Alison B. Torbitt

Alison Torbitt, a partner in NP’s Energy and Environmental practice group, co-leads the Food, Beverage & Agribusiness team and is active in Maritime matters. She focuses on environmental compliance and transactional due diligence, counseling a large range of manufacturers, developers (including a specialty in renewable energy projects), and financing parties to find solutions and mitigate and allocate the risk associated with all aspects of environmental law, including the latest developments from emerging contaminants (PFAS) to controversial subjects like vapor intrusion attenuation factors.

What do you focus on?

I counsel business and industry clients on compliance with federal, state and local environmental and energy laws, as well as defending against regulatory enforcement and third-party disputes. I am also co-leader of the firm’s Legally Green initiative, thinking strategically about sustainability and the risks that our clients face due to climate change, aging infrastructure, and the need for innovation  to stay ahead of these challenges.

Environmental Compliance & Enforcement

With a technical background as an aquatic ecotoxicologist, I have first-hand knowledge of the science and business repercussions of environmental laws, including those regarding water, air, vapor intrusion, hazardous materials, and spill response. I counsel dozens of clients with compliance concerns and defend them against enforcement, and have provided guidance to numerous wine, beer, and food production facilities. I provide strategy and advice on how to cost-effectively monitor compliance, communicate with regulators, self-report, and settle. I have successfully brought multiple contaminated sites to closure in an efficient manner. I also assist with California Alcoholic Beverage Control and Contractors State License Board inquiries.

Environmental & Energy Due Diligence & Transactional Assistance

I assist with environmental and energy due diligence for the acquisition, leasing, and financing of real property and with assuring adequate protections are in place for tax credit investors. I am very familiar with evaluating Phase Is and IIs for sufficiency, reviewing permitting and compliance history, and advising on the risk of environmental liability and enforcement. In each, I help to assure that my clients are adequately informed of and protected from the risks associated with the transaction, helping them to look to the future and make decisions now, which will avoid problems then. I have also developed significant experience in renewable energy off-take agreements, including consumer protection requirements for the residential solar sector, helping to negotiate a middle ground that is both financially beneficial and consumer-friendly.

Maritime Experience

I help clients communicate with the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center, assisting in complicated flag-in/flag-out processes with compliant and business-friendly results. Additionally, I draft and negotiate and assure approval for the related documentation, including trust agreements, time charters, bareboat charters, ship management agreements, logbook entries, certificates of ownership, and continuous synopsis records.

What do you see on the horizon?

Despite economic instability, residential and infrastructure development find sustainable solutions. Developers focus on environmentally impacted sites and revitalize communities. Drought, climate change, and aging infrastructure push innovation for water and energy.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully assisted with the closure of multiple contaminated sites under voluntary cleanup programs and enforcement actions led by the Water Board and certified unified program agencies (CUPAs)
  • Defended client in an EPA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) enforcement, successfully negotiating a consent agreement and final order with significantly reduced penalties; have also assisted clients on labeling disputes, self-reporting, and amendments under FIFRA
  • Represented and defended multiple clients against investigations and enforcement actions by the California Air Resources Board under the Truck & Bus, Cargo Handling Equipment, and Large Spark Ignition regulations, including in-person appearances and a successful reduction of potentially thousands in penalties to a phased compliance plan with no penalties
  • Successfully defended a large winery against alleged wastewater noncompliance, with potential liabilities alleged at over $2 million; after months of negotiating, in a landmark settlement, client was successfully and irrevocably released from the alleged $1.9 million in liabilities and retroactive charges, in exchange for higher annual sewer service charges going forward
  • Overseen and successfully received air (including Title V), wastewater, stormwater, and hazardous materials permits from local air pollution control/management districts, regional water quality control boards, and CUPAs throughout California, including the successful negotiation of less restrictive conditions and/or expedited handling
  • Successfully defended a large food manufacturer against a threatened order to cease operations for an alleged illegal discharge, managing to negotiate a phased compliance plan without penalties or ceasing operations
  • Defended general contractor in an asbestos liability action, including participation in the air pollution control district’s expedited settlement program

