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Clean Water Act Update: EPA and Army Corps Propose Significant Changes to the Definition of "Waters of the United States"

March 27, 2014

By Scott Castro

On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers announced the release of their proposed rule clarifying which waters will be governed by the federal water pollution laws. The draft rule - literally years in the making following several notable U.S. Supreme Court decisions - proposes significant changes to the definition of "waters of the United States," which determines which activities are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. One key element of the proposed rule would automatically subject nearly every natural and artificial stream and wetland that is adjacent to or near a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or territorial sea to federal jurisdiction.

The agencies, led by the EPA, contend that the rulemaking is needed to clarify ambiguities left in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Rapanos v. U.S. While clarification may be needed, the proposed rule would effectively broaden, as a matter of law, federal jurisdiction over many types of streams and wetlands that are currently subject to a case-by-case assessment. Indeed, heavy criticism has been lodged at the automatic expansion of federal jurisdiction, including the potential for jurisdiction to be asserted over water bodies where a "nexus" to navigable waterways or other traditionally regulated bodies of water no longer exists.

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SB 1270 Proposes Significant California Mining Reform

March 7, 2014

by Kerry Shapiro, Esq. and Scott Castro, Esq.

The recent submittal of significant proposed revisions to California's mining law, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act ("SMARA"), signals potentially broad-reaching changes to the statute. On February 21, 2014, Senator Fran Pavely (D) introduced SB 1270, a bill proposing to overhaul various sections of SMARA. SB 1270 proposes fundamental changes to SMARA. Click here for a copy of SB 1270.

If these changes go through, mine owners and operators will be subject to a new regulatory system under which the State will assume a far greater and centralized role in various aspects of SMARA, including mine inspections, enforcement, and establishment of financial assurance mechanisms. The mining industry also faces the likely prospect of increased carrying costs, arising from such proposals as changes to the annual reporting fee structure (proposed at a minimum of $1,000/year on a per-acre basis, and with no maximum cap), to increased ability to appeal decisions relating to the State's "3098" list.

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JMBM Recognized as a 2014 Best Law Firm in Land Use & Zoning Law

November 1, 2013

JMBM Best Law Firm 2014LOS ANGELES - Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce its land use practice has been selected for inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers® list of Best Law Firms. JMBM achieved a number of First-Tier Rankings, including a Metropolitan First-Tier Ranking (Los Angeles) in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law.

"Our clients count on us to successfully guide their development projects through the maze of politics, community concerns, and the law. It's rewarding to deliver hard-won results, and a pleasure to be recognized for it," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department. "My colleagues at JMBM and I are particularly pleased to be recognized as a Best Law Firm in this area, as it is an honor bestowed by our clients and peers."

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An Interview with the New Executive Director of BCDC: Larry Goldzband

September 11, 2012

By Jon Welner

On July 20, Lawrence J. Goldzband was appointed Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

BCDC is a state regulatory agency created in the 1960s to ensure the environmental protection and responsible economic development of San Francisco Bay. It has permit authority over all development in the Bay and within 100 feet of the shoreline, including the development of all ports and marine facilities. In recent years, BCDC has taken a leadership role in preparing the Bay Area for the effects of sea-level rise resulting from global climate change.

We recently sat down with Mr. Goldzband to discuss his perspective on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

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Litigating Property Rights Cases in California: Law Seminars International

August 8, 2012

by Matthew Hinks

Litigating property rights cases in California requires navigating a confusing mélange of sometimes unfamiliar and often times conflicting groups of laws, rules and regulatory agencies.

On October 17, 2012, at the Marriott Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, I will be co-chairing an advanced one-day seminar entitled Litigating Property Rights and leading a distinguished panel of speakers who will help us understand this procedural and substantive thicket.

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JMBM's Land Use And Zoning Practice receives national first-tier ranking and metropolitan first tier ranking (Los Angeles)

November 1, 2011

Best Law Firms BadgeJeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is pleased to announce its land use practice has been selected for inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers® list of Best Law Firms. JMBM achieved a National First-Tier Ranking and a Metropolitan First-Tier Ranking (Los Angeles) in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law.

"Land use is where the law, politics and community all intersect and navigating a client's project through this intersection can be quite treacherous," said Benjamin M. Reznik, Chair of JMBM's Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department. "My colleagues and I are honored to have our work recognized by inclusion in the list of Best Law Firms," he said.

The Best Law Firms designation is based on client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and a formal submission process. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."

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JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® announces formation of the Chinese Investment Group™

July 11, 2011

On July 11, 2011, the Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP announced the formation of the Chinese Investment Group™, a dedicated team of hotel and real estate lawyers that provides a gateway for Chinese investment in the United States.

Using experience gained from more than $60 billion in hotel transactions, involving more than 1,300 properties worldwide, together with substantial experience in general real estate transactions, the Group provides Chinese investors with legal and business advice to make prudent and economically successful hotel and real estate investments in the United States.

The Group and its network of reliable professional resources help Chinese investors identify, analyze, evaluate, validate, acquire, finance and manage hotel and real estate opportunities. The Group does not receive any finder's fees, incentive fees, commissions or payments from any promoters, and provides independent advice to Chinese investors regarding all hotel and real estate opportunities. The Group also represents selected hotel, restaurant and other real property owners and developers in structuring investments for foreign investors -- particularly Chinese investors -- using the EB 5 immigrant investor visa program.

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