Deputy Attorney General
James Kaste is Deputy Attorney General for the Water and Natural Resources Division of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office. James received his B.A. in journalism from the University of Wyoming in 1995 and his J.D. from the University of Wyoming in 1998. He began his career as the law clerk for the Hon. Edward L. Grant and Hon. Nicholas G. Kalokathis in the First Judicial District Court of Wyoming. Before joining the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office in 2008, James was a partner in a private insurance defense firm in Cheyenne where he oversaw a broad range of litigation in wide variety of venues. His private practice focused on general civil litigation primarily professional liability defense with significant emphasis on medical malpractice litigation, insurance defense, commercial litigation, products liability defense, and insurance bad faith.
Since joining the office, James has represented the State of Wyoming in a wide variety of cases related to the natural resources and waters of Wyoming, including winter use in the National Parks, grazing on the public lands, coal leasing in the Powder River Basin, the expansion of natural gas fields in Sublette County, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, and the Endangered Species Act. In addition to his supervisory responsibilities, James represents the Wyoming State Board of Control, and continues to represent the other client agencies within the Division as needed. James has also served as lead counsel in the interstate water dispute known as Montana v. Wyoming since 2012. The first phase of this interstate water compact litigation invoking the original jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court was tried to a Special Master over the course of twenty-five trial days. Recently, James has also led the State of Wyoming and the Department of Environmental Quality’s legal team in all matters related to the bankruptcies of the three largest coal companies in Wyoming.
Supervising Attorneys General
Chris Brown is a Senior Assistant Attorney General within the Water and Natural Resources Division. Chris is a Wyoming native from Cody and a United States Navy veteran. He received his J.D. with honor from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 2002, and is a member of the Order of the Coif. Before joining the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office in 2011, Chris was a partner in a private law firm in Powell, Wyoming, where he gained a broad range of legal experience including tort litigation, real estate and business transactions, employment law, administrative law, and water law.
Chris supervises the Water Section of the Water and Natural Resources Division, whose attorneys represent the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the Wyoming Livestock Board, and several divisions of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality including the Land Quality, Industrial Siting, and Solid and Hazardous Waste Divisions. They also represent professional licensing boards including the Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors. Chris’s primary representation responsibilities are to the State Engineer’s Office. He provides day-to-day advice and representation to that Office on all water related issues arising throughout the state, and national water issues affecting Wyoming. He is also the primary attorney providing legal representation to the state on all interstate river compacts and decrees such as those associated with the Colorado River. Chris is a member of the Western States Water Council, the Upper Colorado River Commission legal committee, and a 2017 recipient of the Bureau of Reclamation’s John W. Keys, III Award related to his work on the Colorado River. He was also part of the litigation team defending the United States Supreme Court original action, Montana v. Wyoming.
Matt VanWormer is a Supervising Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office. Matt represents the Land Quality, Abandoned Mine Lands, and Industrial Siting Divisions within the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
Matt received his J.D. in 2008 from the University of Virginia School of Law. Upon graduation, Matt was awarded a Skadden Fellowship to create partnerships between legal services providers and healthcare centers on the Navajo Nation. Through these partnerships, Matt represented low-income patients and their families in civil cases before administrative agencies and tribal, state, and federal courts. In 2016, Matt relocated to Wyoming and developed Wyoming’s first medical-legal partnership in collaboration with Laramie County healthcare entities.
Senior Assistant Attorneys General
J.D. Sater is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office. A native of Boise, Idaho, J.D. earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Thomas Edison State University. While attending Liberty University School of Law, J.D. was a research assistant for Prof. Joel Hesch and an editorial board member of the Liberty University Law Review. He also participated in his law school’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance clinic, estate planning clinic, and the Business Transactions Legal Society. In 2013, J.D. graduated summa cum laude. Eager to move back to the West, J.D. had the privilege of clerking first for the Hon. Keith G. Kautz of the Eighth Judicial District Court of Wyoming and later for the Hon. Daniel T. Eismann of the Idaho Supreme Court.
Following his clerkships, J.D. worked for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, where he assisted with implementation of food safety regulations. Afterwards, he worked for a law firm assisting mostly farm and ranch clients in Eastern Oregon and Southwestern Idaho with real estate transactions, business entity formation, contracts, and estate planning. Currently, J.D. represents the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust Board, and other state boards and commissions connected with agriculture.
