Recognized by Chambers USA 2013 as a leading individual for environmental matters including water rights.
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014, an honor based on an exhaustive peer-review process.
Peter W. Culp
Peter Culp practices in the areas of water and natural resources, environmental and federal Indian law. His experience includes representing industrial and energy concerns, land developers, investment firms, and public and nonprofit entities in matters related to surface water rights, groundwater rights, state and federal water policy, and the Law of the Colorado River; representing industrial and municipal clients with regard to facility siting, permitting, and regulatory compliance arising under the major federal and state environmental laws; and representing both private and public entities with regard to land development and master planning projects, development rights, public infrastructure financing, and the management, development and conservation of state trust lands and federal public lands. He also has experience representing clients interacting with tribal entities or doing business on tribal lands.
Peter is recognized by Chambers USA
for environmental matters, including water resources law; other peer-reviewed recognitions include listings in The Best Lawyers in America
as well as Southwest Super Lawyers
and Az Business Leaders
Peter serves on a variety of boards and commissions related to water and natural resource issues and policy matters. He has been repeatedly appointed by Arizona Governors Janet Napolitano and Jan Brewer to the Colorado River Advisory Commission, where he has served since 2004. He also serves on a bi-national commission under the US Department of State, International Boundary and Water Commission, which is continuing to work to develop and implement new bi-national strategies for the management of Colorado River water supplies in the face of growing water scarcity. His work on this commission has included high-level participation in the development, negotiation and implementation of four new international agreements (Minutes 316, 317, 318 and 319) that have significantly re-shaped the relationship between the US and Mexico with regard to water resource management and ecosystem protection.
As a result of his extensive public policy work, Peter has been twice awarded the Partners in Conservation Award by the U.S. Department of Interior, given by US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in 2009 in connection with his participation in the negotiation of a new seven-state and federal agreement with regard to the management of the Colorado River, and by U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell in 2014 in connection with his participation in the international and domestic negotiations and implementation of Minute 319. For the latter work, he was also a recipient of The Nature Conservancy of Arizona’s 2013 Outstanding Conservation Achievement Award.
At the state and local level, Peter has been a high-level participant in a number of water and public lands policy and planning efforts. This work has included service on Arizona’s State Water Advisory Group developing successful state-wide water reform legislation, working with the Arizona Department of Water Resources on the development of water supply and demand models for the 2012 Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study and Arizona's Water Resources Development Commission, supporting state trust land reform efforts in collaboration with the Arizona State Land Department, and working with state water managers to develop a successful solution to the international environmental controversy related to operation of the Yuma Desalting Plant. Peter also advises several nonprofit foundations, serves as a director for the Arizona Heritage Alliance and the Tamarisk Coalition and serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Arizona College of Law.
Peter’s previous experience includes serving as a law clerk in the Indian Resources Section of the US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and as an in-house attorney with the Sonoran Institute, a nonprofit organization that works on land and water policy issues throughout the intermountain West. Prior to embarking on his legal career, Peter’s endeavors included managing a nonprofit public health technology enterprise for C. Everett Koop, the former US Surgeon General, managing forest fires in the Northern Rockies as part of a Type 1 Incident Management Team, and driving long-haul refrigerated freight in the US and Canada.
Peter is the author of many published articles and reports on environmental and natural resource issues, including a number of publications focused on Western water law and the Colorado River.
- “A Roadmap to Water Marketing: Using Market Forces to Address the Western Water Crisis,” Brookings Institute (forthcoming 2014).
- “The Minute 319 Agreement: An Innovative Approach to International Water Management,” Denver University Water Law Review (forthcoming 2014).
- “Water Law at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Minute 319 to the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Treaty, American Bar Association, 2013.
- “West Must Strive for Water Sustainability,” Arizona Republic, January 5, 2013.
- “Parched in the West but Shipping Water to China, Bale by Bale,” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2012.
- “Wires, Roads, and Water: Developing Sustainable Infrastructure on State Trust Land,” Sonoran Institute, 2011.
- “Routes, Rails, and Roads: Transportation Infrastructure Development on State Trust Land,” Sonoran Institute, 2011.
- “Strategies for Renewable Energy Projects on Arizona’s State Trust Lands,” Sonoran Institute, 2011.
- “Economic and Environmental Challenges for Public Water Supply: A Water Quantity Perspective,” American Bar Association, 2008.
- “Collaboration in Mexico: Renewed Hope for the Colorado River Delta,” Nevada Law Journal, 2008.
- “Sustainable Water Management: Guidelines for Meeting the Needs of People and Nature in the Arid West,” Sonoran Institute, 2007.
- “State Trust Lands: The Future of Urban Growth in Arizona,” in “Land Use Challenges and Choices for the 21st Century,” Arizona Town Hall, 2007.
- “State Trust Lands in the West: Fiduciary Duty in a Changing Landscape,” Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2006.
- “State Trust Lands in the American West: A Legal Overview and Policy Assessment,” Sonoran Institute, 2005.
- “The YDP/Cienega Conflict: A Proposed Solution” and “Recent Developments on the Colorado River: Implications for Mexico,” Southwest Hydrology, 2005/2004.
- “The Last Green Lagoon: How and Why the Bush Administration Should Save the Colorado River Delta,” Ecology Law Quarterly, 2002.
- “Searching for Cíbola: Community-Based Environmental Restoration in the Colorado River Watershed,” Arizona Law Review, 2000.
- “Feasibility of Purchase and Transfer of Water for Instream Flow in the Colorado River Delta,” Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, 2000, winner, 2000 Lillian S. Fisher Prize in Public Policy.
- Representing a leading land development and investment company in the development of a major proposed trans-basin groundwater transportation, water firming, and water supply project.
- Representing leading nonprofit organizations in a decade-long effort to restore the Colorado River Delta ecosystem and negotiate key policy reforms related to the Law of the Colorado River and the 1944 treaty between the United States and Mexico.
- Representing investment funds, lenders, and developers with regard to water resource and agricultural land transactions, development of investment strategies and due diligence.
- Representing one of Arizona's largest developers in environmental reviews and due diligence, water rights transfers and water supply planning, brownfields remediation, environmental and community outreach, and Section 404 permitting, compliance and mitigation in connection with large master-planned development projects.
- Representing merchant power developers in the siting and development of renewable and natural gas energy projects and transmission lines, including utility commission siting, air permitting, water rights, endangered species, archeological sites, environmental mitigation, right-of-way acquisitions, National Environmental Policy Act reviews and other issues.
- Representing a stakeholder group in the reform of Arizona's constitutional and statutory framework for the management of 9.3 million acres of state trust lands, and advising on the development of tools, legal mechanisms and agency capacity for trust land management and development in eight other Western states.
- Representing various Arizona industrial facilities and a major landfill on air permitting matters, and representing industrial clients in connection with CERCLA site assessments, CERCLA and RCRA litigation, and toxic tort litigation.
- Representing various clients in environmental reviews, water rights and permit transfers associated with industrial siting, real estate acquisitions, facility sales and corporate merger transactions.
- Representing a statewide coalition of Arizona municipalities in the development of comprehensive reforms to Arizona's development impact fee infrastructure financing system, and representing commercial developers with regard to development fee and infrastructure financing programs adopted by local municipalities and a Native American tribe.
- Advising a global conservation organization on the development of a seven-state strategy for the Colorado River Basin, and advising a state agency and several private foundations on issues related to the Law of the Colorado River and regional water planning.
The University of Arizona, J.D., summa cum laude, 2001University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., with honors, 1994