Publications and presentations

  • Speaker, “Pro Bono Power: Advancing Climate Justice through Feminist Leadership,” Commission on the Status of Women, Webinar, March 23, 2022
  • Panelist, “How do I get my law firm to prioritize sustainability and ESG?,” Sustainability/ESG and Law Firms: Challenges and Opportunities Event, February 16, 2022
  • Speaker, “The Internal Race to Net Zero,” Legal ESG Summit, Webinar, October 26, 2021
  • Speaker, “Changes in Monitoring Particulate Emissions for Brownfield Sites,” 23rd California Unified Program Annual Training Conference, Webinar, February 16, 2021
  • Speaker, “Environmental Health & Safety Concerns During Times of Wildfires and Power Shutdowns,” Nixon Peabody Annual MCLE Seminar, San Francisco, January 23, 2020
  • Speaker, “Environmental Due Diligence: Identifying, Analyzing, Allocating and Minimizing Risk,” San Francisco Bar Association - Environmental Law Section, San Francisco, CA, March 26, 2019
  • Speaker, “Avoiding Missteps When Buying and Selling Commercial Real Estate,” Nixon Peabody Annual MCLE Seminar, San Francisco, January 16, 2019
  • Panelist, “Diversity, Inclusion, and the Bottom Line: From Pledge to Profitability,” San Francisco Bar Association CLE program, September 12, 2018
  • Speaker, “Labeling Hazardous Chemicals: CA's Proposition 65 Requirements on Your Compliance Obligations,” BLR Webinar, April 2018
  • Speaker, “How not to overreact: Prop 65 updates and other chemical regulations,” Nixon Peabody Annual MCLE Seminar, San Francisco, January 16, 2018
  • Speaker, “The Trump Agenda and Its Impact on EPA and Its Regulations,” BLR Webinar, June 27, 2017
  • Speaker, “Conversations on How Pruitt is Expected to Trump the Environment,” The Bar Association of San Francisco, March 29, 2017
  • Author, “Fifty shades of greywater– How to use recycled water at your vineyard” Wines & Vines, January 5, 2017
  • Co-Author, “Calling It In: When to Report and Remediate ‘Minor’ Environmental Contamination,” American Bar Association’s Joint Newsletter of the Environmental Disclosure and Environmental Transactions and Brownfields (ETAB) Committees, December 2016
  • Speaker, “Industrial Water 101,” ORCHSE Western Occupational Safety & Health Group, San Diego, CA, September 13, 2016
  • Author, “Calling All Breweries: Is Your Wastewater In Order?” Law 360 Expert Analysis, July 11, 2016
  • Speaker, “Environmental Enforcement Guidance,” ORCHSE Western Occupational Safety & Health Group, Orange County, CA, June 7, 2016
  • Author, “Sewage Brewage,” NYS Brewers Association Blog, June 6, 2016
  • Speaker, “Spill & Release Reporting for Ammonia Refrigeration,” Construction Contracting Training Program, Napa, CA, March 3, 2016
  • Speaker, “California Proposition 65 Trends and Hazardous Waste Enforcement,” ORCHSE Western Occupational Safety & Health Group, Sonoma, CA, March 2, 2016
  • Co-author, “Drought in California is Changing the Real Estate Landscape,” Law 360 Expert Analysis, July 23, 2015
  • Moderator, “Drought and State Intervention: Managing Groundwater in a New Era,” The Bar Association of San Francisco, July 14, 2015
  • Speaker, “Contaminants of Emerging Concern,” The Bar Association of San Francisco, June 30, 2015
  • Co-presenter (with Jeffrey Tanenbaum), “Take the Warning: Why and How To Be Prop 65 Compliant,” ORCHSE Western Occupational Safety & Health Group, Newport Beach, CA, May 20, 2015
  • “Enviro Update: What To Expect From the EPA in Obama’s Second Term,” Business & Legal Resources, March 2015
  • Speaker, “Environmental Law Basics: Practicing Air Quality Law in California,” The Bar Association of San Francisco, February 26, 2015
  • Author, “Combating California Drought with More Recycled Water,” Law 360 Expert Analysis, July 22, 2014

The intersection of cannabis and wine buds environmental complication

Cannabis Business Executive | November 03, 2021

San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt and Los Angeles associate Stratton Constantinides, both of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group and Environmental & Land Use team, contributed this article on the challenges and opportunities facing businesses that produce both wine and cannabis in California.

