Ella Foley Gannon represents clients before a myriad of state and federal regulatory agencies, focusing her practice on federal and state environmental laws, natural resource permitting, and land use entitlements. Recognized as one of the leading permitting and siting lawyers in California and an authority in endangered species, wetland, water quality, and water rights issues, she assists developers and landowners who undertake complex development projects, including renewable and traditional energy and transmission projects, as well as residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use projects. Ella currently serves as a deputy chair of Morgan Lewis’s global litigation practice.
Named a “Top Woman Lawyer” by the Daily Journal in 2013 and 2014, Ella has also been recognized in Chambers USA as a “Leading Lawyer” in her field. Ella represents clients before state and federal regulatory agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Lands Management, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the California Energy Commission, the California State Water Resources Control Board, the nine California State Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the California Department of Fish and Game. She represents clients before these agencies on issues involving the Clean Water Act, the Federal Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Warren-Alquist Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Endangered Species Act, the Porter-Cologne Act, and the California Fish and Game Code. Ella has a strong track record of defending permits in both state and federal courts and in litigation involving challenges to state and federal rulemaking.
Prior to joining Morgan Lewis, Ella was chair of the environmental, land use, and natural resources practice of another international law firm, where she was also a member of the executive board. Earlier in her career, Ella was a law clerk to Judge Melvin Brunetti of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She was also a research fellow for the University of California Water Resources Department.
Advising Talisman Energy on land use and air permitting requirements concerning its investment in an oil shale project in California; also advising Talisman on permitting requirements from California’s Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, and from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
Representing a proponent of two large solar projects in connection with obtaining CEC, BLM, resource agency and other environmental permits for solar projects in California totaling over 1,370 MW
Assisting a developer of two large-scale wind projects in Kansas and North Dakota with NEPA and Endangered Species compliance
Represented a major energy company in connection with NPDES permitting for a once-through cooling plant; assisted in responding to appeal of NPDES permit to the State Water Resources Control Board which was dismissed
Represents a major oil company in connection with endangered species permitting for linear projects
Project Planning and Permitting
Represented Lennar Communities in connection with the permitting of a large mixed-use development project in Placer County, which includes approximately 1,880 residential homes, a commercial center, an 18-hole golf course and 690 acres of natural open space. Permits and authorizations obtained for the project included Section 404 wetland permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, water certification from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Incidental Take Statement and Biological Opinion from the US Fish and Wildlife Service through a Section 7 consultation, a Streambed Alteration Agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game, and Section 106 Agreement between State Historic Preservation Office and the Corps of Engineers. She also negotiated deed restrictions and an easement with the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
Conducted an audit of a major builder’s stormwater pollution prevention plans for their large mixed-use projects to ensure compliance with the requirements of the California General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Runoff associated with construction-related activities
Helped develop a field guide to compliance with general permit requirements for future projects
Assisted a client in responding to and addressing regulatory requirements associated with discharges of untreated stormwater and helped obtain concurrence from Regional Water Quality Control Board that discharge did not constitute violation of permit conditions
Represents a manufacturing facility in connection with obtaining and complying with an NPDES permit
Successfully defended federal entitlements issued to a mixed-use development project in Hayward, Calif. The case involved claims of non-compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act; also assisted in negotiation of settlement of appeal of the district court’s decision.
Successfully defended a development project in a citizen suit challenge involving claims under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act; assisted in negotiation of settlement of the appeal of the district court’s decision as well as a global settlement of state law claims against the project
Defended a retail project in a suit involving claims under the California Environmental Quality Act
Represents the California Building Industry Association in connection with the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to develop a state wetland and riparian protection policy
University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1998, Juris Doctor
University of Michigan, 1989, Bachelor of Arts
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US District Court for the Central District of California
US District Court for the Eastern District of California
US District Court for the Northern District of California
US District Court for the Southern District of California
Clerkship to Judge Melvin T. Brunetti of the US Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit (1998 - 1999)
Awards and Affiliations
Recognized, Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental & Energy Lawyers (2021)
Recognized, Environmental Law, San Francisco, The Best Lawyers in America (2013–2020)
Ranked, Environment, California, Chambers USA (2013–2020)
Recommended, Industry focus: Environment: regulatory, TheLegal 500 US (2019, 2020)
Recommended, Industry focus: Industry focus: Energy litigation: oil and gas, TheLegal 500 US (2017, 2020)
Recognized, Northern California, Super Lawyers (2012–2020)
Top Woman Lawyer, The Best Lawyers in America (2016, 2017)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Environmental, Law360 (2017, 2019)
Recognized, Acritas Star Lawyer (2017)
Recommended, Environment Litigation, TheLegal 500 US (2013–2016)
Recognized, Top Woman Lawyer, Daily Journal (2013–2014)