J. Mark Morford

J. Mark Morford

Retired Partner
Portland, OR

About Mark

With more than 30 years of experience, Mark is one of the most reputable environmental attorneys in the Pacific Northwest. In its 2014 annual survey of America’s best attorneys for business, Chambers and Partners reported that sources consider Mark to be “at the top of the pile in terms of Oregon environmental lawyers,” adding that there are “very few people who really have the depth of knowledge he does in several different statutory areas.” Mark has in-depth experience with the full range of environmental issues that face industrial, energy, forest products, mining and agricultural facilities, including water quality, air quality, hazardous waste management, radioactive materials management, endangered species issues and contaminated land cleanups. He was instrumental in the development of key portions of the current Oregon Cleanup Law, and significantly influenced Oregon environmental laws regulating waste management, air quality and water quality regulations.

Mark’s experience emphasizes industrial operations, with deep experience in primary and secondary metals, pulp and paper and other forest products facilities. Mark is comfortable with engineering and scientific detail and typically served in a role where he helped integrate technical, business, public relations and legal issues into an overall strategy for solving complex problems. Mark also frequently served in a general counsel role for industrial clients where he was responsible for overseeing their full range of legal services.

Mark regularly assisted clients with complex regulatory compliance and permitting. Drawing on his broad experience, Mark assisted clients in developing corporate strategies for meeting environmental obligations with limited resources. Mark frequently worked as the interface between industrial clients and community and environmental activists and advised clients in resolving conflict without litigation. He also counseled clients in managing and allocating environmental risks in business transactions.

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Water Quality

  • Represented two paper mills in their challenge to the Willamette River TMDL for heat load and temperature.
  • Assist industrial facilities (particularly paper mills and metals facilities) in connection with issuance and renewal of NPDES permits and challenges by environmental groups to NPDES permits.
  • Developed innovative effluent trading concepts for new NPDES permit for group of industrial facilities.
  • Represented the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association as intervenor in litigation by environmental groups challenging the Oregon DEQ rule authorizing compliance schedules for implementation of water quality standards in NPDES permits.
  • Assisted numerous clients in developing support for mixing zones.

Air Quality

  • Represented Associated Oregon Industries in development of Oregon Title V permitting rules.
  • Assist industrial facilities in connection with renewal and modification of Title V permits in Oregon and nationally.
  • Advise clients in resolving nuisance and trespass claims and other complaints from neighbors.
  • Represented clients in enforcement actions, including EPA information requests under § 114.
  • Led negotiation of good neighbor agreements between client facilities and activist neighbors to resolve odor issues and other neighborhood complaints. These agreements are first of their kind and have drawn national interest.

Contaminated Sites

  • Represented Associated Oregon Industries in the development of the Oregon Cleanup Law and subsequent revisions.
  • Counseled dozens of clients through the cleanup process, both voluntary cleanups and cleanups under unilateral orders. Work closely with consultants and engineers to develop cost effective cleanup strategies.
  • Represent clients in asserting and defending contribution claims for response costs. Frequently negotiate cost sharing agreements and other settlements.
  • Often represent clients in negotiating prospective purchaser agreements with Oregon DEQ and other aspects of brownfield development.Helped develop Oregon’s brownfield statute.

Environmental Crimes

  • Assist corporate clients facing criminal investigations.
  • Conducted comprehensive internal investigations and used results to negotiate with prosecutors.

Transactions and Strategic Decisions

  • Organize and supervise environmental review for acquisitions, including large multi-facility acquisitions, both national and international.
  • Negotiate environmental terms for acquisitions and financing.
  • Assist clients in developing and implementing strategies to address project opposition. Negotiated progressive good neighbor agreements.
  • Counsel clients on integrating compliance programs into successful business strategies.
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Honors & Activities

Professional Honors and Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Portland, 2011, and Litigation-Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Portland, 2014
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America© (currently: Environmental Law, Litigation-Environmental), 2001–2021
  • Awarded inaugural Leadership and Services Award by Oregon State Bar, Environmental and Natural Resources Section, 2011
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business,” top tier, (Oregon) by Chambers USA (currently: Environment), 2006–2020
  • Listed in Oregon Super Lawyers® (Environmental, Environmental Litigation), 2006–2014
  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America, 2005–present
  • The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, 2004–present
  • Past member, Oregon DEQ Hazardous Air Pollutant Advisory Committee, 2000–2003
  • Adjunct professor, Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, 2000
  • Past member, DEQ Hazardous Air Pollutant Consensus Group, 1998–2000
  • Past member, EPA Air Quality Management Work Group, 2004–2007
  • Past member, Oregon DEQ Cleanup Early Warning Team
  • Past member, Executive Board, Portland Air Quality Project
  • Past chair, Associated Oregon Industries Cleanup Subcommittee
  • Past chair, Associated Oregon Industries Air Quality Subcommittee
  • Past representative, Associated Oregon Industries on the Industrial Source Advisory Committee
  • Past chair, AOI Air Quality Subcommittee
  • Member and past chair, Environmental and Natural Resources Section, Oregon State Bar
  • Past editor, Oregon Environmental and Natural Resources Law News, Oregon State Bar

Civic Activities

  • Assistant Scoutmaster and Past Scoutmaster, Boy Scouts of America, Troop 1
  • Board Chair, Africa Bridge
  • Rescue Leader, Board Member and Public Information Officer, Portland Mountain Rescue
  • Member, Oregon Business Plan Sustainability Committee
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Author and frequent speaker at business, legal and industry conferences throughout the Northwest regarding cleanup issues, air and water quality, and environmental issues in business transactions.


Mountaineering, skiing, kite boarding, cycling, racquet sports, automobiles and woodworking

Related News & Publications

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