Emily Lieban is an attorney in Holland & Knight's San Francisco office and a member of the firm's West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group. Ms. Lieban helps natural resources, manufacturing and energy clients navigate and manage environmental challenges that arise in project development, regulatory compliance and litigation.

Ms. Lieban advises public and private clients on issues arising in the planning and development of projects in renewable and traditional energy generation and transmission, manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure and real estate sectors. Her compliance and permitting practice focuses on environmental impact analyses under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), air quality and climate change regulations, and hazardous waste management. From complex permitting strategies for controversial infrastructure projects to securing individual permits and approvals, Ms. Lieban guides her clients from project scoping and site selection to final approval.

Ms. Lieban also represents clients in both trial and appellate proceedings concerning federal and state environmental laws, including defense of project approvals under CEQA and NEPA, challenges to agency actions and citizen suit defense. She helps clients navigate administrative proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Ms. Lieban also advises clients on product stewardship matters, including California's efficiency regulations, Proposition 65 and waste management.

Previously, Ms. Lieban managed public relations and assisted in legal matters for American Indian tribes in California, Maine and Washington state, including environmental, tax and sovereignty matters. She has also donated her time on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and as an attorney coach for Balboa High School's mock trial team.

Representative Experience

  • Advising Canadian energy company regarding environmental liabilities and capacity issues in connection with the acquisition of three natural gas-fired power plants in California totaling 523 megawatts (MW)
  • Representing energy storage enterprise in defense of approvals for 1,300 MW pumped storage project in California
  • Advising oil industry clients on environmental review and permitting of decommissioning projects for offshore production platforms, including pipeline decommissioning
  • Counseling on permitting issues for wind farm projects in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan area
  • Conducting due diligence for solar developments on federal land

  • Counseling venture fund that develops carbon offsets and sequestration projects under the California Air Resources Board's cap-and-trade program
  • Representing trade association on the development of a first-of-its-kind zoning ordinance and related environmental impact report (EIR) for streamlined oil-and-gas permitting in Kern County, Calif.
  • Advising major airline regarding hazardous waste compliance
  • Counseling top technology company regarding management of waste streams across U.S.
  • Negotiating with regulatory agencies regarding settlement for violations under the Clean Water Act on behalf of clients in multiple industries
  • Advocating on behalf of furnace manufacturer in air quality rule development

  • Representing Native American governments regarding tax and business structuring litigation associated with both sales and property tax for permanent improvements
  • Advising Native American governments regarding treatment as a state under the Clean Water Act and establishment of standards

  • Representing land use developer in litigation against municipality for violation of state Housing Accountability Act
  • Defending chemical manufacturing company in coordinated lawsuits filed throughout California regarding groundwater contamination due to historical applications of soil fumigants
  • Representing lessee of property leased from Clark County, Nevada, and subject to prior grant from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
  • Defending project approvals for 12,000-acre development project in Southern California


  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • University of California, Davis, A.B., with highest honors
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • California
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • California Lawyers Association, Environmental Law Section 
  • Bar Association of San Francisco 
  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) 
  • Generation Citizen, Associate Board Member
Honors & Awards
  • 40 Under 40, San Francisco Business Times, 2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, San Francisco Environmental Law, 2024; San Francisco Land Use and Zoning Law Ones to Watch, 2022-2024
  • Holland & Knight Rising Star, Class of 2023
  • Rising Star, Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, 2020-2023


Speaking Engagements