Kathy Robb

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Kathy Robb is a partner on resources, regulatory & environmental law at the Hunton & Williams firm in New York, and director of the Water Policy Institute, a think tank housed at the law firm and chaired by Christine Todd Whitman. [1] [2]

According to her profile on the law firm's website, Robb "focuses exclusively on energy, environmental and administrative law." Her clients include "developers, electric utilities, investors, chemical manufacturers, and paper mills." She co-founded the Women's Network for a Sustainable Future and is on the Environmental Law Institute's board of directors. [3]

On the Water Policy Institute

In an interview, Robb said that "Climate change is likely to be a major topic" of the Water Policy Institute. "Other topics will include the intersection of water quality and quantity; desalination; new technology; agriculture; allocation of water; and infrastructure." [4]

"Founding members include GE Water, BP and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. Companies are likely to be among the chief members initially, but I am hopeful to attract a wide range of constituencies. The goal is to provide a forum for cross-pollination among various stakeholders." [5]

In another interview, Robb said the Institute is interested in issues of water "scarcity and pricing and ... how you can encourage people to conserve," "recycling and reclamation," "the interconnection between energy and water," and "the intersection increasingly of water quality and water quantity issues." [6]

Legal work

Clean Water Act and Maine dams

In 2005, Robb co-authored a "friend of the court" (amici curiae) brief, on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders and the Foundation for Environmental and Economic Progress. The brief was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court case of S. D. Warren Co. v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection (547 U.S. 370, 2006), in support of the S. D. Warren Company. The company, which operates hydroelectric dams in Maine, argued that the Clean Water Act did not require it to seek water quality certifications from the state government, when renewing its federal licenses with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Supreme Court disagreed. Maine's Board of Environmental Protection had required the company to maintain a "minimum stream flow and to allow passage for certain fish and eels." [7]

The brief co-authored by Robb supported S. D. Warren Company, arguing that requiring the company to obtain water quality certifications from the Maine government "improperly expands the CWA," or Clean Water Act. The brief compared water passing through a dam to water "stirred by a spoon, pushed by an oar, or splashed by a hand," arguing that "such movements of water" should not trigger application of the Clean Water Act. [8]

Canal lining and environmental protections

In 2005 and 2006, Robb co-authored friend of the court briefs, on behalf of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Imperial Irrigation District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Arizona Power Authority. The briefs were filed in cases before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, related to Consejo de Desarrollo Economico de Mexicali, A.C. v. United States (No. 06-16345, 07 C.D.O.S. 3658). The briefs co-authored by Robb supported allowing a canal lining project along the U.S.-Mexico border to proceed, over the objections of community and environmental groups. [9]

The court ruled "that the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 exempted a water canal improvement project from federal environmental laws," because the 2006 legislation directed the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to carry out, "without delay," a project to replace an unlined portion of the All-American Canal to avoid water seepage, "notwithstanding any other provision of law." California and surrounding U.S. states were eager to have the lining project proceed, so they could access the water seeping through the unlined canal. The Consejo de Desarrollo Economico de Mexicali, a Mexican community group, and environmental groups argued that "the project's environmental impact statement was inadequate," and that lining the canal "would dry up groundwater sources that serve farms and wetlands south of the border." [10]

Other legal work

"In Kathy's early years at [Hunton & Williams], she worked with another one of her mentors, the firm's then managing partner Taylor Reveley ... on licensing a nuclear power plant on Long Island," according to a profile of Robb. [11] Presumably, this refers to the Long Island Lighting Company's Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. [12] "By the time Shoreham was fully decommissioned on Oct. 12, 1994, its $6 billion price tag -- about 85 times higher than the original estimate -- had nearly wrecked the regional economy by saddling Long Island with some of the highest electric rates in the nation," according to Newsday. [13]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Water Policy Institute: Leadership," Hunton & Williams website, accessed June 2008.
  2. Press release, "Water Industry Leaders Launch Water Policy Institute to Address Current Challenges: Christine Todd Whitman to serve as chair; Hunton & Williams lawyer as director," Hunton & Williams, June 4, 2008.
  3. "Kathy Robb," Hunton & Williams website, accessed February 2009.
  4. "New water institute seeks to convene diverse voices," Clean Water Report, June 18, 2008.
  5. "Hunton & Williams LLP Partner Robb Interviewed on Water Policy Institute by Clean Water Report," Hunton & Williams website, July 18, 2008.
  6. Carlos David Mogollon, "Q&A: An Interview with Water Policy Institute Co-Founder Kathy Robb," PennWell Water Group / Water Utility Management, September / October 2008.
  7. "Syllabus: SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: S. D. WARREN CO. v. MAINE BOARD OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION et al., Certiorari to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine; No. 04–1527. Argued February 21, 2006 - Decided May 15, 2006," available via the Cornell University Law School website, accessed February 2009.
  8. Duane Desiderio, Thomas Jon Ward and Felicia Watson of the National Association of Home Builders, with Virginia Albrecht, Karma Brown and Kathy Robb of Hunton & Williams LLP, "Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Home Builders and Foundation for Environmental and Economic Progress, in Support of Petitioner (pdf)," filed with the U.S. Supreme Court November 23, 2005.
  9. "Consejo de Desarrollo Economico de Mexicali, A.C. v. United States," available via AltLaw.org, accessed February 2009.
  10. "Water transfers, canal lining project advance with rulings," California Planning & Development Report, August 1, 2007.
  11. Erin Abrams, "Voice of Experience: Kathy Robb, Partner, Hunton & Williams," The Glass Hammer, August 25, 2008.
  12. "Practices: energy and infrastructure," Hunton & Williams website, accessed February 2009.
  13. Dan Fagin, "Lights Out at Shoreham: Anti-nuclear activism spurs the closing of a new $6 billion plant," Newsday, undated, accessed February 2009.

External resources

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