Kirsten L. Nathanson, Partner Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2887
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Kirsten L. Nathanson is a partner in the firm's Environment & Natural Resources Group, focusing on environmental litigation, enforcement defense, risk assessment, and regulatory counseling under the major federal environmental and public lands statutes. She currently serves as a member on the firm's Environment & Natural Resources Group Steering Committee. 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.

Current representative engagements include:

  • Representing a Fortune 10 energy company in CERCLA contribution litigation against the United States at a National Priorities List Superfund site.
  • Providing strategic and compliance counseling to a major power generating facility on federal environmental regulatory requirements, such as on EPA's new Water of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule, including enforcement schemes and related litigation risk.
  • Representing leading crop protection companies and national trade associations in multiple pieces of ESA-FIFRA litigation challenging product registrations in both California and D.C. federal district and appellate courts.
  • Serving as federal environmental counsel to a corporation across multiple facilities and CERCLA sites, including the Berry's Creek Study Area, a complex contaminated sediment site in New Jersey.
  • Representing a Fortune 10 company in the strategic management of legacy environmental liabilities.
  • Serving as Clean Water Act regulatory and litigation counsel to multiple national trade associations.

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.
  • 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 currently serves on the Board of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Women's Energy Network and was a founding President of the Chapter in 2011-2012. She is a past president and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation and has also led the Crowell & Moring Women Attorneys' Network.

Kirsten has been recognized as a leading environmental lawyer in Washington, D.C. by Chambers and Partners USA (2013-2015).


Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, Maryland, Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 10th Circuits, U.S. District Court, Colorado, U.S. District Court, D.C., and U.S. District Court, Maryland


  • Past President, Women's Energy Network, Washington, D.C. Chapter
  • Past President, Energy & Mineral Law Foundation
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section on Environment, Energy & Resources
  • Member, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

Speeches & Presentations


Client Alerts & Newsletters

In the News

  • Courts Less Deferential to Regulatory Agencies, GMU Forum Told
    July 8, 2015 — Oil & Gas Journal, Bloomberg BNA

    Kirsten L. Nathanson, a Washington, D.C.-based Environment & Natural Resources partner, shares her perspective on the significance of recent U.S. Supreme Court case rulings during a panel hosted by the George Mason University School of Law's Law and Economics Center. Nathanson observed that in a 5-4 vote, the justices said EPA's estimated $9.6 billion/year of costs and $4-6 million/year of benefits from the regulation was a gap that was too big to ignore. "This was the first time the court required consideration of costs when Congress was silent," she said. Panelists discussed and examined precedent set by decisions in cases such as Michigan v. EPAUtil. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, and King v. Burwell

  • Supreme Court Could Hear Challenge to EPA Rule on Emissions
    October 2, 2014 — The Indianapolis Star

    Washington, D.C.-based partner and steering committee member of the Environment & Natural Resources Group, Kirsten L. Nathanson, discusses a challenge to a federal rule cutting toxic emissions from power plants, which is one of the issues facing the Supreme Court this term. The federal rule in question limits toxic pollution, such as mercury, from coal- and oil-fired power plants, and is being appealed but 23 states and industry groups. Nathanson argues that, "The regulated community believes it was completely irrational and inappropriate for EPA to ignore the high cost," adding, "we will see if the Supreme Court latches onto it."

  • EPA High Court Wins Leave Openings For Industry Challenges
    September 18, 2014 — Law360

    Washington, D.C.-based Environment & Natural Resources Group partner and steering committee member, Kirsten L. Nathanson, speaks with Law360 regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions last term upholding much of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas regulations. Nathanson notes that while this year's term doesn't have as many environment-specific cases, the non-environment cases of Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association and Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association would have an impact across federal agencies including the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and others. "The key issue in the case involves an agency's ability to change its mind — and to change its mind on the interpretation of its own regulations, and to do so without having to go through notice and comment," Nathanson said.

  • High Court's Recent Term Isn't The Green Light EPA Thinks
    July 1, 2014 — Law360

    Washington, D.C.-based partner in Crowell & Moring's Environment & Natural Resources Group and member of the group's steering committee, Kirsten L. Nathanson, discusses how Environmental Protection Agency cases faired in the Supreme Court's recent term. As mixed feelings arise, Nathanson chalked the past term up as a win for the EPA stating the agency's victory in the EPA v. EME Homer case that resurrected the EPA's regulation of air pollution crossing state borders.

