Kirsten L. Nathanson

Recognized as a leading environmental lawyer
in Washington, D.C.
by Chambers and Partners

Kirsten L. Nathanson is a partner and co-chair of the firm's Environment & Natural Resources Group, focusing on environmental litigation, mediation, enforcement defense, risk assessment, and regulatory counseling under the major federal environmental and public lands statutes. In addition to representing clients across a broad range of regulatory enforcement and litigation matters, she serves as a strategic counselor on areas of emerging risk, including climate change, environmental justice, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations. She is also a member of the firm's Management Board.

Her litigation experience covers the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, FIFRA, NEPA, SMCRA, RCRA, and CERCLA, encompassing citizen suit defense, regulatory challenges, remediation cost recovery and defense, Administrative Procedure Act actions, and EPA enforcement. Her practice also includes a focus in consensus-based dispute resolution, including multilateral negotiations and mediation.

Her 2022 Chambers and Partners review states that “she is particularly notable for her Superfund work,” and clients described her to Chambers as “a strong strategic thinker" and “a fabulous environmental litigator."

Current representative engagements include:

  • Serving as federal environmental counsel to several corporations across multiple facilities and CERCLA sites, including significant landfill and contaminated sediment waterway sites and allocation mediation proceedings.
  • Providing strategic counseling on Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards for ESG disclosures, particularly with regard to endangered species.
  • Representing a Fortune 10 energy company in CERCLA contribution litigation against the United States.
  • Representing leading crop protection companies and national trade associations across a docket of litigation challenging product registrations under FIFRA, the Endangered Species Act, and CEQA in California and D.C. federal district, state, and appellate courts.
  • Serving as federal environmental regulatory and litigation counsel to multiple national trade associations.
  • Representing a major transportation company in defending a CERCLA cost recovery claim by the United States.
  • Representing a Fortune 50 company in the strategic management of legacy environmental liabilities.

Prior engagements of note include:

  • Defending a large natural gas producer in avoiding threatened Clean Water Act citizen suits related to hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus shale.
  • Litigating the first Endangered Species Act citizen suit against a wind energy project.
  • Providing strategic and compliance counseling to a major power generating facility on federal environmental regulatory requirements, such as on EPA's Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule, including enforcement schemes and related litigation risk.
  • Representing a major mining company in multiple citizen suit litigation matters under NEPA and other federal law challenging federal leasing and mine plan approval actions.
  • Defending a Fortune 50 company in a citizen group challenge to the company's environmental remediation activities at a historical industrial facility.
  • Representing a coal company in a citizen suit brought under RCRA and SMCRA related to the company's handling and disposal of coal ash.
  • Defending a Clean Water Act criminal enforcement action against a private wastewater treatment corporation.
  • Litigating through trial a Clean Water Act citizen suit for a major animal agriculture corporation.
  • Serving as national coordinating counsel to a Fortune 10 company in its toxic tort litigation.
  • Conducting an internal Clean Water Act investigation for a corporation related to historical development activities in wetlands.
  • Regulatory litigation for the National Mining Association under SMCRA, and for agricultural trade associations under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
  • Conducting an internal investigation and risk assessment for a Fortune 100 corporation related to the company's remediation activities.
  • Defending EPA enforcement actions under CERCLA, including defense of unilateral administrative orders. 
  • NEPA litigation for a land developer requiring public lands access for a planned resort development.

Her experience includes federal district court motions and trial practice and federal appellate oral arguments. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal appellate and district courts nationwide. 

Kirsten was a founding President of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Women's Energy Network and currently serves on the Executive Advisory Council for WEN DC. She is also on the Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and a former co-chair of the Environmental Litigation & Toxic Tort Committee for ABA SEER, and was recently elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Kirsten formerly served as co-chair of the firm's Diversity Council and has also led the Crowell & Moring Women Attorneys' Network. She is a past president and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation.

Kirsten has been recognized as a leading environmental lawyer in Washington, D.C. by Chambers and Partners USA since 2013. She was also listed as a leading environmental lawyer in Euromoney's Women in Business Law and named by Lawdragon as one of "500 Leading U.S. Environmental & Energy Lawyers."