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Nossaman LLP

Mary Lynn K. Coffee

Partner

T 949.833.7800
F 949.833.7878
18101 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 1800
Irvine, CA 92612

Mary Lynn Coffee has extensive experience preparing and providing regulatory agency affairs strategies and approaches, and providing legal and regulatory advice and counsel with respect to permitting and compliance under state and federal environmental review, water quality, wetlands, endangered species, and other natural resource protection laws.  Her experience includes successfully obtaining, and administratively challenging, defending and moderating the requirements of NEPA/CEQA clearances; Clean Water Act Section 404 permits; Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certifications; Porter-Cologne Waste Discharge Requirements for dredge and fill; Cal. Fish and Game Code Streambed Alteration Agreements; state and federal Endangered Species Act permits (including Section 7 and Section 10(a) permits); general and individual Clean Water Act Section 402 NPDES Discharge permits; and Porter-Cologne Waste Discharge Requirements and Waivers.

Ms. Coffee's expertise also includes Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs) and Special Area Management Plans (SAMPs) developed to address state and federal Endangered Species Act and wetlands protection requirements, and Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne programs to address Section 303(d) impaired water bodies and TMDLs, Individual NPDES permits, General NPDES Phase I and Phase II MS4 permits, and other surface and ground water quality requirements.

In addition, Ms. Coffee is at the forefront in interpreting, creating and implementing permitting and compliance programs for, and engaging in legislative, policy, and regulatory initiatives to respond to, ever-changing requirements imposed on public agencies and private entities under CEQA and NEPA, the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Porter-Cologne and federal Clean Water Act, and other surface and stormwater quality mandates. Most recently, such work has included in-depth legal analysis of increasingly stringent NEPA and CEQA requirements for assessing and considering adverse project impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater runoff pollutants, and stormwater hydromodification, and providing assistance to technical teams developing state-of-the-art methodologies for assessing impacts and mitigation measure efficacy in response to evolving regulatory requirements.