New York seeks constitutional right to clean air and water

Spectrum News NY1 | September 27, 2021

This article covering New York’s proposed “Green Amendment” that would enshrine the right to a clean environment in the state’s constitution references NP’s client alert, discussing how New York’s amendment differs from other states in that it offers courts greater flexibility to interpret and apply. San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, Albany associate Dana Stanton, Rochester associate Sarah Lobe, and Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford, all with the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group, coauthored the client alert.

DIF fund to buy Oklahoma wind farm

Power Finance & Risk | June 09, 2021

This article mentions NP for advising DIF Capital Partners’ infrastructure fund on its agreement to acquire the Kingfisher wind farm in Oklahoma. The deal team includes Washington, DC Community Development Finance partner Shariff Barakat, Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green, Buffalo Global Finance partner Martha Anderson, and Rochester Corporate associate Aya Hoffman.

Also contributing to the deal were New York City Corporate partner Rick Cox; Manchester partner Mark Beaudoin and San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, both of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group; and Washington, DC partners Elizabeth Whittle and Bob Daileader and counsel Ken Weiner, all of the Project Finance & Public Finance group.

CA vapor intrusion guidance evaporates hope for urban residential redevelopment

Bloomberg Law | February 18, 2021

San Francisco Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Alison Torbitt contributed this article on how the California Environmental Protection Agency’s vapor intrusion guidance may impact residential development on the state’s brownfields.

MRM Research Roundup: End-of-October 2020 Edition

Modern Restaurant Management | November 02, 2020

This roundup of current industry issues to watch highlights several thought leadership pieces from NP’s recently published fourth-quarter Food & Beverage Crystal Ball. The publication summarizes trends provided by San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt and counsel Ian O’Banion, both of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate Group; Rochester Corporate associate Isaac Figueras; and San Francisco Labor & Employment associates Rachel Conn and Maritza Martin.

On High Alert: Running a Retail Business in the Age of the COVID Pandemic

Marijuana Venture | August 10, 2020

San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, who co-leads NP’s Food, Beverage & Agribusiness team, and San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Hilary Baca co-wrote this contributed article on how cannabis retailers can revamp their stores and policies to stay in compliance with state and local laws, while helping to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses to customers and employees.

Marijuana Social Clubs: How Colorado is Setting the Pace

Cannabis Business Executive | June 17, 2020

This article, on the reopening of Colorado’s marijuana hospitality industry, cites a recent NP alert that details guidelines for cannabis retailers to consider for revamping operations without spreading communicable illnesses. Cannabis Business Executive also re-published the complete NP alert, written by San Francisco Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Alison Torbitt; Los Angeles Intellectual Property partner, Litigation Department vice-chair, and Fashion practice leader Staci Riordan; and San Francisco Labor & Employment associates Hillary Baca and Rachel Conn.

The Generals’ Next War

Best Lawyers | October 21, 2019

San Francisco Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Alison Torbitt wrote this contributed article analyzing the increasing appetite among employees and investors for corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and governance standards. Alison also writes about how companies’ general counsels can participate in these initiatives.


Alison B. Torbitt

Co-leader, Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-5008

Fax: 866-256-1329

University of Oregon School of Law, J.D., Order of the Coif (1st in class) , (Editor-in-Chief, Western Environmental Law Update; Associate Editor, Oregon Law Review; Environmental Fellow, Oceans, Coasts, and Watersheds Project; First Place Champion, Oregon Environmental Law Moot Court Competition; Quarterfinalist, National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition)

University of California, Santa Barbara, B.S., B.A., with High Honors

University of Queensland, Australia, Marine biology research program


U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

  • Board Member, Law Firm Sustainability Network
  • President, Northern California Chapter for WISTA USA
  • Board Member, Friends of the Urban Forest
  • Chair, Bar Association of San Francisco Environmental Executive Committee
  • Member, California Lawyers Association Environmental Legislation and Executive Committees
  • Chair, Legislative Subcommittee, Water Environment Federation Government Affairs Committee
  • Past Chair of the San Francisco Barristers Environment, Real Estate, and Land Use Section
  • Member, Queen’s Bench, Member, Business Development Committee
  • LEED Accredited Professional (LEED® AP BD&C) in Building Design and Construction
  • Member, SV Forum
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