John H. Bernetich

John H. Bernetich


Phone: (303) 861-2828 ext. 2509

Federal Lands
Energy and Natural Resources
Business and Corporate

John Bernetich is an environmental, energy and commercial litigation attorney. He represents clients in a broad range of complex litigation and regulatory matters, with a focus on energy, public lands, ski areas, air pollution, environmental assessments, and commercial contract disputes. He specializes in advising and representing companies that are regulated by federal environmental and land management agencies.

John has represented clients in all levels of federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as state courts and federal agencies. He advises clients on matters under federal environmental and natural resources statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Mineral Leasing Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Atomic Energy Act, and others, as well as compliance with complex regulations issued under those statutes. John also regularly advises clients regarding general commercial and employment disputes.

John is an adjunct professor of public lands law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and has deep knowledge of the laws governing use of federal and state lands. He specializes in advising and representing ski areas, rafting companies, and other holders of permits and authorizations to use public lands, including U.S. Forest Service special use permits, U.S. Bureau of Land Management special recreation permits, and authorizations issued by Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. John has obtained court rulings overturning illegal regulations and government decisions and has extensive experience with U.S. Forest Service land and resource management plans (forest plans) and U.S. Bureau of Land Management resource management plans (RMPs).

Following law school, John was a law clerk to Judge Peter W. Hall of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  John co-authors a quarterly newsletter on Congress and federal agencies for the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law (formerly the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation). For years, he was the Vice Chair of the Constitutional Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.


J.D., magna cum laude, Vermont Law School
Head Notes Editor, Vermont Law Review

Master of Environmental Law and Policy, cum laude, Vermont Law School

B.A., magna cum laude, Virginia Tech

Bar and Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Other Professional Affiliations

Law clerk to Judge Peter W. Hall, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Law clerk to Judge Richard Hoffman, New Jersey Superior Court, Civil Division and Appellate Division

Reporter, Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law Newsletter, Congress/Federal Agencies

Former Vice Chair, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, Constitutional Law Committee

Listed as recommended attorney in Who’s Who Legal 2017, Environment & Climate Change


Why Obama’s national monument designations should stand, (Feb. 8, 2017) (co-author)

Setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Clean Air Act Handbook (4th ed.), American Bar Association (2016) (co-author)

Sovereignty and Regulation of Environmental Risk Under the Precautionary Principle in WTO Law, 35 Vermont Law Review 717 (2011)

Representative experience

Submitted amicus curiae briefs to 10th Circuit on behalf of industry trade association in challenges to complex Clean Air Act rulemakings.

Successfully argued appeal before Colorado Court of Appeals to defend summary judgment rulings dismissing all claims against client gas gatherer that sought over $200 million in damages arising from client’s permanent shut down of 900+ mile gas gathering system.

Prevailed in appeal to 10th Circuit and successfully defended judgment dismissing trespass claims brought by surface owners against mineral owner. Bay v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC, 73 F.4th 1207 (10th Cir. 2023).

Obtained federal court ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing a permit to a third party that created hazards for client’s helicopter skiing operation. Triumvirate, LLC v. Bernhardt, 367 F. Supp. 3d 1011 (D. Alaska 2019).

Represented employee staffing agency in appeal to 10th Circuit in matter involving alleged trade secret theft.

Represented national construction equipment rental company in federal multidistrict litigation regarding alleged trade secret theft.

Won summary judgment rulings in favor of client fee mineral owner dismissing trespass actions filed by multiple surface owners.

Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of a river outfitter regarding licensing dispute with Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Represented trade association and national utility before U.S. Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit regarding the first-ever carbon emissions standards for new, existing, and modified power plants under the Clean Air Act.

Represented national manufacturer before D.C. Circuit regarding safe disposal regulations for ozone-depleting substances under the Clean Air Act.

Our Location

1801 California Street, Suite 3400
Denver, Colorado 80202

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Phone 303.861.2828
Fax 303.861.4017

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