Environmental | Energy
Our environmental law attorneys routinely assist clients with understanding complex regulations and solving challenging regulatory problems. Our attorneys are regularly in contact with state and federal regulators regarding environmental matters, and are intimately familiar with the policies and procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The environmental law practice group also includes attorneys who are active in lobbying at the Texas Legislature and working with state regulatory agencies and who are able to assist clients with politically sensitive issues. We represent clients in contested hearings and assist in the preparation and filing of permit applications, closure plans, and other administrative matters. We consult on questions concerning the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and corresponding regulations, among others. We provide ongoing services to energy companies, including negotiation of consent agreements for remediation of contamination, assistance with permitting issues, evaluation of spill reporting requirements, resolution of Notices of Violation, and application of the corrective action requirements.
We also assess the environmental and regulatory feasibility of expansion or modification of both natural gas and electric power projects. Our attorneys have experience in assessing site issues, evaluating the implications of environmental indemnities or remediation obligations undertaken by both buyers and sellers, identifying required permits, including air, water and hazardous waste regulation, and arranging for the transfer of existing permits or obtaining required permits which are not transferable. We also have substantial experience in structuring and negotiating transactions to minimize environmental liabilities and in managing environmental due diligence reviews in connection with mergers, acquisitions, project financing, and securities offerings.
Jackson Walker attorneys have been actively involved in the development of emissions Cap and Trade programs for the Dallas and Houston nonattainment areas, including, in particular, consideration of existing technologies and considerations of offsets and emission specifications. Finally, Jackson Walker attorneys have represented clients in litigation over the regulation of withdrawals from the Edwards Aquifer and users of groundwater in matters involving groundwater district regulations. We have represented underground water conservation districts in hearings, rulemaking proceedings, litigation and various organizational matters, and public utilities, including municipal utility districts, investor-owned utilities, cities, and non-profit water supply corporations, in various regulatory and rate matters. Energy projects often must resolve water supply issues that are politically controversial at the local level. Jackson Walker is ideally qualified to assist in the resolution of those issues.
- Drafted and assisted in the passage of comprehensive Texas legislation that creates significant financial and regulatory incentives for the capture, utilization and storage of carbon dioxide in Texas
- Assisted in the passage of comprehensive tax incentives for Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology and associated carbon capture technology
- Assisted in the passage of Texas legislation that authorizes pipelines carrying feedstocks to or products from carbon gasification to be classified as common carriers and, thus, have eminent domain authority
- Ongoing representation of the Texas Mining industry in national policy debate regarding fundamental reforms to the NEPA process
Oil and Gas – Upstream/Service Industry
- Representation of a large independent oil and gas company regarding application of the TSCA Inventory Update Rule and other reporting rules applicable to natural gasoline
- Representation of an international manufacturer of oil and gas equipment in auditing its Texas facilities’ compliance with RCRA and Clean Air Act requirements under the Texas Environmental, Safety and Health Audit Privilege Act
- Representation of an underwriter in connection with a securities offering for an oil field drilling company, including substantive advice regarding Texas regulations relating to solid and hazardous waste remediation, underground storage tanks and air permitting
- Representation of large landfill gas producer regarding air quality permitting requirements, emission trading programs and renewable energy credit programs and transactions
- Represented seller of saltwater disposal company in the sale of all assets of company to a publicly traded company who was in the process of aggregating various oil field service companies. Representation included negotiating terms of environmental indemnities and coverage and terms of pollution liability insurance policy
- Representing a new entrant to the natural gas storage industry through all aspects and phases of development of a new salt dome natural gas storage facility proposed to be constructed in Texas. Representation began at project inception and includes all aspects of project structure, development, permitting, and other regulatory and legal matters. Representing the company in all required environmental reports, studies, surveys, and assessments while simultaneously advising the company regarding required permits and approvals, including wetlands, air, water permits and operational approvals under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers, the US Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Railroad Commission. Successfully obtained required environmental permits, including resolving material air permitting and conformity issues associated with the project’s proposed location in a nonattainment zone and, ultimately, with facility construction, operation, transportation, and storage agreements and contracts.
