Brian S. Haughton

Founding Partner

Brian S. Haughton
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  • Direct: (415) 228-5400
  • Office: (415) 228-5400
  • Fax: (415) 228-5450
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Brian’s practice encompasses all of environmental law, from clean air, water, and dirt, to endangered species, wetlands, and coastal protection; from climate change and environmental impact analysis to pesticide management and toxics in products. Brian has focused exclusively on environmental law since the mid-1980s, and, while he has tried cases, he now devotes most of his time to helping clients improve sustainability and profitability while preventing environmental problems from arising in the first place. And for clients who hire him too late – after they’re already lost in the woods of an environmental problem – he helps them find the shortest path out.

As a recovering physicist, passionate environmentalist, and obsessive problem-solver, I enjoy helping clients find new, more sustainable and cost-effective ways to deliver the unglamorous – but sexy – goods and services that make our civilization run. Drinking water, energy, food and beverages, transportation, manufacturing, real estate development, waste management. If infrastructure is nerdy, then I must be a nerd.

Most of Brian’s work is confidential and takes place behind the scenes and, therefore, is not appropriately discussed in public, as on this website. Some of his matters, however, do result in public outcomes that can be shared here. One example is a 2014 Clean Water Act Consent Decree, where Brian was the lead lawyer for long-time Barg Coffin client East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The Decree compelled the owners of East Bay sewer system pipes to make $1.5 billion in sewer-pipe improvements. EBMUD’s General Counsel said, “Brian Haughton … was really the mastermind of our plan, which obtained a very positive result for us. We were able to get a consent decree … that required the other parties to fix and maintain their pipes to a higher standard.” Daily Journal, October 3, 2014 article (“Barg Coffin learns from experience”), by Alex Shively.




Brian counsels clients across the economic spectrum in the following areas:

  • Compliance with federal, state and local environmental and related laws and regulations, including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA), California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32), Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Carpenter-Presley-Tanner Hazardous Substance Account Act (HSAA), Hazardous Waste Control Law, Medical Waste Management Act, Radiation Control Law, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (a.k.a. Solid Waste Disposal Act - RCRA or SWDA), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act and common law
  • Enforcement proceedings and other administrative and judicial litigation--including appeals and alternative dispute resolution proceedings--under these laws and regulations
  • Permitting and rule-making proceedings
  • Internal investigations
  • Water rights
  • Pre-acquisition due diligence, acquisition, cleanup, redevelopment, financing, insuring, sale and leasing of brownfields, including former military bases
  • Wastewater management and treatment; drinking water management, treatment and supply; electrical power generation, transmission and distribution; natural gas transmission and distribution; solid waste transportation and management; composting; recycling; hazardous waste transportation, treatment, storage and management; real estate development; producers of cheese, wine, deli meats, steel, chemicals, electronics, paper, water heaters, bathtubs, showers, cooling towers; natural resource extraction and processing; construction; waste-to-energy


  • Repeatedly honored as a “Super Lawyer” by San Francisco magazine in an annual survey of Northern California lawyers
  • AV Rated by Martindale Hubbell
  • Served as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at Hastings College of the Law and University of San Francisco School of Law


Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1983
Harvard Law School (Boalt-Harvard Exchange Program), 1982–1983

University of California, Davis, B.S., Physics, with Highest Honors, 1980
Sussex University, Brighton, England (University of California Education Abroad Program), 1978–1979

    • Phi Kappa Phi
    • School of Letters and Sciences Commencement Speaker
    • Physics Department Citation Co-Winner
    • National Merit (Watson) Scholar
    • Integrated Studies Honors Program
    • Kraft Scholar


  • Mediator, United States District Court, Northern District of California
  • Board of Directors, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
  • Proud father of three strong women


    Bar Association of San Francisco

    • Member, Executive Committee, Environmental Law Section (1999-2009)

    State Bar of California, Environmental Law Section


    United States Supreme Court (1987)
    United States District Courts, California Districts - Northern (1983), Eastern (1986), Central (1986), Southern (1987); District of Arizona (1993)
    State Bar of California (1983)
    United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (1987)