In-house Counsel

For businesses that only have a small legal staff or need additional part-time environmental legal counsel, the Law Office of C. William Smalling acts as in-house counsel on a wide range of regulatory affairs, negotiating oil and gas contracts, and performing due diligence and environmental audits.

Regulatory Affairs

Given the fact that the U.S. chemical and oil and gas industries are so highly regulated, it is essential for businesses to comply with a variety of state and federal, health, safety and environmental regulations. Understanding the full scope of these laws requires the advice of an attorney with knowledge about federal legislation, state statutes, agency regulations, as well as civil and criminal laws.

In particular, we are well-versed with the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA/ Superfund), the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and numerous other laws and rules.

Our firm helps clients understand their responsibilities under this panoply of regulations to ensure they are in compliance and can continue operating. We also routinely handle the environmental aspects of project development for major energy, industrial and infrastructure projects, defend large energy corporations in CAA litigation, and have significant experience with water quality issues.

Because of his experience as a chemical engineer in the chemical and energy sectors and his many years of legal practice, Mr. Smalling has a keen understanding of the law and its practical applications in these industries. By combining technical skill with legal know-how, the firm devises real world solutions to the most challenging environmental regulatory matters. This approach is designed to enable businesses to seamlessly integrate compliance into their culture so that it becomes the mission of its owners, executives, and employees.

At the same time, getting caught up in the regulatory thicket may be unavoidable. We have extensive experience representing companies that have been cited or sued for non-compliance and we are highly-skilled at resolving these issues by negotiating with government agencies. If negotiation is not successful, we provide companies with a vigorous legal defense against regulatory enforcement actions by the EPA or TCEQ as well as lawsuits brought by other parties.

Due Diligence/Environmental Audits

The Law Office of C. William Smalling routinely conducts due diligence and environmental audits to identify problem areas and implement solutions to head-off citations for non-compliance. For those clients seeking a proactive and long-term approach, we develop management programs to prevent non-compliance issues from developing and minimize the chances of regulatory enforcement actions.

Another objective of environmental audits is to eliminate surprises in a contemplated deal by ascertaining the present and future risks. In environmental real estate and commercial transactions, we help companies minimize the risks associated with undetected, uninsured or undisclosed environmental liabilities and evaluate the ongoing operational capabilities of manufacturing facilities in an uncertain regulatory environment. In the event of a merger or acquisition, investment or divestiture, we assess the potential environmental risks and negotiate the terms of those transactions.

In sum, the focus of our environmental audits is non-compliance. We continuously monitor new regulations and subsequent legal interpretations and advise clients concerning how to update their systems accordingly. In addition, we identify areas where clients may be unnecessarily investing capital on regulatory compliance. If you elect to continue these programs, we assist with methods for obtaining credits for these expenditures. Lastly, applicable state and federal Audit Privilege Acts can protect a company that conducts environmental audits from certain HSE violations.

Oil and Gas Contracts

The importance of negotiating and preparing well-thought-out oil and gas contracts cannot be underestimated. It is essential for a contract to be readily interpreted to clearly establish the intentions and expectations, as well as the rights and obligations, of all parties. A carefully designed contract can minimize the risk of disputes and subsequent litigation. We regularly prepare a variety of contracts, including:

  •  Joint Operating Agreements
  • Farm-Out Agreements
  • Master Service Agreements
  • Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Agreements
  • Drilling Contracts
  • Licensing Agreements for Use of Seismic or Technical Data
  • Units, Pooled and Field wide
  • Indemnity Clauses in Oil and Gas Service Agreements

For any business situation, we tailor oil and gas contracts to suit our clients' needs and to help them achieve their objectives. Additionally, we review contracts that have been prepared by other parties to ascertain that they accurately and fairly reflect the terms of the transaction.

In-House Counsel for the Chemical and Energy Sector

By retaining the services of C. Williams Smalling as in-house counsel, a company is more likely to remain in compliance with environmental regulations, avoid the costs of regulatory actions and fines, negotiate good deals, and maximize its profits. We typically bill on an hourly rate basis, that is, time plus expenses. However, if your company needs as few as 20 hours per year, we can provide in-house counsel billable quarterly.  We can provide legal services at the plant site or in our office, and offer a cost-effective approach. In certain litigation matters, we can provide legal counsel on a contingency basis. If you have a legal issue relating to environmental and energy law, oil and gas rights or alternative energy matters, call our office today.

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Pennzoil Place, 700 Milam Street, Ste. 1300, Houston, TX 77002
| Phone: 281-455-6569 | 7133533920

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