Biography

Sarah Bell focuses her practice on environmental and natural resources litigation, administrative proceedings, and counseling, and advises clients in a broad range of disputes, including environmental enforcement actions, cost recovery, citizen suits, water quality, complex toxic tort, and product liability matters.

Sarah’s clients include manufacturers, distributors, transportation companies, terminals, real estate developers, and commercial property owners. She has litigated matters throughout the western United States, in both state and federal courts, including Washington State, Nevada, New Mexico and California. The bulk of her expertise involves cases relating to natural resources such as groundwater, surface water, sediments, air, and soil. She has experience with all the major federal and state environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, NEPA and CEQA, Proposition 65, RCRA, and the ESA.

Sarah is an aggressive, innovative and persistent advocate for her clients’ interests. She is a persuasive and engaging oral advocate at trial and hearings, and she thrives in court. In litigation, she believes convincing writing cannot be undervalued, and her prose is effective because it is cogent, clear, and concise. 

Sarah also counsels clients with respect to regulatory compliance, permitting, including storm water management and NPDES permits, product stewardship, and project development. She often advises clients who have identified potential environmental issues and are seeking to address those issues and manage potential risks associated with the same. As a counselor, Sarah seeks to keep her clients out of court. In these matters, she effectively negotiates reasonable resolutions so clients can maintain focus on their core businesses. 

Sarah strives for solutions that are in the best interests of her clients, relying on pragmatism and unique strategies rather than defaulting to a “one size fits all” approach to litigation and negotiation. She is purposeful, calm in a crisis, and efficient, helping her clients navigate a strategic course without wasting resources. Environmental issues can be complex and involve high-stakes liability. Sarah brings order to this potential chaos, and brings to each matter an impressive track record of helping clients both efficiently manage and swiftly resolve challenging situations.

She was a judicial extern for the Honorable Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California.

Distinctions

  • Benchmark Litigation, 40 & Under Hotlist (2018)
  • Super Lawyers, Northern California Rising Stars (2012-2013)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Executive Committee Member, Environmental Law Section, Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Board of Directors, Golden Gate Audubon Society (2009 – 2016)
  • Board of Directors, California Summer Music (2009 – 2013)

Firm Highlights

Publication

Major Supreme Court Ruling Expands Reach of Clean Water Act NPDES Permitting to Certain Discharges to Groundwater

In a landmark ruling, the United States Supreme Court has held that, under section 301 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), a discharge of pollutants from a point source to groundwater is subject...

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Publication

Perfluorinated Compounds: No Longer an Emerging Contaminant

Lawsuits present major liability risks to PFAS manufacturers and industries that historically used PFAS in their operations. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) are synthetic, human-made compounds that were manufactured in the United States beginning...

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Publication

New EPA Clean Water Act Rule Attempts to Streamline Permitting Process

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the “Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule” (Rule). The Rule comes with significant procedural and substantive changes to the certification process for infrastructure projects. Under...

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News

Coronavirus Slowing PFAS Testing, Cleanup Efforts Across U.S.

Farella environmental law partner Sarah Bell spoke to Bloomberg Law about PFAS pollution testing delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In the article, Sarah commented that multiple months of delays are likely to affect...

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News

Lawyers See Maui Opinion as Grounds to Challenge Trump Water Rule

Environmental law partner Sarah Bell was quoted in the Bloomberg Law article, "Lawyers See Maui Opinion as Grounds to Challenge Trump Water Rule." In the article, Sarah said the Maui holding will be used...

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News

SCOTUS Clean Water Act Test ‘Devastating’ for Industry

Sarah Bell commented on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying that the Clean Water Act can be used to regulate pollution that travels through groundwater. Read full article, here . The case is  County...

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Publication

Supreme Court Ruling Expands Reach of Clean Water Act NPDES Permitting

Read the article on California Ag Net , here . In April, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling clarifying the reach of the federal Clean Water Act. The Court decided that a...

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News

EPA Narrows States’ Veto Power Over Infrastructure Projects

Environmental Law Partner Sarah Bell spoke to Bloomberg Law about EPA rule (RIN: 2040-AF86 ), which aims to discourage coastal states from relying on part of the Clean Water Act to block fossil fuel...

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