Nicholas Yost has a nationwide and international practice of environmental and natural resources law. He co-chairs Dentons’ US Environmental practice. Nick is the recipient of the American Bar Association's 2010 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy.
Nick has served for the past 29 years as a private practitioner, having previously served as a lawyer and official with federal and state (California) governments and as a public interest lawyer.
Nick practices under all environmental laws with the focus of his practice involving counseling, document review, administrative proceedings and litigation under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) laws, particularly the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its state analogues, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
As general counsel of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, Nick was lead draftsperson of the federal government's NEPA regulations and has played a comparably significant role in the development of CEQA.
His practice also includes counseling clients on compliance with such laws, obtaining permits and authorizations under federal and state environmental laws, representation of clients before federal and state agencies on environmental matters, Washington and Sacramento advocacy, handling environmental due diligence and litigation.
In connection with his principal work involving assistance to proponents of projects going through the NEPA and analogous state law processes, he reviews NEPA documents to ensure their legal adequacy in a full range of contexts, from public lands to specific projects, and participates in litigation to defend those approvals and otherwise to assert clients' interests under NEPA. He also regularly assists environmental consulting firms in ensuring NEPA compliance in documents they are preparing. He has also acted as an expert witness on NEPA and related laws.
Examples of his practice include successful representation of clients in taking major projects through NEPA and related environmental permit processes, such as renewable energy projects; airport expansions (Philadelphia, San Jose); land developments; international and interstate natural gas pipelines; electrical power plants; mining; highway, bridge and light rail projects; and Indian gaming and other facilities. He currently acts as outside NEPA counsel to a congressionally created federal agency, the Presidio Trust, reviewing the agency's documents for compliance with NEPA.
Nick has also represented the pharmaceutical industry and the veterinary pharmaceutical industry in environmental regulatory reform issues in Washington, DC; led negotiations among responsible parties at hazardous waste sites; and worked with federal and state trustees under the Oil Pollution Act concerning natural resources damages (NRD) arising from an oil spill from an OCS drilling platform.
Nick also has represented plaintiffs in litigation to enforce NEPA and other environmental laws, including successful litigation on behalf of the state of Louisiana against the Corps of Engineers concerning offshore dredging. He has received an award for his pro bono activity.
He has also aided clients in asserting environmental leadership, such as by assisting in developing and drafting corporate environmental policies and assistance in strategic planning.