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Mattew T. Dobbins

Matthew Dobbins Senior Associate, Environmental & Natural Resources

Matthew’s practice focuses on complex regulatory counseling, remedial issues, environmental litigation, climate change, and transactional support. He frequently directs environmental, health, and safety compliance audits on behalf of clients and advises on air quality, water quality, CERCLA, RCRA, and fuel quality regulations, as well as state and federal remediation requirements. He has a particular focus on helping clients navigate property transfer statutes, such as the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act, to avoid unnecessary transaction delays. He also counsels clients on compliance with pipeline safety regulations. With respect to environmental litigation, Matthew routinely both defends and pursues environmental indemnification claims on behalf of clients, and also has experience responding to industrial incidents. In addition, Matthew has extensive experience advising clients on the resolution of environmental liabilities identified in the course of transactions, including risk-counseling and assessing barriers to entry, obtaining environmental or representation and warranties insurance, and the drafting and negotiating of the environmental terms in various types of agreements. 

Experience Highlights

  • Advise former paper mill operator on management of potential CERCLA and Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act liability related to third party owned waste disposal site 
  • Representing a manufacturer of gauges and instruments following the release of radioactive materials at its manufacturing facility in connection with the response to the incident, including responding to regulator inquiries and obtaining approval to resume operations following the incident, the related state government investigation and enforcement, defending the company against pending and threatened tort litigation, and assisting with the offsite investigation and remediation of third party property affected by the incident 
  • Advised private equity group on air compliance, water procurement, and potential remedial liabilities in connection with the acquisition of one of the largest independent power producers in the U.S. 
  • Obtained key hazardous waste permit approvals from New Jersey and Ohio state environmental agencies in connection with the operations of a chemicals and plastics distributor 
  • Counseled large terminal operator on Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan compliance issues and design of storage tank integrity management program under 49 C.F.R. Part 195 
  • Assisting in counseling a midstream company on various issues relating to fuel blending requirements under the federal Clean Air Act’s Tier 3 gasoline sulfur standards
  • Assisted in drafting comments for a state rulemaking proceeding related to the regulation of oil and gas waste pits for an E&P services company
  • Assisted in advising a national trade association in connection with waiver provisions under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Obtained concurrence from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that New Jersey Site Industrial Recovery Act was not applicable to proposed transaction and no site investigation work was required, allowing the transaction to proceed to timely closing 
  • Intervened on behalf of proposed power plant project developer in consent order negotiations between state environmental agency and municipal water authority to ensure power plant’s uninterrupted access to water from the authority for use in plant operations, clearing the way for the project to obtain financing and commence construction
  • Represented former owner of midstream company following sale in the defense of environmental indemnification claims related to air permitting and compliance matters, state remediation standards, and Process Safety Management requirements 

Environmental Regulation & Enforcement at Onshore Operations

  • Secured first of its kind federal explosive license approval from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for oilfield services client 
  • Routinely counsel upstream, midstream, and a variety of other industries on the performance of environmental, health and safety compliance audits under federal and state audit statutes, regulations, and policies, with particular experience in Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • Counseling on Title V Operating Permit deviation reporting requirements and implementation of corrective action measures in connection with acquisition of one of the largest oil terminals in the U.S. 
  • Advised merchant power company, in connection with the sale of its power block assets in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case on various air permitting matters, including combination and transfer of air operating permit and allocation of emission reduction credits 
  • Assisting in the defense of midstream company in connection with EPA Suspension and Debarment proceedings 
  • Analyzed legal issues and assisted with advising an energy company on the potential impacts of NOx and SO2 emission trading schemes under the federal Clean Air Act
  • Assisted in drafting comments for a state rulemaking proceeding related to the regulation of oil and gas waste pits for an E&P services company

Climate Change

  • Advising power company on renewable energy credit and greenhouse gas emission allowances issues in connection with sale of natural gas-fired power plants in California 
  • Assisted in advising a national trade association in connection with waiver provisions under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Assisted in advising an energy company on the potential impact of California’s cap and trade program on energy conversion agreements
  • Advised TPG on EPA GHG permitting issues associated with its $300 million acquisition of a minority stake in M&G Chemicals, a chemicals manufacturing and engineering company and a leading global supplier of polyethylene terephthalate
  • Assisted in counseling a midstream company on a contemplated agreement for the capture and sale of CO2 at one of its processing plants, including an evaluation of how the installation of CO2 capture equipment may impact the facility’s status under EPA’s GHG regulations, and whether the facility would be required to continue operating capture equipment at the end of the contract for sale of the CO2

