Laura Zagar guides clients in the development of multijurisdictional water, energy and infrastructure projects, and complex litigation. Laura plays a prominent part in innovative energy, water and infrastructure projects in the Western United States, including proposed offshore wind projects in California and Hawaii, the proposed restoration of the Klamath River through removal of four dams, the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah and Arizona, and SCE’s completed Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. She also provides counsel on the innovative recycling of stormwater, agricultural runoff, and wastewater for potable and irrigation purposes under development by Monterey One Water.
From permitting and environmental regulatory review to completion of construction, Laura directs her clients’ large-scale projects at every stage. Her effective counseling and leadership on projects often require collaboration with environmental, energy and engineering experts on natural and cultural resources, transmission planning, geology, energy modeling, toxicology, fate and transport, remediation, and other issues. Laura also advises emerging clean tech companies on regulatory compliance for technologies new to the market.
Energy, Water, and Infrastructure Project Development
In the energy sector, Laura represents utilities, energy developers, public agencies and others before federal, state, and local agencies. Her project experience includes numerous major electric transmission lines; renewable generation (including offshore wind, onshore wind, hydropower, solar, wind and biomass); conventional generation; and telecommunications.
Laura has extensive knowledge about proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other state agencies, as well as the transmission planning process conducted by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). As environmental and energy regulatory issues often arise during financing and other transactions, Laura provides counsel on due diligence for transactions involving the development and operation of energy and infrastructure projects.
The water sector is another focus of Laura’s practice. From pipelines to reservoirs and dams, has advised on projects related to water transportation, storage, hydropower, and recycling, including Monterey’s wastewater recycling project seen as an exemplar for California cities.
Environmental and Natural Resources Regulatory Counsel
Highly experienced with federal, state and local authorities overseeing the development of energy and infrastructure projects, Laura represents clients before federal and state regulatory bodies.
Regulatory authorities and agencies that Laura has built productive relationships with include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California’s State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards, California State Lands Commission and California Coastal Commission.
Laura provides clients with comprehensive counseling on compliance with a wide array of environmental statutes. Areas of her focus include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), federal and California Endangered Species Acts (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, California’s Porter-Cologne Act, Federal Aviation Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Laura also advises clients on statutes and regulations governing the use of federal lands, including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Forest Management Act.
Litigation and Administrative Proceedings
Laura represents clients in complex and appellate federal and state litigation over the approval of energy and infrastructure projects as well as environmental and toxic tort litigation. Laura has represented clients in appeals of agency decisions, including those issued by the California Public Utilities Commission. Laura has also successfully defended labor and employment claims in federal courts.
Legal and Community Leadership
A leader in the community, Laura serves the managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office. She is also on the board of advisors for University of San Diego’s Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) and the board of directors for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. She also serves on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Equality California Institute, the largest statewide LGBTQ rights organization in the nation.
- Ranked by Chambers USA, as “America’s Leading Environmental Lawyers," 2021
- SD Metro, "40 Under 40 Award," 2016
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2016 - 2021: CleanTech Law
- Recommended by The Legal 500: Industry Focus: Environmental - Transactional and Regulatory; Real Estate and Construction: Land Use/Zoning, 2015
- Daily Journal, "Top Women Lawyers," 2013
- Law360, Rising Environmental Star, 2012
- Cleantech San Diego, Board of Directors
- Conference of California Public Utility Counsel, Member
- San Diego County Bar Association, Member
- Energy Bar Association, Member
- Equality California Institute, Board Member
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Board Member
- Princeton University Annual Giving Campaign, Volunteer
- UCLA School of Law, Law Firm Challenge, Volunteer
- Latham & Watkins LLP, San Diego, Partner, Associate, 2004 - 2014
- Hon. James Browning, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Hon. Nora Manella, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California