Rebecca counsels energy, oil and gas, renewable and mining companies on environmental regulatory compliance to result in timely project approvals. She assists companies with agency engagement strategies including representation before agency officials at all levels and with the review of National Environmental Policy Act documents and preparation of comments on federal land management policies and environmental regulations. Rebecca represents clients in federal court and before state agencies and commissions, Congress, and the Departments of the Interior, Energy and the U.S. Forest Service. She is an experienced advisor and trial lawyer in the areas of Federal Land Policy Management Act, National Forest Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Clean Water Act.

Prior to joining WSMT, Rebecca served as a sub-cabinet official in the U.S. Department of the Interior as the Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management during President George W. Bush's first term. In that position she led 12,000 employees, managed a budget of over $1 billion and provided policy guidance to three bureaus – Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, and Office of Surface Mining – which together have the responsibility for management of federal energy resources. She also implemented the President’s multiple-use management policies for mining, recreation, forestry, and wildlife on more than 261 million acres in the western United States. Rebecca has also served as the Assistant General Counsel for Domestic and International Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Rebecca has received numerous professional recognitions including her recent induction into The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.  In 2005, she was honored by the Boone and Crockett Club, the oldest U.S. wildlife conservation organization, for her work in conservation while at the Interior.  In 2011, she was appointed the Distinguished Natural Resources Practitioner in Residence at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she taught a semester-long seminar on natural resources law.  Rebecca is a Colorado Super Lawyers® and Best Lawyers® rated attorney and has been selected to 5280's Top Lawyers, Denver Business Journal's Top Women in Energy, and Who's Who in Energy.

Rebecca began her legal career as a federal district law clerk in Wyoming and as an associate and partner in a Sheridan, Wyoming law firm. She has been a partner and of counsel in two Washington D.C. law firms and was a managing partner of a law firm in Helena, Montana. Rebecca has testified before Congress repeatedly, is a frequent speaker, and has written numerous articles on natural resources and federal environmental law and energy policy. She is the Vice President of Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (2018) and served as Program Chair for its 60th Annual Institute.  Rebecca is also the past Chair of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, an appointed member of the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee and former Secretary of Western Energy Alliance.

Representative Matters

  • Advised a Natural Gas Act-regulated pipeline company with MLA permit requirements on federal agency lands
  • Advised helium company seeking to permit federal wells and modernize BLM helium regulation
  • Advised a 1300 MW pumped hydropower energy storage project on BLM right-of-way permitting
  • Provided strategic permitting advice to the first utility solar project on public lands; developed first-of-their kind solutions to regulatory hurdles
  • Represented in-situ uranium company in federal litigation challenging BLM mine permit
  • Represented a renewable energy company before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in an energy resource planning proceeding
  • Represented Western Energy Alliance and oil and gas companies in a federal lawsuit to enforce compliance with the Mineral Leasing Act
  • Represented a wind company seeking to permit projects on U.S. Forest Service lands in California
  • Represented the oil and gas industry as an expert witness before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on federal preemption
  • Advised a CSP solar project on successful resolution of siting conflict between Department of Defense and Department of the Interior

