I focus on the client’s business objectives, working through the legal problem as part of an overall business solution.

How I represent clients at Schwabe

With my talented Schwabe colleagues, I help energy producers, manufacturers, and export terminals seek the permits, authorizations, and financing they need to develop state-of-the-art facilities vital to their success and our region’s economic strength. I advise clients in the alternative and traditional energy sectors as well as mining, bulk storage, and wood products industries with innovative and complex projects, including renewable energy development, carbon capture initiatives, fuel storage facilities, and a variety of mining development and expansion projects.

A naturally resourceful leader, I work along with my team on environmental, energy, and natural resource matters. We combine deep industry experience, business understanding, legal creativity, and the highest quality advocacy to help you seek your desired outcome.

With over 20 years of experience, I have handled all aspects of the development processes for environmental permitting and compliance, as well as remediation of contaminated properties (including hazardous waste management).

I have represented clients before state and federal courts and environmental agencies.

Chambers & Partners USA, client highlights

“Brien excels in presenting legal risks in a clear and accessible manner, fostering trust and collaboration. What sets him apart is his commitment to providing creative solutions tailored to the unique challenges faced by clients.”

“Brien Flanagan has incredible business acumen. He understands business and applies the law to what the business needs.”

“His knowledge of both federal and state regulatory matters has been very beneficial.”

“He knows our company and strategic objectives.”



  • Worked with client to develop permitting strategy for the development of renewable diesel facility, including air and wetland permits as well as National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and land use.
  • Assisted client in identifying and obtaining regulatory approvals for the development of a solar farm on reclaimed mine lands.
  • Counseled a major ethanol distributor in the renewal of air permits for an ethanol manufacturing plant.
  • Counseled a Fortune 500 company in the acquisition of electric utility assets.
  • Defended air permit in federal court from environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO) citizen suit raising (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) PSD claims.
  • Provided advice on environmental permitting and merger due diligence to a client on the acquisition of ethanol and biofuel facilities.
  • Developed an assessment of permitting for carbon capture, storage, and sequestration proposals for an industrial client.
  • Created analysis of permitting pathway for an offshore wind project.
  • Advised a Fortune 500 company in the acquisition of air, water, and dock permits for a crude-oil bulk storage facility along the Columbia River.


  • Successfully defended permits for expansion of a coal mine on tribal lands in federal court challenges to environmental reviews.
  • Assisted client with the development of NEPA documents for mine expansion.
  • Represented client in the development of a gold mine in Oregon.
  • Counseled client landowner in regard to environmental compliance and protections related to the development of a mine and related infrastructure on its lands.
  • Counseled client in exploration, permitting, and strategy related to the development of rare earth and vanadiferous titanomagnetite (VTM) deposits.
  • Provided real estate and environmental due diligence and strategy to a client in the acquisition of mining assets with approximately $1 billion in annual revenue.

Marine Terminaling and Exports

  • Assisted client with permitting and due diligence in the acquisition of marine to truck aggregate transloading facilities.
  • Provided legal advice to a client on leasing and developing a port terminal for the export of bulk commodities.
  • Advised a container terminal on stormwater permitting; negotiated and assisted with the development of a strategy to alter timelines to meet clients’ development and operational needs.
  • Represented a developer in an administrative appeal of a denial of a permit to construct a dock in the Columbia River.

Forest Products

  • Counseled lumber mill on compliance with process-water permitting related to indirect discharge, log sprinkling, and stormwater.
  • Assisted timber harvesting company to comply with Corps of Engineers requirements related to marine export operations.
  • Sued the State of Oregon to require the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to abide by the permit it issued to allow a facility to operate its treatment system.
  • Challenged agency penalty related to the planned discharge of process and stormwater, resulting in a negotiated settlement.
  • Conducted environmental compliance audits of multiple wood product facilities.
  • Assisted pulp mill with the negotiation of alleged National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) violations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Assisted multiple forest products facilities with regional haze rules, commenting, and compliance.
  • Counseled numerous forest products companies through agency enforcement actions and ENGO citizen suits.
  • Counseled numerous forest products companies with regard to Oregon’s strict air toxics program, Cleaner Air Oregon.
  • Counseled client on long-term dioxin contamination investigation and remediation at historical mill sites.

Additional Experience

  • Counseled client through air permitting violation resulting in largest penalty reduction in agency history.
  • Assisted client with the negotiation of a long-term compliance order from a state agency related to storage of alleged waste materials at a mill site.
  • Strategized and assisted a client through multi-regulatory air, solid waste, and stormwater issues at a mill site.
  • Counseled numerous clients on compliance with air permitting regulations, modifications, and renewals.



  • Georgetown University, Law Center, Juris Doctor degree (2002)
  • University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Arts degree (1997)


  • Oregon State Courts
  • Washington State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court - District of Western Washington


  • The Foundation for Natural Resource and Energy Law, Member (2023-present)


  • Pacific Northwest Waterways Association’s Walter H. Evans Memorial Award (2024)
  • Ranked for Environmental Lawyers in Oregon, Chambers USA (2017-2024)
  • Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America®, Energy Law, Environmental Law (2024)

Additional Publications

“Transporting and Exporting Coal and Other Commodities: Lessons from the Pacific Northwest,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 2014 (co-author)

White House Backs Renewable Fuel Standard,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter, April 2012

“Shell Oil Makes a Preemptive Strike — Goes to Court to Restrain Environmental Groups,” Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter, April 2012

Additional Events

Intro to Clean Water Act Permits, What’s up with the Clean Water Act?
NEBC Environment & Business Conference, December 8, 2020

Cleaner Air Oregon Workshop: From Policy to Practice, January 23, 2019

Outside Interests

When I am not in the office, you’ll find me skiing with family and friends at Mount Whistler.

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