Carol E. Dinkins

Carol E. Dinkins Partner, Environmental & Natural Resources

Carol handles all aspects of client counseling on business transactions and permit matters, as well as civil litigation, mediation, and criminal defense. She has represented chemical, refining, and energy companies; developers; timber, utilities, pipelines,and transportation interests; and a variety of municipal and governmental entities in proceedings under state and federal environmental and natural resources laws.

Carol has negotiated and resolved matters arising under RCRA, CERCLA, CWA, CAA, TSCA, and EPCRA, including judicial and administrative actions and permits, and other authorizations for new projects; federal and state civil and criminal enforcement actions; environmental claims; projects and cases involving remediation; and cases involving NEPA, wetlands, cultural resources, and endangered species. Carol has served in one position of Gubernatorial and four of Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation.

A former member of the firm's Management Committee, Carol serves as the Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group Leader. She maintains offices in Houston, Texas and Washington, DC.

Experience Highlights

  • Served as lead negotiator to resolve a case involving characterization and remediation of PCBs and other substances at 60 sites in more than a dozen states and half a dozen EPA regions within the right-of-way of an interstate natural gas transmission pipeline
  • Lead counsel in a pipeline spill in a sensitive environment to negotiate the disposition of a grand jury investigation via a Plea Agreement under the CWA, and to negotiate a federal consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA, and PHMSA under the CWA, CAA, and Federal Pipeline Safety Laws
  • Lead negotiator for a federal-state CERCLA consent decree in EPA Region 2 for remediation of dioxin and other chemicals; an Administrative Order on Consent for a remedial investigation and feasibility study of six miles of contaminated sediments in a northeastern river; an additional Administrative Order on Consent for RI/FS on a Bay; an Administrative Order on Consent for an early Removal Action; an Administrative Order on Consent for a CSO/SSO study; Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Funding Agreements and response to a Unilateral Administrative Order
  • Represented a large industrial facility in a federal grand jury proceeding following an explosion that resulted in multiple fatalities; resolved with a felony Plea Agreement under the Clean Air Act; responded to protracted judicial proceedings under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act prior to the court’s acceptance of the plea; negotiated injunctive relief with the State
  • Represented a company in a global settlement of civil and criminal allegations under RCRA, CWA, CERCLA, EPCRA, and SDWA, and negotiated a Compliance Agreement to avoid suspension and debarment
  • Represented a government contractor in a federal grand jury investigation, resulting in no action, and resolved state administrative compliance proceedings regarding RCRA allegations concerning hazardous and low-level radioactive waste
  • Defended E&P operator in response to BSEE investigation, third-party investigation, third-party SEMS audit, CSB inquiry, Congressional inquiry, and federal grand jury investigation arising from an incident on a production facility in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Represented a forest products company in settling nationwide PSD enforcement matters
  • Lead counsel for a company in negotiation, entry, and successful termination of a federal Consent Decree in a multimedia enforcement action under the CWA, CAA, and RCRA at multiple specialty chemical plants in several EPA regions
  • Handled oil spill cases, including entry of federal pleas, sentencing, and probation 
  • Represented an energy company in a Department of the Interior Inspector General’s investigation of OCS royalty matters; resolved with no action
  • Represented a client in Chemical Safety Board investigations of fatality incidents at a large industrial facility
  • Represented clients in NEPA litigation and matters concerning wetlands and endangered species
  • Represented an agricultural chemical company in resolving without action a grand jury investigation and resolution of state administrative compliance proceedings regarding RCRA allegations
  • Represented a number of companies concerning NPL sites in various states
  • Represents clients on natural resource damages matters
  • Conducts internal inquiries and investigation of environmental compliance
  • Represented a major west coast municipality in water supply issues
  • Represented various municipalities in CWA enforcement matters
  • Represented a timber company in the implementation of a Habitat Conservation Plan for multiple threatened and endangered species, including changes through adaptive management