Publications, Presentations & Accolades

  • Elected Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, July 2018
  • Presented "Western Playgrounds/Outdoor Recreation: Who Cares?" at The Wallace Stegner Center 23rd Annual Symposium - Public Lands in a Changing West, March 15-16, 2018
  • Elected Secretary of the Rocky Montain Mineral Law Foundation, July 2017
  • Presented "President Trump's 'America First' Energy Plan, Policy & Personnel," Wyoming State Bar Energy & Natural Resources Section, 2017 ENR Section Summit, June 8, 2017
  • Presented "Doing Public Land Policy: The Solar Example," University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Distinguished Natural Resources Practitioner-in-Residence Seminar, April 24, 2017
  • Co-Chaired the RMMLF Special Institute on Advanced Public Land Law - The Continuing Challenge of Managing for Multiple Use, with over 180 attendees in Santa Fe, NM, January 26-27, 2017
  • Presented "Using FLPMA to 'Zone' Energy," University of Colorado Law School, FLPMA Turns 40, October 21, 2016
  • Moderated panel discussion on "Public Land States in the 21st Century," University of Wyoming, Landscape Discussion on Energy Law & Policy in the Rockies, October 14, 2016
  • Authored and presented "Multiple-Use Management in a Zero-Sum World," ABA SEER 24th Fall Conference, October 7, 2016 (view accompanying PPT here)
  • Quoted in "How a Utah designation transformed politics in the West." Greenwire, July 13, 2016
  • Authored "How to prevent loving Colorado's outdoors to death," The Denver Post, June 24, 2016
  • Selected as one of Best Lawyers® "Women in the Law" in the practice areas of Energy Law and Natural Resources Law, featured in the Spring 2016 Business Edition, May 2016
  • Quoted in "Locals Worry BLM Plans May Exclude Their Voices," Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, April 21, 2016 
  • Presented "Why Should You Care about BLM's 'Planning 2.0'?" at Energy & Environment Symposium, April 21, 2016
  • Selected as a member of The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, March 2016
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Energy Law and Natural Resources Law, - 2013-2020
  • Co-Authored "Toward Planning 2.0: The New Landscape of BLM Planning," 93 Denv. U. L. Rev. Online 49, November 2015
  • Selected as a member of the Advisory Board to the Draper Natural History Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, September 2015
  • Selected to the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, July 2015
  • Presented ©"Hot Energy Topics on Public Lands at the end of the Obama Administration" at the Energy Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute - Amelia Island, Florida, June 2015
  • Quoted in the June 22, 2015 issue of Gas Daily, published by Platts, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.  Read the article here.
  • Selected to Colorado Super Lawyers as a "Top-Rated Energy and Natural Resources Attorney" - 2015-2019
  • Selected to Top Lawyers, Natural Resources, 5280 Magazine – 2015-2019
  • Presented at the National Oil and Gas Royalty Conference, “Top Ten Things Your Friends and Family Need to Know about Fracking” – Houston, November 4, 2014
  • Co-Authored "Citizen Initiatives: Power to the People or More of the Same?", American Bar Association's GPSolo Magazine, November/December 2014, Volume 31, Number 6 (an abridged and edited version of that which appeared in ABA's Natural Resources & Environment Magazine, Spring 2014, Vol. 28, No. 4)
  • Lectured at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, “Lifecycle of a Federal Well” – October 15, 2014
  • Presented to the Garfield County, Colorado Energy Advisory Board, “Fracking, Federalism and Federal Environmental Law: Is the Oil & Gas Industry Exempt From Major Laws?” – August 7, 2014
  • Co-Authored “Anti-Fracking Initiatives: Power to the People or More of the Same?” Natural Resources & Environment Volume 28 | Number 4 | Spring 2014
  • Presented “Is The Oil and Gas Industry Exempt From Major Environmental Laws and What About That Fracking Loophole?” University of Colorado, Center of the American West, - March 18, 2014
  • Selected to Top Women in Energy, Denver Business Journal – 2014
  • Presented at the Boone and Crockett Club dinner for the 79th Annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, “The Role of the Conservation Community in the Development of Domestic Energy and Interior Policies to Mitigate Wildlife Impacts,” Denver, CO – March 12, 2014
  • Selected to Who’s Who in Energy, Denver Business Journal – 2012-2014
  • Co-Authored “Oil and Gas Development is Key to U.S. Future, Don’t Ban It, Regulate It,” The Christian Science Monitor – October 23, 2013
  • Co-Authored “The Global Impact of U.S. Oil and Gas Development,” The Denver Post – August 24, 2013
  • Presented “From Washington to City Hall: The Federal Role in Energy Regulation,” Mesa State University Energy and Environment Symposium - May 16, 2013
  • Presented “The Frac Debate: Why Should You Care?” Colorado Petroleum Accountants Society Education Day - May 9, 2013
  • Co-Authored "The Sequester's Effect on Mineral Payments to Colorado on Public Lands," Law Week Colorado, Vol. 11 | No. 18 | May 6, 2013
  • Presented “Smart from the Start: Expediting NEPA for Federal Renewable Energy Projects,” American Bar Association Public Land Symposium - April 18, 2013
