Oil Pump

Department of the Interior

The siting and approval of energy and infrastructure projects in the United States involves navigating a maze of federal resource management agencies and regulatory authorities. The Interior Department manages well over two billion acres of lands, subsurface resources, and the Outer Continental Shelf — including areas that are the source of about 19% of the United States’ domestic energy production. Many of the Interior Department’s agencies are extensively involved in projects on federal, state, and private lands. Successful and timely project development — including onshore and offshore oil and gas development, surface and underground coal, hardrock and other leaseable mineral mines, hydropower, renewable energy projects on land or water such as offshore wind, transmission lines, pipelines, water facilities and desalination plants, and other energy and infrastructure projects — require permits and compliance under potentially dozens of laws and regulatory provisions. These include a host of land and water management authorities, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and many others. Particular projects may also require working with state and local regulators, consultation with American Indian tribes, and managing complex stakeholder relationships, as well as addressing opposition and legal challenges.

Leading companies involved in the development and financing of large-scale energy and infrastructure projects need to know the expectations and how to prevail when working with federal regulators and permitting authorities, including how to:

  • Access public lands and waters
  • Obtain the necessary permits and approvals, while also establishing an administrative record that renders the environmental and regulatory permits and land use entitlements as “litigation proof” as possible
  • Manage stakeholder relationships and opposition, in a way that provides certainty for project development and protects the project proponent and backers from reputational and economic risks

Latham lawyers have worked for decades within and with the federal government. The team includes practitioners who have held high-ranking leadership positions in the Department of the Interior, the Justice Department, and the White House, and are extremely well versed in working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), National Park Service (NPS), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), the US Geological Survey (USGS), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Latham’s Project Siting & Approvals Practice lawyers frequently represent complex projects through all phases of development, including land acquisition and leasing, entitlement, financing, permitting, construction, and operation. Latham’s deep subject knowledge extends to experienced litigators capable of defending projects against a wide range of administrative and judicial claims. Latham lawyers know the relevant federal agencies inside and out and can help clients complete a project quickly, efficiently, and in a way that will stand up to potential opposition.