  • Major National Companies Try 'Sponsorship' As New Hammer to Break Glass Ceiling
    November 14, 2013 — The Washington Post

    Crowell & Moring Chairman Kent Gardiner and Washington, D.C.-based partner Kirsten Nathanson and counsel Astor Heaven are interviewed by The Washington Post regarding the firm's Sponsorship initiative. The program, which is the first law firm initiative of its kind in the country, connects partners with young lawyers to fully develop their talents and enhance their careers. Gardiner told the Post, "If you enhance the diversity and perspectives and ways of thinking about a problem based on different life experiences, different approaches, you create more opportunity for innovation."

  • EPA's Selenium Decision Will Transform Coal War
    August 30, 2013 — Law360

    Kirsten L. Nathanson, a Washington, D.C.-based partner in the firm's Environment, Energy & Resources Group, shares her perspective on the upcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision on the state of Kentucky's proposed water-quality standard for selenium. The article notes that the deadline for the agency to make a decision on Kentucky's plan has already passed, but the EPA has said it has not yet concluded its review. It is anticipated that there will be litigation over the agency's decision. Nathanson remarks, "I would have a hard time seeing this not end up in the courts in one form or another. There's a lot of money at stake and there's been so much energy put into this issue by all sides. I can't imagine EPA's approval or rejection would be the final word."

  • 9th Circ. Stormwater Flip Should Catch High Court's Eye
    August 12, 2013 — Law360

    Kirsten L. Nathanson, a Washington, D.C.-based partner in the firm's Environment, Energy & Resources Group, is quoted in this article regarding a recent Ninth Circuit ruling on stormwater pollution that is anticipated to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nathanson notes, "By nature of it being a Ninth Circuit environmental opinion that has achieved the liability determination and worked its way around a Supreme Court decision, I could certainly see it catching attention. Justice Scalia made his views clear at oral argument."

  • Judge Buries EPA Mountaintop Mining Guidance
    July 31, 2012 — Law360

    Win for the National Mining Association featured after federal judge says Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority; case also covered in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

  • Crowell & Moring Scores for Coal Industry in Suit Against EPA over Mountaintop Removal Mining
    October 7, 2011 — AmLaw Litigation Daily; September 16, 2011 — Environment & Energy News

    Crowell & Moring's representation of the National Mining Association was featured in Environment & Energy News and AmLaw Litigation Daily when the federal district court in Washington, D.C. ruled on behalf of the mining industry in a decision that said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully blocked more than 70 mountaintop removal projects.

    According to the AmLaw Litigation Daily, "Judge Reggie Walton granted partial summary judgment to the National Mining Association, which claimed that the EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act to block the dumping of debris from mountaintop removal projects into local waterways." 

  • Crowell & Moring Client Fights to Build Wind Farm
    October 22, 2009 — The Washington Post

    Crowell & Moring LLP client Invenergy Wind LLC is featured for its fight to build a wind farm in Greenbrier County, WV. The first of its kind case presents important issues of first impression for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its relationship to wind energy projects on private lands. Crowell & Moring defended Invenergy in a four-day bench trial in federal court in Greenbelt, MD that concluded on October 29. The ruling is forthcoming. The trial team included partners Clifford J. Zatz and Kirsten L. Nathanson, associates Jessica A. Hall, and Antonio Gonzalez Mendoza, with support from ESA attorneys Steven P. Quarles, J. Michael Klise, and Thomas R. Lundquist.

Firm News & Announcements

May.19.2015 Chambers USA Ranks 53 Crowell & Moring Attorneys and 20 Leading Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
May.23.2014 Chambers USA Ranks 51 Crowell & Moring Attorneys and 19 Leading Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
May.24.2013 Chambers USA Ranks 45 Crowell & Moring Attorneys and 19 Leading Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
Dec.04.2007 DC Circuit Upholds EPA Consent Agreement With America’s Farms
May.04.2005 Second Circuit Denies Environmental Petitioners' Request for Rehearing of Clean Water Act Case
Apr.02.2003 Crowell & Moring Obtains a Win For the Mining Industry
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