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Experience

Jim Morriss 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.

“James has provided thoughtful, timely, and pragmatic advice, balancing the considerations of legal, financial, and environmental risks. He quickly assesses the issues and his advice and work product demonstrate a good understanding of our business objectives.” – Client Testimonial, Chambers USA 2019

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.

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.

Named to The Best Lawyers in America© 1989-2019 by Woodward/White Inc.

Fellow of The American College of Environmental Lawyers

Honored as a Recommended Attorney in The Legal 500 US 2015-2018 by Legalease

Representative Matters

  • 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
  • Developed and provided legislative support for the Innocent Owner/Operator legislation passed in the 75th Legislative Session
  • Developed and provided legislative support for lender and fiduciary liability protection provisions in the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act during the 75th Legislative Session
  • 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

Honors & Affiliations

Distinctions/Honors

  • Fellow, The American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyers in America® by Woodward/White Inc. (Energy Regulatory Law, Environmental Law, Litigation-Environmental), 1989-2019
  • Recommended Attorney, The Legal 500 US by Legalease (Industry Focus: Energy: Regulatory), 2015-2019
  • Chambers USA by Chambers and Partners (Environmental Law), 2004-2019
  • Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters (Environmental, Environmental Litigation, Government Relations), 2003-2004, 2012-2018
  • Top 50 Central/West Region, Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters, 2012, 2014
  • Who’s Who Legal: Texas by Law Business Research Limited (Environmental), 2007-2018
  • ICFM Leading Lawyers 500, InterContinental Finance magazine, 2013

Memberships/Affiliations

  • 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
  • President, Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America
  • Adjunct Professor, Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business at The University of Texas School of Law; Course – Fracking and More: Environmental Issues in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development, 2015-present
  • Adjunct Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School  Summer 2014; Course – Environmental Issues in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development
  • Advisory Council, Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business
  • 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

Education & Admissions

Education

  • J.D., 1976, with honors, The University of Texas School of Law, Phi Delta Phi scholastic honorary fraternity; Order of the Coif, Comment on Coastal Management in the Urban Law Review
  • B.S.M.E., 1973, with high honors, Southern Methodist University, Phi Eta Sigma, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Tau scholastic honorary fraternities

Admissions

  • Texas
  • U.S. Dist. Ct., E. Dist. Texas
  • U.S. Dist. Ct., N. Dist. Texas

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