Best Lawyers for Natural Resources Law in America

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Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Native American Law Corporate Law Mining Law Energy Law Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Barbara, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Land Use and Zoning Law Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
David F. Asmus was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

David F. Asmus

Sidley Austin LLP
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law International Trade and Finance Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Railroad Law Water Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Miami, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Natural Resources Law Land Use and Zoning Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Intellectual Property Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants Natural Resources Law Litigation - Antitrust Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental Bet-the-Company Litigation Litigation - Patent
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Construction Natural Resources Law Litigation - Real Estate Litigation - Mergers and Acquisitions Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Water Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Energy Regulatory Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Product Liability Litigation - Defendants Litigation - Environmental Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Mining Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law Banking and Finance Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Addison, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Mining Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Commercial Litigation Energy Law Natural Resources Law Antitrust Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Sheridan, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Environmental Law Real Estate Law Corporate Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Litigation - Municipal Commercial Litigation Workers' Compensation Law - Employers Bet-the-Company Litigation Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgeport, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Corporate Law Real Estate Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Dallas, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Native American Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Natural Resources Law Energy Regulatory Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Water Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    San Francisco, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Mining Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Corporate Law Administrative / Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Mergers and Acquisitions Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Real Estate Law Litigation - Real Estate Land Use and Zoning Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Midland, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Real Estate Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Okemos, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Municipal Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law International Mergers & Acquisitions Energy Law Corporate Law Mining Law Mergers and Acquisitions Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgewater, New Jersey
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Environmental Law Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Mining Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Gaming Law Natural Resources Law Native American Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law Water Law Natural Resources Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Antitrust Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Appellate Practice Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Real Estate Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Real Estate Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgeport, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Litigation - Environmental Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Litigation - Banking and Finance Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Litigation - Real Estate Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Regulatory Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law Mining Law Water Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Water Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Portland, Oregon
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Mining Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Timber Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Oil and Gas Law Commercial Litigation Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Mediation Appellate Practice Commercial Litigation Administrative / Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental Bet-the-Company Litigation Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Billings, Montana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Land Use and Zoning Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Billings, Montana
  • Practice Areas:
    Product Liability Litigation - Defendants Employment Law - Management Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Litigation - Insurance Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental Workers' Compensation Law - Employers
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Sacramento, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Environmental Mining Law Real Estate Law Environmental Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lansing, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Water Law Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Mining Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Troy, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Ridgeland, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Banking and Finance Law Real Estate Law Timber Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Real Estate
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Overland Park, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Corporate Law Securities / Capital Markets Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Municipal Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Commercial Litigation Energy Law Mining Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bellevue, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boulder, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lake Oswego, Oregon Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Land Use and Zoning Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Sacramento, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Insurance Law Administrative / Regulatory Law Appellate Practice Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Government Relations Practice Environmental Law Water Law Administrative / Regulatory Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bend, Oregon
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Energy Law Native American Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Energy Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Oil and Gas Law Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants Litigation - Banking and Finance Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Native American Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Oil and Gas Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Ridgeland, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Water Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Land Use and Zoning Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning
Lawyer
  • Location:
    San Francisco, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Land Use and Zoning Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Native American Law Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Water Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Mining Law Natural Resources Law

  • Location:
  • Practice Areas:

Practice Area Definition

Natural Resources Law Definition

“Natural resources” is an extraordinarily broad concept. The United States Geological Survey defines natural resources as “minerals, energy, land, water, and biota.” This definition includes the timber, metal, or stone that your house is built from, the fuel that produced the electricity that heats and cools it, the water in its pipes, and even the scenery that increases its value.

Natural resources law is occasionally confused with environmental law, but the fields are distinct. Environmental law is what you may not do; natural resources law is what you may do and how to do it. It is the body of law that organizes the discovery, development, allocation, ownership, management, and ultimately use of all the raw materials that our civilization is built from, and of the energy sources that make it run. In a practical sense, this term has come to mean the constellation of statutory, regulatory, and judicial law that customarily applies to the major natural resource industries such as mining, oil and gas, water, and forestry.

This body of law draws heavily from contract, property, and corporate law, but also has substantial overlap with environmental, tax, land use, administrative, and even tort law. The set of legal issues that confront, for example, a client wishing to organize a company to develop a particular offshore or onshore mineral deposit, is unique. Therefore, the diversity and specificity of these issues led to the emergence of specialized natural resource lawyers.

Natural resource lawyers also must be familiar with the business realities that affect their clients. They are experienced with the operational details and points of negotiation in the contracts and physical operations that are common and also unique to a particular resource. They must alert clients to potential traps for the unwary in the case law of their jurisdiction, navigate government regulations to accomplish their clients’ goals, and assemble transactions from the myriad property and operational issues that exist for each particular resource. For example, the mechanics and economics of the development of oil and gas versus hard minerals such as coal has led to dramatically different business structures and contracts to develop these distinct resources.

Some natural resource lawyers specialize in unwinding the often Gordian ownership of mineral resources, others are skilled in litigating the unique disputes that arise in the context of development joint ventures, and still others can structure natural resource projects from exploration, to development and sale. In recent years, the natural resource industries have acquired a significant international dimension; in this context natural resource lawyers can provide invaluable orientation and counsel to foreign companies investing in mineral projects in the United States, or domestic companies seeking to expand their presence globally.

Arthur J. Wright, Oil and Gas Practice Group Leader
Thompson & Knight LLP

Thompson & Knight LLP logo

“Natural resources” is an extraordinarily broad concept. The United States Geological Survey defines natural resources as “minerals, energy, land, water, and biota.” This definition includes the timber, metal, or stone that your house is built from, the fuel that produced the electricity that heats and cools it, the water in its pipes, and even the scenery that increases its value.

Natural resources law is occasionally confused with environmental law, but the fields are distinct. Environmental law is what you may not do; natural resources law is what you may do and how to do it. It is the body of law that organizes the discovery, development, allocation, ownership, management, and ultimately use of all the raw materials that our civilization is built from, and of the energy sources that make it run. In a practical sense, this term has come to mean the constellation of statutory, regulatory, and judicial law that customarily applies to the major natural resource industries such as mining, oil and gas, water, and forestry.

This body of law draws heavily from contract, property, and corporate law, but also has substantial overlap with environmental, tax, land use, administrative, and even tort law. The set of legal issues that confront, for example, a client wishing to organize a company to develop a particular offshore or onshore mineral deposit, is unique. Therefore, the diversity and specificity of these issues led to the emergence of specialized natural resource lawyers.

Natural resource lawyers also must be familiar with the business realities that affect their clients. They are experienced with the operational details and points of negotiation in the contracts and physical operations that are common and also unique to a particular resource. They must alert clients to potential traps for the unwary in the case law of their jurisdiction, navigate government regulations to accomplish their clients’ goals, and assemble transactions from the myriad property and operational issues that exist for each particular resource. For example, the mechanics and economics of the development of oil and gas versus hard minerals such as coal has led to dramatically different business structures and contracts to develop these distinct resources.

Some natural resource lawyers specialize in unwinding the often Gordian ownership of mineral resources, others are skilled in litigating the unique disputes that arise in the context of development joint ventures, and still others can structure natural resource projects from exploration, to development and sale. In recent years, the natural resource industries have acquired a significant international dimension; in this context natural resource lawyers can provide invaluable orientation and counsel to foreign companies investing in mineral projects in the United States, or domestic companies seeking to expand their presence globally.