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About Tim

Chambers USA describes Tim Wilkins as “a very astute lawyer, liked for his quickness and thorough responses” (2007) and having “great business acumen and amazing negotiation skills” (2009).

Tim's clients rely on him for strategic environmental permitting assistance, the defense of environmental enforcement actions and assistance with the environmental aspects of major transactions. He has overseen environmental compliance audits involving thousands of locations, handled hundreds of environmental audit disclosures and pioneered the development and use of U.S. EPA's audit policy for new owners. Clients also note in Chambers USA that Tim is “fantastic, detailed and very strong with management systems” as well as capable of delivering “practical, cost-effective solutions for his clients” (2011).

In addition to his duties at Bracewell, Tim periodically teaches the course in Corporate Environmental Law at The University of Texas School of Law. Before joining Bracewell, Tim was research assistant to Professor Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, editor-in-chief of the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and a judicial clerk for the Honorable Henry A. Politz, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Interviewees describe him as ‘an experienced subject matter expert with outstanding judgment.’
Chambers USA, 2018

Experience

Recent Notable Matters

Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. — acquisition of 100 percent of the equity interests in U.S. Oil & Refining Co. and certain affiliated entities for $358 million, including a 42,000 bpd refinery, a marine terminal and associated logistical system in Tacoma, Washington

Environmental Audits and Transactions

AP Energy Holdings Inc and South Field Energy LLC — environmental aspects of $1.3 billion project financing and equity arrangements for the construction of the South Field Energy project, a 1,182 megawatt combined-cycle natural gas electric generating facility located near Wellsville, Ohio

Multiple industrial companies — including new owners of upstream oil and gas, midstream, refineries, chemical manufacturing and distribution, and industrial construction facilities following tens of billions of dollars in acquisitions, in negotiating new owner environmental compliance audit agreements with U.S. EPA, overseeing and administering those compliance audits, preparing extensive audit disclosures to EPA with respect to environmental violations originating pre-acquisition, and resolving those disclosures with EPA without penalty

Various companies — advised on the environmental aspects of numerous acquisitions, divestitures and financing transactions in the energy, refining, electric power, chemicals, telecommunications, real estate, waste handling and municipal sectors

Enforcement Defense

Large chemical manufacturing facility — defending against a hazardous waste enforcement action by U.S. EPA's National Environmental Investigations Center and Region 6 under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Houston-area heavy industrial manufacturer — secured the dismissal of all charges against client that had been indicted on three counts of felony water pollution

International terminal company — defended in connection with a stormwater discharge incident that had been referred for criminal prosecution by the Harris County District Attorney, achieving its successful de-referral

Global chemical manufacturing company — defense against a series of EPA Risk Management Plan inspections, information requests, and enforcement actions

Downgradient industrial property owner — defending in multiparty civil litigation at the Omega Chemical Superfund Site in Los Angeles

Chemical manufacturing facility — defending against a Notice of Violation and potential civil multimedia enforcement action commenced by Harris County Pollution Control

Air Quality and Permitting

Several large energy companies — response to EPA information requests under the Clean Air Act and other federal environmental statutes

New chemical manufacturing facility — led the owner's federal and state air permitting effort on a $2 billion greenfield chemical plant in South Texas including the successful defense and resolution of multiple contested case hearing challenges

Publications and Speeches

Co-author, “Co-Located Facilities: Untangling Environmental Compliance, Liability and Accountability Issues”, Chemical Engineering, September 2018.

Co-author, “Practitioner Insights: Environmental Auditing in New Regulatory Era,” Bloomberg Environment & Energy Report, February 5, 2018.

Co-presenter, “Environmental Law's Not Dead Yet:  Optics Versus Reality in the New Administration's Regulatory Reform Project,” Association of Corporate Counsel South/Central Texas Chapter, July 12, 2017.

Co-presenter, “What to Expect When You Don’t Know What to Expect:  Working the EHS Regulatory Crystal Ball,” Young Professionals in Energy Austin Chapter, May 5, 2017.

Presenter, “Regulatory Update,” Environmental Health and Safety Audit Center, April 7, 2017. 

