Areas of Practice
Practice-Specific Experience
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1976, Editorial Staff, Law and Policy in International Business
  • Brandeis University, B.A., 1973, Phi Beta Kappa
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia

David H. Coburn

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 8063
FAX: +1 202 429 3902

David H. Coburn is a partner in Steptoe's Washington office, where he has focused on transportation, environmental, and administrative law for his entire career. 

Pipeline and Infrastructure Matters:

Mr. Coburn was a lead member of the team that represented a large crude oil pipeline operator in connection with one of the largest pipeline oil spills in US history.  In that matter, Mr. Coburn was actively involved in all major aspects of the response to the spill, including coordination of the client’s participation in the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, negotiation of the corrective action orders issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, interfacing with the Environmental Protection Administration on clean-up and a range of other issues, overseeing the resolution of the Natural Resources Damages Assessment process, and negotiation of consent decrees with state and federal agencies. 

Mr. Coburn advises clients with respect to major transportation infrastructure projects, including pipeline and railroad projects.  He works closely with a variety of federal agencies on the regulatory permitting and environmental aspects of such projects, including the US Department of Transportation, the Surface Transportation Board and the US Department of State.  Mr. Coburn has extensive experience in the application of the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act and other laws to infrastructure projects.  Mr. Coburn also advises clients with respect to issues associated with the federal funding of such projects.  In addition, Mr. Coburn has considerable experience in addressing preemption of state and local law in connection with major pipeline and rail projects.   

In the motor carrier area, Mr. Coburn represents large motor passenger carriers in a variety of matters before federal and state regulatory agencies, including the Surface Transportation Board and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  His experience involves proceedings relating to carrier safety, operating authority and the preemption of state laws, among others. 

Hazardous Materials Transportation:   

Mr. Coburn regularly advises clients on matters pertaining to the transportation of hazardous materials, including compliance with the US Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.  He has worked on the preparation of regulatory exemption applications addressed to the Department and has participated in rulemaking proceedings on behalf of several clients.  Mr. Coburn also has represented surface and air carriers, as well as shippers, in administrative enforcement proceedings arising from the transportation of hazardous materials.

Aviation Matters:  

Mr. Coburn handles all types of regulatory proceedings before the US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.  His DOT experience encompasses contested international route proceedings, airline citizenship issues, exemption and permit applications, charter operations and code sharing and wet leasing issues.  At the FAA, he has represented clients in matters involving drug/alcohol testing of aviation workers, the carriage of hazardous materials, aircraft noise rules, and security issues, among many others.  Mr. Coburn also counsels a large computer reservations system on regulatory and commercial matters.   


  • Editor-in-Chief of the Association of Transportation Law Professionals’ newsletter “Association Highlights,” 2013
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers, for Transportation: Maritime, 2012, 2014-2015

Select News & Events

Selected Publications

More Publications »