Brad Johnson has built his mining, land use and natural resources law practice around providing clients incisive and cost-effective counsel. Brad’s experience includes serving local, statewide, and national clients on mine permitting and reclamation projects, industrial and commercial development projects, waste discharge, solid waste, and recycle projects, and vested mining rights proceedings and litigation. Brad previously served in the Office of Governmental and Environmental Relations at the California Department of Conservation.
Brad has represented clients before local jurisdictions, air districts, regional water boards, the State Mining and Geology Board, the state Division of Mine Reclamation, MSHA, OSHA, and the Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. He advises clients on a broad spectrum of environmental laws, including the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Planning and Zoning Law, Coastal Act, Williamson Act, state and federal clean air acts, state and federal clean water acts, and state and federal endangered species acts. Brad has special expertise and a track record of success related to the establishment of vested mining rights in northern and southern California.
With respect to his mining practice in particular, Brad advises clients from project inception to post-approval litigation. Brad represents clients in mine property due diligence and in preparing transactional documents, works with clients in devising an effective permitting and environmental review strategy, and represents clients before local decision-makers. Brad represents clients in post-approval litigation that may arise under CEQA, NEPA, the Planning and Zoning Law, or any other applicable environmental law. Brad also counsels clients on safety law, including compliance with MSHA and OSHA requirements and procedures.
- Permitted and re-permitted hardrock, alluvial, in-stream, and industrial mineral mining operations across California.
- Defended mining approvals against challenge by referendum.
- Obtained approval of SMARA reclamation plans and amendments to reclamation plans.
- Advised local lead agencies on SMARA compliance.
- Obtained placement of clients on the state “AB 3098” list of approved surface mining operations.
- Worked with clients, lead agencies, and consultants to prepare environmental review documents in compliance with CEQA and NEPA.
- Settled and litigated CEQA challenges.
- Negotiated and resolved regulatory enforcement actions before Regional Water Boards, Air Districts, the State Mining and Geology Board, and the Department of Conservation/OMR.
- Defended and established vested mining rights.
- Obtained mine site closures and release of financial assurances.
- Represented mining clients in legislative and policy matters at the state and federal levels.
- Settled and litigated MSHA and OSHA citation and enforcement actions.
- Performed mineral property and mine claim due diligence, and prepared leases, royalty agreements, easements, and title opinions.
- Developed cost-effective, defensible environmental review strategies for mining and industrial projects.
- Assembled CEQA and technical consultants and coordinated consultants in preparation of CEQA documents.
- Coordinated joint CEQA and NEPA review for projects on federal lands.
- Prepared and reviewed CEQA analyses, mitigation measures, findings, and statements of overriding considerations.
- Settled and litigated CEQA challenges.
- Successfully defended against CEQA challenge to new 50-year hardrock mine approval before the Third Appellate District.
Water Quality / Solid Waste Disposal:
- Obtained approval of Waste Discharge Requirements for mining and industrial projects.
- Negotiated and resolved enforcement actions before the Regional Water Boards.
- Counseled clients on compliance with state solid waste and inert material disposal requirements and prepared and implemented appropriate permitting strategies.
- Counseled clients on Williamson Act contract compliance, compatible uses, and cancellations.
- Obtained approval of General Plan amendments, zone changes, and variances for mining and industrial projects.
- Negotiated and resolved enforcement actions before the California Coastal Commission related to Coastal Zone development.
- Obtained approval of Caltrans encroachment permits and site access authorizations.
- Successfully defended client against state enforcement action against client's use of drone to generate mine-site topographic maps and stockpile inventories
- Prepared and pursued Public Records Act and FOIA requests.
- Litigated public agency Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act violations.
- Represented clients before administrative law judges and hearing boards on enforcement actions.
- Participated in agency rulemaking proceedings.
