James C. Morriss III

James C. Morriss III

Environmental Practice Group Leader |
  • 512.469.6130
    512.482.5043
  • 713.653.2825
    512.482.5043
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Environmental Practice Group Leader

  • Thompson & Knight LLP
    98 San Jacinto Boulevard
    Suite 1900
    Austin, TX 78701 USA
    512.469.6130
    512.482.5043
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Jim Morriss is the Austin Office Leader and the Firm-wide Practice Leader of the Environmental Law Practice Group. He focuses his practice on environmental permitting; compliance counseling; facility siting, including wetlands and endangered species work; legislative lobbying; and administrative and judicial litigation before local, state, and federal environmental agencies and state and federal courts. He has extensive experience in counseling clients in environmental risk management, including the design and implementation of environmental auditing programs and environmental management systems, and in the investigation and disclosure of environmental liabilities and contingencies.

Jim has significant experience in litigation involving the investigation and remedy of complex sites including the development and presentation of risk based solutions to contamination.

Jim "is creative in developing the approach to complicated issues and is a persuasive advocate" according to clients quoted by Chambers USA. He represents clients in a variety of industry and commercial sectors including steel, metals recycling, organic and inorganic chemicals, petroleum refining, plastics, cement, oil and gas exploration and production, transportation, and real estate development.

Experience

  • Represented a land owner with almost 6,000 acres within the habitat of the endangered Houston toad before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and secured approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan, Incidental Take Permit, Safe Harbor Agreement, and Conservation Bank pursuant to Sections 7 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act

  • Defended an agency investigation and threatened enforcement action relating to the beneficial reuse of by-products from a steel manufacturing and pipe and tubing production facility

  • Developed and implemented strategy for assessing risks to human health and the environment from historic releases of PCBs and PAHs from a large industrial complex and for presenting findings to regulatory agencies and the public

  • Developed and implemented a strategy for a steel manufacturing facility as debtor-in-possession to resolve a comprehensive solid waste and water enforcement action and claim filed by the State of Texas

  • Developed and provided legislative support for HB 3152 in the 78th Legislative Session; the bill authorizes creation of municipal setting designations to address groundwater contamination in a cost-effective manner

  • Served as counsel to a chemical and plastics company in connection with upset and release issues arising from the startup of a new chemical plant

  • Represented steel and cement companies in connection with the development of an innovative by-product use/reuse project involving the use of a co-product from the steel industry as a valuable raw material in the manufacture of Portland cement

  • Represented the petrochemical and plastics industry in major state and federal air enforcement actions filed by EPA and the TCEQ

  • Represented a major oil company in connection with offsite soil and groundwater contamination from historic refinery operations

  • Developed and implemented an environmental audit program for a steel manufacturing facility

  • Conducted a due diligence assessment of environmental risks and liabilities in steel and cement operations in connection with a public debt offering

  • Conducted environmental due diligence of several steel manufacturing facilities in conjunction with the preparation of a bid to purchase the facilities

  • Represented the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development in support of by-product synergy projects and RCRA policy development

Distinctions/Honors

  • The Best Lawyers in America® by Woodward/White Inc. (Environmental Law); 1989-2014

  • Chambers USA by Chambers & Partners (Environmental Law); 2004-present

  • Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters (Environmental, Environmental Litigation, Government Relations); 2003-2004, 2012-2013

  • Top 50 Central/West Region, Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters; 2012

  • The International Who's Who of Environmental Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal; 2014

  • Who's Who Legal: Texas by Law Business Research Limited (Environmental); 2007-present

  • "ICFM Leading Lawyers 500," InterContinental Finance magazine; 2013

Activities (Memberships/Affiliations)

  • Fellow, The American College of Environmental Lawyers

  • Member, Austin Bar Association; Administrative Law Section; Environmental, Natural Resources, and Water Law Section

  • Member, American Bar Association; Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Section; Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section

  • Member, Dallas Bar Association; Environmental Law Section, Chairman, 1986

  • Chairman, State Bar of Texas; Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section, 1988-1989

  • Board Member, Keeping PACE in Texas

  • Executive Committee, United States Business Council for Sustainable Development

  • Executive Board and Executive Committee, Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America

  • Practice Leader, Thompson & Knight Environmental Practice Group, 1989-present

  • Advisory Board, Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law, The University of Texas School of Law, 2011

  • Member, Texas Task Force on Waste Management Policy, a Joint Senate-House Committee that evaluated the need for changes to laws governing solid waste management in Texas, 1988

  • Frequent speaker at various continuing legal education programs on environmental law topics