About Cherise

Cherise Gaffney is a partner in the Environment, Land Use and Natural Resources practice group. She advises clients on federal natural resources law in complex permitting and compliance matters. Representative clients include developers and owners of hydropower dams, offshore wind developers, oil and gas terminals and refineries, and wave and tidal energy projects. Cherise has extensive experience on issues arising under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Federal Power Act (FPA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), and Administrative Procedure Act (APA). She formerly worked in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of General Counsel representing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on endangered salmon, hydropower dam and forestry issues in California.

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  • Advised developer of nation’s first grid-connected wave energy test facility on licensing, federal leasing and permitting issues including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) siting approvals.
  • Advised hydropower project owners on natural resources and environmental permitting issues, including Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance and consultation, related to relicensing large dams in Washington State.
  • Advised national oil and gas and geophysical contractors’ associations on BOEM permitting of seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico and NMFS’s issuance of associated incidental take regulations under the MMPA.
  • Led successful permitting effort for natural gas development platform and pipeline in Cook Inlet, Alaska including ESA compliance, MMPA issues, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act (CWA) and Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) approvals.
  • Advised major marine logistics company on marine mammal and coastal zone noise and anchoring restrictions related to offshore wind development in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Advised liquid natural gas (LNG) company in ESA section 7 consultation and MMPA compliance strategy related to proposed construction and operation of LNG terminal.
  • Advised wave energy developer on strategic permitting issues for wave energy project on Oregon coast, including federal licensing, ESA and MMPA permitting, and coastal zone issues; negotiated and drafted agreement with federal, state, and non-governmental stakeholders resolving all issues for 35-year license term.
  • Advised three major oil development companies on environmental and natural resources permitting issues related to 800-mile pipeline and LNG terminal.
  • Advised commercial fishing association on ongoing ESA and MMPA compliance issues critical to fishing activities in Hawaii and on the high seas.
  • For oil and gas clients, obtained changes to final Southern Resident killer whale vessel regulations to protect existing Puget Sound oil and gas tanker, barge, tug and service vessel operations.
  • Negotiated and drafted settlement agreements with key federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental parties for relicensing five large hydroelectric projects in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana for up to 50 years. Agreements resolved issues ranging from fish passage, water quality and ESA issues to recreation, cultural resources and flood control.
  • Advised various public and private entities on ESA compliance strategies, including wind energy developer on Indiana bat consultation issues; port on killer whale issues related to relocation of cruise ship operations; pulp and paper mill in development of ESA strategy for discharge permit; Oregon irrigation districts in development of habitat conservation plan (HCP) related to reintroduction of ESA-listed salmon; and housing developer in preparation of HCP for listed butterflies.
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Honors & Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Energy Regulatory Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Seattle, 2022
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Energy Regulatory Law, Environmental Law), 2013–2024
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Washington) by Chambers USA (Environment), 2014–2015
  • General Counsel, Northwest Hydroelectric Association (NWHA), 2016–2019
  • Board Member, National Hydropower Association (NHA), 2010–2014; Vice President, 2012–2013; Chair, Regulatory Affairs Committee, 2022–23, 2010–2011; Chair, Legislative Affairs Committee, 2011–2012; Advisory Board Member, 2009–2010; Chair, Ocean, Tidal & New Technologies Council, 2008–2010
