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About Whit

Whit Swift advises industrial companies on air quality matters, such as state and federal new source review permitting and Title V operating permit matters. In connection with that permitting work, he has represented applicants in contested permit matters before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).

In addition to permitting work, Whit assists major manufacturing, energy, chemical and petrochemical companies with compliance issues related to the Clean Air Act (CAA). His CAA compliance work includes auditing, compliance counseling, and enforcement defense work under state and federal programs, including the federal Risk Management Plan (RMP) program, federal regulatory requirements governing sources of hazardous air pollutants (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), release reporting, and State Implementation Plan (SIP) rules regulating point sources. 

He has a laser-focus on air issues and his deep understanding of the CAA is impressive.
Chambers USA, 2021


Recent Notable Matters

Texas Microgrid, LLC — first-of-its-kind project financing for the construction and operation of a portfolio of distributed microgrids consisting of ultra-clean natural gas-fired generators within ERCOT service territory with up to 232 MW of generating capacity

Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners — acquisition of Tidewater Transportation & Terminals, a multi-commodity transportation, terminal, and marine construction and repair company serving the Pacific Northwest, from Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners. Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners was the lead investor of a group consisting of Ullico, funds and accounts under management by BlackRock, Silverfern and certain other co-investors.

Major manufacturing, energy, chemical, and petrochemical companies — evaluating the applicability of permitting requirements and with the development and implementation of state and federal preconstruction and operating permit strategies

Refinery owner/operator — developing strategy for both state and federal permitting actions to ensure timely permit issuance and start of operation for major refinery expansion

Petroleum refineries and chemical plants — on-site investigations and related information requests and subsequent enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement under the RMP program

Texas chemical plant — negotiate a settlement with the EPA to resolve an RMP enforcement action following a fatality accident at its site

Chemical manufacturers — evaluate response strategy and lead negotiations with TCEQ Enforcement Division representatives aimed at reducing the penalties sought in significant environmental enforcement actions

Chemical manufacturer — drafting and negotiating a novel corrective order to resolve past liability for unauthorized emissions and establish a stipulated penalty structure to address future emissions events and remove the owner/operator from a cycle of Notices of Enforcement and administrative penalty orders

Power generation and materials handling companies — contested case hearings before SOAH over preconstruction air quality permits

Manufacturers — responding to information requests received from the EPA under Section 114 of the CAA and in defending against alleged Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) violations in a subsequent enforcement action*

* Work completed prior to Bracewell

Publications and Speeches

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.

“Chapter 5: Air Quality,” Texas Environmental Law, Thomson Reuters Texas Practice Series, 2015-2016.

“Implementation of the 2015 Ozone NAAQS,” Houston-Galveston Area Council Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee, November 17, 2016.

“Agency-Related Ethics Issues,” 26th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 7-8, 2014.

"Greenhouse Gas Permitting Process: Legal Perspective," Texas Chemical Council/Association of Chemical Industry of Texas, June 5, 2013.

"Regulating Greenhouse Gases: The Endangerment Finding, the Triggering Rule, the Tailoring Rule, and the Proposed New Source Performance Standards for Power Plants," University of Texas School of Law Power Plant Conference, February 1, 2013.



The University of Texas School of Law,
Order of the Coif
Washington and Lee University,

Bar Admissions



State Bar of Texas, Environmental & Natural Resources Law Section
Austin Bar Association



EPA Advances Climate Goals

November 1, 2016
HVACR Business



TCEQ Accepting Comments on Proposed Changes to Penalty Policy

October 12, 2020
Energy Legal Blog®

At a September 24, 2020 Work Session, TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker sought approval from the TCEQ Commissioners to propose changes to the TCEQ’s Penalty Policy (RG-253) that will give the agency discretion to significantly increase administrative penalties for...

Federal District Court Vacates BLM’s Postponement of the Waste Prevention Rule

October 6, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On October 4, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision vacating the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM’s”) June 15, 2017 notice that indefinitely postponed compliance dates for sections of BLM’s Methane and...

