Nathaniel B. Custer

Senior Associate


Nate Custer advises clients on a range of energy development, environmental and public lands issues, including regulatory compliance, permitting and enforcement. 

Mr. Custer has handled matters involving permitting and regulatory compliance issues related to the construction of renewable energy generation facilities, permitting of midstream energy projects, negotiation of consent decrees and private settlement agreements on behalf of clients with historical contaminated lands liabilities at industrial and government sites, the transfer of permits attendant to corporate transactions, and the development of environmental and enterprise-wide compliance programs for energy and utility sector companies.

Mr. Custer also represents energy sector clients and other companies in complex civil litigation in state and federal courts and before state utility commissions. He recently represented a state agency in licensing proceedings related to a nuclear power plant and a company in a series of lawsuits stemming from the development of a state healthcare exchange.

Publications & News


May 3, 2018

Infrastructure Series: NAFTA Renegotiation: Energy Infrastructure and Investor-State Disputes

Negotiations to reshape the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the United States, Canada and Mexico have recently intensified as various factors—upcoming elections in Mexico in July and in the United States in November; the prospects of a trade showdown between the United States and China—have the three nations pushing to reach an agreement in principle in the coming weeks (although talks are presently on hold until May 7). This client alert was also published by Law360.

April 19, 2018

Infrastructure Series: Momentum Builds for Offshore Wind Energy Development in the United States

The beginning of 2018 has offered signs of a renewed push to expand development of offshore wind generation along the US Atlantic coast. This client alert was also published by Law360.

April 12, 2018

Infrastructure Series: Agencies Establish One Federal Decision Framework for Project Reviews

This week, a dozen federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to “a more predictable, transparent, and timely Federal review and authorization process for delivering major infrastructure projects.” This client alert was also published by Law360.

February 8, 2018

Natural Resource Damages for the Entrepreneurial Practitioner: Innovations in NRD Assessment and Restoration

An article written by Rachel Jacobson, Nathaniel Custer and Mark Hanin, published by the ABA's Superfund and Natural Resource Damages Litigation Committee Newsletter, Vol. 13, No. 1, discusses a recent innovation in the natural resource damage assessment process.

January 24, 2018

SCOTUS: WOTUS Rule Suits Belong in District Courts

On January 22, 2018, the US Supreme Court unanimously held that challenges to the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, commonly referred to as the WOTUS Rule (for “waters of the United States”), must be filed in federal district courts rather than directly in federal appeals courts. The case is National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense et al., case number 16-299.

December 5, 2017

Environmental Protection Agency Will Not Pursue Financial Assurance Rule for Hardrock Mining

On December 1, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will not promulgate a final rule requiring hardrock mining facilities (i.e., facilities for the extraction, beneficiation, and processing of metals and non-metallic, non-fuel minerals) to establish financial assurances under Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

November 1, 2017

FERC Proposes Updates to Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards for Cybersecurity of Low Impact Bulk Electric System Operators

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking on October 26, suggesting updates to the Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standard governing cybersecurity management controls for bulk electric system assets, called CIP-003.

October 18, 2017

Ninth Circuit Requires US to Pay Defense Contractor Cleanup Costs

On October 4, the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court for the Southern District of California's decision to allocate to a government contractor 100 percent of cleanup costs for hazardous contamination at a manufacturing facility for failure to consider the involvement of the United States in contributing to that contamination, and remanded the case for additional proceedings.

July 28, 2017

Owner Means Owner: Tenth Circuit Finds US Liable Under CERCLA Based on Title in Lands Subject to Unpatented Mining Claims

The Tenth Circuit on July 19, 2017, in Chevron Mining, Inc. v. United States, reversed a decision by the District Court for the District of New Mexico and held that the United States is liable as an “owner” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act at a series of mining waste disposal sites on former federal land in New Mexico (Questa Site) because it has “owner” liability.

May 17, 2017

EPA Centralizes CERCLA Remedy Selection Authority

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt last week issued a memorandum revising the existing delegations of authority related to implementation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or “Superfund” law.


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JD, magna cum laude, Georgetown University Law Center, 2012, Executive Editor, Georgetown Law Journal; Order of the Coif

BA, Government, Georgetown University, 2006

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia


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