Paul Weiland is chair of Nossaman’s Environment & Land Use Group. He focuses his practice on litigation, permitting, and compliance counseling. Paul’s clients include public agencies, publicly regulated utilities, private developers, large landowners, and trade associations. He counsels them regarding land use, endangered species, wetlands, water quality, air quality, climate change, green building, transportation, and hazardous substances issues.

Paul litigates environmental and natural resources matters at the trial and appellate court levels. His experience includes litigation involving the Administrative Procedure Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), Federal Land Policy and Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Forest Management Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and Wilderness Act.

Prior to joining Nossaman, Paul worked in the Law and Policy Section, Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. There, he was lead counsel for the United States in a number of high profile trial and appellate cases. He assisted federal agencies in the formulation of policies and rules and has drafted comments on proposed legislation regarding the ESA, federalism and preemption, the NEPA, regulatory reform, small business, defense, and transportation. 

Paul regularly comments on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States on the Firm’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog.




American Stewards of Liberty v. Department of the Interior, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52653 (W.D. Texas March 28, 2019). Lead counsel for Plaintiffs in a challenge to a negative 90-day finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was issued in response to a petition to list the Bone Cave Harvestman (Texella reyeisi). The Service initially rejected the petition in 2015 but took voluntary remand of that decision after Plaintiffs demonstrated that the Service had failed to consider materials submitted in support of the petition. In 2017, the Service again rejected the petition, this time reasoning that petitioners failed to demonstrate to the Service’s satisfaction that the species’ population was trending upward. This despite the facts that the Service indicated at the time of listing that the Bone Cave Harvestman is present in just a half dozen caves and petitioners demonstrated that it is present in at least 170 caves. As a consequence, the court held that the Service’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish v. Department of the Interior, 854 F.3d 1236 (10th Cir. 2017). Representing plaintiffs in case challenging release of captive Mexican wolves into an experimental population in New Mexico in violation of federal and state law. The Firm successfully obtained a preliminary injunction from the district court against the federal government, halting the release of captive wolves within the State of New Mexico. The injunction was eventually overturned by the Tenth Circuit on grounds that New Mexico failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable harm, at which point the case was remanded back to district court. In March of 2018, New Mexico entered into a memorandum of agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona whereby the parties commit to work together to plan and carry out releases of captive bred wolves to supplement the wild population as part of a larger effort to recover Mexican wolves in the wild. Thereafter, New Mexico agreed to dismiss the legal action. 

Union Neighbors United v. Jewell, 831 F.3d 564 (D.C. Cir. 2016). Serve as lead litigation counsel for client, Buckeye Wind LLC, which is pursuing permits for a 100-turbine wind energy project in Ohio. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected plaintiff-appellants claims that the Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act in issuing an Incidental Take Permit for the project, but the court agreed with plaintiff-appellants that the Service violation the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider a sufficiently comprehensive range of alternatives. The matter has been remanded to the Service to conduct additional environmental analysis.

Wild Equity Institute v. City and County of San Francisco, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4854 (9th Cir. March 25, 2015). Represented defendant City and County of San Francisco in an action alleging violation of section 9 of the ESA. Obtained grant of motion to dismiss action as moot as well as denial of motions for preliminary relief and summary judgment in the trial court. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot.

Coalition for a Sustainable Delta v. Federal Emergency Management Agency, E.D. Cal. Case No. 09-2024. Successfully represented plaintiffs Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and Kern County Water Agency in action challenging the Federal Emergency Management Agency for failure to consult under the ESA regarding the effects of the National Flood Insurance Program on listed species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Obtained settlement requiring FEMA to consult and pay attorney’s fees.

Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 717 F. Supp. 2d 1021 (E.D. Cal., 2010). rev’d 747 F.3d 581 (9th Cir. 2014). Represented plaintiffs Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and Kern County Water Agency in consolidated actions challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2008 biological opinion for continued operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project on the grounds that the Service violated the Administrative Procedure Act and ESA when it issued that opinion. Obtained injunctive relief and grant of summary judgment of all claims in the trial court, which was reversed by a 2-1 decision in the Ninth Circuit.


Kern County Water Agency. Counsel client regarding the development of a $15+ billion infrastructure project (Delta Conveyance Project) to improve water supply reliability for 25 million Californians and address seismic and climate change-related risks while fulfilling federal and state Endangered Species Act and California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

Coalition for a Sustainable Delta. Collaborate with client team to develop a strategy to address significant contributors to ecosystem decline in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Assist client with implementation of strategy including through participation in regulation and legal proceedings.

Tenaska. Assist client with endangered species and wetland permitting issues associated with development of a photovoltaic solar energy projects in Imperial County, California.

Dairy Cares. Work with client team to evaluate petition to list tricolored blackbird under the California Endangered Species Act including by assessing the legal and scientific bases for the petition. Represent client in front of the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Imperial Irrigation District. Counsel client regarding federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and California Hazardous Waste Control Act (HWCA) compliance. Represent client in discussions with EPA regarding storage and disposal of equipment containing PCBs.



Blog Posts

Speaking Engagements




Community & Professional

Adjunct Faculty, University of California, Davis

American Bar Association, Section on Energy, Environment, and Resources

Harvard Law School Association, Environmental Law Section

Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Distinguished Alumni Council


Honors & Recognitions

Named a Top 100 Lawyer by the Daily Journal, 2021

Environmental MVP, Law360, 2021

Named an Energy & Environmental Trailblazer by the National Law Journal, 2021

Listed, The Legal 500 United States, Industry Focus - Environment - Litigation, 2019-2021

Listed, The Legal 500 United States, Industry Focus - Energy - Renewable/Alternative Power, 2020-2021

Individual recognition for Environment, Chambers USA, 2017-2018

Named one of California's Top 25 Land-Use Attorneys in 2011 by Daily Journal

Selected to the Super Lawyers list for 2010-2018

Selected to the Rising Stars list for 2008-2009

Awarded Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005 by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft



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