Maria O'Brien has practiced in the areas of Natural Resources, Environmental and Utility law for more than fifteen years. Her primary focus is on water resources, water quality, and related regulatory matters including National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") and Endangered Species Act ("ESA") compliance. She represents clients from both public and private sectors before the Office of the New Mexico State Engineer, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, and in state and federal court. Maria's experience includes permitting of water and energy projects, the purchase and lease of water rights, water utility matters, litigation involving protection and acquisition of water resources, water planning and water quality issues.
- University of New Mexico, J.D., graduated 1991
- University of Rhode Island, MS, graduated 1988
- Connecticut College, BA, graduated 1984
- New Mexico, State Bar of New Mexico
- New Mexico, U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
- New Mexico, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- New Mexico, United States Supreme Court
- Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation - Member
- State Bar of New Mexico - Member
Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers for:
- Water Law, Albuquerque (2019)
- Water Law, Albuquerque (2016)
- Water Law, Albuquerque (2013)
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for work in:
- Water Law
- Best Lawyers in America® in Water Law, 2007-present
- Chambers USA Directories of America's Leading Lawyers for Business and Environment in Natural Resources & Regulated Industries: Water Law, 2006-present
- Benchmark Litigation, The Definitive Guide to America's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, Future Litigation Star in New Mexico, 2013-present
- Southwest Super Lawyers® (derived from a lawyer survey), 2014
- Best Lawyers Lawyer of the Year in Water Law - Albuquerque, 2013
- United States District Court
Lawyer Case History
- Assisted numerous energy projects with water and siting related matters as well as continuing to advise BHP Navajo Coal Company on all of its water matters related to its coal mining operations in the San Juan River Basin. Assisted Exxon Mobil and Phelps Dodge on water matters relating to mine closure issues.
Municipalities and Regulated Water Suppliers
- Ongoing representation of several municipalities and regulated water suppliers around the state including the City of Carlsbad, City of Rio Rancho, and New Mexico Water Service Company with regard to water planning, acquisition and litigated water supply matters.
- Representation of the Pueblo of Pojoaque in the settlement of Indian claims in the longest running federal court adjudication in the country. A settlement agreement was enacted into law when it was signed by President Obama on December 8, 2010 as the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. Continued representation of the Pueblo on implementation of the settlement related to water and environmental matters.