Water Resources Control Board's Office of Chief Counsel. Philip has a wide variety of responsibilities in advising both the State Water Board and the Regional Water Boards. His responsibilities have included a lead role in the effort to promulgate the new Industrial General Permit and marshal it through the challenges it faced leading up to its recent adoption.

Environmental Law Update -- October - December 2013

Since 1999, the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California has sponsored the Environmental Law Section Update. The Update reports quarterly on recent Federal and California case law of note, as well as significant legislative and regulatory developments. The Update is a member benefit posted in our members-only area.

Click HERE to go directly to The Update and enter your State Bar Number and password. If you haven't created an account on My State Bar Profile, you can do so at https://members.calbar.ca.gov.

For an expanded discussion of this and other state and federal environmental cases from October to December, follow the links below.

Environmental Law Update: October to December 2013

Any questions regarding The Update should be directed to Cyndy Day-Wilson at cday-wilson@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

Four Hours of Self-Study CLE in Legal Ethics -- Complimentary for Members of the Environmental Law Section!

The Section thanks you for your membership!As a 2014 benefit of Section membership, we are pleased to offer four hours of MCLE credit in the field of Legal Ethics. That's enough to fulfill the Ethics requirement.

If you were purchasing these courses individually in our Online Catalog, they would cost $140 -- so that's your Section membership more than paid for, and then some!

Just watch these programs, and keep a record of having done so in the event you're audited for MCLE compliance.

You can access these programs and the accompanying written materials any time this year in the Members Only Area.

The programs are:

  • Avoiding the State Bar Disciplinary System
  • Client Trust Accounting Fundamentals
  • Ethical Implications for Lawyers in Cyberspace and Social Media
  • Ethics and Civility: Want an Extension? Forget about It!

In Case You Missed It -- Past Webinars Available Online!

Did you know that the Section's Webinars are available at low cost to view on line? Have you ever wanted CLE credit on topics that actually interest you? Was there a presentation you wanted to attend but just couldn't make your schedule cooperate? If so, never fear! Almost 40 (and that number is growing) Environmental Law Section Webinars are available on line, including titles such as "CEQA 101- Learn the Basics!", "Beyond 2020: How Will California Meet its 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals?" and many others. Go to http://calbar.inreachce.com/ to find a program of interest to you.

Berkeley and UCLA Law Students Take First and Second Place in the Environmental Law Section Student Negotiation Competition Held at UCLA School of Law on March 21, 2014

Eighteen teams of two from law schools across the State competed in this year's Student Negotiation Competition at UCLA School of Law on March 21, 2014. The students competed in two rounds of negotiations involving fictitious environmental law issues Judged by attorney volunteers on several factors related to their negotiation skills, the top four teams after two rounds advanced to a final round. Based on the total score of all three rounds, the Berkeley team was named the first place winner, and the UCLA team took second place. These teams won prizes of $1,000 and $500, respectively. The top ten performing teams were:

  1. UC Berkeley School of Law (Team B), Andrew Coghlan and Francis Choi
  2. UCLA School of Law (Team E), Heather Leslie and Ryan Berghoff
  3. Chapman University, Fowler School of Law (Team K), Ali Razavi and Brandon Howard
  4. Santa Clara University School of Law (Team A), Victoria Loomis and William McAdoo
  5. UC Berkeley School of Law (Team C)
  6. California Northern School of Law (Team D)
  7. California Western School of Law (Team G)
  8. Whittier Law School (Team R)
  9. Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Team M)
  10. Golden Gate University School of Law (Team F)

Update Your State Bar Profile Online

Were you aware of the feature on the State Bar's website that allows you to add a photo and otherwise expand your State Bar profile? Using a secure link within My State Bar Profile, attorneys may add information to their public record to include area(s) of practice, any additional language(s) spoken, their law firm’s website address and a photo.  To get started, log in to My State Bar Profile, and click on the “Expanded Profile” link.

Follow the Sections and CYLA on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn!




Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter. Connect with us on LinkedIn!

Social media, anyone? The Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) now have a page on Facebook, Twitter and a new LinkedIn account, where we can keep you up-to-date on our latest news and events.

We're also looking forward to interacting with a wider community and reaching out to people who are not currently members.

We invite you to "Like" us and follow our "Tweets. "

And by the way, the CYLA definition of "young" is any California attorney under the age of 36 or in their first five years of practice.

MCLE Credit From the Environmental Law Section

See our Educational Opportunities page for information on how you can get participatory MCLE credit for listening to or viewing Environmental Law Section programs online, or self-study credit for listening to tapes of Environmental Law Section programs. 

Members Only Area

 The Environmental Law Section is pleased to offer a members only area, including online issues of Environmental Law News and Environmental Law Update. Our new members only area also includes a number of other benefits available through My State Bar Profile. For more information, see Members Only Area.

Save money with CEB

CEB Discount Program for Section MembersContinuing Education of the Bar, California (CEB) is extending a special offer to our section. As a member of the Environmental Law Section, you're eligible for a rebate on your section dues that can be applied to the cost of a CEB Gold CLE Passport or a CLE program ticket. Information about the section dues rebate program can be found on the CEB Web site.

Contact Us

Environmental Law Section
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
FAX 415-538-2368