Brian Bell

Brian Bell




Brian's energy practice focuses on representing investor-owned utilities and cooperatives before state utility boards, in transactions, and in disputes between energy buyers and suppliers.  Brian has extensive experience representing natural resources clients in navigating environmental review and project approval.

In Brian's environmental practice, he also represents clients in real estate transactions, enforcement, and in environmental litigation.  In his land use practice, Brian helps private parties and government entities resolve difficult land use issues.

Brian's insurance practice involves seeking indemnification, and often defense costs, from liability insurers.

Education & Admissions

University of Minnesota Law School (J.D., 2013), magna cum laude

University of Minnesota (B.A., Political Science, 2008)


  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota


  • Minnesota Supreme Court, Honorable Alan C. Page, 2013-2014


Representative Work

Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law

  • In re N. States Power Co., No. A15-1831, 2016 WL 3043122 (Minn. Ct. App. May 31, 2016):  Successfully advocated for an investor-owned utility before a state utility board and appellate court supporting caps on its solar-gardens program
  • State ex rel the Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minn. v. N. States Power Co., Court File No. 11-CV-17-2090 (Minn. 9th Jud. Dist.):  Successfully won dismissal of a lawsuit by a trade association against an investor-owned utility seeking to prevent the utility from closing a biomass power generation facility
  • Crow Wing Coop. Power & Light Co. v. Great River Energy, Court File No. 18-CV-17-1291 (Minn. 9th Jud. Dist.):  Secured dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a distribution cooperative against a generation and transmission cooperative for alleged breach of a power purchase agreement
  • Represented group of crude oil shippers intervening in a contested case proceeding for a certificate of need for the replacement of a crude oil pipeline
  • Conducted due diligence related to a single-user power plant for an investor in a mining project
  • Montana v. Talen Mont., LLC, No. CV 16-35-H-DLC-JCL, 2017 WL 4516671 (D. Mont. Oct. 10, 2017):  Defended an investor-owned utility against suit by a State for rents for the utility’s hydroelectric facilities’ use of riverbeds, successfully defended against a motion to remand to state court
  • Counseled copper-nickel mining company on its rights to lease renewal and under its preference rights lease application
  • Represented mining company in disputing federal government’s withdrawal of minerals in national forest
  • Advocated on behalf of copper-nickel company in receiving government approval for a 211-mile right-of-way to the company’s mineral holdings
  • Represented client in enforcement action, which was eventually dropped, before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for alleged violations of Clean Water Act permits
  • Assisted client purchasing contaminated property in navigating Minnesota’s voluntary investigation and cleanup program
  • Advised client entering into a joint venture to develop and operate a fertilizer facility at a superfund site
  • Assisted an investor-owned utility in the purchase of an 80 megawatt, $143-million wind farm
  • Represented a large-industrial energy consumer in a contested case proceeding before a state utility board challenging its costs of service
  • Won an over 50 percent reduction in a metal-plating company’s unpaid sewer discharge fees
  • Persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency not to pursue enforcement action against a company that had neglected to make a report under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) 
  • Advocated on behalf of distribution cooperative before a state utility board related to the cooperative’s cogeneration and small power production tariff
  • Assisted municipal power association in private bond placement

Land Use    

  • Assisted private college in applying to rezone property for a science, technology, education, and math facility
  • Represented manufacturer seeking to prevent adverse decisions in connection with a municipality’s development of a comprehensive plan
  • Conducted land use due diligence for a real estate company seeking to invest in a mixed use development
  • Completed land use due diligence for a developer acquiring 11 commercial buildings
  • Counseled healthcare insurer on zoning and parking restrictions applicable to development project
  • Counseled client on obtaining height variance for industrial facility
  • Advised owner of data center on remedies related to rezoning of neighboring property for commercial use

Insurance Law    

  • Cheer Pack N. Am., LLC v. Valley Forge Ins. Co., Civil Action No. 15-14135-FDS, 2017 WL 1552315 (D. Mass. Apr. 28, 2017):  Represented an insured in successfully establishing its general liability insurer’s duty to defend claims related to a product recall
  • Secured contribution from an insurer for claims against an insured-consignment company related to vandalism of construction equipment in the insured’s care
  • RSUI Indem. Co. v. New Horizon Kids Quest, Inc., 274 F. Supp. 3d 910 (D. Minn. 2017):  Successfully represented daycare provider in establishing its excess insurer’s duty to indemnify it for a judgment resulting from an alleged physical and sexual assault at the provider’s daycare facilities
  • Advocated for a school in seeking insurance coverage for litigation related to a former teacher’s alleged sexual assault
  • Quest Aviation, Inc. v. NationAir Ins. Agencies, Inc., No. 1:14-CV-01025-RAL, 2015 WL 1622031 (D.S.D. Apr. 10, 2015):  Represented client suing insurance broker for breach of fiduciary duty after insurance coverage was denied for liability arising out of an airplane crash

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Tubman Safety Project Pro Bono Attorney
  • Expungement Clinic Pro Bono Attorney
  • Board of Directors – Citizens League (2010-Present)
  • Board of Directors – African American Family Services (2010-2013)
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society Education Committee (2015-Present)


North Star Lawyer logo

  • MSBA North Star Lawyer, 2015-2016, 2018
  • Region 14 Best Petitioner Brief – National Moot Court (2012)
Brian Bell