"The Desktop Regulator: A Closer Look at the Future of Environmental Enforcement,” Bracewell’s Fall 2016 Environmental Law Seminar, November 15, 2016.

“Preparing for and Defending Environmental Enforcement Actions,” Association of Corporate Counsel South/Central Texas Chapter, San Antonio, July 6, 2016.

“Recent Environmental Enforcement Trends in the Energy Industry,” Association of Corporate Counsel South Central Texas Chapter's Oil & Gas Law Lunch and Learn, San Antonio, April 28, 2016.

“A Regulator’s Reach Exceeds its Grasp: The Quiet Expansion of the TCEQ’s Water Code Jurisdiction,” Texas Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 1, March 2016.

"Key Environmental Enforcement Trends for the Energy Industry," Texas Oil and Gas Association, Austin, Texas, April 14, 2016.

“EPA’s ‘Next Generation’ Enforcement Initiative – and What it Means for the Next Generation of Environmental Auditing,” The Auditing Roundtable’s 2016 National Meeting, Tempe, Arizona, April 11, 2016.

“Next Generation Enforcement and Its Implications for Auditing,” The Auditing Roundtable’s South Central Regional Meeting, Houston, February 29, 2016.

“EPA’s Next Generation Compliance Initiative,” Bracewell Environmental Law Seminar, Fall 2015.

“EPA’s Next Generation Enforcement Initiative: What It Means for the Next Generation of Environmental Auditing,” Auditing Roundtable Webinar, October 7, 2015.

“Methane Emissions: EPA Hits Oil and Gas Industry with a Flurry of Proposed Methane Regulations,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, October 2015.

“Disclosure 2.0: Enter EPA’s E-Disclosure Audit Program,” Law360, June 16, 2015.

“Audit Disclosure How-To’s,” Auditing Roundtable South Central Region Meeting, April 10, 2015.

"Under Attack: How to Protect Your Power Generation Project Against Environmental Group Opposition," Power Engineering, November 25, 2014.

"Attorney-Client Privilege in OSHA Compliance Self-Audits," Corporate Counsel, August 2014.

"Texas Railroad Commission Proposes Regulation to Address Earthquake Risks from Disposal Wells," Oil & Gas Investor, September 18, 2014.

"First Texas GHG Permit Upheld by EPA Appeals Board," Electric Light & Power, May 13, 2014.

"Texas Greenhouse Gas Regulations Go into Effect," Electric Light & Power, April 24, 2014.

"EPA's Texas Greenhouse Gas PSD Permitting Program," Air & Waste Management Association Conference, Houston, September 18, 2013.

"Environmental Law Update," The Auditing Roundtable, South Central Region meetings, August 3, 2015, April 10, 2015, August 6, 2014, March 28, 2014, July 31, 2013.

"Managing Environmental Risk in Transactions," 24th Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, August 3, 2012.

Credentials

Education

Harvard Law School,
J.D.
1993
cum laude
Harvard University,
Master of Public Policy
1993
Trinity University,
Bachelor of Arts
1988
magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

Texas

Affiliations

The Auditing Roundtable
Past Chair, South Central Region
American Bar Association
Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
State Bar of Texas
Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section
Austin Bar Association
Environmental Law Section

News

News

The Best Lawyers in America Recognize 74 Bracewell Attorneys

August 15, 2016
Best Lawyers, Woodward White, Inc.

4 partners jump to Bracewell's Austin office environmental practice

September 21, 2015
Austin Business Journal Online

Under Attack

November 25, 2014
Power Engineering Online

Texas greenhouse gas regulations go into effect

April 24, 2014
Electric Light & Power Online

Texas Regulators Develop GHG Permitting Program

February 14, 2014
Power Engineering Online

Texas Trio Take Lead on Xmas Energy M&A Deals

December 24, 2013
American Lawyer - Online

Texas Proposal for Greenhouse Gas Permits

December 5, 2013
Daily Environment Report

Texas Super Lawyers 2013 Recognizes Thirty-Nine Bracewell Attorneys

August 19, 2013
Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters

Deal of the Week: Lots of Energy

May 3, 2013
Texas Lawyer - Houston Bureau

Texas Super Lawyers 2012 Recognizes Thirty-One Bracewell Attorneys

September 10, 2012
Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters

Deal of the Week: Kinder Morgan Selling Energy Assets

August 27, 2012
Texas Lawyer - Houston Bureau

Best Lawyers in America Recognizes Eighty-Eight Bracewell Attorneys

August 23, 2012
Best Lawyers, Woodward White, Inc.

