Chris Carr is a partner in the San Francisco office of Baker Botts. Drawing from his experience with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Carr represents businesses, land developers, private individuals, public agencies, and nonprofits in all areas of environmental and natural resource law, including energy, transportation, water, forestry, mining, coastal and marine resources, and agriculture.
In particular, Mr. Carr's practice focuses on permitting and litigation under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as their California counterparts: the California ESA, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). He is experienced in local, state, federal, and international laws, regulations, initiatives, and programs to promote the development of clean energy.
He frequently litigates challenges to environmental permits, approvals, and review documents in federal and state courts, and defends against "citizen suits" brought under federal environmental statutes.
Mr. Carr is recommended by Chambers USA (2015, 2016), Legal 500 U.S. (2012-2016), and Best Lawyers (2009-2017). In 2013 and 2016, he was recognized by Best Lawyers as "San Francisco Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year," an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area.
Mr. Carr has served on the City of San Francisco's Clean Technology Advisory Council, the Wine Institute's Public Policy Committee, the California Forestry Association's Legal Affairs Committee, and the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association's Environment Committee, as well as on the National Advisory Council of the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley.
- Consolidated Edison Development Solar Project. Defended 250-MW Panoche Valley Solar project in federal and California courts against motions for preliminary injunction alleging violations of protected species, wetlands permitting, and environmental review requirements. Defended against CEQA suit, received dismissal on motion for judgment, which was affirmed on appeal.
- City and County of San Francisco Wave and Tidal Projects. Advised Department of the Environment on local, state, and federal permitting and environmental review (CEQA/NEPA) requirements for siting, in collaboration with PG&E, tidal energy generation project in San Francisco Bay and wave energy generation project off Ocean Beach.
- Silicon Valley Employee Shuttle CEQA Litigation. Represented Genentech and tech company coalition's defense of the City and County of San Francisco’s employee shuttle program against a CEQA challenge, granted dismissal.
- California Department of Food and Agriculture PEIR. Representing agency with respect to CEQA compliance for its development of Program Environmental Impact Report for medical cannabis cultivation licensing program.
- Syar Industries, Inc. Mine Expansion. Defending EIR for aggregate mine expansion against two CEQA suits on behalf of mining company as real party in interest.
- EDF Renewable Energy, Inc. Wind and Solar Projects. Advise and represent EDF on environmental and land use aspects of wind and solar development, granted dismissal of CEQA suit challenging approval of Avalon Wind Energy Project brought by downwind wind farm on novel ground that “wind wake” is an environmental impact that must be analyzed.
- Solar City and Sunrun Tariff Challenge. Prosecuted Nevada state court challenge to Nevada Public Utilities Commission order altering the tariff for rooftop solar energy on behalf of the Alliance for Solar Choice.
- First Solar, Inc. Solar Projects. Advise First Solar on environmental and land use aspects of solar development, including compliance with NEPA, CEQA, the federal and California ESAs, the Williamson Act, and local zoning and related laws and regulations.
- Concerned Dublin Citizens v. City of Dublin CEQA Litigation. Received dismissal for Avalon Bay Communities, Inc. of a CEQA lawsuit (affirmed on appeal) brought by the Carpenters Union to stop development of transit-oriented apartment complex.
- Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Litigation. Represented MWD in challenges to Biological Opinions restricting water exports from the Bay Delta because of their alleged impacts on delta smelt and salmonids, issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, respectively.
- Northern California River Watch v. Wilcox Endangered Species Litigation. Received summary judgment dismissal (affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in a published decision) of a citizen suit alleging that California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and developer client violated the ESA when the officials removed an endangered plant that they concluded had been illegally transplanted to our client's property to block a proposed residential development.
- Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council. Advise Council on the federal and state legal requirements for the development and implementation of a Land Conservation Plan and CEQA compliance for PG&E lands to promote beneficial public values.
- California Forestry Association. Serve as outside counsel to California’s timber industry trade association on natural resources, environmental and CEQA compliance and litigation matters.
- The Nature Conservancy. Advise TNC with respect to domestic and international marine fisheries conservation, including Pacific tuna management reforms, California Central Coast groundfish permit buyback program, and technology use (including drones) for improved fisheries compliance. Also advised TNC on rice field-flooding contracts for Pacific Flyway waterfowl conservation.
Awards & Community
Recognized for Environment by Chambers USA, 2018 & 2019
Moderator, ACORE Renewable Energy Grid Forum
Moderator, Pacific Rim Offshore Wind
Baker Botts Environmental Update
Deconstructing the Administrative State and the State of Resistance: The Arc of History and the Future of the One-Way Ratchet as Reflected in Environmental and Natural Resources Regulation and LitigationSpeeches & Presentations
Annual Meeting of the California Forestry Association