Catherine W. Johnson
Name: Catherine W. Johnson
Firm Name: Environmental General Counsel LLP
Country: United States
Expertise: Environmental Law


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Professional Biography:

Catherine Johnson is our exclusively recommended Environmental Law expert in California on the Advisory Excellence website. If you need assistance in this area, please contact Catherine directly using the contact details listed above.

Catherine specialises in California and federal environmental law, representing a broad range of clients and industries, including manufacturing facilities, national transportation companies, food companies, a recycling facility, and leaders in the commercial real estate and multi-family housing industry. She has represented a leader in the multi-family homes industry for over twenty years, and served as the sole environmental lawyer for a publicly-traded REIT for over fourteen years. She has represented several of her current clients for over a decade or more.

Catherine’s areas of expertise include brownfields development, soil vapor intrusion, Proposition 65, pollution legal liability insurance policies, hazardous and solid waste, landfills, Superfund sites, electronic waste, underground storage tanks, asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint, mould, radon, methane gas, OSHA, Porter-Cologne Act, Truck & Bus Regulation, CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and all aspects of the investigation, clean-up, and closure of contaminated properties. Catherine has special expertise in environmental due diligence and transactional matters for real estate, stock, and asset acquisitions. Catherine has handled enforcement actions brought by federal, state, and local agencies, under a variety of laws, including one of the first U.S. EPA enforcement actions brought under the California Truck & Bus Regulation.

Catherine’s transactional and compliance practice at EGC is backed by years of litigation experience, where she served either as lead counsel or co-counsel in several major cases, including citizens’ suits claims (Prop 65, storm water), CERCLA cost recovery claims, and claims for property damage associated with subsurface contamination and soil vapor intrusion.  Catherine was lead attorney for the landmark case, U.S. v. Chapman, 146 F.3d 1166, 1169 (9th Cir. 1998) (establishing a test for EPA’s recovery of its litigation fees in a CERCLA cost-recovery action) and she was lead co-counsel for SF Bay keeper v. Levin Enterprises, (N.D. CA, 2013) (first decision to address the scope of storm water permit requirements applicable to the transportation industry).

Before establishing EGC, Catherine was a partner at Hanson Bridgett, LLP, in San Francisco for seven years, and a partner at Wendel Rosen Black & Dean, in Oakland for thirteen years. Catherine started her environmental practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto. Before practicing law, she served as a consultant to ICF, Inc., providing support to the U.S. EPA in development of some of the first environmental regulations under certain provisions of CERCLA and RCRA.

Catherine is the Immediate Past Chair of the San Francisco Bar Association’s Environmental Section.

Firm Overview:

Environmental General Counsel is an environmental boutique law firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have decades of experience with all aspects of environmental law, including compliance, enforcement, clean-ups, complex litigation, natural resources, risk allocation in loans and acquisitions — with special expertise in sophisticated transactions, Proposition 65, pollution legal liability policies, vapor intrusion, asbestos-containing materials, Environmental Health & Safety programs, environmental claims in bankruptcy, and development projects.

​EGC attorneys are veteran environmental practitioners. Our attorneys have practiced with some of the leading environmental departments and law firms in the country, including Paul Hastings, Holland & Knight, Beveridge & Diamond, Pillsbury Winthrop, Jeffers Mangel Butler & Mitchell, Barg Coffin, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Hanson Bridgett.  We have also served as counsel for environmental regulatory agencies, including the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Coastal Commission .

EGC represents a wide range of industries, including real estate (single-family homebuilders, multi-family residential owners, developers, commercial property owners), consumer products, fashion and accessories, personal care industry, social media, pet food, chemical manufacturing and distribution, industrial manufacturing, food processing, high tech, maritime and transportation industry, and recycling.

​Our clients include Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies, national and international privately-held companies, publicly-traded companies, public agencies, family businesses, trusts, and individuals.​

We are engaged and active in our field as frequent speakers and writers and we contribute to the environmental legal community as leaders of local and state bar associations. Two of our partners are former Chairs of the California Bar’s Environmental Section — and one partner currently serves as advisor to the Section’s annual Yosemite conference. Two of our partners are former chairs of the San Francisco Bar’s Environmental Section — and one of our partners serves as the current Chair of the Section. We are also active in a leadership position with the County of Alameda’s Environmental Bar. ​

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