Insights

Insights

Environmental Auditing and Audit Disclosure in a New Era

May 2, 2017

Tim Wilkins discusses what changes in the country’s regulatory direction and approach to enforcement mean for environmental compliance auditing programs and audit disclosure under EPA and State audit policies.

Federal Court Sets Timeline for EPA to Reconsider Regulation of Oil and Gas Waste Under RCRA

In yet another example of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’s) “sue and settle” approach to regulation, in late December 2016, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with an environmental group and agreed to reconsider the Agency’s current treatment of oil and gas wastes under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). See Consent Decree, Civil Action No. 16-842. With the D.C. District Court’s approval of this Consent Decree, EPA is now bound to a court-imposed timeline for determining (1) how oil and gas wastes should be regulated under RCRA Subtitle D; and (2) whether...

Bracewell Environmental Law Seminar – Fall 2016: Highlights on “The Desktop Regulator”

On November 15, 2016, Bracewell’s Environmental Strategies Group hosted its third biannual Environmental Law Seminar in Houston. The seminar was attended by nearly 100 industry representatives and featured five guest speakers, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, CSB Board Member Rick Engler, Center for Global Energy Policy Fellow Ronald Minsk, Windward Strategies President and CEO Eric Washburn, and Spirit Environmental Program Manager Johnny Vermillion. This is the second in a series of posts highlighting learnings from the seminar. Click here to read Matt Paulson's previous post on...

Wilkins Publishes Critique of Expansive TCEQ Water Code Jurisdiction

May 11, 2016

In a recent article for the Texas Environmental Law Journal, I explore TCEQ’s view that the management of wastewaters or other industrial wastes “adjacent to water in the state” – construed expansively as (a) any location anywhere above groundwater or (b) anywhere waste may be “disposed of” via evaporation – requires a “Texas Land Application Permit” under the Water Code, above and beyond obtaining a Registration under TCEQ’s waste program. Under TCEQ’s interpretation, surface impoundments, evaporation ponds, on-site waste storage and disposal units, enclosed cleaning operations, sumps, and...

Major Air Enforcement Action Against New Plant Owner Suggests the Value of EPA's "New Owner Audit Policy"

A new $1.3 million Clean Air Act penalty action by U.S. EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality against AK Steel Corporation has received significant public and media attention this week. The proposed consent decree, filed with the court and opened for public comment on May 19th, includes significant cash penalties and supplemental environmental project requirements, along with burdensome obligations to establish an environmental management system, perform third party audits, and install costly new pollution controls. Less often mentioned in this week's stories about the...

9th Circuit Appeals Court: Clean Air Act Permits Must Address Latest EPA Requirements

On August 12, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit issued under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by EPA to the Avenal Power Center. Sierra Club v. EPA, No. 11-73342 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2014). The PSD permit authorized the construction of a 600 MW natural gas-fired plant located in California's San Joaquin Valley. The plant was required to install state-of-the-art pollution controls for all traditionally regulated pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. The Court vacated the PSD permit because it...

Texas Greenhouse Gas Regulations Go Into Effect

April 22, 2014

On April 17, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's new greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations became effective, establishing the framework for a new GHG permitting program at TCEQ, which the agency hopes to begin implementing in the summer of 2014. Before this can happen, EPA must officially approve the rules and also rescind the Federal Implementation Plan under which it currently regulates GHGs in Texas. The rules have immediate implications for a variety of facilities, however. Whereas the changes to the PSD program only involve new or modified facilities, the Title V aspects of the...

