Member Information

Chris D. Thomas

Perkins Coie LLP

2901 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ85012-8014

Work Phone:

EPA Region:
Region 9 - (AZ, CA, HI, NV, and certain territories)
Year of induction:
J.D., University of Iowa College of Law, 1985 B.A., Drake University, 1982
State of Arizona
Court Admissions:
Arizona Supreme Court U.S. Supreme Court U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Ninth and Tenth Circuits U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
Other Environmental Career Experience:
Squire Sanders & Dempsey, 1985-2017
Representative Publications:
Just Add Water Permitting, State Sovereignty, and the Marble Cake Debacle, ABA Natural Resources and Environment (Summer 2020). NEPA Streamlining Yet Again Will the Diet Work This Time ABA Natural Resources & Environment (Winter 2019). Can Anyone One Define WOTUS A Cranky History of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction, The Federal Lawyer (June 2018). Reaching Kumbaya Overcoming the Obstacles to Successful Mediation of Environmental Disputes, The Federal Lawyer (June 2018). Tomorrows News Today The Future of Superfund Litigation, 46 Ariz. St. L.J. 537 (Summer 2014).
Illustrative Projects:
* Representing Resolution Copper Mining LLC in its efforts to develop in rural Arizona one of North Americas largest untapped copper veins, including NEPA litigation challenging Forest Service approvals and challenges to the facility's NPDES permit renewal. * Advising Arizona Minerals, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of South32 Limited, on NEPA and state permitting issues arising from its exploration of a potential lead-zinc-silver mine in rural Arizona. * Advising developers of wind and solar generating facilities on federal and state permits and approval requirements. * Decades-long representation of the City of Phoenix in a series of CERCLA enforcement matters and private-party litigation arising out of federal and state Superfund sites, including the Motorola 52nd Street and 19th Avenue Landfill National Priorities List sites. * Brownfield redevelopment work regarding, inter alia, a luxury hotel in Deer Valley, Utah, the Tesla Science Center in New York, and a K-12 school in Phoenix. * Helped persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to affirm dismissal of cost recovery claims by two corporate successors to Monsanto that had been administratively and judicially compelled to incur those costs, in Solutia v. McWane, et al, 672 F.3d 568 U.S. 942 (2012) 230 (11th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, thereby resolving an issue left open by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Atlantic Research, 551 U.S. 128 (2007). * Handled oral argument for a group of industrial settling parties before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the level of deference owed by district courts when evaluating proposed CERCLA consent decrees negotiated by state environmental agencies.
Citations of Major Published Cases:
Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition, et al., v. U.S. Forest Service, 279 F. Supp. 3d 898 (D. Ariz. 2017) (approval of prospective mines intrusive sampling plan did not violate NEPA). Roosevelt Irrigation District v. Salt River Project, et al, 222 F. Supp. 3d 757 (D. Ariz. 2016) (alleged CERCLA costs advanced on contingent basis were not incurred by irrigation district). State of Arizona v. Ashton, et al, 761 F.3d 1005 (9th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 577 US 913 (2015) (district court granted undue deference to state environmental agency while evaluating proposed CERCLA consent decree). Solutia, Inc. v. McWane, et al, 726 F. Supp. 2d 1316 (N.D. Ala. 2010) affd, 672 F.3d 1230 (11th Cir. 2012) cert. denied, 568 U.S. 942 (2012) (CERCLA costs incurred pursuant to consent decree were extinguished by contribution protection notwithstanding Atlantic Research). Evans v. Walter Industries, et al., 449 F.3d 1159) (11th Cir. 2006) (Class Action Fairness Act local controversy exception). The Pinal Creek Group v. Newmont Mining, et al., 926 F. Supp. 1400 (D. Ariz. 1996), revd, 118 F.3d 1298 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937 (1998) (liable party cost recovery under CERCLA Section 107) (counsel for amicus City of Phoenix). City of Phoenix, Arizona v. Garbage Service Co., et al., 827 F. Supp. 600 (D. Ariz. 1993) (title-holding trustee personally liable under CERCLA) 816 F. Supp. 564 (D. Ariz. 1993) (title-holding trustee liable under CERCLA) (reversed in 1996 by addition of 42 U.S.C. . 9607 (n)). State of Arizona and City of Phoenix, Arizona v. Motorola, Inc., et al., 805 F. Supp. 749 (D. Ariz. 1992) (divisibility of harm under CERCLA) 805 F. Supp. 742 (D. Ariz. 1992) (causation under CERCLA) 774 F. Supp. 566 (D. Ariz. 1991) (CERCLA generator liability) 139 F.R.D. 141 (D. Ariz. 1991) (intervention into CERCLA consent decree proceeding). Ibarra-Perez v. Howard, 468 F. Supp. 3d 1156 (D. Ariz. 2020) (pro bono habeas proceeding for civil immigration detainees).