Claudia M. O'Brien
JD, Georgetown University, 1994
magna cum laude
BA, Yale University, 1987
Ms. O'Brien is qualified to practice before the District of Columbia bar.
Areas of Expertise
Claudia O'Brien is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins and Co-chair of the Firm's Global Climate Change Practice Group. Her practice is focused on environmental health and safety issues, with an emphasis on emerging trends in air quality control, risk policy and pesticide and toxic substances regulation. Ms. O'Brien represents companies and industry groups in petitions, agency rulemaking proceedings and litigation under a variety of federal environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, FIFRA, the Clean Water Act, EPCRA, TSCA, RCRA, and the ESA, as well as a number of state environmental laws.
Ms. O'Brien joined the firm in 1994 after six years at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she worked on issues involving water, air and toxic substances. Ms. O'Brien drafted regulations to implement Title IV of the Clean Air Act, which addresses acid rain emissions from electric utility plants. In addition, she worked in the Design for the Environment program, a voluntary EPA initiative to work with industry sectors on evaluating opportunities for multi-media risk reduction. Ms. O'Brien taught workshops at EPA on the development of water quality-based effluent limitations and she worked on the development of regulations and guidance to reduce pollution from industrial and municipal storm water runoff. While working full time at EPA, Ms. O'Brien attended law school at the Georgetown University Law Center where she received her JD in 1994.
- Climate Change. Ms. O'Brien represented various clients evaluating the strategic impacts of climate change developments in the US and internationally. She has represented companies in legislative advocacy over various aspects of climate change bills before the House and Senate, as well as in advocacy over EPA's proposed regulatory programs to address climate change. She also has negotiated emission reduction purchase agreements" (ERPAs) and assessed the economic and strategic potential for carbon credit generation under "Joint Implementation" (JI) and "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM) programs of the Kyoto Protocol on behalf of lenders and project developers, as well as assisting clients (including CleanTech companies) in evaluating potential offset development opportunities in the U.S. Ms. O'Brien has made numerous presentations at seminars and for individual clients on strategic opportunities in the emerging international carbon-constrained regimes, including the EU Emissions Trading Program and the JI and CDM programs under the Kyoto Protocol, and federal and state legislative developments in the US. Representative clients include LS Power, the National Climate Coalition, RecycleRewards, Energy Capital Partners, E.On, PG&E, Goldman Sachs, Air Liquide, and CES Clean Energy Sol.
- Clean Air Act. Ms. O'Brien has been deeply involved in Clean Air Act matters for more than two decades, beginning with her work developing regulations under Title IV of the Act. Ms. O'Brien has represented clients in advocacy and litigation related to National Ambient Air Quality Standard development and implementation, including deep involvement in the NOx SIP call and Section 126 rules, the Clean Air Implementation Rule, the best available retrofit technology and regional haze rules, ozone and PM standard implementation issues, and New Source Performance Standards. Ms. O'Brien has been involved in regulatory advocacy or litigation related to almost a dozen Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards. She has represented clients on mobile source regulations and litigation, including the Tier 2 standards, the heavy duty diesel rule and the mobile source air toxics program. Representative clients include the American Forest & Paper Association, Navistar, Edison International, Cinergy, JELD-WEN and the Coalition for Clean Air Implementation.
- FIFRA and Pesticide-Related Issues. Ms. O'Brien represents pesticide manufacturers in a range of issues under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. She has been involved in regulatory counseling, advocacy and litigation related to the registration and reregistration of pesticides, including responding to State and environmental group petitions and litigation, and advocacy related to proposed pesticide cancellations. She has been closely involved in issues related to the treatment of pesticide applications under the Clean Water Act, including representing the industry in litigation over those issues. Ms. O'Brien also has litigated several pesticide-related Endangered Species Act cases. In addition, she has experience negotiating and arbitrating data compensation cases, counseling on FIFRA Section 6(a)(2) issues, addressing inert ingredient issues, and in the regulatory treatment of plant-incorporated protectants. Representative clients include CropLife America, FMC Corporation, Syngenta and Pioneer.
- Clean Water Act. Ms. O'Brien has remained involved in Clean Water Act issues since her work for EPA developing stormwater regulations and training regional and State personnel on water quality-based permitting, including use of whole effluent toxicity tests and toxicity reduction evaluations (TRE). She has represented clients on development of effluent limitation guidelines, and assisted clients in identifying and addressing issues related to total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). Ms. O'Brien also has worked with power companies on the impact of thermal discharge and entrainment/impingement requirements on their cooling water intake structures. She also works with pesticide manufacturers on the treatment of pesticide applications under the Clean Water Act. Representative clients include CropLife America, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and National Energy Group.
- Chemical-related Issues. Ms. O'Brien represents manufacturers in a range of cutting-edge risk and risk assessment-related issues. For example, she has successfully challenged EPA's refusal to remove methyl ethyl ketone from Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, as well as successfully invalidating half of the chemical listings that were specifically challenged in a lawsuit over EPA's expansion of the Toxics Release Inventory. She has represented clients in risk assessment proceedings before the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, in HAP delisting petitions, the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program, the RCRA Hazardous Waste Identification Rule, the TSCA HAP test rule, the miscellaneous organic NESHAP, the urban air toxics program, the National Air Toxics Assessment, the Integrated Risk Information System, the California Air Toxics Hot Spots Program, and the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists' TLV program, among others. Representative clients include the American Chemistry Council's Ketones, Oxo Process, Hydrazine and Isopropanol Panels, Navistar and the American Forest & Paper Association.
Ms. O'Brien was a member of the Utility MACT Working Group, a subcommittee of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. She also is an active volunteer lawyer for Human Rights First and other human rights organizations, successfully representing more than a dozen political asylum seekers before the Immigration and Naturalization Service asylum office, the Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. She is admitted to the bars of Virginia, the District of Columbia, the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th and D.C. Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court.