Spill Prevention under the Proposed Waters of the United States Rule

April 4, 2014

We've blogged about the scope of EPA's proposed Waters of the United States rule and whether it provides any additional clarity to the current regulatory scheme. With this post, we'll start to outline some direct potential impacts on different segments of industry. Today, we briefly examine what an expanded regulatory scope of waters could mean for industries required to comply with the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule under the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act. The SPCC Rule applies to most types of facilities with an aboveground oil storage capacity greater...

Texas One Step Closer to Obtaining Authority to Issue GHG Air Permits

March 31, 2014

As anticipated, on March 26, 2014, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted rules to implement House Bill 788, which required the Commission to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rules. The new rules will become effective on April 17, 2014. This action is one more step in the process of transitioning GHG Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting authority from EPA to TCEQ. These regulations come on the heels of EPA publishing a proposal to approve the Texas GHG PSD revisions to the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) in 79 Fed. Reg. 9,123 (Feb. 18,...

EPA Proposes TCEQ Take Over GHG Permitting in Texas

February 7, 2014

On Tuesday, February 4, 2014, EPA issued a pre-publication copy of a proposed rule that if adopted would transfer greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting in Texas from EPA Region 6 to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The proposed rule has yet to be published in the Federal Register. When it is published, the public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed rule. EPA must review and respond to those comments before it can adopt a final rule that would transfer authority to TCEQ. EPA is proposing to approve portions of various State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions to the...

EPA adopts new standard for conducting All Appropriate Inquiries

December 30, 2013

In a rule published on December 30, 2013 and effective immediately upon publication, EPA formally adopts a new standard for conducting All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) at potentially contaminated sites. 78 Fed. Reg. 79319. The AAI rule outlines steps for potential property purchasers to take to claim a limitation on CERCLA liability connected to purchased property. 40 CFR Part 312. EPA allows purchasers to use the applicable ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to satisfy their obligations under the AAI rule. In this rule, EPA incorporates new ASTM International Standard...

Texas Greenhouse Gas Rules: Upcoming Hearing and End of Comment Period

December 2, 2013

As we discussed in an October post , the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has proposed rules to create a greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting program for the state of Texas and take over permitting authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because it hopes to make the transition as quickly as possible, TCEQ is using a streamlined public participation process, which is soon coming to an end. At 2:00 pm on December 5th, TCEQ will hold its only public hearing on the proposal (see notice here ). TCEQ will then continue to accept written comments on the rules...

Texas Regulators Take First Steps to Acquire Greenhouse Gas Permitting Authority

October 10, 2013

On October 4th, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) released a preliminary draft of a proposal to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting regulations for the state of Texas. This action kicks off what is likely to be a lively discussion between stakeholders and regulators over the design of Texas's GHG permitting program. But it represents a first step toward an important change from the status quo. For almost three years now, Texas companies have been subject to two different permitting authorities for air permits: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues GHG...

EPA Issues New Final Greenhouse Gas Clean Air Act Permit

June 12, 2013

On June 10, 2013, EPA issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit to PL Propylene, LLC for construction of combustion turbines, heaters, waste heat boilers, and a flare at an existing propane dehydrogenation plant in Houston, Texas. Currently, EPA Region 6 has 69 permit applications listed on their docket. Of those applications, EPA has finalized 15 PSD permits. Processing time from initial application to final permit varies, but the time line has ranged between six months to over 14 months with some applications having been pending for longer than...

Noteworthy

Noteworthy

Chambers USA
Texas Environment, 2006 - 2018
The Legal 500 United States
Environment: Litigation, 2011 - 2016, 2018; Environment: Regulatory, 2017 - 2018; Environment: Transactional, 2016 - 2018; Energy: Transactions, 2014
Woodward/White, Inc.
Best Lawyers
2009 - 2010, 2012 - 2019; Austin Lawyer of the Year, Environmental Law, 2019
Thomson Reuters
Texas Super Lawyers
2004, 2006 - 2018
Globe Business Publishing Ltd
Lexology Client Choice Awards
Environment, Texas, 2012 - 2013
Internet Brands, Inc.
Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ Rating
ALM Media Properties
National Law Journal
Energy & Environmental Trailblazer, 2017

Events