People

Elyse H. Akhbari

Elyse Akhbari meets the litigation and regulatory counseling needs of a wide range of clients in the energy, environmental and utility spaces. She regularly litigates cases in state and federal court, along with those before the Ohio Power Siting Board and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on behalf of pipeline companies, producers, utility-scale wind and solar power developers, and both public and private entities. In addition to a robust litigation practice, Elyse regularly counsels clients on environmental and regulatory issues involving compliance, due diligence, permitting, and enforcement. This includes expertise in handling matters pertaining to the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, hazardous and solid waste regulation under CERCLA and RCRA, underground storage tank regulations and the Clean Air Act.

Prior to joining the firm, Elyse proudly served as a law clerk to the Hon. Michael J. Newman in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in her hometown of Dayton. She also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, where she represented Ohio EPA, trying multiple cases and participating as counsel before the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, and various state and federal courts. During law school, Elyse held positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3 Office in Philadelphia and with Ohio EPA.

In her yet-to-be-seen free time, Elyse enjoys spending time with her Biologist husband and their two young children, who share her affinity for the great outdoors and baking (poorly).

Experience

  • Oil and gas transactions and disputes

    Provide Ohio-specific legal counsel to Gulfport Energy Corporation on a variety of transactional and litigation matters primarily involving title issues and oil and gas lease disputes, including several appeals. 

  • Immediate access to construct interstate gas pipeline

    Served on appellate team in an appeal from a federal district court order granting a natural gas pipeline company immediate access to property in order to construct the pipeline. This was a case of first impression for the Sixth Circuit, as it considered whether to adopt the Sage approach. The Sage decision is the seminal case that outlines the process for obtaining injunctive relief to begin construction of a FERC-approved pipeline while the underlying condemnation/valuation case proceeds.

  • Landfill clean-up litigation

    Serve as litigation counsel for the Dayton Power & Light Company relating to a clean-up of an old landfill pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Clean-up at the site could exceed $100 million, involves dozens of parties and has a long procedural history.

  • Successfully defended clean air act appeal in the Sixth Circuit

    Counsel of record in successful defense of Sixth Circuit Appeal for review of air permits issued by Ohio EPA for compressor stations supporting multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline project.  This case represented an issue of first impression in the Sixth Circuit, whereby the environmental groups involved first appealed Ohio EPA’s issuance of the air permits to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). However, in response to our Motion to Dismiss, ERAC, which has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from final actions of Ohio EPA and ordinarily would hear appeals of air permits issued by Ohio EPA, dismissed the groups’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the federal Natural Gas Act vested original and exclusive jurisdiction of the appeal in the federal Courts of Appeals (see 15 U.S.C. 717r(d)(1)).  The Sixth Circuit appeal ensued, with a favorable outcome allowing the projects to proceed. Cite: Protecting Air for Waterville v. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, 763 Fed.Appx. 504, 506 (6th Cir. 2019). 

  • Expert witness interaction and testimony and report development

    Work with expert witnesses throughout the environmental, energy and utility spaces on a wide-range of topics in cases filed in federal and state court, as well as before the Public Utilities Commission, Ohio Power Siting Board, and Oil and Gas Commission.  These topics have included soil science, hydrogeology, stream restoration and morphology, geotechnical engineering, wetlands delineation, CERCLA cost-allocation and recovery, environmental compliance for utility projects, epidemiology, and forensic accounting, among many other subject matter areas. 

Professional & Community Activities

  • Member, Women's Energy Network
  • Member, Bricker & Eckler's Women in Networking (WIN)
  • DART Alumni Program, Denison University

Presentations & Published Works

  • Author, Nationwide Permit 12: What Happened, Where it Stands, and What Happens Next?, Currents Magazine, Summer 2020
  • Presenter, A Tale of Two Permits: The District Court of Montana's Vacatur of Nationwide Permit 12 and Ohio EPA Draft General Permit for Ephemeral Streams, May 2020
  • Speaker, "Ohio Pipeline Litigation: Is the 6th Circuit the New ERAC?" Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), 34th Annual Ohio Environment, Energy and Resources Law Seminar, March 2019
  • Speaker, "Energy Infrastructure Development in the Great Lakes Region: Considerations and Trends," Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Environmental Conference, December 2018

Bar Admissions & Activities

  • Admitted, State of Ohio, 2013
  • Admitted, Southern District of Ohio, 2014
  • Admitted, Northern District of Ohio, 2014
  • Member, Ohio State Bar Association
  • Member, Ohio’s Women’s Bar Association (former co-chair of the Government Subcommittee; Mentoring Program leader)
  • Member, Columbus Bar Association (Environmental Law Committee)
  • Member, Federal Bar Association, Columbus Chapter

Awards & Recognition

  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Environmental Law), 2021
  • Rising Star, Ohio Super Lawyers (Environmental), 2020-2021

Education

  • The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law (J.D., 2013); Public Service award recipient; Managing Editor, Journal of Dispute Resolution; Trained Mediator, Franklin County Small Claims Court
  • Denison University (B.A., political science and religion, cum laude, 2009); Dunbar Scholarship; Mortar Board; Honors program graduate