- Representation of a natural gas pipeline company concerning requirements applicable to disposal of PCB contaminated groundwater generated during remediation activity, and characterization of wastes generated at mercury meter sites
- Representation of an oil and gas trading company regarding liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, state oil spill acts in California, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, common law rules and voluntary and international marine pollution agreements (with appropriate assistance from local counsel)
- Representation of numerous oil and gas companies regarding environmental issues affecting the acquisition of a petroleum products and natural gas pipeline company in San Juan Basin, New Mexico
- Representation of a natural gas pipeline company regarding state and federal air emissions requirements for natural gas compressors, including dispute over value of air credits wrongfully appropriated by facility lessor
- Representation of a natural gas pipeline company regarding obligations under indemnity associated with remediation of hydrocarbons on property located on Indian lands and Federal lands in the states of New Mexico and Utah
- Representation of pipeline company with respect to all environmental issues in permitting refined fuel pipeline from Texas coast to El Paso. Project was challenged under NEPA as a result of federal authorizations provided
- Representation of several mining companies in NEPA-related matters associated with historic NPDES permit-triggered and ongoing 404 Wetlands-triggered NEPA reviews
- Representation of Texas Westmoreland Coal Company and North American Coal Corporation in connection with interplay of NEPA with various prospective projects and in ongoing air, water, and waste permit matters
- Represented the Texas Lignite and Electrical Generating Industries before EPA and TCEQ regarding the implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Clean Air Mercury Rule, and the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston/Galveston State Implementation Plans. Representation included the development of emissions specifications for attainment demonstrations and system cap compliance mechanisms
- Representation of the Gulf Coast Lignite Coalition, the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas, the Coal Combustion Products Coalition, and the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association as industry counsel, compliance counselor and policy advocate for the majority of lignite-fired electric generation and lignite mining in Texas
- Representation of the purchaser of coal-fired power generation facility, including consideration of environmental liabilities prior to acquisition, developing strategy for environmental audit under the Texas Environmental Audit Act, consideration of groundwater availability issues, and evaluation of alternative fuel uses
- Representation, as special environmental counsel, of the owner and developer for the construction and operation of two 1,500 megawatt, gas-fired power plants in Texas, including securing the necessary environmental permits and contractual rights necessary to construct and operate the plants
- Representation of an independent power producer in a dispute with a citizens’ group regarding the duty of the IPP to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement
- Representation of owner of 750 MW natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant in Hood County Texas, in contested matters at TCEQ and successfully obtained the initial wastewater discharge permit required to commence operations at the plant. Also, served as developer’s counsel in connection with certain regulatory, project financing, and environmental matters, including providing legal opinion to lender as special counsel to the developer regarding all applicable permits having been obtained and other matters relating to developer’s compliance with all applicable state and local requirements
- Representation of power plant developers in virtually all aspects of environmental permitting for MC Energy and Cedar Power. Representation included monitoring Houston Cap and Trade rules development and meeting with TCEQ staff to affect outcome. Representation of MC Energy resulted in successful challenge to Air Quality permit hearing requests and successful permit issuance for water quality
- Representation of owner of 750 MW combined cycle power plant in contested matters involved in obtaining a wastewater discharge permit from the TCEQ
- Representation of owner of combined cycle power plant in water quality matters before the TCEQ related to the proposed listing of cooling water body as thermally-impaired under Clean Water Act Section 303(d)
- Representation of power plant owner in analysis of Texas water rights permitting issues related to use of bay and/or Gulf of Mexico water for purposes of power plant cooling
- Representation of power plant owner in analysis of Clean Water Act 316(b) cooling water intake issues for client’s proposed new generating plant
- Representation of power plant purchaser in analysis of Clean Water Act 316(b) regulatory issues, and status of TCEQ implementation of phase II program, part of due diligence in planned acquisition of existing generation facilities
- Representation of owner and developer of a 500 MW coal-fired power generation facility to be located in Milam County, Texas, to be located on the site of an existing aluminum smelter facility, including the acquisition of assets relating to the facility; environmental permitting and related matters, including a modification to a consent decree applicable to the proposed project resulting from actions brought by, among other parties, Neighbors for Neighbors, Inc., Environmental Defense, and Public Citizen, Inc.