Environmental Permitting

  • Represented navigation interests in obtaining permits for a major port expansion, including channel deepening, that required an EIS under NEPA, as well as implicated ESA, NHPA, and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
  • Permitted development in a Puerto Rican resort with roads, hotel and condominium sites, and a golf course, including successfully negotiating a substantial reduction in the wetlands delineation, review of the biological assessment for an endangered sea turtle, and a Department of the Interior decision not to list a plant species after a Federal Register notice that proposed listing under the Endangered Species Act
  • Permitted numerous pipelines, including for a major petrochemical plant to ship products from Corpus to Houston across numerous rivers, streams, and wetlands with various endangered species issues
  • Permitted numerous residential and commercial developments, including levee and drainage projects with flood plain delineation issues, wetlands, endangered species, historic, and cultural resources
  • Permitted utility lines requiring resolution of endangered avian species issues
  • Permitted a water line across BLM lands in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deferred to BLM as the lead agency to prepare the EA and FONSI
  • Resolved environmental issues in a FERC environmental review of pipeline projects

Environmental Counseling

  • Counsels clients on corporate environmental management systems, policies, and procedures, and assesses the status of company compliance activities for management

Insights

Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.2528
F +1.713.615.5311
cdinkins@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Carol's Practices

  • University of Houston Law Center, J.D., 1971
  • University of Texas, B.S. Ed., 1968
  • Admitted to practice: Texas, 1971; United States Supreme Court; U.S. Claims Court; federal district courts in Texas and Arkansas; most federal circuit courts of appeal
  • Carol left the partnership twice in the 1980s to serve in government. From 1981 to 1983, she served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, where she supervised the government's litigation in all federal environmental, natural resources, and Indian and public lands cases. In 1984–1985, Carol served as the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the second-ranking official in the Department of Justice. Her responsibilities included working with members of Congress, the White House, the Cabinet, and subcabinet officers on policy, legislation, and litigation.
  • Chambers USA, Star Individual in Environment (Texas), 2005–2015 
  • Legal 500 U.S., Environment Litigation, 2010–2015; Environment: Transaction & Regulatory, 2011, 2013–2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Environmental Law, listed for over 20 years, Litigation: Environmental, 2011, 2013—2016 (“Lawyer of the Year,” 2011 and 2013)
  • Audubon's Texas Women in Conservation Program, Inaugural recipient of the Terry Hershey Award, 2015
  • BTI Consulting Group, BTI Client Service All-Star, February 2014
  • Texas Bar Journal, Trailblazer, February 2014
  • Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star: Texas, 2013
  • Chambers USA Awards for Excellence, Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession (one of three selected nationwide), 2011
  • ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, 1999
  • The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007
  • Inductee, Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, Commission on Women, October 2000
  • University of Houston Law Center, Outstanding Alumnus, 1984
  • Inducted into first class of Fellows 2008; President, 2010–2011: American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Life Member: American Law Institute
  • American Bar Association, Member: Board of Governors (2005–2008); Chair: Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (2002–2003), Member (1997–1998); House of Delegates: Member (1998–2008), Nominating Committee (1998–2005, 1994–1997); Chair, Rules and Calendar Committee (2000–2002), Member (1996–1998); Chair, Board of Editors, ABA Journal (2003–2007), Member (1998–2007); Section Chair, Section of State and Local Government Law (1991–1992), Member: Task Force on Preservation of the Judicial System (2010–2012)
  • Member: University of Houston Energy Advisory Board, 2010–present
  • Member: Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, 2003–2006
  • Board of Directors: RESOLVE, Inc., Washington, D.C., Member 2001–2009
  • Past Chair, Board of Directors: The Nature Conservancy, a leading global conservation organization based in Washington, D.C. (2003–2004); Member: Executive Committee (1996–2008) and Chair: Audit Committee (2005–2006) 
  • Past Chair, Board of Trustees: The Nature Conservancy of Texas, 1996–1999
  • Commissioner: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 1997–2001; Vice-chair, 1999–2001 (Gubernatorial appointment with Senate confirmation)
  • Legal Advisor: Houston Museum of Natural Science; member: Board and Executive Committee, 1986–2005
  • Chair, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: White House Executive Office of the President (Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation), 2006–2008
  • Chair: Governor Bush’s Conservation Task Force, 2000; President Reagan’s Task Force on Legal Equity for Women, 1982–1983; Governor Clements’ Task Force on Coastal Zone Management, 1979, and Flood Control Action Group, 1980
  • Member: Policy Committee of the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program Management Conference, 1988–1992 (Gubernatorial appointment)
  • Past Director: Oryx Energy Company, a Fortune 500 company; National Ocean Industries Association; Environmental Law Institute; Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • Life Fellow: American Bar Foundation; Texas Bar Foundation; Houston Bar Foundation