A litigator with 15 years of courtroom experience and a background in environmental law and policy, Jess brings a proven track record of taking on and achieving successful results in a wide array of complex challenges, with emphasis on disputes arising under the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and state analogues.
In her environmental and natural resource practice, Jess represents public and private clients under a multitude of federal and state laws. She has successfully argued before and tried cases in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington; superior courts across Washington State; and the Washington State Environmental and Land Use Hearings Boards. In addition to cost recovery actions, Jess has defended renewable energy project permits, commercial developments, water diversion operations, commercial fishing, and other actions against ESA, MMPA, APA, and NEPA challenges. She has also participated in rulemaking proceedings and pursued regulatory challenges on behalf of commercial fishing operations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Outside the courtroom, she has negotiated settlements in complex multi-party cases and regularly advises clients on regulatory compliance, environmental liabilities in property transactions, water rights, and a variety of natural resource and wildlife permitting matters.
- Represents cities in Washington State in actions against U.S. Department of Defense and chemical manufacturers for contamination of water systems by perfluorinated compounds (PFAS).
- Represents New Mexico local governments in action against the U.S. Department of Defense and other PRPs for recovery of costs to remediate municipal water supplies contaminated by hazardous substances.
- Represents The Seattle Times in environmental cost recovery litigation in U.S. District Court for the W.D. Washington and the Ninth Circuit.
- Represented irrigation districts in southern Oregon in multi-year ESA Section 7 consultation on large Bureau of Reclamation project, culminating in “no jeopardy” biological opinion.
- Defended renewable energy project permits in the Southwest against ESA, BGEPA and NEPA lawsuits.
- Represented fishing and processing companies in challenges to National Marine Fisheries Service allocations, fishery management regulations, and associated ESA and NEPA decisions for Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific Cod and Atka mackerel fisheries, in U.S. District Court for the W.D. Washington and the Ninth Circuit.
- Represented ranching interests in contested cases on claims of USBIA and Klamath Tribes for tribal instream water rights in the Klamath Basin Adjudication.
- Represented Washington municipality in CERCLA and MTCA cost recovery and contribution action to recover remediation costs at a former military base. Prosecuted claims against the military and its defense contractors, obtaining insurance coverage to cover cleanup costs and an order requiring the federal government to allow local governments to help structure remedial action. 416 F.Supp.2d 1015 (E.D. Wash. 2005).
- Tried environmental insurance claims against twelve insurance companies on behalf of former large-scale gasoline distributor in multi-phase litigation covering over 225 contaminated sites.
- Represented mining company in estimation hearings in second largest environmental bankruptcy case in the United States.
- Advised developers on Habitat Conservation Plan preparation and additional means for ESA compliance in Washington.
- Advised developers and recycling and composting companies on compliance with federal, state and local environmental laws.
- Successfully appealed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ denial of Alaska marine-front landowners’ Clean Water Act permit applications.
- Prosecuted and defended claims in multiple matters to recover environmental cleanup costs under CERCLA and MTCA. Representative cases include airports, maintenance yards, landfills, smelters, refineries, gas stations, dry cleaners, and salvage and recycling facilities.
Education & Clerkship
- J.D., with honors and Environmental and Natural Resources Law Certificate, Lewis and Clark Law School (2005)
- B.A., with honors, Cornell University, History (1998)
Admissions & Memberships
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Courts, Eastern and Western Districts of Washington
- State Bar of Washington
Recognition & Activities
- Best Lawyers in America (Environmental Law, Environmental Litigation, and Natural Resources 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Pro Bono Attorney representing refugees seeking political asylum (2007-2019)
- Editorial Board, Washington State Bar Association Environmental & Land Use Law Section (2006-present)
- Washington State Bar Association Pro Bono Service Commendation (2007-2017)
- "Rising Star®," Super Lawyers (2010-2015) “Rising Star®,” Washington Law & Politics magazine (2007-2009)
Publications & Presentations
- Speaker, The Seminar Group, Washington Water Code: Law, Policy, and Planning (November 2020)
- Speaker, Law Seminars International, A Timely Comprehensive Conference on Preparing for the Wave of: PFAS Litigation in the Pacific Northwest (September 2020)
- Speaker, Law Seminars International, Litigating Environmental Class Actions: Litigation Perspectives on Emerging Persistent Contaminants (May 2019)
- Editor and Author, WSBA 2018 Real Property Deskbook Series Volume 7: Environmental Regulation (CWA, EPA, and ESA chapters (December 2018)
- Regular author, WSBA Environmental & Land Use Law Newsletter (2005-2019); Marten Law News (environmental and energy law newsletter circulated regularly to over 75,000 subscribers) (2006-2019)
- LexisNexis Expert Forum, Environmental Law & Climate Change (2007-2017)
- “The Cost of Species Protection,” Environmental Law360 publications (September 2013)
- “Sage Grouse – The Rancher’s Spotted Owl?” Society for Range Management 65th Annual Meeting, Spokane, Washington, January 2012
- “Sage Grouse Not Protected by ESA, Still Plays Major Role in Grazing, Agriculture, and Energy Development in the West,” Rangelands Journal (February 2012)
- Chair, Washington State Bar Association Environmental and Land Use Law Annual Midyear Meeting and Seminar, Union, WA, (April 2011)
- Speaker and Author, “When Regulators Don't Enforce: Ethical Challenges Facing Attorneys Representing Regulated Entities,” 28th Annual ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Water Law Conference, San Diego, California (February 2010)
- Co-author, “Despite Apparent Recovery, Climate Change Keeps Grizzly Bears on ESA List,” LexisNexis Environmental Law & Climate Change Center (December 2009)
- Author, “Almost Infamous-- Another Circuit Tries to Determine Scope of Clean Water Jurisdiction After Rapanos,” The Environmental Counselor, Issue 255 (November 2009)
- Co-author, “Bounty for Land and Sea: Congress Passes Omnibus Public Land Act,” The Environmental Counselor, Issue 251 (July 2009)
- Co-author, “Precautionary Resource Management and Climate Change,” American Bar Association Natural Resources & Environment Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Summer 2009)
- Speaker, “Flood Insurance and Endangered Species: A New Era in Floodplain Development,” American Planning Association Planning Law Conference, Climate Change/Sustainability Track, Bellevue, Washington (April 2009)
- Speaker and Author, “Project Development in the Shadow of Climate Change,” Proceedings of the 54th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, Snowmass/Aspen, Colorado (July and December 2008)
- Speaker and Author, “Fish, Goods, and International Law,” American Association of Law Schools, Section on Admiralty and Maritime Law, New York, New York (January 2008) (presentation of: “Controlling Flags of Convenience: One Measure to Stop Overfishing of Collapsing Fish Stocks,” 35 Envtl. L. 323 (Spring 2005))
- Co-author, “Orcinus and Oncorhynchus: Will Saving Puget Sound Orcas and Salmon Save an Ecosystem?,” American Bar Association Natural Resources & Environment Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Fall 2007)
- Speaker, “Endangered Species and Watershed Planning Issues in Shoreline Development,” Law Seminars International, Marine Shoreline Development CLE, Seattle, Washington (February 2007)