Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 16, 2016

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

'California Lawyer Attorney of the Year' Award Recognizes Three
Center Attorneys for Landmark Victory Against Sprawl Development 

SAN FRANCISCO— The Daily Journal and California Lawyer magazine today honored three Center for Biological Diversity attorneys who helped achieve a landmark legal victory against sprawl development near Los Angeles with the prestigious “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” award, commonly known as the “CLAY Award.” The CLAY Awards honor attorneys across the state for work with a significant impact over the past year. 

Today’s CLAY Awards recognize Center attorneys John Buse, Kevin Bundy and Aruna Prabhala for their roles in a 2015 California Supreme Court decision that will force state officials to reconsider threats to protected wildlife and the climate posed by the planned Newhall Ranch mega-development. 

In its November ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a challenge by the Center and other organizations to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and wildlife laws in approving the Newhall Ranch development. The court’s opinion provides important guidance on how public officials must address the impacts of climate change and avoid harm to some of California’s most rare and highly protected fish and wildlife.

“We appreciate this award for highlighting an important victory against sprawl development’s threat to our climate and California’s wildlife,” said Buse, who is senior counsel and legal director at the Center. “The California Supreme Court’s decision should push officials across our state to do a much more careful job of evaluating harmful projects that would increase carbon pollution and harm our imperiled animals.”

Award winner John Buse coordinates the Center's legal work and handles cases involving endangered species conservation and land use. Buse received a law degree from the University of California Davis School of Law, a master’s in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in the history, philosophy and social studies of science and medicine from the University of Chicago.

Award winner Kevin Bundy, climate legal director and senior attorney, works with the Center’s Climate Law Institute, where his practice includes litigation and policy work under the Clean Air Act, California Environmental Quality Act, and other federal and state environmental laws. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, he served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Procter R. Hug, Jr., of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the Honorable David W. Hagen of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Oberlin College.

Award winner Aruna Prabhala is a staff attorney who works with the Center's Strategic Litigation Group, primarily focusing on land use and endangered-species protection in California and working to identify novel ways of advancing conservation through the legal system. She graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and double-majored in biology and journalism as an undergraduate at Boston University.

Also receiving CLAY Awards are the other members of the successful Newhall Ranch litigation team: Adam Keats (also formerly with the Center); Sean Hecht, co-director of the Environmental Law Clinic and the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law; Jason Weiner, of the Wishtoyo Foundation and Ventura Coastkeeper; and Jan Chatten-Brown and Doug Carstens of the firm Chatten-Brown and Carstens.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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