Claudia M. O'Brien

Ms. O’Brien is a partner in the Washington D.C. office and Chair of the Air Quality & Climate Change Practice. She represents clients in agency petitions, rulemaking proceedings and litigation, as well as on compliance and enforcement, in a full range federal environmental statutes. Ms. O’Brien has particular expertise in all aspects of the Clean Air Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as regulations impacting genetically engineered plants. She possesses specialized technical and business knowledge of power plants (both fossil-fueled and biomass-fueled) and the pesticide industry, as well as particular expertise in toxicology and risk assessment.

Watch this video to learn more about
the Air Quality & Climate Change Practice

Ms. O’Brien joined the firm in 1994 after six years at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she worked on issues involving water, air and toxic substances. While working full time at EPA, Ms. O’Brien attended law school at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Ms. O’Brien was a member of the Utility MACT Working Group, a subcommittee of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and is currently Vice Chair of the ABA’s Committee on Pesticides, Chemicals and Community Right-to-Know. She is a co-author of “Walking the Line Between the Clean Air Act and the Federal Power Act: Balancing Emission Reductions and Bulk Power Reliability,” published in The Electricity Journal.

In 2010, Ethisphere named Ms. O’Brien as one of only three “attorneys who matter” in Environmental Law. Consistently ranked by Chambers USA in its District of Columbia, Environment category since 2012, Ms. O’Brien was also included in both the 2014 and 2015 Expert Guides’ Women in Business Law for Environment – United States. She was named by Benchmark Litigation 2012 and 2013 as a “Litigation Star” in the District of Columbia and was recognized as one of the “Top 250 Women in Litigation” in the US from 2012-2015.

Ms. O’Brien is listed in the International Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers 2012-2015. One edition highlighted peer praise for her “‘sector-leading expertise’ in relation to all aspects of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.” Her work was additionally highlighted in The National Law Journal’s “2013 Appellate Hot List.” Ms. O’Brien is admitted to the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits, as well as the US Supreme Court.

Thought Leadership

Ms. O’Brien is a frequent author and contributor to Latham subject matter publications, including numerous client alerts and webcasts. In addition, recent publications include: 

  • “EPA Proposes New Methane and VOC Emissions Limits,” Client Alert (October 2015)
  • “EPA Expands Air Quality and Climate Change Regulations,” Client Alert (October 2015)
  • “EPA Finalizes Historic Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Program,” Client Alert (August 2015)
  • “Proposed Rule from US Department of the Interior Increases Pressure on Coal Mining Industry,” Latham's Clean Energy Law Report, (July 2015)
  • “The Supreme Court Strikes Down the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,” Client Alert (July 2015)
  • “EPA’s Fiscal Year 2014 Civil Enforcement Results Reveal Agency’s Shifting Focus,” Client Alert (February 2015)
  • “CARB Invalidates Offsets for Facility’s Alleged RCRA Noncompliance,” Latham's Clean Energy Law Report, (November 2014)
  • “EPA Proposes Unprecedented Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Program,” Client Alert (June 2014) 
  • “The Supreme Court Upholds EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule,” Client Alert (May 2014)
  • “EPA’s Proposed Rule for New Power Plants Could Trigger Excessive Title V Permit Fees,” Client Alert (April 2014)
  • “States Voice Strong Opposition to EPA Clean Air Act Rule,” Client Alert (June 2013)
  • “EPA Proposes New Effluent Limitation Guidelines for Power Plants” Law 360 (May 2013) 
  • “Implementing Carbon Taxes: Considerations, Realities, and Lessons Learned,” BNA (May 2013) 
  • “Using Disjointed Global and Domestic Climate Change Policies to the Client’s Advantage,” The Legal Impact of Climate Change (April 2013) 
  • “Outlining the Attempts to Invalidate California’s First GHG Auction” (November 2012) 
  • “Getting the Deal Through – Climate Regulation 2013: United States” (November 2012) 
  • “Walking the Line Between the Clean Air Act and the Federal Power Act: Balancing Emission Reductions and Bulk Power Reliability,” The Electricity Journal January/February 2012) 
  • “Principles Promoting,” Project Finance (November 2011)