Jeffrey W. Leppo

Jeffrey W. Leppo

Retired Partner
Seattle, WA
Anchorage, AK

About Jeff

Jeff Leppo is a retired partner of Stoel Rives. He counseled industry trade associations and their individual members to ensure they could understand, navigate and successfully litigate complex and changing environmental and natural resources regulatory regimes. Jeff provided counseling, permitting and litigation legal services at the intersection between law and science for environmental, wildlife, climate change, natural resources and Arctic issues, particularly for the oil and gas industry, commercial fisheries, pipeline system operators, energy producers and public ports, and their respective trade associations. Jeff worked with clients to permit complex projects, to advocate for and against important statutory and regulatory changes, and to either sustain favorable results or clear obstacles through federal district court and appellate litigation.

Jeff counseled clients through National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) project siting process and federal permitting for major facilities located throughout the West, and counsels industry associations, public and private companies, and developers regarding  rapidly developing climate change regulation, and Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) issues, particularly in regard to listing petition and critical habitat proceedings, section 7 consultations, incidental take authorizations and conservation planning.

Jeff’s litigation experience encompasses NEPA, climate change, the full range of ESA issues, MMPA requirements and compliance, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act permitting, Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and other domestic and international fisheries requirements and compliance, Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) compliance, Clean Water Act (CWA) and Clean Air Act requirements, and challenges to federal decisions under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  Jeff is a fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

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Complex Permitting and Regulatory Advice

  • Oil and Gas Exploration and Development – Counsel to numerous oil and gas companies, including ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP in connection with leasing and permitting of exploration and development activities on the North Slope of Alaska, in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and in Cook Inlet, pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the National Petroleum Reserve Production Act, NEPA, CWA §§ 404 and 402, ESA, MMPA, the Coastal Zone Management Act, MBTA, MSA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  • Industry Trade Associations – Counsel to the American Petroleum Institute, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the Western States Petroleum Association and the Hawaii Longline Association regarding ESA listing petitions, critical habitat designations, climate change, MMPA incidental take authorizations and numerous other regulatory issues.
  • Natural Gas Pipeline Systems – Counsel to operators of and applicants for oil and natural gas transportation systems, including the Alaska LNG Project, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation regarding NEPA, ESA consultation, CWA §§ 404 and 402 permitting, injection well permitting, and federal and state right-of-way authorizations.
  • Fisheries – Counsel to the Hawaii-based commercial longline tuna and swordfish fisheries regarding ESA compliance, consultation and listing petitions; MSA, MMPA, MBTA and NEPA compliance; and compliance with U.S. law and international treaties regarding Pacific fisheries conservation and management.

Recent Environmental and Natural Resources Litigation Decisions

  • Shell Oil Company v. Greenpeace, USA – Counsel to Shell Oil Company in two successful lawsuits obtaining preliminary injunctive relief enjoining environmental activists from interfering with Arctic exploration vessels and activities, and creating safety zones on the water, below and in the air around exploration vessels and operations. See 864 F. Supp. 2d 839 (D. Alaska 2012), aff’d, 709 F.3d 1281 (9th Cir. 2013); 2015 WL 21851 (D. Alaska May 9, 2015), appeal dismissed as moot, 815 F.3d 623 (9th Cir. 2016).
  • Alaska Oil and Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute v. Pritzker; AOGA and API v. NMFS – Counsel to Alaska Oil and Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute in successful lawsuits challenging and vacating listing of bearded seals and ringed seals as threatened species under the ESA on the basis of speculative assumptions regarding future climate change effects. See 2014 WL 37261 (D. Alaska July 25, 2014); 2016 WL 1125744 (D. Alaska Mar. 17, 2016)
  • Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar – Counsel to Alaska Oil and Gas Association in successful defense of MMPA and NEPA claims challenging MMPA incidental take regulations for effects to polar bears and Pacific walrus during routine oil and gas operations in the Chukchi Sea. See 695 F.3d 893 (9th Cir. 2012).
  • Jones v. Rose – Counsel to the Port of Portland in successful defense of CWA citizen suit alleging unlawful filling of waters adjacent to the Columbia River. See 2012 WL 5350851 (9th Cir. Oct. 12, 2012).
  • Native Village of Kivalina IRA Council v. EPA – Counsel for NANA Regional Corporation in successful defense of lawsuit challenging a CWA discharge permit issued for operations of the Red Dog Mine. See 687 F.3d 1216 (9th Cir. 2012).
  • In re Polar Bear ESA Listing and 4(d) Rule Litigation – Counsel to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association regarding successful defense of polar bear ESA 4(d) rule and “threatened” ESA listing instead of “endangered” listing. See 818 F. Supp. 2d 261 (D.D.C. 2011); 794 F. Supp. 2d 65 (D.D.C. 2011), aff’d, 2013 WL 765059 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 1, 2013).
  • Native Village of Point Hope v. Minerals Management Service – Counsel to BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. in successful defense of NEPA and MMPA challenges to federally authorized seismic activity in the Beaufort Sea. See 564 F. Supp. 2d 1077 (D.Alaska 2008).
  • Turtle Island Restoration Network v. Department of Commerce – Counsel to the Hawaii Longline Association in successful defense of ESA, MBTA and NEPA claims challenging commercial longline fishery regulations. See 351 F. Supp. 2d 1048 (D. Haw. 2005), aff’d, 438 F.3d 937 (9th Cir. 2006); see also Conservation Council for Hawaii v. NMFS, 2015 WL 9459899 (D. Haw. Dec. 23, 2015).
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Honors & Activities

Professional Honors and Activities

  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America© (Animal Law, Environmental Law, Litigation-Environmental, Oil & Gas Law), 2009‑2019
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Washington) by Chambers USA (currently: Environment), 2005‑2018
  • Listed in Washington Super Lawyers® (Environmental, Environmental Litigation, Energy & Natural Resources), 2006‑2019
  • Selected by Best Lawyers® as Litigation-Environmental Law "Lawyer of the Year," Seattle, 2012

Civic Activities

  • Woodland Park Zoo Board of Directors, Executive Committee, current Vice Chair 
  • Rooting, most often in vain, for the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Presenter, “Polar bears, sage grouse, and lesser prairie chickens, oh my! The science and law behind the Endangered Species Act,” Alaska Oil & Gas Association's 50th Anniversary Celebration & Conference, Anchorage, May 25, 2016
  • Presenter, Industry Perspectives, Arctic Cumulative Impacts Workshop, U.S. Department of Interior, Anchorage, April 12, 2016
  • Panelist, Law and Science, Annual Alaska Oil and Gas Association Conference, May 25, 2016
  • Presenter, “Litigating Against Government Agencies,” 64th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference, Houston, Feb. 21–22, 2013
  • Author, “Litigating Against Government Agencies: Case Studies in Challenges to Agency Decisions Under Federal Environmental Statutes,” was publish in the Institute for Energy Law, Feb. 2013 and Environmental Law Reporter, July 2013
  • Presenter, “Endangered Species Act Permitting Legal Challenges and Trends,” Alaska Oil and Gas Association Educational Seminar, Anchorage, Dec. 2012
  • Co-Chair and Presenter, “Alaska Permitting Strategies Update,” 6th Annual Permitting Strategies in Alaska, The Seminar Group, Anchorage, Jan. 2012
  • Presenter and Panelist, “Overview of the ESA,” Alaska Resources Development Council Annual Conference, Nov. 2011

Related News & Publications

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