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Steve Odell

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Click to Email: sodell@martenlaw.com

A top-tier litigator who has served in all three branches of the U.S. government, Steve has played a pivotal role in resolving some of the most complex and contentious issues in environmental, natural resources, and energy law in both the public and private sectors for more than 25 years, and is a nationally recognized subject-matter expert with a proven track record in the courtroom stemming from his successful handling of literally hundreds of cases.

Steve is a litigation partner and senior member of the firm’s Regulatory and Government Investigations practice group, based in the Portland Office. He joined Marten following a distinguished career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Oregon, where he successfully handled many of the district’s most consequential and controversial environmental disputes during the last two decades, in cases involving resources and issues ranging from timber, water quality and use, developed recreation, and transportation, to grazing, protected species, wetlands, and energy (encompassing production, transmission, and rate-setting) matters. Steve has also handled cases and been at the forefront of various initiatives addressing highly sensitive environmental issues throughout the country, with a principal focus on those in the West. This, combined with the fact he is a native Westerner, provide Steve with highly unique knowledge of and insights into the myriad issues specific to management of natural resources in the region.

Representative Matters

  • Represented U.S. Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture in consolidated cases involving more than 100 different claims brought against the Northwest Forest Plan. See Seattle Audubon Soc’y v. Lyons, 871 F. Supp. 1291 (W.D. Wash. Dec. 21, 1994), aff’d, 80 F.3d 1401 (9th Cir. 1996).
  • Represented Bonneville Power Administration in challenge to its decision authorizing Whistling Ridge Energy Project to interconnect to Bonneville transmission system. See Friends of Columbia Gorge v. BPA, 716 Fed.Appx. 681 (9th Cir. Mar. 27, 2018).
  • Represented Bonneville Power Administration in challenge to its adoption of Residential Exchange Program Settlement Agreement pursuant to the Northwest Power Act. See Association of Public Agency Customers v. BPA, 733 F.3d 939 (9th Cir. 2013).
  • Represented Forest Service in challenge to its authorization of 10 years of livestock grazing within Wild & Scenic River corridors and ESA-listed fish critical habitat on National Forest. See Oregon Natural Desert Assn. v. Forest Serv., F&R, 2017 WL 9535170 (D. Or. Oct. 3, 2017), adopted as Op., 2018 WL 1811467 (Apr. 16, 2018), on appeal.
  • Represented Forest Service in challenge to its issuance of Special Use Permits to City of Bend authorizing replacement and operation of municipal water supply pipeline in Central Oregon. See Landwatch v. Connaughton, 2014 WL 6893695 (D. Or. Dec. 5, 2014), aff’d on appeal, (9th Cir. Aug. 23, 2017).
  • Represented home builders in challenge to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s approval of the San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Program Habitat Conservation Plan under Endangered Species Act, authorizing incidental take of listed species within 900-square-mile area in San Diego County. See Southwest Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg, 268 F.3d 810 (9th Cir. 2001).
  • Represented Forest Service in challenge to its Special Use Permit to construct and operate new chair-lifted mountain bike park and trail system at Timberline Ski Area on Mt. Hood. See BARK v. Northrop, 2016 WL 1181672 (D. Or. Mar. 25, 2016).

Education & Clerkships

  • J.D., Stanford Law School
  • A.B., Stanford University (Economics)
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Owen M. Panner, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Dave Frohnmayer, Oregon Attorney General

Admissions & Memberships

  • Oregon State Bar

Recognition & Activities

  • Recipient of multiple awards for distinguished government service, U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies
  • Exceptional Service Award, National Association of Former United States Attorneys, 2017
  • Member, Senior Executive Service, 2000-03
  • Board Member, U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society, 2018-present
  • Pro Bono Counsel, Pura Vida Coffee, 2000-03
  • Recipient, West Publishing Hornbook Award, 1985-86
  • Regular Presenter at environmental and natural resources conferences, including U.S. Department of Justice National Advocacy Center, on various topics, including Endangered Species Act, Water Law, Forestry Law, NEPA, Administrative Law, Developed Recreation, Public Lands, and natural resource issues in the West
  • Adjunct Professor, Willamette University College of Law, Northwestern School of Law (of Lewis & Clark College), Stanford-in-Washington, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School
  • Senior Notes Editor, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 40 (1987-88)

Government Service

Steve’s cross-cutting government experience spans all three branches of the U.S. Government. In addition to nearly 20 years of service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Oregon, he served as:

  • Executive Director, Regional Ecosystem Office, 2000-03
  • Senior Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, 1995-97
  • Honors Attorney, U.S. DOJ Environment & Natural Resources Division, 1990-95
  • Intern, U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (OR), 1985
  • Law Clerk to judges both in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon

Combined with Steve’s extensive litigation record, this first-hand knowledge of how each branch of the federal government operates and engages with their counterparts at both the state and local levels make Steve ideally positioned to advise clients on government-facing energy and natural-resource matters, compliance issues, crisis management, and the full constellation of related private-party disputes.