Deana M. Bennett

Direct: 505.848.1834
Main: 505.848.1800
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Fax: 505.848.9710
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Email: deana.bennett@modrall.com

Overview

Deana Bennett's practice is focused on natural resource development on public and tribal lands.  Deana's experience includes permitting and environmental compliance efforts under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), and other related federal statutes.  She has worked on a number of utility matters, and her experience also includes working with renewable resource developers with siting issues on public, tribal, state and local land.  Prior to joining Modrall Sperling, Deana served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Richard Bosson of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Southwest Super Lawyers® selected Deana as a Southwest Rising Star in 2015. 

It is not surprising that Deana's practice areas focus primarily on natural resource development and public lands.  Deana calls the West home, from New Mexico to Alaska.  Deana's early childhood was spent travelling in a Volkswagen bus from Yellowstone National Park to Everglades National Park, where her father was a Park Ranger.  After leaving the Park Service, her father worked for the Bureau of Land Management until he retired.  Deana is a true coal miner's daughter; her mother worked in an underground coal mine in Wyoming for several years, while her father attended the University of Wyoming.  Before attending law school, Deana retraced some of her childhood adventures.  Deana worked in Yellowstone National Park, spent a winter working at a ski area in Utah, and spent two summers working on a luxury passenger train in Alaska, where she bought her own 1979 Volkswagen bus.  Deana has driven the ALCAN twice in her bus.  

Deana earned her Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico.  Deana also has a M.A. in French Literature and a B.A. in French Language, both from the University of New Mexico.  While studying abroad as an undergraduate, Deana travelled to Romania immediately after the revolution that marked the end of the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu to deliver much needed food, supplies, and medicine to families, churches, and communities.

Education

  • University of New Mexico School of Law, J.D., 2007, summa cum laude, Member New Mexico Law Review, 2005-2007, Editor-in-Chief, 2006-2007; Order of the Coif, Dean's Award for Significant Contributions to the Law School Community
  • University of New Mexico, M.A. in French, 1994
  • University of New Mexico, B.A. in French, 1992

Bar Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • New Mexico
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Practice Areas

Experience

  • Participated as part of a multi-disciplinary counsel team in completing a series of interrelated transactions between BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal, Inc. (BBNMC) and its subsidiaries and the Navajo Nation and Navajo Transitional Energy Company, LLC (NTEC), a wholly owned enterprise of the Navajo Nation. The successful closing followed execution of lengthy due diligence efforts, the crafting of several agreements and related documents, and the navigation of Navajo Nation legislative and executive approval processes to ensure the enforceability of the transactions with sovereign entities. The multi-faceted transaction included, among other elements, the sale of BHP Navajo Coal Company (BNCC), the owner and operator of the Navajo Mine, a large surface coal mining operation located on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, to NTEC.
  •  Represented the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality in its successful petition before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review a portion of an EPA regulation (the "Indian country NSR Rule") arguing, among other grounds, that EPA was without statutory authority to displace state implementation plans with respect to non-reservation areas of States because EPA failed to make required jurisdictional determinations that such areas were within a tribe's jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals set aside the rule with respect to the Oklahoma portions challenged. See Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality v. Environmental Protection Agency, 740 F.3d 185 (D.C. Cir. 2014).
  • Assist clients with permit management and transfers, including communicating with various federal and state regulatory authorities, arising from corporate mergers and acquisitions.
  • Represent numerous clients in permitting projects triggering compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historical Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and related statutory and regulatory processes, including permitting and environmental compliance efforts regarding energy development on Indian lands.

Activities

  • State Bar of New Mexico, Natural Resources, Environment and Energy Law (NREEL) Section Board of Directors, 2015 - present; Chair, 2017
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • University of New Mexico School of Law Alumni Association, Board of Directors

Discourse

Articles

News

Presentations

  • "The Interplay Between Tribal Sovereignty and Environmental Protection Regulations," Tribal Economic Development in the Southwest, sponsored by Law Seminars International, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 16-17, 2015
  • "Water Quality on Indian Lands, Federal and Tribal Aspects of Regulating and Protecting Water Quality", Tribal Water Law Conference, sponsored by CLE International, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 21-22, 2012
  • "Siting Projects on Public and Tribal Lands," National Association of Lease and Title Analysts 2011 Conference, September 29-30, 2011, Dallas, Texas
  •  "Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its Application to Energy Project Development," Law Seminars International, Eighth Annual Conference on Energy in the Southwest, July 11-12, 2011, Santa Fe, New Mexico (co-presented with Maria O'Brien)
  • "Water Quality in Indian Country," Environmental Law on Indian Lands, June 17, 2011, Santa Fe, New Mexico (co-presented with Joan Drake)

Honors

  • Southwest Super Lawyers®, selected as a Southwest Rising Star, 2015-present