Jill Yung is a partner in the Environment and Energy practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm’s San Francisco office. Ms. Yung represents utility-scale solar developers, real estate developers, recycling facilities, and manufacturers in a variety of industries on a wide range of complex counseling, compliance, and litigation matters involving environmental, renewable energy, and natural resource issues. In particular, she provides counsel on regulatory compliance issues under various federal and state statutes including, but not limited to, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other wildlife laws, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
Ms. Yung has served as the lead attorney advising on siting, permitting, and project implementation for multiple utility-scale solar projects on public, private, and tribal lands. As part of these projects, she has collaborated with federal and state resource management agencies, local governments and environmental organizations to develop high stakes policies for expediting the permitting of utility scale solar projects, achieving Renewable Portfolio Standard goals and ensuring conservation of sensitive natural and cultural resources. She defends utility-scale solar project permits in federal and state court and has litigated tax and fee matters on behalf of independent energy producers. She also has represented proponents of distributed energy generation in public utilities commission proceedings.
Ms. Yung also advises clients regarding development and operations in and around sensitive habitats, including wetlands, other federal and state jurisdictional waters, and areas occupied, or potentially used, by endangered species. She helps businesses and developers assess permitting and mitigation obligations and opportunities to pioneer unique conservation strategies, including support for research and the retirement of environmentally detrimental operations.
In association with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, Ms. Yung counsels companies in a variety of industry sectors, including manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage, healthcare, energy, and biosciences, on risks and opportunities in the areas of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) and environmental, social, governance (ESG). She helps businesses navigate complex transactional issues involving waste management, product stewardship and sustainability. She also provides counsel on remediation and risk management and helps devise strategies for resolving compliance issues discovered during due diligence.
- Recognized for Environment – regulatory in The Legal 500 (2020)
- Northwestern University School of Law, J.D. (magna cum laude and Order of the Coif), 2005
- Dartmouth College, A.B., 1999
- Counseled utility-scale solar developers in environmental review and permitting processes for private, public, and tribal land projects (assisted developers with and represented them in interactions with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, local agencies, environmental stakeholders, and Native American tribes).
- Counseled engineering, procurement, and construction team on permit compliance matters and defense of contract disputes.
- Created guidance for resource extraction company facing a variety of CWA jurisdiction questions.
- Handled permitting and enforcement matters arising under a variety of state and federal laws (e.g., defense of water rights permits and licenses, interpretation and modification of hazardous waste facility permits, and defense of rail line use rights in the face of abandonment efforts).
- Drafted and lobbied for legislation to, among other things, shape an extended producer responsibility program and to exempt vaulted USTs from certain inspection requirements.
- Advised clients on federal and state food and product labeling requirements; negotiate the timing and content of label changes with the California Department of Public Health and California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
- Audited client facilities and operations and updated environmental management programs to ensure compliance and adherence to applicable environmental health and safety regulations in multiple domestic and international jurisdictions.
- Advised clients on hazardous materials release reporting and cleanup obligations and resolved questions regarding responsibility with Certified Unified Program Agencies and the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
- Performed due diligence for transactions involving contaminated property (reviewed, assessed the adequacy of, and provided recommendations based on Phase I and Phase II site assessments; counseled clients on compliance with RCRA and CERCLA requirements).
- Protect Our Communities Foundation v. County of Imperial (Case No. ECU000780) [8minuteenergy – Laurel Cluster Solar Farm]. Successfully defended the approval of a 325 megawatt photovoltaic solar energy generation facility against numerous CEQA and General Plan consistency challenges.
- Fix the City v. City of Los Angeles et al. [8150 Sunset Boulevard Mixed-Use Development CEQA and Land Use Litigation]. Successfully defended an Environmental Leadership Development Project designed by architect Frank Gehry against four related cases challenging the project approvals. Petitioners alleged dozens of violations of CEQA and local and state laws, including the Subdivision Map Act and the Alquist-Priolo Seismic Safety Act.
- Velasquez v. County of Imperial (Case No. ECU07294) [Campo Verde Solar Farm]. Successfully defended permits for a utility-scale solar project against a union’s attempt to challenge Imperial County’s interpretation of its General Plan and the County’s conduct under CEQA and the Brown Act.
- Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell, No. 14-01656 (C.D. Cal.) [First Solar – Stateline Solar Farm]. Successfully defended project permits against citizen suit under the Endangered Species Act and NEPA. Prevailed in the defense of an aggressive motion for preliminary injunction and, having defeated plaintiff’s primary objective to stop construction of the project, settled the case. See 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50614.
- Western Watersheds Project v. Salazar, No. 11-492 (C.D. Cal.) [BrightSource Energy – Ivanpah Solar Energy Generation System]. As in-house counsel, drafted significant portions of opposition briefs and declarations that successfully defeated plaintiff’s attempts to secure a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and decision on the merits in a case challenging the permitting of a utility-scale solar facility under NEPA, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and the Endangered Species Act.
