October 10, 2014

President Obama Appoints Holland & Hart Partner Jody Williams as Bear River Commissioner

President Obama Appoints Holland & Hart Partner Jody Williams as Bear River Commissioner

President Barack Obama has appointed Holland & Hart Partner Jody Williams as Commissioner of the Bear River Commission.

The Bear River Commission was created in 1958 pursuant to the Bear River Compact among the states of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. The Commission comprises nine gubernatorial appointed Commissioners and one Federal Commissioner appointed by the President, who serves as its Chair. The responsibility of the Commission is to carry out the provisions of the Bear River Compact, which defines its purposes as follows:

The major purposes of this Compact are to remove the causes of present and future controversy over the distribution and use of the waters of the Bear River; to provide for efficient use of water for multiple purposes; to permit additional development of the water resources of Bear River; to promote interstate comity; and to accomplish an equitable apportionment of the waters of the Bear River among the compacting States.

“The Bear River is rich in geographic and political complexity, and the three states’ decision to promote interstate comity as they apportion the waters of the river among them was wise,” Williams said. “The Compact has provided a framework to promote the water interests of each of the three states while preserving their common interests that brought and keep them together.”
“I’m honored to be selected by the President to serve in this role,” Williams said. “I come to this appointment with a respect for the river, the people who depend on it and love it and the three Compact States’ interests in it. I have devoted a significant portion of my career to understanding the intricate history of the Bear River, and I respect the comity the Compact States have exercised as they worked out solutions to old problems and provided for new uses of Bear River water.  This comity has saved the Compact States from costly, almost never-ending interstate litigation in the United States Supreme Court that other states were not able to avoid.”
For more than 30 years, Williams has focused her practice on water law and helped clients navigate the complexities of doing business in the Mountain West. Throughout her career, she has been involved in  the complex water issues in the Bear River Basin.

Her deep connection to the Bear River springs from the role she has played in resolving conflict among the water users and Bear Lake interests. She has first-hand knowledge of the Bear River Commission, the various basin interest groups, and the three Bear River Compact States.

Williams has earned the trust of all parties with which she has worked, and was a founder of an inclusive, biannual Bear River water forum to communicate, address and resolve any issues of dispute. She has made it her mission to eliminate controversy over the distribution and use of the waters of the Bear River.

With a national reputation for water law, she understands the complex, competing demands for water across the West and the political, economic, and social contexts in which disputes arise. As a long-time problem solver, Williams has negotiated resolution of these conflicts with agencies, diverse stakeholders, and public interest groups. She is recognized throughout the industry for her knowledge of water rights, natural resources, commercial real estate transactions, and energy law.

Williams was appointed by President Clinton, and reappointed by President Bush, to the Utah Reclamation Mitigation Conservation Commission, a federal agency responsible for mitigating environmental impacts from developing Utah’s Colorado River apportionment by the Central Utah Project.

She has wide-ranging experience representing purchasers and sellers of water rights, licensing and permitting complex private and public water development projects, permitting energy development, acquiring approval to change the beneficial use of water, and performing due diligence review of water rights and real estate. She has negotiated complex public/private agreements regarding water regulated under an interstate compact.

Williams has experience negotiating with state and federal water regulating and permitting agencies, representing developers of energy generation projects and natural resources companies, and acquiring water rights for developers and energy generating facilities. Her clients include industrial, commercial, and residential developers; water conservancy districts; energy and mining companies; ranchers; and water companies.


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