Enviromental Litigation

  • Representing a manufacturer of gauges and instruments following the release of radioactive materials at its manufacturing facility in connection with the response to the incident, including responding to regulator inquiries and obtaining approval to resume operations following the incident, the related state government investigation and enforcement, defending the company against pending and threatened tort litigation, and assisting with the offsite investigation and remediation of third party property affected by the incident 
  • Represented former owner of midstream company following sale in the defense of environmental indemnification claims related to air permitting and compliance matters, state remediation standards, and Process Safety Management requirements 
  • Represented former owner of chemical company following sale in defense of environmental indemnification claims related to air permitting and compliance matters, potential Superfund site liability, and occupational health and safety requirements 
  • Assisted in the defense of former midstream operator following sale against indemnification claims related to alleged breaches of environmental, occupational health, and pipeline safety representations and warranties, including factual development investigations, written discovery, and lay and expert witness deposition preparation activities 
  • Assisted with the management of e-discovery-related matters, including document collection and production, for a client in a toxic tort suit involving allegations of soil and groundwater contamination and claims of nuisance, trespass, and strict liability
  • Assisted in advising a mining company on potential tort litigation risks associated with the operation of tailings dams
  • Obtained summary judgment on all claims for a real estate developer in a toxic tort case involving claims of trespass, nuisance, negligence, and cost-recovery claims under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act based on the release of chemicals from a neighboring industrial facility

Contaminated Sites & Remediation

  • Advise former paper mill operator on management of potential CERCLA and Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act liability related to third party owned waste disposal site 
  • Negotiated access agreements for site investigation work and counseled client on management of potential remedial liabilities identified during soil investigation 
  • Counseled power plant purchaser on New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act requirements, including scope of site investigation and site closure criteria 
  • Counseling refiner on acquisition of environmental insurance policy for legacy site conditions in connection with proposed sale of refinery complex 
  • Counseled project developer on soil and groundwater remediation issues in connection with proposed buildout of terminal facility at the Port of Houston 
  • Assisted in advising an E&P company on the management of potential Superfund and state program remedial liabilities associated with proposed acquisition
  • Assisted in counseling a steel pipe manufacturing company on soil and groundwater contamination issues in connection with proposed acquisition
  • Assisted in counseling a plastics manufacturing company on the management of legacy remedial liabilities associated with recent acquisition

Water

  • Intervened on behalf of proposed power plant project developer in consent order negotiations between state environmental agency and municipal water authority to ensure power plant’s uninterrupted access to water from the authority for use in plant operations, clearing the way for the project to obtain financing and commence construction
  • Advised client on potential liability under the federal Clean Water Act, Oil Pollution Act and analogous state laws related to ownership and operation of marine terminal facility
  • Counseling landowner on groundwater leasing issues and water resource management matters 
  • Advised an international EPC company involved in numerous power, oil, and water endeavors on litigation and regulatory risks, regulatory compliance issues, and contractual allocation of risks related to water issues arising from hydraulic fracturing operations
  • Assisted in advising a shipping company on managing potential environmental risks associated with spills of oil, petcoke, and various other commodities to federal and state waters
  • Assisted in defense of OCS chemical supplier in a BSEE investigation

Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.2026
F +1.713.615.5015
mdobbins@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Matt's Practices

  • University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D. with honors, 2011 (Third Year Outstanding Writing Award)
  • University of Michigan, B.A., History and Political Science, 2008 (William J. Branstrom Freshman Prize)
  • Admitted to practice: Texas
  • American Bar Association 41st Annual Conference on Environmental Law, Winner, Best Paper Award, (Salt Lake City, Utah), March 22–24, 2012 (co-author)
  • Fellow: Texas Bar Foundation
  • Member: American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; Houston Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • Houston Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education Committee