Representative Work

  • California High-Speed Rail Authority.  Leads the Nossaman team serving as special environmental counsel to assist the client in complying with the requirements of, and obtaining federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certifications, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other state and federal approvals required for the construction of the high speed rail facilities and improvements, and establishment of habitat and species mitigation banks.  Client duties also include legal advice with respect to compliance with water quality regulations, TMDLs, storm water quality NPDES Permit requirements (including MS4 NPDES storm water permits and the General Construction NPDES Storm Water Permit), and development of comprehensive environmental law and permit compliance programs.
  • Ventura Water.  Leads the Nossaman team as special environmental counsel for the Ventura Water, a division of the City of Ventura, assisting the City in developing and implementing an integrated and comprehensive regulatory permitting and compliance strategy for obtaining environmental approvals needed for, and assuring compliance with environmental regulations applicable to discharges of tertiary treated wastewater to both the Santa Clara River Estuary, as well as to advanced purification recycling facilities and reclamation uses.  Specific tasks for the City include advice, counsel and representation of Ventura Water with respect to: amendment, renewal and compliance with requirements of: the City's Section 402 NPDES Permit and Waste Discharge Requirements issued under the federal Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne; compliance with and permitting under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts; compliance with and permitting under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act; compliance with and permitting under the Streambed Alteration Agreement provisions of the California Fish and Game Code; and compliance with CEQA and NEPA requirements related to permitting.  Simultaneously, Ms. Coffee is responsible for coordinating these regulatory activities with Nossaman's defense of third party water quality related citizen suits and administrative challenges, administrative civil liability complaints, and other enforcement actions.  Ms. Coffee was also the primary architect of a comprehensive Consent Decree settling third party citizen suit claims and administrative challenges under the CWA and Porter-Cologne, and she now works on the behalf of Ventura Water with all regulatory agencies and two nongovernmental organizations (Heal the Bay and Ventura Coastkeeper) to implement the settlement agreement in coordination with satisfying Ventura Water’s other regulatory compliance obligations.
  • San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)- Buena Vista Lagoon Project.  Leads the Nossaman team advising SANDAG in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA for a controversial environmental restoration project proposed to enhance a currently degraded coastal lagoon between the Cities of Oceanside and Carlsbad.  Multiple interests, including interests of private property owners, local municipalities, state and federal wildlife agencies, would be affected by any restoration project, and a universally beneficial restoration project has not been identified, creating political controversy.   Ms. Coffee and Nossaman are assisting SANDAG in complying with all requirements of the CEQA process, including those applicable to environmental impacts analysis, mitigation commitments, and responsible agency, trustee agency and public consultation. Public review of the draft EIR for the project was recently completed, and SANDAG is moving forward with the next steps in the CEQA process.
  • California Water Association.  Assists the California Water Association in moderating the terms and conditions of proposed federal CWA/Porter-Cologne precendential water quality orders, NPDES discharge permits, and water quality and enforcement policies, guidelines and programs.  She provides legal and policy advice with respect to Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne issues on an ongoing basis.
  • San Jose Water Corporation.  Leads the Nossaman team in providing policy, regulatory affairs and legal advice regarding streamlining of state and federal environmental permits, and CEQA and NEPA environmental reviews for new public infrastructure related to indirect and direct potable supply projects.  Duties include advice and counsel under the federal Clean Water Act, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, and California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.
  • Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies.  Assists client in complying with the requirements of, and obtaining federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certifications, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, implementation of the Central Coastal NCCP/HCP and related as well as new state and federal Endangered Species Act permits for toll road construction and improvements.  Duties also include legal advice with respect to compliance with water quality regulations, TMDLs, stormwater quality NPDES Permit requirements (including MS4 NPDES Stormwater permits and the General Construction NPDES Stormwater Permit), and development of comprehensive environmental law and permit compliance programs.
  • California Building Industry Association/Building Industry Association of Southern California/Construction Industry Coalition for Water Quality.  Leads the Nossaman team in providing strategic policy and regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel associated with respect to CEQA analyses, including climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and storm water quality analyses, and regarding the renewal and revision of water quality control requirements of the statewide federal Clean Water Act/Porter Cologne General NPDES Permit for storm water discharges from construction sites.
  • Diversified Pacific Development Company.  Leads the Nossaman team in providing CEQA/NEPA and state and federal permitting counsel, litigation defense services, and administrative proceedings representation for more than 5 development projects totaling more than 1500 acres in the Inland Empire area of California.  The Nossaman duties include assisting the client in obtaining multiple Clean Water Act Section 404 permits and related Section 401 water quality certifications and Section 7 Endangered Species Act approvals, developing an HCP, obtaining federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) permit  and CESA Section 2081 permit, obtaining Fish and Game Code Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, and defending a Porter-Cologne Section 13267 Order, and defending CEQA and local land use challenges. 
  • City of Irvine Orange County Great Park.  Served as special environmental counsel to the Orange County Great Park, one of the nation’s largest public works projects.  Nossaman provided strategy, advice, and counsel with respect to compliance with and approvals and permitting under CEQA, NEPA, endangered species, wetlands, water quality and all other environmental resource protection laws and regulations.  Specific highlights for this representation included obtaining the permit amendments for, and complying with federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Section 401 water quality certifications, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other state and federal approvals required for the construction of the Great Park facilities and establishment of a wildlife corridor, habitat mitigation bank, and water quality mitigation bank implementation and modification.  Ms. Coffee also provided advice to the client and its private development co-builder with respect to contributions that the Park and the surrounding private transit-oriented development can make to green building standards, the City of Irvine’s Conserve Energy Plan, the City’s AB 32 Climate Action Plan, and the subregion’s compliance with SB 375.
  • Irvine Ranch Water District.  Leads the Nossaman team serving as special environmental counsel for IRWD.  As special counsel, Ms. Coffee’s team provides services that include strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to: CEQA analyses of projects for IRWD and projects of concern proposed by other lead agencies; the impacts of proposed and new environmental legislation and regulations on IRWD operations; permitting and compliance under the federal Clean Water Act, Porter Cologne, state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other wetlands, water quality and environmental requirements and regulations; defense of third party water quality related citizen suits and administrative challenges; defense of administrative civil liability complaints, and other enforcement actions; and negotiation and implementation of several regulatory and stakeholder-driven TMDL programs to address Section 303(d) impaired water bodies, General NPDES Phase I Permit, General NPDES Construction Activities Permit, and General NPDES Industrial Storm Water Permit requirements (including TMDL effluent limitations and low impact development requirements), and other surface and ground water quality requirements.
  • Dam Removal. Served as water quality and state and federal Clean Water Act counsel in preparing detailed comments on the draft environmental impact statement on the proposed removal of four Klamath River dams.  The comments examined all potential aquatic and water quality related impacts associated with proposed dam removal, including impacts on all affected fish and wildlife (including endangered species), water quality (including short and long term effects associated with sediment releases, nutrient loading, and anticipated impacts on water quality objectives adopted for the river, including objectives for sediment, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and algal growth, and other constituents), hydrology and drainage (including anticipated hydromodification impacts on bed and bank), and climate change.
  • The Newhall Land and Farming Company.  Assisted client in developing strategy and approach to create defensible hydrology, surface water quality, and aquatic resource impacts assessment to support Section 404 permit, Section 401 water quality certification, and CEQA impacts, and analysis that demonstrated compliance with all pertinent surface water quality requirements.  In addition, assisted Newhall in preparation of the first sub-regional stormwater and hydromodification plan to be approved under provisions of the Los Angeles Regional Board MS4 Permit, which will replace project-by-project compliance with ever-changing MS4 Permit requirements.  Also providing advice, counsel, and services to defend and address construction stormwater Section 402 permit notices of violation and compliance issues, and develop a stormwater compliance program to assure construction compliance with all state and federal permits (federal Clean Water Act Section 402 NPDES permits or stormwater, Section 404 permits; Section 401 water quality certifications; Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game Streambed Alteration Agreements; and state and federal Endangered Species Act permits under Cal. Fish and Wildlife Code Section 2081 and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Centex Homes.  Assisted client in obtaining Section 404, Section 401, and Section 1602 approvals for Inland Empire division projects, and assisted client to address and defend construction stormwater Section 402 permit notices of violation and compliance issues.
  • Tustin Legacy Park Partners (Centex Homes and Shea Homes).  Assisted the client in obtaining Section 404, Section 401, and Section 1602 approvals, and in developing a strategy and approach to create a defensible hydrology, surface water quality, and biological (including endangered species and wetlands) CEQA documentation demonstrating compliance with all pertinent surface water quality and endangered species and wetlands requirements and regulations for the MCAS Tustin, Tustin Legacy master planned community.
  • Seeno Construction/Discovery Builder.  Served as special endangered species and environmental counsel to the company in negotiating a memorandum of agreement setting forth its commitments to the State and federal wildlife agencies in their processing and approval of a regional multi-species HCP and Section 10(a) permit covering the entire eastern portion of Contra Costa County.  Compliance and permitting work associated with this HCP requires detailed CEQA and NEPA analysis, state and federal endangered species advice and council, extensive negotiations with the Contra County Costa Habitat Conservation Planning Joint Powers Authority, the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and riparian and wetlands permitting and compliance advice under the federal Clean Water Act, the California Fish and Game Code Streambed Alteration provisions, and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.
  • Brookfield Homes.  Assisted client in developing a strategy and approach to create a defensible hydrology, surface water quality permitting, Section 401 certification, and CEQA impacts analysis that demonstrates compliance with all pertinent surface water quality requirements and regulations for the Park Place and Keystone master planned communities.  Also assisted with general CEQA and environmental compliance for Diamond Bar Village residential development.
  • The Irvine Company.  As Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Environmental Compliance, and later as outside counsel, developed, supervised, and continue to assist with the implementation of environmental compliance programs for:

