: Diane Smith :

Irvine, CA


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Diane R. Smith has practiced environmental law for more than thirty years. She specializes in environmental, land use, engineering and construction related issues and has practiced law in these fields both nationally and internationally.

Before starting her own firm, Ms. Smith served as legal counsel at the United States Department of Energy and as in house counsel at Fluor Corporation. She was also with the Orange County office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue and founding partner of the California Environmental Law Practice at Snell & Wilmer. Ms. Smith is former Chairwoman of the Environmental Law Section for the Orange County Bar Association.

Ms. Smith holds a B.A., cum laude from University of California, Berkeley, where she did post-graduate work in the Department of City and Regional Planning. She later received a J.D. from Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.

Ms. Smith has completed advanced training in mediation and arbitration at Pepperdine University School of Law and is an active arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association.

Community Services and Professional Affiliations

  • Instructor, Environmental law and regulation, dispute resolution, University of California, Irvine Extension
  • Instructor, Environmental law and regulation, contractual issues, University of California, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach
  • Adjunct Professor, Environmental Law, Western State College of Law
  • Appointed Member, Green Ribbon Environmental Committee of the City Council of the City of Irvine
  • Attorney Settlement Panel, Federal District Court Affiliated Civil Mediation Panels
  • Member, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles Court Affiliated Civil Mediation Panels
  • Member, National Panel of Mediators and Arbitrators, American Arbitration Association (Environmental and Construction panels)
  • Member, Center for Public Resources, Institute for Dispute Resolution National Panels, Environmental and Construction Specialities
  • Member, American Bar Association: Energy and Environmental Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Natural Resources Sections, Forum on the Construction Industry
  • Member, California Bar Association (former Chair, Public Contracts Committee, Public Law Section), Environmental Law, Real Property, Litigation Sections
  • Member, Orange County Bar Association: Environmental Law and Construction Sections (former Chair); Former Chair, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • National Association of Women in Construction

Representative Matters

Contaminated Parcel Remediation

  • Preparation and review of environmental documentation and representation before regulatory agencies and appeals boards.
  • Management of environmental issues relating to environmentally impacted properties to return them to performing assets, including
    • Property impacted by mining operations
    • Former solvent recycling sites
    • Properties impacted with chlorinated solvents or pesticides
    • Metal plating and coating sites
    • Crop dusting facilities
    • Sites where reconditioning of transformers and other electrical equipment has resulted in soil and groundwater impacts
    • State Superfund sites
    • Sites which have been used for wood treatment
    • Sites impacted from disposal of wastes in deep injection wells
    • Historic industrial and chemical manufacturing operations
    • Foundries
    • Oilfield disposal facilities

Landfills and abandoned landfills

Handle regulatory issues associated with landfill management and environmental controls, including

    • Landfill gas migration control
    • Surface landfill gas emissions
    • Storm water runoff control
    • Leachate control and disposal
    • Condensation collection and disposal
    • Subsidence
    • Permitting of active landfills
    • Groundwater degradation/remediation
    • Negotiations with Local Enforcement Agencies, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, Air Quality Management Districts, and the State Integrated Waste Management Board
    • Cost recovery litigation for remediation and site management expenditures
    • Citizen’s suits relating to cleanup responsibilities
    • Issues relating to municipal liability under the Superfund law for cleanup of municipal solid waste
    • Compliance with California’s Proposition 65


Hazardous Waste Control Laws

  • Advise clients on compliance with federal and state hazardous waste control laws and represent them in obtaining variances.
  • Counsel clients on compliance with reporting and notification requirements under state and federal law.

Clean Water Act

Counsel clients on compliance with Clean Water Act requirements, including

  • Industrial waste discharge and NPDES permit requirements (including storm water)
  • Section 404 permits
  • Waste discharge requirements
  • Reporting obligations.


  • Obtain de-listing of a RCRA and State permitted treatment, storage and disposal facility.
  • Advise consultants on RCRA requirements and remediation planning, including waste classification and disposal options.

Cal/EPA and EPA

  • Represent a TSDF with respect to enforcement action by Cal/EPA and EPA.
  • Obtain a dismissal of all charges in the largest (at the time) hazardous waste penalty assessment in Orange County.
  • Prepare an oil spill contingency plan for major Southern California facility.

Air Permitting

  • Negotiate air permits, variances, penalty assessments, Notices of Violations.


  • Handle Superfund issues at the state and federal level, including individual and joint representation of PRPs with alleged disposal or other liability for response costs.
  • Implement projects involving execution of prospective purchaser agreements, deed restrictions, self-directed and voluntary cleanups.
  • Counsel and assist in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Environmental Litigation

  • Defend property owners involved in litigation relating to alleged exposures to asbestos in buildings and improper removal and maintenance of asbestos.
  • Represent former property owners in cost recovery litigation involving property located within state and federal Superfund sites.
  • Represent property owners in litigation brought by a water district alleging impacts to drinking water wells.
  • Represent former owners and operators of a state Superfund site in litigation brought by potentially responsible party group.
  • Litigate cost recovery actions for releases from underground storage tanks.
  • Litigate against responsible parties on behalf of current owners of contaminated property.
  • Challenge the EIR for expansion of hazardous waste treatment facilities.

Environmental Consulting and Engineering

Represent environmental consultants and remediation contractors as general counsel and in connection with claims of professional liability, including

    • Establishment and liability control of environmental consulting, engineering and remediation companies
    • Corporate structuring
    • Advice on compliance with SEC environmental disclosure requirements
    • Counseling regarding personal liability of officers and employees

Administrative Proceedings

  • Appeal a Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Cleanup and Abatement Order issued against the alleged successor of a prior tenant at a highly impacted property within the route of the 5 Freeway expansion.

Real Estate

  • Provide environmental legal services for real estate transactions, lenders, business acquisitions, divestitures and property remediation projects, including
    • Due diligence inquiries and estate valuation
    • Management of remediation efforts for trustees and beneficiaries
    • Handling access and indemnity agreements in connection with off-site investigations