Navigating the complexities of environmental law in Texas requires a team effort, and Leonard Dougal is exactly the type of lawyer clients want leading their team. An expert in environmental permitting and water rights issues, Leonard has a deep knowledge of not only the law but also the lawmakers, consultants, and other professionals on the Texas environmental scene. His experience and savvy enable him to bring together all the necessary elements to help his clients succeed.
"I enjoy working with clients who want to pursue innovative business and legal strategies," says Leonard. "It takes teamwork both within and beyond the firm to assemble the needed expertise to efficiently address all of a client's issues."
In one recent example, Leonard represented a coal mining company that wanted to expand its operations in Texas and needed a new water quality permit to do so. Leonard and the client had worked through the details with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ); however, in a somewhat unusual move, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) objected to the permit. Bringing to bear his experience with both agencies and understanding of the underlying issues, Leonard worked with the client to make changes to the permit that enabled the EPA to withdraw its objections while still achieving the client's goals – all without delaying the project.
In a similar manner, Leonard recently represented an oil and gas company working on a project in South Texas' Eagle Ford Shale play. The client needed to obtain new surface water rights to supply water to use in hydraulically fracturing wells, but had drawn objections from the local river authority and a conservation group. Again, Leonard was able to successfully negotiate with all the parties involved to get the objections withdrawn and the permits issued, while averting a costly legal fight. Leonard has also been active in advising oil and gas clients on the evolving regulations and policies impacting hydraulic fracturing, such as new rules requiring the disclosure of chemicals and rules governing reuse and recycling of water.
As these examples attest, Leonard adds value for clients by helping them solve environmental permitting problems before they become crises. In a similar manner, he often assists clients with the compliance and clean-up issues that can arise in the course of doing business in a realm where rules and policies are in a constant state of flux. For example, Leonard recently helped a large oil and gas company complete compliance audits on a series of projects in light of new air emission regulations.
"Environmental laws and regulations are continuously evolving, and the ability to anticipate and plan for these changes is a valuable service to our clients," Leonard says. "Clients don't always have the resources to stay abreast of regulatory changes, so we fill that role."
"Environmental laws and regulations are continuously evolving, and the ability to anticipate and plan for these changes is a valuable service to our clients."
– Leonard Dougal
One of the ways Leonard achieves this is through his involvement with environmental trade associations and professional organizations as well as the State Bar. Leonard also writes articles and speaks frequently on water, environmental, and regulatory matters, keeping his clients up to speed on the very latest developments. As a result, Leonard's clients are able to prepare for and even benefit from regulatory changes. For example, Leonard recently assisted a power plant owner in obtaining authorization from the TCEQ to move its cooling water intake under new regulations.
"We had to help them amend their permit, and we had to do it quickly because they were already under construction," Leonard explained. "We were able to get through the process efficiently, and the client was able to move the intake to a location where the water supply was much more reliable."
In addition to keeping up with changes in the law, Leonard also adds value for clients through his deep connections within the industry. For example, during the recent Texas drought, Leonard was able to help connect clients with excess water with those in need of water to keep their projects running. Likewise, Leonard has extensive rapport with the state's leading environmental consultants and can often help clients identify the best consulting firm for a particular project. Leonard's background in engineering provides an added advantage. Prior to attending law school, he worked as a petroleum engineer for Exxon, so he thoroughly understands the challenges faced by engineers and company leaders.
"Many of my client referrals come from engineers and other environmental professionals," he says. "The nature of our environmental practice requires close interaction and good working relationships."
Legal savvy, environmental insight, and deep connections: These qualities make Leonard a great team leader, able to guide his clients through even the toughest environmental maze.
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