Attorney Brian Knutsen

Brian represents organizations and individuals seeking to protect the environment and wildlife through litigation and advocacy. Brian has extensive experience with federal environmental statutes such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Brian graduated from St. Louis University in 2000 with bachelor’s degrees in Geology and Environmental sciences. This background has proven invaluable in enabling him to understand complex scientific issues involved in his legal practice, and to explain them in a comprehensible manner to courts and other non-scientists.

Brian received his law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, graduating with honors in 2004. He also received a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. While there, he served on the editorial board for Environmental Law, the oldest law review dedicated solely to environmental issues.

Brian practiced water law with the firm of Moses, Wittemyer, Harrison and Woodruff in Boulder, Colorado between 2004 and early 2007. Brian joined Smith & Lowney in early 2007 as an associate attorney, and was a managing attorney from 2011 to 2015. During his eight years at Smith & Lowney, Brian represented a wide variety of organizations in public interest environmental litigation.

Some of Brian’s notable cases include:

  • Wild Fish Conservancy v. Salazar, 628 F.3d 513 (9th Cir. 2010), in which a biological opinion was held to be arbitrary for temporally segmenting the effects to bull trout from a federal hatchery by only looking at the harm caused to the species for a five year period;
  • Wild Fish Conservancy v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, W.D. Wash. No. C08-0156-JCC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41838 (W.D. Wash. April 28, 2010), in which an informal Endangered Species Act consultation on the effects to threatened salmonids from commercial salmon farms (net pens) in Puget Sound was found arbitrary for failing to use the best available science;
  • Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. BNSF Ry. Co., W.D. Wash. No. C09-1087-JCC, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92978 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 19, 2011), a Clean Water Act enforcement action related to discharges of industrial stormwater to Puget Sound from a rail yard in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, in which summary judgment was entered against the defendant on numerous violations and a consent decree was then negotiated that required the defendant to pay $ 1.5 million for supplemental environmental projects;
  • Columbia Riverkeeper v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng’rs, E.D. Wash. No. 2:13-MD-2494-LRS, a multi-district Clean Water Act enforcement action for unpermitted discharges of oils and other pollutants from eight hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, in which a consent decree was negotiated that requires applications for permit coverage and accounting of the oils used at the dams;
  • Wild Fish Conservancy v. Anderson, W.D. Wash. No. 2:14-CV-00465-JLR, an Endangered Species Act lawsuit alleging that hatchery programs throughout Puget Sound that use a non-local “Chambers Creek steelhead” stock unlawfully harm wild threatened steelhead, in which a consent decree was negotiated that prohibits most releases until NOAA Fisheries reviews and approves the programs.

Brian is admitted to practice in the states of Washington, Oregon and Colorado (inactive status), as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Oregon District, the Western District of Washington and the Eastern District of Washington.

Contact Brian Knutsen

Phone: (503) 841-6515