Reed Zars ’86

We have an obligation to future generations to tread lightly on the land.

Reed Zars ’86

“The biggest risks have the biggest benefits,” says Reed Zars. It’s something he’s learned in his Wyoming-based private practice, where he specializes in environmental citizen-suit cases. Reed has been a consistent underdog, taking on behemoth corporations in David-and-Goliath match ups — and winning. Over the course of his career, he has brought, and successfully concluded, environmental cases against Texaco, Conoco, PacifiCorp, Southern California Edison, Tennessee Valley Authority, Lehigh Cement, Public Service Company of New Mexico, Salt River Project and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, to name a few.

In the 1990s, when he brought suit against the Public Service Company of Colorado, Reed  broke new legal ground. “We asked to use the plant’s own opacity monitors, which examine the darkness of the plume of emissions, to enforce the Clean Air Act. It had no support in existing law other than it made sense,” he recalls. When the judge agreed, “it sent a shock wave through the industry,” says Reed, now considered one of the nation’s leading environmental rights attorneys. “The case eventually settled with an agreement to install $150 million worth of pollution control equipment at the plant.”

“We have an obligation to future generations to tread lightly on the land,” says Reed.


Pike’s Peak Legal Aid, Colorado Springs, Colorado

For his first co-op, Reed assisted low-income Coloradans seeking assistance with civil legal needs.


Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, Washington, DC

Reed tried out firm practice with a renowned boutique firm that specialized in litigation and white-collar criminal defense.


Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, Colorado

Reed found his passion on this co-op — protecting air, water and land.


Burns & Levinson, Boston, Massachusetts

Reed explored business law with a well-known, Boston-based firm.

After Graduation

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Protection Division, Boston, Massachusetts

Career Highlights

The “Environmental Lone Ranger”

Legendary for taking on huge utilities, Reed has obtained precedent-setting rulings as well as settlements involving hundreds of millions of dollars. His fights to clean up coal-fired power plants and battles on behalf of the Sierra Club (among others), have been featured in the national press.


Founder, Environmental Law in the Public Interest, Laramie, Wyoming


A legend in using the law to protect the environment.