- La Cuna De Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle Advisory Committee v. U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, No.10-2664 (S.D. Cal.) and Nos. 11-400 and 11-4466 (C.D. Cal.) [Solar Millennium – Blythe Solar Power Project]. Defeated multiple motions for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions; successfully moved to dismiss the case and individual claims (for misjoinder in one instance and failure to state a claim in another). Substantive claims involved NEPA, FLPMA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
- Independent Energy Producers Association v. County of Riverside (Case No. INC 1200838). Petition principally claimed that the fee violated the limitations on the County’s taxing authority imposed by the California Constitution and other state laws. Additional claims included allegations that the fee was preempted by a tax exemption passed by the Legislature in furtherance of several state policies that aim to encourage the development of renewable energy sources. Successfully negotiated a settlement agreement and revised policy that is significantly less onerous and in line with practices in other counties.
- Elk Hills Power, LLC v. California State Board of Equalization (California Supreme Court Case No. S194121). Successfully represented Amicus Curiae Independent Energy Producers Association (IEP) in challenging the Board of Equalization’s methods for imposing an ad valorem tax, or property tax, on the Emission Reduction Credits held by an independent power generator.
- Negotiated settlement agreements in state and federal court, including enforcement actions under the California Unfair Competition Law, citizen suits under ESA, NHPA, NEPA, NAGPRA, and CEQA, and challenges to unlawful taxes on energy generation under, among other things, California’s Proposition 26, the dormant Commerce Clause, and California preemption law.
- Negotiated reduced settlements in regulatory enforcement actions for Fortune 1000 company, including the development and outsourcing of implementation for a Supplemental Environmental Project.
Engagement & Publications
- Speaker, Environmental Issues in Solar Energy Projects, Strafford Webinars (July 2021)
- Speaker, Lighting the Way: Obstacles and Opportunities for Renewable Energy Projects, Environmental Law Institute Master Class (April 2021)
- Client Alert: Supreme Court Again Muddies Clean Water Act Standards (April 24, 2020)
- Client Alert: Risks, Risks Everywhere . . . It’s Time to Stop and Think. Should ESG Investing Trends Be Part of the Calculus When Considering COVID-19 Based Stays of Environmental Compliance? (April 16, 2020)
- Client Alert: PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: The State of Environmental Business Operations One Week Into Sheltering in Place in California (March 24, 2020)
- Moderator: NEPA’s 50th Anniversary and the Intersection with CEQA, 28th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite (October 2019)
- Moderator: Fight or Write? How States, eNGOs, and Green Businesses Are Reworking Their Playbooks to Respond to Federal Deregulation of Fuel Economy Standards and Green Transportation, 27th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite (October 2018)
- Client Alert: Clipping the Wings of the MBTA? Newly Embraced Definition of Take Impacts more than Criminal Liability (May 3, 2018)
- Client Alert: The Ninth Circuit Continues to Give Technical Decisions Heightened Deference and Validates Take Permit for Utility Scale Solar Project (May 23, 2017)
- Section 7 Consultations on Solar Projects: Is USFWS Seeing the ESA in a New Light?, RMMLF ESA Special Institute (2015)
- Client Alert: The Ebb and Flow of Federal Waters: Corps and EPA Jurisdiction Surges Once More (May 2015)
- Co-Author, Reconciling the Endangered Species Act and Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects, ABA Natural Resources & Environment (Winter 2015)
- Co-Author, Client Alert: Supreme Court Resurrects EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (Apr. 2014)
- Client Alert: How to Make Blight Bright: A Roadmap for Turning Brownfields Green (Apr. 2014)
- Client Alert: Not a Mirage: Most Ephemeral and Intermittent Streams in Arid Environments Would be Subject to Federal Agency Permits under Proposed Rules (Apr. 2014)
- Co-Author, SB 43: Planting Seeds in Community Solar Gardens, Daily Journal: New California Laws (2014), at p. 66
- Co-Author, California Resuscitates Local Authority For Brownfield Sites, Law360 (Oct. 29, 2013) California Extends the Reach of Renewables, Law360 (Oct. 22, 2013)
- Moderator, Land Opportunities: The Big Win, CSP Today, 6th Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Conference & Exhibition (June 28, 2012)
- Moderator, BLM’s Solar PEIS & the Future of Solar on Public Lands, Infocast Webinar (Apr. 3, 2012)
- Co-Author, Brownfields Redevelopment at Closed Military Bases, in James B. Witkin, Environmental Aspects of Real Estate and Commercial Transactions: From Brownfields to Green Buildings (4th ed. 2011)
- Paul Hastings San Francisco Office Vice Chair, Talent Development Committee Chair, 2019-present
- American Bar Association, Trends Editorial Board, 2019-present
- Executive Committee Member, California State Bar/California Lawyers Association Environmental Law Section, 2017-2020
- Legislation Committee Member, California State Bar Environmental Law Section, 2008-2019
- Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Planning Committee Member November 2015 Conference re: Issues under the ESA Affecting Resource Development, 2014-2015
- Board Member, California Association of Student Councils, 2006-2007
- Managing Editor of the Northwestern Law Review, where she published her note as well as an article with the Seton Hall Law Review.
- Admitted to practice law in California
- Admitted to practice before the United States District courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California and the Ninth Circuit