o Implementation and modification of, compliance with, and defense of enforcement actions pursuant to federal Clean Water Act Section 402 permits for construction and post-construction stormwater discharges, Section 404 permits for fill, and Section 401 water quality certifications; Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements; California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit, federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit, and the Central Coastal HCP/NCCP.
o CEQA review of land use and entitlement activities, construction stormwater quality, post-construction stormwater quality, construction phase protection of endangered species and wetlands, control of hazardous materials, and surface water TMDLs.

  • North Peak Partners.  Ms. Coffee served as Vice President of Governmental Affairs and General Counsel, assisted client in obtaining permits for a 2700-unit residential development in Lake Elsinore CA, including preparation of the North Peak multispecies HCP/NCCP and obtaining a California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit, federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit, federal Clean Water Act Section 402 permits for construction and post-construction storm water discharges, Clean Water Section 404 permit for fill, and Section 401 water quality certification;  and a Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements.
  • Fieldstone Communities.  Assisted client in obtaining permits for a 3500-unit residential development in Carlsbad CA, including preparation of one of the first multi-species HCP/NCCPs in the state of California, and obtaining a California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit and federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit.

Awards & Honors

Named Building Industry Association of Southern California and Building Industry Litigation Defense Foundation “Outstanding Advocate of the Year,” November 2016.

Chosen for individual recognition for Environmental Law in California by Chambers USA, 2016 and 2017.

Named to California’s “Top Women Attorneys” list in 2016 by The Daily Journal.

Named a Southern California "Super Lawyer" and “Top Women Attorneys” for Environmental Law in 2011 - 2016 by Los Angeles magazine.

Named Orange County's Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser for 2013.

Mary Lynn K. Coffee
Mary Lynn K. Coffee

Practices

Education

J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 1989, with honors

B.S., Trinity University, 1985, summa cum laude

Admissions

California

Professional Affiliations

Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation

California Building Industry Association Select Conference on Industry Litigation

California Building Industry Association Regulatory Affairs Committee

Construction Industry Coalition for Water Quality

California Building Industry Water, CEQA and Climate Change Task Forces

California Association of Stormwater Quality Agencies (CASQA)

California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA)

American, California and Orange County Bar Associations

Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, Member

Awards & Honors

Named Building Industry Association of Southern California and Building Industry Litigation Defense Foundation “Outstanding Advocate of the Year,” November 2016.

Chosen for individual recognition for Environmental Law in California by Chambers USA, 2016 and 2017.

Named to California’s “Top Women Attorneys” list in 2016 by The Daily Journal.

Named a Southern California "Super Lawyer" and “Top Women Attorneys” for Environmental Law in 2011 - 2016 by Los Angeles magazine.

Named Orange County's Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser for 2013.

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