- Ione Valley Land, Air, and Water Defense Alliance, LLC v. County of Amador (2019) ___ Cal.App.3d ____ [defeated petitioner's second challenge to EIR for mining project]
- Mercer Fraser Company v. Humboldt Redwood Company, et al. (2017) Sup.Ct. Case No. DR160111 [confirmed client's ownership over aggregate stockpiles]
- Dutra Materials, Inc. v. State Mining and Geology Board, et al., Chevron Products Company, Inc., Real Party in Interest (2016) Sup.Ct. Case No. MSN 10-0388 [overturned administrative order and penalties concerning vested mine site]
- Ione Valley Land, Air, and Water Defense Alliance, LLC v. County of Amador (2016) Sup.Ct. Case No. 15-CVC-09295 [defeated defendant's referendum petition seeking to overturn mining project approvals]
- Negranti & Sons, et al. v. County of San Luis Obispo (2013) Sup.Ct. Case No. CV130157 [obtained writ of mandate directing County to determine client's vested mining rights]
- Bohan & Canelis-Austin Creek Ready Mix v. County of Sonoma et al. (2013) Sup.Ct. Case No. SCV 249587 [defended client's vested mining rights]
- AB 901 Regulations (in conjunction with CalCIMA, Sacramento, CA, May 2019; Ontario, CA, May 2019)
- SMARA Technical Course (Sacramento, CA, October 2018; Riverside, CA, October 2018)
- Naturally Occurring Asbestos - Regulatory Update (2017 CalCIMA Education Conference, Squaw Valley, CA November 2017)
- SMARA Technical Course (Sacramento, CA, October 2017; Riverside, CA, October 2017)
- Power Ballot: How Voters Can Make or Break Your Project (2016 CalCIMA Education Conference, Rancho Mirage, CA, November 2016)
- SMARA Technical Course (Sacramento, CA, May 2016; Ontario, CA, May 2016)
- Federal Lands Minerals Permitting (San Bernardino, CA 2015)
- SMARA Technical Course (Sacramento, CA, October 2014; Corona, CA, October 2014)
- CEQA Seminar (Sacramento, September 2014)
- Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Critical Minerals 2014, "Cultural Resources and Mining" (August 2014, Denver, CO)
- CONEXPO – CON/AGG 2014, Effectively Countering Community Opposition to Your Project (Las Vegas, NV, March 2014)
- SMARA Technical Course (San Bernardino, CA, November 2013; Sacramento, CA, December 2013)
- MSHA Law & Policy, California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (Ontario, CA, February 2013; Sacramento, CA, September 2013)
- SMARA: Fundamentals First, Annual Education Conference, California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (Rancho Mirage, CA, October 2012)
- Surface Mining and Reclamation Act: Fundamentals and Emerging Issues (Sacramento, CA, September 2012; San Bernardino, CA, September 2012)
- Surface Mining and Reclamation Act: Fundamentals and Emerging Issues (Sacramento, CA, May 2011; Ontario, CA, June 2011)
- Naturally Occurring Asbestos: Regulatory Update, Annual Education Conference, California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (San Diego, CA, September 2010)
- Williamson Act Roadmap (Sacramento, CA, September 2009, 2010)
- Surface Mining and Reclamation and Construction Materials Permitting (Sacramento, CA, November 2008; Sacramento, November 2009; Ontario, CA, November 2009)
- 2015 California Mining Legislation (March 2015)
- From Te-Moak to Tsilhqot’in Nation: Sacred Landscape Protection and Resource Development (August 2014, published by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration; Critical Minerals for 2014: Rare Earths and Beyond)
- How to Reduce Risk of Citation for Independent Contractor MSHA Violations (June 2014)
- SB 1270: A Major Shift In California Mine Regulation (March 2014)
- “Significant & Substantial” – Subjection, and Tough to Undo (October 2013)
- Reminder – New SMGB Regulation: Lead Agency Mining Ordinance Certification (September 2013)
- Reminder – Miner Reinstatement (June 2013)
- Seventh Circuit Holds MSHA May Inspect Medical & Personnel Records (May 2013)
- Ninth Circuit Rules That Endangered Species Act Consultation Is Required For Certain Notice of Intent-Level Projects On Federal Land (June 2012)
- Important Changes to MSHA Conference Procedure (January 2012)
- Governor Signs SB 108 – Enacts New “Idle Mine” Rules (October 2011)
- White Paper – The Idle Mine Issue (June 2009)
Awards and Recognition
- 2019 Northern California Rising Star
- 2015 CalCIMA Spirit of the Industry
- CalCIMA, Environmental Committee, Legislative and Governmental Affairs Committee
- National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Council of Counsels
- State Bar of California, Environmental Law Section
- University of San Diego School of Law, JD, cum laude, 2007
- University of California, Davis, BA, with honors, 2002