Cheerful Catunao


Industry focus

How I represent clients at Schwabe

My experience covers a full range of environmental and natural resources matters. I have represented public and private clients, including elected officials, in courts and during alternative dispute resolution processes. I have also counseled clients on matters related to environmental permits, water quality, air quality, ESA-listed species, fish and wildlife, cultural resources, coastal management, hazardous waste, energy, climate, and land use. Throughout my practice, I take pride in connecting and collaborating with others to create solutions that best serve my clients’ needs.

As a former Assistant Attorney General in the Ecology Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and former associate legal counsel to the Office of the Governor of Guam, I am well positioned to assist clients with rulemaking, legislative advocacy, and submitting regulatory comments concerning policy proposals that may affect my client’s interests or projects. My litigation and regulatory compliance experience with state and federal laws have involved defending clients against citizen suits or agency enforcement actions, and rulemaking challenges. I have assisted clients on permitting matters involving the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, new source review, and incidental take permits.

I am also devoted to improving access to environmental legal services in the Pacific Islands and maintaining an active pro bono practice that serves disadvantaged indigenous populations.


  • Co-represented the Office of the Governor of Guam during Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) mediation to recover removal and remedial action costs related to military contamination, and during Clean Water Act (CWA) litigation.
  • Regularly advised Guam’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor on issues arising under the Clean Air Act (CAA), CWA, CERCLA, Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including matters related to permitting, land use, climate change, proposed federal real estate transactions, energy and wastewater infrastructure, and military installations.
  • Represented clients in cases involving the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA), CAA, CWA, CERCLA, ESA, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in state and federal courts, administrative boards, and appellate courts, and defended clients against enforcement actions and citizen suits.
  • Provided litigation support in a federal ESA lawsuit to successfully secure critical habitat designations for 23 ESA-listed species.
  • Represented client in multistate environmental litigation, and provided advice regarding regulatory reform and case strategy in coordination with other parties.
  • Successfully navigated matters concerning penalty and permit appeals before the Pollution Control Hearings Board and Shorelines Hearings Board.
  • Submitted regulatory comment letters on federal projects with the potential to affect historic properties pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Advised clients on potential ESA and APA claims, and matters concerning ocean acidification, greenhouse gas emissions, cultural resources, and marine and terrestrial species’ biological opinions.
  • Experience with U.S. military departments and federal, state, and territory environmental regulatory agencies.


  • University of Washington, School of Law, Juris Doctor degree (2017)‎
  • University of Guam, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Political Science (2012)‎


  • Washington State Courts
  • U.S. District Court - District of Western Washington


  • American Bar Association, Sections of Environment, Energy, and Resources; Litigation; and Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice, Member
  • Washington ‎State Bar, Sections of Environmental and Land Use Law; and Litigation, Member


  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Leadership Development Program (2023-2024)
  • Inaugural University of Guam Sea (UOG) Grant Fellow, Blue Ocean Law and UOG (2021)
  • Litigation Academy Fellow, U.S. Western District of Washington (WDWA) and WDWA’s Federal Bar Association’s Litigation Academy (2020)
  • Washington State Attorney General, Honors Program, Ecology Division (Honors Class of 2016)

Outside Interests

Freediving, surfing the PNW coast, snowboarding, and standup paddle boarding the open ocean.

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