Between undergraduate and law school, J.D. spent two years in the beautiful mountainous and rural eastern part of Taiwan, where he taught English as a second language in public elementary schools. In his spare time, J.D. especially enjoys traveling and exploring the great outdoors through hiking, skiing, hunting, and fly fishing.
Kelly Shaw is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office. Kelly joined the Wyoming Attorney General's Office in 2015. She currently represents the State of Wyoming and participates in litigation to protect Wyoming’s management of its land, water, minerals, wildlife, and natural resources. Kelly previously represented the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, where she advised the agency on environmental enforcement and rulemaking.
Kelly received her J.D. with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law from the University of Colorado Law School in 2015. During law school, Kelly served as a student attorney in the Getches-Green Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Clinic. She also completed internships with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program, and Western Resource Advocates. Kelly received her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Colorado in 2010.
Assistant Attorneys General
Nicole Budine is an Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division. Nicole primarily represents the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, where she represents the Water Quality Division and Uranium Recovery Program. She also advises the Wyoming Board of Professional Geologists.
Nicole earned her J.D. and a certificate in environmental and natural resources law from the University of Oregon School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in biology with minors in chemistry and environmental science. While attending law school, she completed internships at Trustees for Alaska and Oregon Wild. Before joining the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, Nicole worked for the Bureau of Land Management and the Cascade Forest Conservancy. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and back-country snowboarding.
Darren Cook is an Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division. Darren primarily represents the State Engineer’s Office and provides advice on intrastate water related issues. Darren also represents the Wyoming Water Well Contractors Board.
Originally from Green River, Wyoming, Darren graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Returning to Wyoming, Darren worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a Planning and Environmental Coordinator for the Rock Springs Field Office. Darren received his J.D. in 2016 from the University of Wyoming College of Law during which time he participated in the Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic and an externship with Judge Steven Cranfill, District Judge for the Fifth Judicial District. Darren simultaneously received his Master in Public Administration from the University of Wyoming in 2016.
Prior to joining the office, Darren clerked for The Honorable Alan B. Johnson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Wyoming. Following his clerkship Darren practiced law with the Wyoming firm Brown and Hiser LLC, working on a wide variety of issues ranging from family law to land use law. Darren is also a Judge Advocate with the Wyoming Army National Guard Where he has served in the capacity of Trial Defense Counsel, Legal Assistance Attorney, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, and in his current role as Brigade Judge Advocate to the 115th Field Artillery Brigade.
Travis Jordan is an Assistant Attorney General in the Water and Natural Resources Division and represents the State of Wyoming in its natural resource litigation. Representative matters include federal court actions to protect Wyoming's interest in federal land, water, air, mineral, wildlife, and natural resource management.
Raised in Northeastern Wyoming, Travis is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with degrees in Political Science and Environment & Natural Resources. After college, Travis served nine years as an agriculture, environment, judiciary, and federal land advisor to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi in Washington, D.C. While working on Capitol Hill, Travis attended the George Washington University Law School where he was the Senior Articles Editor for the GW Journal of Energy & Environmental Law. Travis also completed a legal internship with the Natural Resources Section of the Alaska Department of Law in Anchorage, Alaska.
Following law school, Travis clerked for the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming from 2016-2017. Prior to joining the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, Travis practiced law at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in Denver, Colorado representing clients in environmental enforcement, regulatory compliance, and products liability litigation. Travis is admitted to practice law in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and Colorado.
Matt Nadel is a Law Clerk in the Water and Natural Resources Division where he represents the Air Quality Division within the Department of Environmental Quality.
Matt received his J.D. with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law in 2021 from the University of Colorado Law School. During school he completed internships with the Tax Division of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, two water law firms, and was a student attorney in the Getches-Green Natural Resources Clinic. Matt earned his B.A. from Colorado College where he studied Economics and Community Engaged Leadership. While attending Colorado College Matt was a member of the Men’s Swim Team where he swam distance freestyle events and earned All-American Honors. In his free time Matt coaches triathletes, bakes Italian-style breads, and enjoys trail running with his dog.