The U.S. government and public agencies are racing to upgrade infrastructure—specifically seaport and airport facilities—to keep pace with the growth of exports and imports, alleviate congestion, and respond to climate change impacts.  Initiating or participating in infrastructure projects in this dynamic marketplace can create regulatory hurdles and opposition that present commercial, compliance, and litigation challenges.

Our corporate, litigation, and insurance policy advisors are a cross-discipline team that advises on contract negotiations and commercial transactions involving port authorities, bulk handling facilities, and related air and sea transportation companies.  Our clients include some of the busiest ports in the U.S., including seaport and airport operators in Washington, Oregon, and California and related trade associations.  While our experience is with clients on the Pacific Coast, we’re recognized nationally for our capabilities and leadership.

We partner with you on project reviews and approvals, as well as regulatory challenges, arising under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and the Clean Water Act (CWA).  With former port and regulatory agency employees on our team, we’re respected by port authorities and public agencies that know we understand the relevant law and regulatory agency processes. Our deep experience with the federal, state, and local regulatory frameworks governing project permitting and compliance, contaminated sediments, and brownfields allows us to advocate effectively for you in venues where economic development and environmental protection interests converge.

Our Services

  • Advocacy and litigation in response to ESA listing petitions, critical habitat designations, and Section 7 consultations
  • Counsel on local, state, and federal permitting related to CWA or Clean Air Act compliance
  • Counsel on shoreline and other development approvals, including CEQA, NEPA, and the State Environmental Policy Act
  • Counsel on hazardous waste rules, Brownfields redevelopment, and cost recovery
  • Real property and water rights acquisition and transactions
  • Counsel on harbor maintenance and deepening programs

While our national reputation derives, in part, from success achieved in significant, high-profile litigation such as citizens’ suits, representation of ports in public trust litigation, and water boundary litigation, our team handles all manner of disputes whether in mediation, arbitration, trial or appeal.


  • SeaTac Airport Third Runway: Permitting and litigation for $1 billion expansion of SeaTac Airport. Project required ESA consultation, a 401 certification from the Washington Department of Ecology and a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetland filling and the relocation of a salmon-bearing stream. Fill quality issues were a major concern in the permitting and litigation effort.
  • Port of Seattle Container Terminal Expansions: Property acquisition and cleanup for two major container terminal expansion projects that occurred at federal Superfund sites. Multiple state and federal consent decrees were obtained and remediation was successfully conducted in conjunction with redevelopment of the sites.
  • Port of Kalama Municipal Water System: Represented the Port of Kalama in successfully acquiring municipal water rights (3,500 gallons per minute) for the Port’s Columbia River industrial park.
  • Port of Anacortes Cleanup and Redevelopment (multiple sites): Assisting with the investigation and remediation of Anacortes waterfront facilities through a multi-faceted program of site investigation, remediation and cost recovery that maximizes the Port’s recovery of funds from other parties and successfully combines remediation with facility upgrades and infrastructure improvements.
  • Port of Ridgefield: We represented the Port of Ridgefield in litigation against its insurance carriers in federal court, Oregon state courts and Clark County Superior Court. The Port owns property that was formerly the location of a wood treatment facility. Contamination at the site was extensive, and cleanup costs were far beyond the financial capabilities of the Port. The cases were ultimately resolved through favorable settlements that allowed the Port to carry out the needed cleanup under the direction of the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE). We also represented the Port in the 20-year-long WDOE remedy selection and remedy implementation phases of the site cleanup. We represent the Port in Model Toxics Control Act contribution litigation in federal court against the Union Pacific Railroad.
  • Port of Everett: Represent the Port of Everett in the negotiations of ground leases and purchase and sale agreements for the development of 254 apartments and a 140-room hotel. This is the first phase of the 65-acre, $373 million Waterfront Place Central Mixed-Use Development at the Port. We coordinated all the drafting, negotiation, and completion of the ground leases, purchase and sale agreements, and related development and construction documents.
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