  • Board Member, Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, 2007–2013
  • Peer Review Panel Member, DOE Waterpower Program Peer Review Panel, 2009, 2011
  • Chair, ABA Endangered Species Committee, 2004‑2006; Vice Chair, 2001–2004
  • Board Member, EarthShare Washington, 2012–2014
  • Recipient, “Women with Hydro Vision” Award, HydroVision International Conference, 2015
  • Seattle Mentor of the Year, Stoel Rives LLP, 2011 & 2015
  • Recipient, PacifiCorp “Exceptional Leadership, Creativity and Dedication” Award in the Lewis River hydropower projects settlement process, 2004
  • Recipient, Interagency Task Force to Improve Hydroelectric Licensing Process “Exceptional Performance and Dedication” Award in interagency effort involving the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Energy and Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2000
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • “Technology and Infrastructure Challenges” (moderator), “Permitting Overview and Challenges,” Offshore Wind Energy, The Seminar Group, March 2023
  • “Slow but steady progress for offshore wind development on the West Coast” (co-author), Puget Sound Business Journal, May 2022
  • “Offshore Wind in the United States” (co-author), Chapter 4, The Law of Wind: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP, Ninth Edition, 2022
  • “Ocean Renewable Energy,” 30th Annual Oregon Water Law Conference, November 2021
  • “Can West Coast states help achieve 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030?” (co-author), Utility Dive, June 2021
  • “Environmental baseline & the evaluation of existing structures,” Endangered Species Act Conference, January 2021
  • “Offshore Wind 101: Outlook and Opportunities,” EUCI Webinar, November 2020
  • “Onshore Permitting Requirements for Offshore Wind Projects in California” (co-author), Windpower Engineering & Development, July 2020
  • “Offshore wind’s westward expansion” (co-author), Wind Systems, September 2019
  • “Is California next in line for offshore wind?” (co-author), Windpower Engineering & Development, July 2019
  • “The Science and Art of Permitting of Marine Renewable Energy Projects,” Ocean Renewable Energy Conference, Portland, 2018 (moderator)
  • “A Modern-Day Fireside Chat with Agencies and Regulators,” Waterpower Week, Washington, D.C., 2018 (moderator)
  • “Seismic Permitting and Marine Mammal Protection,” RMMLF Federal Offshore Oil & Gas Leasing and Development, New Orleans, 2018
  • “Environmental Issue—Update and Path to Risk Retirement,” Ocean Renewable Energy Conference XII, Portland, 2017
  • “Advances in New Waterpower Technologies,” NWHA Annual Conference - Hydropower: The Cornerstone of Clean Energy, 2017 (moderator)
  • “Environmental Effects and Permitting of Marine Renewables,” Ocean Renewable Energy Conference XI, Portland, 2016
  • “Strategies for Permitting Large Projects in Alaska,” Permitting Strategies in Alaska, The Seminar Group, Anchorage, 2016
  • “Policy and Regulatory Environment in the U.S. and E.U.,” International Marine Renewable Energy Conference, Washington, D.C., 2016 (moderator)
  • “Endangered Species Act Permitting Basics: Section 7 Consultations,” Permitting Strategies CLE, Seattle, 2015
  • “Regulatory Policy: A Focus on Emerging ESA Issues,” NHA Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., 2015 (moderator)
  • “Environmental Questions: Asked and Answered,” Ocean Renewable Energy Conference, Portland, 2014
  • “MHK Siting and Permitting: Working Toward Commercialization with Federal and State Agencies,” Marine Technology, July 2013
  • “Accelerating the Decision Making Process for MHK Facilities,” GMREC, Washington, D.C., 2011
  • “Working Toward Successful ESA Outcomes,” NHA Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., 2011 (moderator)
  • “ESA and NEPA Developments: Impacts on Natural Resource Development in Alaska,” Alaska Oil & Gas Congress, Anchorage, 2010
  • “The Water-Energy Nexus: Licensing Non-Federal Hydropower and Hydrokinetic Projects,” 17th Annual Western Water Law Conference, Seattle, 2010
  • “Overcoming Barriers and Offering Incentives: Ocean Energy’s Infrastructure, Regulatory and Financing Needs,” Capitol Hill Ocean Week, Washington, D.C., 2010
  • “Using Adaptive Management to Resolve Uncertainties for Wave and Tidal Energy Projects,” Oceanography, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2010
  • “Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning for Offshore Renewable Energy Development on the West Coast,” Environmental & Land Use Law Newsletter, May 2010

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