Clients rely on Karma B. Brown’s extensive experience with permitting and litigation under the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Karma has over fifteen years of experience litigating high profile, complex cases across the country.
She represents clients across industries on a wide range of environmental and administrative law issues, with an emphasis on litigation and regulatory compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and on CERCLA and hazardous waste cases throughout the country.
Clients value Karma’s ability to work collaboratively with industry coalitions, states, the federal government and technical consultants.
Karma’s representative clients include water agencies, oil and natural gas pipeline companies, trade associations, solid waste companies and developers. She routinely represents cross-industry coalitions on key issues such as the scope of federally regulated “waters of the United States” under the CWA and the criteria for designation of critical habitat and listing decisions under the ESA, and is widely regarded for her ability to negotiate settlements with the Department of Justice in controversial matters.
On the regulatory side, Karma has significant experience drafting comments on administrative rulemakings and advising clients and their technical consultants on the preparation of NEPA, ESA and CWA permitting documents, including keeping clients apprised of continually evolving policy and regulatory clarifications.
Karma has undertaken significant pro bono work, representing detainees at Guantánamo Bay in habeas corpus proceedings and numerous asylum applicants before the Department of Homeland Security. She served as a member of the firm’s pro bono committee and charitable giving committee and received the firm’s E. Randolph Williams Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service.
Karma was an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Law School from 2007 to 2009. Before joining the firm, she was an attorney-advisor in the Solicitor’s Honors Program at the US Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor, and a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Francis M. Allegra of the US Court of Federal Claims, Washington, DC.
- Counsel to energy company in successful defense of challenge to a National Park Service authorization and related ESA and NEPA analyses.
- Represent coalition of national agricultural and industry associations in litigation challenging rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) under CWA section 404 and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the ESA.
- Counsel to national trade associations in successful defense of FWS listing decisions.
- Regularly assist clients on issues relating to Corps jurisdictional determinations and the use of general and individual CWA permits, including administrative appeals under the Corps regulations and defense of permits and NEPA and ESA analyses in federal district and appellate courts.
- Represent coalition of trade associations in federal litigation challenging the Corps’ Nationwide Permit 12.
- Prepare cross-industry amicus briefs on influential CWA and ESA cases before the US Supreme Court and US Courts of Appeals.
- Negotiate settlements of litigation arising under section 404 of the CWA and challenges to ESA regulations, and advise clients on compliance with complex consent decrees.
- Prepare comments on EPA and Corps CWA rulemakings and FWS and NMFS ESA rulemakings.
- Advise natural gas pipeline company, electric utility, and industry groups regarding compliance counseling and permitting under Rivers and Harbors Act section 408.
- JD, The George Washington University Law School, with high honors, articles editor, The George Washington International Law Review; Order of the Coif, 2000
- BA, Northwestern University, 1996
- District of Columbia
- US Court of Federal Claims
- Solicitor’s Honors Program, US Department of the Interior
- Member, Legal Action Committee, National Association of Home Builders, 2012–present
- Member, Legal Affairs Committee, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, 2014 to present
- Vice Chair, Endangered Species Committee, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, 2008–2010
- Adjunct Professor, The George Washington University Law School, 2007–2009
- Member, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources
- Member, Northern Virginia Home Builders Association
- Member, Legal Action Network for Development Strategies
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