- Representation of the owner and developer of a 1,750 MW gas-fired power project in Greenville, Texas, with respect to various aspects of the development of such project, including water rights, wastewater discharge, and air permit matters
- Representing the seller, facilitated the sale of a Louisiana refinery with material environmental and closure liabilities, including numerous former spills, several landfills and dump sites in various stages of closure, and several existing solid and hazardous waste facilities, all of which threatened the transaction. Working closely with the buyer to ensure mutual agreement and the ultimate closing of the transaction, successfully negotiated and implemented an innovative combination of regulatory relief, environmental insurance, and an environmental escrow to maximize the sales proceeds while minimizing any future responsibility for the seller
- Represented the buyer of two petroleum terminals, both of which were contaminated from years of operational impacts and located amid sensitive, coastal habitats and environmental resources. The transaction involved a negotiated assumption of liability by the buyer and carefully optimized environmental insurance to cost-effectively protect both the seller and the buyer from both known and unknown environmental liabilities, including natural resource damage claims
- Representation of a chemical company in connection with audits of multi-source compliance at chemical manufacturing facilities and airports, air emissions sources, hazardous waste generation and disposal, septic systems, and OSHA compliance
- Representation of a chlor alkali manufacturing company with facilities in Louisiana and Nevada in connection with numerous environmental matters, including negotiation of a Consent Agreement with a state agency and other parties for remediation of historical contamination, wastewater permitting issues, CERCLA and state spill reporting requirements, resolution of a PCB Notice of Violation with EPA Region 9, characterization of hazardous wastes and application of RCRA corrective action rule
- Representation of major integrated oil company in transactional negotiations, regulatory strategy development and implementation of expedited RCRA and order-driven investigation, remediation, and closure activities which enabled client to successfully convey its major refineries in Texas
- Representation of a major river authority in litigation brought by the owner of the South Texas Nuclear Project regarding the terms of a water supply contract and the reliability of supply of raw water for plant operations
- Representation of a major pipeline company in Clean Water Act, CERCLA and RCRA litigation arising from spill of refined products near a water way, and successfully defended company in multiple third-party lawsuits for damages
- Representation of pest eradication foundation in federal court in successful defense of NEPA litigation brought by legal aid group opposed to proposed pesticide spraying program in South Texas
- Represented concrete batch plant operator in securing a Reg. VI air permit and defending an enforcement action. Continued representation of client in pending permit amendment contested proceeding
- Representation of an investor-owned utility with application requirements, including new financial technical and managerial requirements imposed by Texas Senate Bill 1, to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity from the TNRCC to operate a water utility
- Representation of a nonprofit water supply corporation in a rate hearing, following customer’s appeal of a rate increase to the TNRCC
- Representation of a developer in obtaining amendments to three utility CCNs so as to conform the utility CCNs to the property boundaries and thereby enable a single utility provider to service the entire development
- Representation of San Miguel Electric Cooperative in obtaining storm water permit coverage for new mining area
- Representation of San Miguel Electric Cooperative in obtaining storm water permit coverage for new mining area
- Representation of a special utility district in a TNRCC contested hearing to obtain an expansion of its certificate of convenience and necessity to provide additional retail water service in areas adjacent to the district’s core service area
- Representation of a conservation district in contested hearing permit matters and district court litigation over water rights and the district’s authority to regulate production by permit
- Ongoing air, water and waste permit counsel to the Texas Municipal Power Agency, the San Miguel Electric Cooperative, the City of Garland Power and Light Company, and PNM Resources
- Representation of Texas Municipal Power Agency in obtaining a renewal of its industrial wastewater discharge permit. Representation included the filing of an application for a major amendment to the permit.