Navigating Texas Regulations During Hurricane Harvey: TCEQ Executive Director's Regulatory Guidance and Governor Abbott's Disaster Proclamation Provide Potential Relief

August 29, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

A series of decisions between the Governor's office and the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ("TCEQ") has resulted in the suspension of a number of state...

DC Circuit Vacates EPA’s Initial Stay of Methane Rule Requirements

July 6, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On July 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision vacating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s”) initial 90-day stay of parts of the 2016 rule establishing methane emissions standards for the oil and gas...

EPA Proposes Additional Two-Year Stay of Parts of the Methane Rule

June 14, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On June 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a pre-publication proposed rule that would grant an additional two-year stay to the effectiveness of certain portions of the 2016 rule establishing methane emissions standards for the oil and gas...

Texas Citizen Suit Developments

June 6, 2017

In late April, a decision out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sent waves through the Texas environmental community, assessing a civil penalty of almost $20 million in a citizen suit brought by environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under Section 304 of the federal Clean Air Act. Whit Swift discusses that suit, the alleged violations for which the plaintiffs pursued enforcement, and lessons learned from both the federal court of appeals and district court decisions that led to the outcome.

EPA Announces Reconsideration and Stay of Additional Parts of the Methane Rule

June 1, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On May 26, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a pre-publication notice that announced the reconsideration and a three-month stay to the effectiveness of certain portions of the 2016 rule establishing methane emissions standards for the oil...

EPA Announces Methane Rule Reconsideration, Adding to List of Obama-Era Rules Under Review

April 20, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On April 18, 2017, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA will convene a proceeding for reconsideration of certain elements of the 2016 rule establishing methane emissions standards for the oil and gas...

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Existing Regulations for Repeal, Replacement or Modification

April 13, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On April 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking comments from the public on existing regulations that the Agency should consider repealing, replacing, or modifying. 82 Fed. Reg. 17793 (Apr. 13, 2017). EPA issued the...

EPA Proposes to Delay the Effective Date of RMP Rule Amendments to 2019

April 3, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On April 3, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that would delay the effective date of the recent Risk Management Program (RMP) rule amendments to February 19, 2019. 82 Fed. Reg. 16146 (Apr. 3, 2017). EPA published...

Texas Regional Haze: Fifth Circuit Grants EPA’s Motion to Remand the Texas Regional Haze FIP

March 23, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed EPA to revise and change the Texas Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) when it granted EPA’s motion to remand the plan to EPA for revision. FIPs are issued when EPA does not agreeo...

EPA Withdraws Oil and Gas Information Collection Request

March 2, 2017
Energy Legal Blog®

On March 2, 2017, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made it clear that he will follow through on President Trump's promise to reduce regulatory burdens by withdrawing the Information Collection Request (ICR) that the Obama EPA issued last November to force...

TCEQ Adopts Changes to Affirmative Defense Rule in Response to EPA SIP Call

November 3, 2016

On November 2, 2016, the Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved the adoption of changes to the rule language in 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 101 that establishes an affirmative defense to enforcement for unauthorized emissions resulting from upset events. The TCEQ was prompted to make the change by a June 12, 2015 action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) known as the “SSM SIP Call.” The SSM SIP Call directed the State of Texas (and 35 other states) to change language in state rules and associated State Implementation Plans...

EPA Proposes Revisions to Public Petition Process for Title V Permits

August 24, 2016

On August 24, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed revisions to the federal Title V operating permit rules, which govern pollutants at major sources under the Clean Air Act. The proposed revisions aim to streamline and clarify the processes related to the submittal and review of Title V petitions. Petitions are a key element of the public participation process under the Title V program. The federal rules at 40 CFR Part 70 and equivalent state provisions allow members of the public to petition EPA to object to a state-issued Title V operating permit, if EPA...



Chambers USA
Texas Environment, 2015 - 2021
The Legal 500 United States
Environment: Litigation, 2016; Environment: Regulatory, 2016
BL Rankings
Best Lawyers
Environmental Law, 2016 - 2022; Litigation - Environmental, 2021 - 2022
The University of Texas School of Law
Order of the Coif