Best Law Firms Rankings

Bell Kearns, Ltd.

Significant Matters

Lead counsel for sixth golden eagle incidental take permit ever issued to a wind project under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Lead land use counsel to EDF Renewable Energy for the 500 megawatt, 3,000-acre Palen solar photovoltaic project on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the first large-scale solar facility approved by the Trump administration.

Lead land use counsel for EDF Renewable Energy regarding the 150 megawatt “Presidential Priority” Desert Harvest solar photovoltaic project on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Negotiated and obtained incidental take authorizations for species listed under the Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. Negotiated multi-party protest resolutions leading to project approval by the Secretary of the Interior.

Outside land use counsel to CarMax for the permitting and environmental impact review of a 20-acre retail site in Pleasanton, California.

Advised Bechtel on the federal permitting of the Soda Mountain Solar project in San Bernardino County, California. Many deemed the 287 megawatt, 1,767-acre solar photovoltaic project to be the most controversial renewable energy project in the country at the time, in large part due to its close proximity to the Mojave National Preserve. The representation required extensive engagement with the Department of Interior at the Washington D.C. level.

Advised developer regarding entitlement of 120-acre property with 800 residential units, recreation facilities and 150,000 square feet of commercial space; including preparation of entitlement and CEQA strategies, drafting and negotiation of development agreement, and implementation of same.

Obtained from the Interior Board of Land Appeals a stay and remand of BLM rejection of a 14,000-acre wind testing and monitoring right-of-way application, notwithstanding its location within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) that prohibited wind rights-of-way. Negotiated favorable settlement with Nevada BLM regarding same.

Advised wind project developer regarding successful entitlement of several wind projects across California, with attention to CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Clean Water Act and state and local planning and zoning laws.

Petitioned to intervene in a California Energy Commission (CEC) proceeding on behalf of an energy company to disrupt the licensing of a competitor that failed to make material disclosures. The petition successfully caused the applicant to withdraw from the proceeding.Advised developer regarding the entitlement of a proposed 12,000-unit master planned community, with attention to the defeat of an adverse local ballot measure as well as permitting under local planning and zoning laws, the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Represented utility-scale wind energy trade organization and developer clients regarding U.S. Senator Feinstein’s proposed Desert Protection Act of 2010 and USFWS’s Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines.

Represented wind and solar developers before state and federal agencies regarding BLM’s Solar Energy Program for six southwestern states (Solar PEIS) and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a proposed 22-million-acre state and federal habitat conservation plan for Southern California.

Prepared comments on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) on a proposed rule of the BLM that would radically alter the permitting process for wind and solar projects on BLM-administered lands by allowing BLM to establish a competitive process for wind and solar development across all public lands it administers.

Performed land use due diligence on behalf of potential lenders and buyers of more than 50 renewable energy projects and commercial projects throughout California, ranging in value from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Ian Brady