  • Lectured “Hydraulic Fracturing and Federal Regulation,” Sturm College of Law, Oil & Gas - Spring 2013
  • Presented “Obama Energy Policy on Public Lands: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” Public Land Section, Utah Bar Association - March 19, 2013
  • Co-Authored "Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Supply Protection - Federal Regulatory Developments," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Journal – November 2012
  • Co-Presented "The Role of Natural Gas as a 'Bridge' Fuel," Natural Resources Law Center’s Annual Clyde O. Martz Summer Conference - June 7, 2012
  • Co-Authored "Water: The Fuel for Colorado Energy," The University of Denver Water Law Review, Volume 15 | Issue 2 | Spring 2012
  • Named Barrister’s Best by Law Week Colorado for Colorado’s Best Renewable Energy Lawyer - 2012
  • Authored and presented “Lessons Learned from Streamlining NEPA,” Rocky Mtn. Min. L. Fdn., Special Institute - October 2011
  • Authored and presented “New (and Old) Energy on Public Lands,” Colorado Bar Association - October 2011
  • Authored and presented “Energy & Water: Federal Clean Water Act Case & Policy Update,” 2011 Montana Water Seminar - Sept. 2011
  • Authored and presented “Uranium Mining: Challenges of Agency Coordination,” UR2011 SME National Uranium Mining Conference, Casper, WY - Sept. 2011
  • Moderated “Public Land Wind and Solar: Lessons Learned and New Guidance,” Infocast Webinar - June 2011
  • Authored and presented “Managing Cultural Resource Issues on Indian Lands,” Natural Resources Development on Indian Lands Special Institute, Paper 6, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute – March 2011
  • Presented “The Past, Present and Future of Our Public Lands: The Role of Public Lands in the Energy and Climate Debates,” University of Colorado Law School, Martz Conference on Law and Policy - June 2010
  • Presented “Federal Wind Energy Policy and Permitting,” Denver Chapter of the Women of Wind Energy - April 2010
  • Lectured “Federal Energy Policy and the Department of the Interior,” University of Colorado, Western American Studies Certificate Program - March 2010
  • Authored and presented “Stimulating NEPA: Oxy moron or Not?,” CLE International - December 2009
  • Authored and presented “Renewable Power Projects on Federal Lands: Wind and Sun and the FLPMA Right-of-Way--is it Working?” Energy Development, Special Institute, Paper 10, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute - September 2009
  • Presented “Permitting Solar and Wind Projects on Federal Lands: FLPMA & Interior's New Energy for American Initiative,” Webinar - August 2009
  • Co-Authored “Expanding Use of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Renewable Energy Development on Public Lands,” Public Lands and Resources Committee Newsletter, ABA - July 2009
  • Presented “Western Water Law and Policy in the New Administration: Water and Energy,” University of Colorado Martz Conference on Law and Policy - June 2009
  • Authored and presented “State Surface Owner Protection Laws: Tales of Preemption, Federalism and a Changing West,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Journal, Vol. 45, No .1 - July 2008
  • Appointed to U.S. Department of Energy, National Petroleum Council – 2007-2010
  • Authored “Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water Handling: New Challenges for a Key Issue,” International Energy Law and Taxation Review - August 2007
  • Appointed to Jefferson County, Colorado Open Space Advisory Committee (2006-present)
  • Co-Authored "Produced Water: Water Rights and Water Quality: 'A "Meeting" of the Waters'?," Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2006)

* Per Wyoming Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1 (c), the descriptions of our fields of practice do not state or imply certification, specialization or expertise in any particular area of law, unless the description specifically states that the particular lawyer holds a certification or other expertise recognized by the applicable State Bar or regulatory authority.

Rebecca Watson

Practice Areas
  • Environmental Law
  • Government Relations
  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas
  • Public Lands
  • Renewable Energy/Utilities

  • J.D., University of Denver, 1978
  • M.A., University of Denver, 1975
  • B.A., University of Denver, Phi Beta Kappa, 1974

Bar Admissions / Qualifications
  • Wyoming*
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Montana

Professional & Community Activities
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Advisory Board Member, Draper Natural History Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West
  • Trustee and Board of Directors, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • Board Member and Past Chair, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado ("VOC")
  • Member, Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee
  • Past Board Member and Officer, Western Energy Alliance
  • Past Board Member, Center of the American West
  • Former Member, National Petroleum Council, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Former Chair, American Bar Association, Section of Natural Resource Energy and Environment, Public Lands Committee and Section of Administrative Law, Natural Resources Committee