Lee Smith

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Lee N. Smith focuses his practice on land and natural resource regulation and development, environmental compliance, water law, and litigation. He is experienced in federal and state water quality, air quality and hazardous materials compliance issues, including environmental due diligence projects for mining and energy projects. He has handled cases before the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the San Joaquin Unified Air Pollution Control District, and local environmental agencies. He has drafted and negotiated environmental provisions for complex agreements and assisted clients on due diligence issues. Lee has also been involved in state court litigation concerning pesticide contamination, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and Prop. 65 litigation, as well as federal litigation involving pesticide registration and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Lee Smith is a partner in our Sacramento and Fresno, California offices.

Practice Areas

  • Water Quality
  • Environmental and Natural Resources
  • Wine and Vineyard Law

Professional Associations

  • Fresno Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Issues Committee Counsel
  • Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District
  • California State Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, Chair


  • University of Utah College of Law, J.D., 1988, William S. Leary Scholar, 1985-1986
  • Brown University, A.B. environmental studies, 1981

Bar Admissions

  • California

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First California Cap-and-Trade Auction Delayed, Lawsuit Filed to Challenge Offset Protocols

From Allison C. Smith and Lee N. Smith: Last week was busy for the California Cap-and-Trade Program, adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) last December under A.B. 32. First, last Tuesday, CARB Chairman Mary Nichols announced at a Senate hearing that the first scheduled Cap-and-Trade allowance auction, scheduled for August 2012, will be … Continue Reading

Legal Challenge to Avenal Energy Project’s PSD Permit Filed with the Ninth Circuit

On November 3, 2011, the proposed Avenal Energy Project, a 600-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant proposed in the city of Avenal near Kettleman City in Kings County, California, encountered another legal challenge to providing electricity to the southern San Joaquin Valley. Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice challenged the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Dismisses Common Law GHG Case Against Energy Producers

On June 20, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion on American Electric Power Co., Inc., et al. v. Connecticut, et al.  This case is significant because it dismissed a lawsuit in which several states and environmental groups sought court orders requiring large electrical utilities (alleged to be “the five largest emitters of carbon … Continue Reading

California Cap & Trade Challenge Final Order Issued

On Friday, May 20, 2011, Judge Goldsmith of San Francisco Supreme Court issued a final order  (PDF) with respect to a lawsuit challenging the environmental review of the Cap and Trade regulations created under California’s AB 32 Greenhouse Gas statute and the associated Scoping Plan. In its order, the Court enjoined the Cap and Trade portion of the … Continue Reading