People

Rachel Jacobson

Special Counsel

Rachel Jacobson

Rachel Jacobson advises clients facing complex regulatory and litigation challenges related to environmental compliance and cleanup, natural resources management, and energy development. Ms. Jacobson joined the firm following more than 30 years in the federal government, holding senior positions at the US Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Justice (DOJ).

Ms. Jacobson served as the Deputy General Counsel of Environment, Energy and Installations at the DOD, overseeing all activity pertaining to environmental, energy, natural resources and installations, including environmental compliance and cleanup, natural resource management, endangered species protection and litigation, energy procurement and siting, domestic and international basing, military construction, and historic preservation. In this capacity, she advised senior-level policy officials in the DOD and its three military departments.

Prior to joining the DOD, Ms. Jacobson served at the DOI from 2009-2014. As Principal Deputy Solicitor, she led the negotiation of the early restoration settlement agreement with BP following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She was later appointed Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, where she oversaw policy for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service and led the DOI's planning effort for a suite of post-spill early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. From 2008-2009, Ms. Jacobson served as Director of the Impact-Directed Environmental Accounts program at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, managing mitigation portfolio for environmental restoration and habitat conservation.

Ms. Jacobson previously spent more than 20 years at the DOJ as a supervisor and litigator in the Environment and Natural Resources and Civil Divisions. During this time, she was at the forefront of some of the largest environmental cases in US history, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Coeur d' Alene Superfund trial. 

Honors & Awards

  • The National Law Journal's Energy & Environmental Trailblazers list (2017)
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 United States for energy: regulatory (2016, 2017)
  • Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service (2015, 2016)
  • US Department of the Interior Special Act Award (2011)
  • US Department of Justice Special Recognition Award (2007)
  • US Department of Justice Special Commendation Awards (1987, 1996, 1999, 2002)
  • US Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards (1988, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005)
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Certificate of Appreciation (2001)
  • State of Maryland Governor's Citation - Recognized for Natural Resource Damage Recovery, Patuxent River Oil Spill (2003)
  • Army Legal Services Agency Certificate of Appreciation, U.S. Army Environmental Law Division (2007)

Publications & News

View

August 16, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers Named Among the 2018 Best Lawyers in America®, Nine Recognized as Lawyers of the Year

Best Lawyers in America®—the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal industry—recognizes 107 WilmerHale lawyers and names nine partners as Lawyers of the Year in its 24th edition.

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.

June 27, 2017

DOJ Directive Threatens Availability of Penalty Mitigation Approach

A June 5, 2017, Department of Justice policy directive threatens the ongoing availability of Supplemental Environmental Projects in civil environmental settlements.

June 8, 2017

Andy Spielman and Rachel Jacobson Named Among The National Law Journal's Energy & Environmental Trailblazers

Honorees were selected based on their career achievements and impact on the field of energy and environmental law.

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.

April 3, 2017

Trump Order Ushers in the Future of US Energy and Environmental Regulation

On March 28, President Trump launched a sweeping overhaul of US energy and environmental policy.

March 2, 2017

Former DOD Official Rachel Jacobson Sees Stable Cleanups for Military Even With EPA Cuts

In an exclusive interview with Inside EPA, Rachel Jacobson, former Defense Department Deputy General Counsel of Environment, Energy and Installations, says she sees DOD fulfilling its cleanup responsibilities even if EPA's budget for overseeing such cleanups were to be cut under the Trump Administration, but notes that funding for DOD cleanups has nonetheless always been a challenge.

December 13, 2016

Former Defense Department Deputy General Counsel of Environment, Energy and Installations Joins WilmerHale

Rachel Jacobson joins the law firm with more than 30 years of experience in environmental law and policy.

Professional Activities

Ms. Jacobson serves as a member of the DC Bar's Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section steering committee, Washington University's Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement national advisory board, the Student Conservation Association board of directors, and the International Committee on Monuments and Sites board of trustees.