- Representation of client in successful negotiations with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to acquire wholesale treated water under long-term contract. Also, represented client in front of local groundwater district in the successful application to increase the permitted volume of groundwater pumped
- Representation of client in successful negotiations with Tarrant Regional Water Authority to amend long-term raw water contract
- Representation of client in negotiations with regarding a treated water supply contract, and the amendment of a raw water contract to increase raw water supply from the Tarrant Regional Water Authority.
- Representation of client in negotiations regarding a treated water supply contract, and the amendment of a raw water contract to increase raw water supply from the Tarrant Regional Water Authority
- Representation of a non-profit water supply corporation in successful negotiations with the Brazos River Authority to purchase raw water under long-term contract
Hazardous Waste Disposal
- Representation of client with all air quality permit considerations for a combination fuel (wood, tire chips, wood pulp) boiler in Houston nonattainment area. Representation included numerous meeting with TCEQ commissioner with regard to the Houston Cap and Trade regulations. Assisted client with respect to shutting down the facility
- Representation of start-up company in its successful efforts to obtain a RCRA permit to operate a commercial hazardous waste incinerator along the Houston Ship Channel. This hotly contested matter involved a contested hearing before the Texas Water Commission, and required extensive evaluation and application of state and federal regulations governing the storage, treatment, and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes. Additionally, the representation required detailed analysis of state and federal regulations governing air quality (including NAAQS, new source review, PSD, NESHAPS and other air toxics regulations) and involvement with national experts in air modeling, risk assessment, and air emissions permitting.
- Representation of client in negotiations regarding leasing and valuation of mineral interests in conjunction with nuclear waste disposal permit process at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
June 8, 2021
Proposed Listing of Lesser Prairie-Chicken Under Endangered Species Act and Potential Impact on Energy Projects
By Jerry Webberman, Alicia French, Jesse Lotay, & Ben Rhem
On June 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to list the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act. If finalized, the species would be listed as endangered in the Southern DPS, which is located in West Texas and New Mexico and overlaps with the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin, and threatened in the Northern DPS, located in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Public hearings to gather comments on the proposal will be held on July 8 and July 14, and all public comments must be submitted by August 2, 2021.
June 23, 2021
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | 12 p.m. CDT
Join Jackson Walker and Echo Production for a webinar discussing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues and the impending impact on the energy industry.
May 10, 2021
With deep experience in government regulation and legislative policy, Heath Armstrong boosts the Firm’s representation of private and public clients involved in government regulation, including expanding the teams working on electric, water, telecommunication, and energy development projects.
December 1, 2020
During the 2020 Hot Topics in Gas and Power webcast on December 11, 2020, Jackson Walker partners Meghan Griffiths, Richard Howell, and Mike Nasi will discuss regulatory updates and environmental challenges and impacts on energy infrastructure.
October 29, 2018
Meghan Griffiths and Jesse S. Lotay Speak on New Technology Trends in Energy at UT Gas and Power Institute
During the 17th Annual Gas and Power Institute, Meghan E. Griffiths and Jesse S. Lotay presented key insights on new technologies in the energy sector.
September 13, 2018
Two years ago, the EPA adopted the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Subpart OOOOa (commonly known as the Methane Rule), which allowed the EPA – for the first time – to regulate directly the emissions of methane gas from oil and gas operations. On September 11, 2018, the EPA released its proposed rule reversing significant aspects of the Methane Rule.
September 26, 2017
Mike Pearson Published in “Landmarks of a Century in Oil and Gas Law – Twenty Cases That Shaped Oil and Gas Jurisprudence”
After 10 years in the making, the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section (OGERL) of the State Bar of Texas has published a work entitled “Landmarks of a Century in Oil and Gas Law – Twenty Cases That Shaped Oil and Gas Jurisprudence.”
March 28, 2017
In an article by Texas Monthly, Mike Nasi discusses the potential impact of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) on electricity markets across the state of Texas.