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. Jess has prosecuted numerous cost recovery actions and defended renewable energy project permits against ESA, MMPA, APA, and NEPA challenges, and ensured regulatory compliance of developments, water diversion operations, fishing, and other natural resource-dependent activities. She also participates in rulemaking proceedings and has pursued regulatory challenges under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other federal laws. Outside the courtroom, Jess negotiates settlements in complex multi-party cases and regularly advises clients on regulatory compliance, environmental liabilities in property transactions, water rights, permitting, and a variety of natural resource and wildlife matters.
- Represents multiple cities and water districts in actions against U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”) and chemical manufacturers for contamination of public water systems by perfluorinated compounds (“PFAS”), including in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Multi-District Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
- Represents New Mexico local governments for recovery of costs to remediate municipal water supplies contaminated by hazardous substances used by private companies and the U.S. military. Successfully negotiated multi-year, multi-million dollar consent decree to remediate public water supply with DOD and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Represents Pulitzer Prize-winning independent news media company in environmental cost recovery litigation in U.S. District Court for the W.D. Washington and the Ninth Circuit, and in insurance coverage litigation.
- Represents partnerships between affordable housing and community advocacy groups and development companies to bring long-term affordable housing to increasingly gentrified urban areas in the Pacific Northwest.
- Represented Oregon water districts in multi-year ESA Section 7 consultation on large Bureau of Reclamation project, culminating in effective mitigation of potential adverse ecological impacts and a “no jeopardy” biological opinion.
- Ensures regulatory compliance of renewable energy projects nationwide and, if necessary, defends same against land use, ESA, BGEPA, NEPA and other challenges.
- Represented fishing companies in support of and challenges to NOAA Fisheries 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 clients in contested instream water rights claims in the Klamath Basin Adjudication.
- Represented Washington municipality in litigation over cleanup of public water supply contaminated by former large military base housing Titan ICBMs. Successfully prosecuted claims against DOD and its defense contractors, obtained insurance coverage to partially cover cleanup costs, and helped secure an order requiring the federal government to allow local governments a role in structuring remedial actions.
- 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 company in estimation hearings in second largest environmental bankruptcy case in the United States, worked collaboratively with USDOJ to achieve successful settlement.
- Advises conservationists, landowners, timber companies, and developers on conservation easements, Habitat Conservation Plan preparation, and additional means for ESA compliance and mitigation in the Pacific Northwest.
- Advises recycling and composting companies on compliance with federal, state and local environmental hazardous waste laws.
- Successfully appealed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ denial of Alaska marine-front landowners’ Clean Water Act permit applications.
- Prosecutes and defends claims in numerous matters to recover environmental cleanup costs under CERCLA and MTCA. Representative cases include military-adjacent properties, landfills, airports, maintenance yards, 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)
- Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental & Energy Lawyers (2021)
- Chambers USA, Washington - Environment, Band 3
- Planning Committee, Environmental Law Institute's GreenTech Conference (2022)
- 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 (2006-2016)
- Washington State Bar Association Pro Bono Service Commendation (2007-2017, 2019-2021)
- "Rising Star®," Super Lawyers (2010-2015) “Rising Star®,” Washington Law & Politics magazine (2007-2009)
Publications & Presentations
- Speaker, Perrin Conferences, Impact of PFAS on Environmental Litigation (January 13, 2022)
- 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)