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Environmental Law Attorney in Houston, Texas

The U.S. chemical and oil and gas industries are some of the most highly regulated business sectors in the world. Companies in the industry must comply with a veritable alphabet soup of HSE regulations, including NEPA, ESA, RCRA, CERCLA, CAA, CWA, OSHA and numerous others. Companies that want to succeed must have a thorough understanding of what their responsibilities are under each of these and many other laws if they want to stay in business and stay out of trouble.

Environmental Regulation Attorneys Can Help In Two Ways

Understanding the full scope of environmental laws requires knowledge about federal legislation, state statutes, agency regulations and civil and criminal laws. At the Law Office of C. William Smalling, we help companies meet their government obligations in two different ways - by helping them set up compliance programs, and by defending them in lawsuits based on non-compliance.

Though challenging and time-consuming, compliance with government rules and regulations is not optional. William Smalling has worked as a chemical engineer in the chemical and energy sectors so he not only understands what the law is, he knows how the law works in the real world. His experience and real-world knowledge mean he is highly skilled at integrating compliance into the culture of companies so that it becomes the responsibility of all the parties involved, and the company is, therefore, more likely to remain in compliance.

Environmental Regulation Audits 

Our diverse background means we are also experts at leading internal compliance audits. These are a great way for a company to identify problem areas and put a solution in place before they are cited for non-compliance. Clients seeking a more long-term approach have hired us to develop management systems that proactively prevent non-compliance issues. These clients receive updates from us when new regulations are put in place, or interpretations change, and routinely go through internal compliance audits.

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Environmental Audits

Eliminate surprises by hiring someone to do proper due diligence. We will make sure you are aware of what risks you are taking on now, and what may pop up in the future. Whether you are buying or selling, it is important to know what all the sticking points many be. In many cases, the federal and applicable state Audit Privilege Acts can be utilized to shield companies from certain environmental and safety violations. The company’s environmental work involves the following areas: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA/ Superfund), Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

We utilize AI and machine learning in our compliance auditing services.

Air Permits

The time for getting a permit approved depends on the type of authorization needed. While a typical Permit by Rule allows construction to start immediately, a full NSR permit can take years. We are dedicated to closely monitoring permit proceedings and helping clients ensure that air and regulatory submissions are consistent. To avoid permitting delays, every application submittal, should be technically sound and administratively complete. It is advisable to match the air permit application milestones with the project schedule’s critical path to ensure optimization of the time required to obtain the permit.  It is critical for representatives from various intra-company disciplines to coordinate periodically to assess and advise management on the progress of a permit application. Many state agencies implement the so-called "expedited permit process" by requiring the applicant to pay a larger up-front fee. An “expedited permit” must still be carefully managed. Because most agencies have simply shifted workloads to accomplish an “expedited permit” system, a non-expedited permit now requires a longer time to process by the issuing agency. A well-managed air permit application can lead to earlier project returns on investment. In addition, a well-crafted final permit will result in lower pollution control equipment capital expenditures, and lower operational costs because of lower monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.

Texas Environmental Legal Representation

We can represent you if you are threatened with an enforcement action from a powerful agency such as the EPA or TCEQ. Many times such agencies issue actions under the guise of a “warning”. In reality, if not contested, such actions can lead to fines or penalties. If you receive an enforcement notice or violation from the EPA or any other state or local environmental agency, you should begin your legal defense early.  Many times these agencies use bureaucratic red tape, such as for permit requirements, to establish a “record” early in the process. Later, this record is used against the individual or company in court proceedings. We can assist you in this process by negotiating with and, if necessary, contesting the agencies early in the process. Thereby, the case likely can be resolved prior to have to go to court.

If your company has been cited for non-compliance or is facing a lawsuit based on non-compliance, whether brought by either the government or private parties, you need an attorney like Smalling to defend you. Because Smalling has a background in engineering, he understands the technical aspects of the situation, not just the legal implications. This is a huge benefit when negotiating with the government.

When negotiation fails, we have litigated both government enforcement actions and private tort suits brought against companies. We lay out all of the options available and explains the implications of each so the business operators and owners remain in charge. If your company is drowning in the sea of HSE regulations, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of C. William Smalling. Based in Houston, the firm works with client companies that have a significant presence in Texas.