In the 21st Century, environmental regulation has become a top priority in all industrialized nations, and it is an increasingly emerging focus in developing nations. Understanding and anticipating those requirements is indispensable to corporate survival.
—Michael S. McDonough

Mike McDonough represents Fortune 500 companies, municipalities and private entities in complex environmental litigation, administrative and enforcement matters at the federal, state and local levels.

Mike’s practice focuses on defending enforcement actions, bringing regulatory challenges, litigating with and counseling clients on compliance with regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission, among others. He has particular experience in the interpretation and enforcement of air quality regulations in California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, the largest and most sophisticated local air quality regulatory agency in the world.

Representative Experience

Ongoing representation of the nation’s top petroleum refiners in environmental permitting, regulatory and enforcement matters before EPA and California oversight agencies.


Administrative litigation on behalf of Valero Refining Co. to challenge denial of millions of dollars of emission reduction credits for proven voluntary emission reductions benefitting the entire Bay Area.


Continuing representation of a Fortune 20 retailer in environmental regulatory compliance and administrative enforcement matters for its facilities throughout California.

Professional Highlights

Mike is a regular speaker on environmental regulatory and litigation trends, and he advises companies and industrial trade associations on developments in the environmental law. He frequently comments in Law360 and other media outlets on current events in the environmental field.  


Honors & Awards

  • The Legal 500 U.S., Environment (2016)
  • Burton Award for Excellence in Legal Writing (2013)

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  • Associations
    • American Bar Association
    • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Recent Presentations
    • “Climate Change Litigation: The Targets, the Cases, and What You Need to Know to Prepare,” PLI Webinar, October 20, 2017
    • Speaker, “Antimicrobial Copper:  Pesticide Regulation in the United States,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile Trade Commission, at “ProChile: Chile Innovates” program, Los Angeles, September 8, 2016.
    • Speaker, “Implementing the Texas Coastal Exchange,” SSPEED conference at Rice University, Houston, April 26 – 27, 2016.
    • Speaker, “Implementing New Air Toxics Health Risk Assessment Methodology: AB 2588, Permitting, Toxic Rules and CEQA,” California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance, 2015 Summer Issues Seminar, Squaw Valley, Calif., July 15, 2015.
    • “Allocating Environmental Risks and Liabilities: Structuring Contract Provisions to Limit Risk in Commercial Transactions”, Strafford Publications Webinar, September 13, 2012.
    • “EPA’s New Air Quality Standard for Nitrogen Dioxide: Impacts of the Final Rule for Industry and the Environment,” Law Seminars International TeleBriefing, March 16, 2010.
    • “Pro Bono Legal Advocacy for Children and Families,” Stanford University, November 9, 2009.
    • “Current Trends in PSD/NSR Enforcement,” Third Annual Conference on Air Quality Regulation in California, Law Seminars International, Los Angeles, Oct. 30, 2009.
    • 2009 Environmental Law Panel, Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, October 20, 2009.
    • “Particulate Regulation at a Crossroads: An Industry Perspective on PM2.5 Policy and Practice,” Air Quality Regulation in California, LSI International, Los Angeles, April 14-15, 2008.
    • “Earth, Wind and Fire: The Challenge of Natural and Foreign Air Emissions,” American Chemical Society Conference, San Diego, March 2005.
  • Recent Publications
    • Co-author, “Allocating Environmental Risks and Liabilities in Commercial Transactions,” Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report (December 2012)
    • Co-author, “UN Biodiversity Convention Calls for Qualified Moratorium on Climate Geo-Engineering Activities,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (December 2010)
    • Co-author, “California Public Utilities Commission Stays Rules for Transferable Renewable Energy Credits,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (June 2010)
    • Co-author, “California Releases Preliminary Draft Regulation for Cap and Trade Program,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (January 2010)
    • “Environmental Groups File Legal Challenge to Lynx ESA Critical Habitat Determination on Climate Change Basis,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (July 2009)
    • “EPA Issues Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Opening the Door for Regulation under the Clean Air Act,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (May 2009)
    • Co-author, “Two Reports Address Ways Forward for U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (March 2009)
    • “Last-Minute EPA Ruling Excludes Carbon Dioxide from List of Regulated Pollutants under the Clean Air Act,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (February 2009)
    • “Boxer’s Environmental Punch: The Promise to Introduce Cap-and-Trade Greenhouse Gas Legislation in January 2009,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (January 2009)
    • “The House’s Changing Climate: Waxman’s Ascension to Energy and Commerce Committee Chair,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter (January 2009)
    • “China Releases Major White Paper on Climate Change,” Climate Change Law and Policy Reporter (December 2008)
    • “Changing of the Guard: Greenhouse Gas Regulation under the Obama Administration,” Climate Change Law and Policy Reporter (December 2008)
    • “California Air Resources Board Unveils Proposed Scoping Plan for Implementing Landmark Climate Legislation,” Climate Change Law and Policy Reporter (November 2008)
    • “The U.S. Supreme Court Interprets EPA's Authority Under the Clean Air Act in Two Landmark Decisions (Part 1 of 2: Massachusetts v. EPA) ,” Environmental Liability, Enforcement & Penalties (May 2007)
    • “The U.S. Supreme Court Interprets EPA's Authority Under the Clean Air Act in Two Landmark Decisions (Part 2 of 2: Massachusetts v. EPA),” Environmental Liability, Enforcement & Penalties (May 2007)
    • “Death in One Act: The Case for Company Registration,” Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 24 (1997)

Education

  • J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, 1997
    Pepperdine Law Review(1995–1997)

    B.A., Stanford University, 1993

Admissions

  • California

Courts

  • U.S. District Courts for Eastern District of California, Northern District of California, Southern District of California and Central District of California

    U.S. Supreme Court