Clearing the path for on-budget, on-schedule public infrastructure development
Successful completion of public infrastructure projects requires the combination of diverse legal skills and credible government relations at the federal, state and local levels. The Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Infrastructure Development Group brings these elements together in one comprehensive team. We provide service to public agencies, utilities and private construction contractors, ushering them through the challenges facing infrastructure development. Our group includes attorneys with experience in state and federal funding; real estate transactions, including use of eminent domain; environmental review and permitting (federal, state and local); public finance; contracting for design, engineering, project management and construction; and utility contracting, including water transfers and alternative energy contracts. In addition, our policy advisors in Washington, DC, and capitals in the West provide effective voices in the quest to secure project funding. The firm brings a particular focus to public-private partnerships, and has a long history of helping government and the private sector collaborate on projects.
We are accustomed to helping competing interests forge a common vision so that projects proceed on time and on budget. We employ a creative, problem-solving approach that helps clear regulatory and funding hurdles before they delay a project. Our experience representing public agencies also helps us understand the public interest in efficient and transparent decision-making, and the importance of seamless coordination among public agencies and other stakeholders. Above all, we use our extensive background in this area to devise legal strategies that help our clients avoid litigation and keep their projects moving forward.
Our team has hands-on experience in federal, state and local government, both from public-sector service and in various lobbying capacities. Brownstein attorneys and policy consultants have served as general counsel for a number of municipalities, and for water, wastewater and community service agencies advising on environmental and land use compliance for infrastructure projects. Our Washington staff has served in major capacities on congressional committees and with Capitol Hill leadership, and brings considerable experience working with the Executive Branch. Brownstein professionals in Denver, Sacramento, Carson City, and Albuquerque are veterans of state-level policymaking who can help our clients navigate through state legislative and administrative proceedings. Our lawyers have also worked in policymaking positions, elected and appointed, and have the knowledge and relationships to help clients achieve their objectives. Some of the positions that our group members have held include:
- Senior appropriation counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington DC, who worked with the Interior and Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees in developing major energy infrastructure for the DOE.
- Chief counsel of DOE’s Golden, Colorado, office for 15 years, with extensive work on funding clean energy projects.
- Senior policy advisor on domestic and international energy matters to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and who also served as Associate Deputy Secretary for Energy Programs.
- Captain and judge advocate in the United States Marine Corps who handled water rights matters for the Western United States and the U.S. Department of Defense utilities privatization initiative.
- Elected official who spent six years representing Colorado in the U.S. Senate, five consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and four years in the Colorado Senate.
- Chief of Staff to the Governor of Nevada, General Counsel and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Nevada. Senior Deputy Attorney General in the Nevada Attorney General’s Office representing the Nevada Department of Taxation, Nevada Tax Commission and the Nevada Secretary of State.
- Legislative and policy director for the California State Treasurer.
- Lead attorney for the City of Denver on the transfer of the Winter Park Ski Area, the redevelopment of the former Stapleton Airport, and the land acquisition for Denver International Airport .
- Santa Barbara City Attorney who directed all legal work involving the City’s airport, harbor, water and wastewater systems.
- City Attorney for the City of Carpinteria, California, with considerable experience serving as special counsel to a variety of public agencies.
Financing. We handle federal appropriations; federal and state grant procurement; public financing, including bond issues such as general obligation, lease/revenue and Mello-Roos; loan guarantees; and private activity bonds. We also provide comprehensive tax planning and analysis, as well as counsel on public-private partnerships, including private equity participation. We have been particularly active in securing stimulus funding for clients.
Structuring. Our group brings significant experience to utility contracts among generators, wholesalers and retailers. We also handle structures involving joint powers agencies.
Regulatory. We work on matters involving U.S. Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversight, as well as projects with challenges relating to land use planning and permitting, zoning and general plans, conditional and special use permits, and grading and building permits. We also help clients with state-level Public Utility Commission proceedings.
Environmental. We provide environmental analysis work related to state-level environmental statutes (such as the California Environmental Quality Act), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
Real estate. Teaming with other resources within the Brownstein Real Estate Group, we bring a public agency perspective to the purchase and sale of real property, including tax analysis and counsel related to eminent domain.
Contracting. We draft and negotiate design and engineering contracts, design/build contracts, and construction and project management contracts. We also manage dispute resolution related to these contracts.
Integration with firm resources
Public infrastructure projects require significant interaction with various government bodies. Brownstein is ideally situated to help clients in this area due to our highly accomplished Government Relations Group. With a bipartisan team of lawyers and lobbyists, the Brownstein Government Relations Group assists our Infrastructure Development team with work on Capitol Hill and in various state capitals.
The firm’s Public Finance Group brings substantial experience to financing through public vehicles, including municipal bond transactions that involve complex public financings. The Public Finance Group offers a suite of services that covers tax-supported debt structures, enterprise and revenue financings, bond letters of credit and other credit enhancement, troubled transaction work-outs, structured financing techniques and derivative products.
For public-private partnerships, we can call on additional resources from the Corporate & Business Group, including our Private Equity and Tax Groups, as well as our dedicated Public-Private Partnerships Group.
As public infrastructure projects enter the planning and implementation stages, we can collaborate with the firm’s Real Estate Group, which offers a full complement of services for the acquisition, financing, development and, if necessary, disposition of property. Our Natural Resources Group can clear hurdles with specialized services in land use, water, energy, renewable energy development, engineering and construction, and other areas integral to the completion of a public infrastructure project.