Larry W. Nettles

Larry W. Nettles Partner, Environmental & Natural Resources

Larry has been practicing environmental law full-time since 1981, and has an exceptionally broad range of environmental law experience that makes him particularly well suited to advise clients with multifaceted environmental problems, such as those frequently encountered in large business transactions. He has experience in counseling, permitting, and civil and criminal litigation, and has a proven track record in negotiating settlements and liability allocation agreements to resolve complex environmental problems.

Larry has been recognized as the top environmental lawyer in the United States for the past nine years by United States Lawyer Rankings. He has also been recognized as one of the best environmental lawyers in the nation in the most recent edition of Best Lawyers in America©; one of the best environmental law attorneys in Texas on the Texas Super Lawyers list published in Texas Monthly, and by Chambers & Partners in its recent guidebook on America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.

Larry currently serves as the Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group Leader, Co-Chair of Vinson & Elkins' Energy and Infrastructure practice group and Chair of the Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force. He is also a member of V&E’s Climate Change practice group.

Experience Highlights

Transactions

  • Represented a major U.S. energy company in evaluating the environmental condition of 4.5 million acres of coal reserves in one of the largest real estate transactions since the Louisiana Purchase
  • Represented securities underwriting firms on environmental due diligence activities in connection with tens of billions of dollars of securities offerings
  • Represented a private equity group on all environmental matters relating to their $45 billion acquisition of the largest electric power producer and mining company in Texas, in a transaction that involved many complex environmental issues and was one of the largest private equity purchases of a public company in U.S. history
  • Acted as the lead environmental lawyer for an investment consortium providing the equity and debt financing for a management-led buyout of one of the nation’s largest pipeline and terminal companies in a transaction valued in excess of $23 billion
  • Acted as environmental counsel for a major U.S. energy company in connection with the $8.5 billion acquisition of one of Canada’s largest natural gas and pipeline companies
  • Apollo Global Management and Riverstone Holdings on environmental matters relating to the $7.15 billion acquisition, among a consortium of investors, of El Paso Corp's upstream assets
  • Represented one of the world’s largest energy companies in the negotiation of three complex and comprehensive safety, health, and environmental indemnification agreements that were necessary to facilitate the acquisition of interests in eight refineries, dozens of terminals, hundreds of miles of pipelines, and more than 9,000 gasoline service stations in a transaction valued in excess of $4 billion
  • Represented a private equity group on all environmental matters relating to their $3.6 billion acquisition of 13 electric power plants located primarily in southeast Texas
  • Represented a major U.S. natural gas and pipeline company on all environmental matters relating to its $3.3 billion acquisition of a major west coast electric utility company
  • Continental Airlines in its $3.2 billion all-stock merger with United Airlines, creating the world’s largest airline at the time
  • Represented a major U.S. energy company on environmental matters relating to the merger of its natural gas gathering and processing businesses with similar assets from another company to create a new joint venture company valued at $2.4 billion
  • Represented a major foreign oil company on environmental matters relating to a $2.2 billion joint venture for development of approximately 600,000 acres of oil and gas reserves in the Eagle Ford Shale region in Texas
  • Represented Reliance Industries Limited on environmental matters relating to its $1.7 billion joint venture with Atlas Energy, Inc. for the development of approximately 300,000 acres of natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale region
  • Represented a Chinese oil company on environmental matters relating to its $1.4 billion acquisition of producing properties in Ecuador from an energy company headquartered in Canada
  • Acted as environmental counsel for an international electric power producer in connection with the $1.4 billion acquisition of three cogeneration facilities in New Jersey
  • Represented a major U.S. energy company on all environmental matters relating to the acquisition of interests in almost two dozen domestic and international cogeneration facilities in a transaction valued in excess of $1.3 billion
  • Represented a joint venture company on environmental matters arising in connection with the sale of an 8,000-mile pipeline system for $1.2 billion
  • Represented a private equity investor group on all environmental matters relating to the purchase of a refinery, terminal, pipeline system, and approximately 220 gasoline service station facilities in a transaction valued in excess of $1 billion
  • Represented a major British electric utility on environmental matters arising in connection with its approximately $1 billion acquisition of a U.S.-based independent electric power producer
  • Represented U.S.-based investment firm on environmental matters relating to its acquisition of interests in 25 electric power generating facilities in almost a dozen states in a transaction valued in excess of $900 million
  • Acted as environmental counsel for an international oilfield service company in connection with a $638 million acquisition of a public company providing environmental services to the oil industry
  • Represented a private investment fund in the negotiation of agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice that enabled the client to acquire $500 million in assets from a bankrupt steel company without becoming liable for environmental contamination associated with the assets, including adjacent properties, retained by the bankrupt company
  • Represented an interstate pipeline company on environmental matters relating to its approximately $400 million acquisition of a natural gas pipeline system in the Appalachian Mountains
  • Acted as environmental counsel for an international chemical company in connection with its acquisition of a specialty chemicals business with more than a dozen manufacturing sites and chemical product sales in more than 80 countries
  • Negotiated the terms of an environmental liability allocation agreement on behalf of an international chemical manufacturing company that was merging with a U.S.-based chemical company
  • Represented a large European corporation in evaluating the potential environmental liabilities and probable environmental expenditures associated with a large interstate pipeline system the European client was considering acquiring

Enforcement Defense & Litigation

  • Represented a major oilfield service company in responding to investigations by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of hydraulic fracturing practices used in shale gas development
  • Represented a major U.S. crude oil gathering, transportation, and pipeline company in the defense of a property contamination lawsuit where the plaintiff’s alleged $40 million damage claims were settled for less than 1 percent of the amount initially claimed
  • Settled, without a conviction or guilty plea, one of the largest criminal air pollution cases in Texas history on behalf of a catalyst processing company
  • Represented three regional economic development organizations in their intervention in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to halt virtually all new road and highway construction in the Houston/Galveston area, in a case before the Fifth Circuit that was ultimately settled without any suspension of road and highway construction work
  • Settled, by a pretrial diversion resulting in no criminal record, a multi-count criminal water pollution case on behalf of an international chemical manufacturing company
  • Represented a large U.S. equipment manufacturing firm in the defense of civil and criminal air pollution charges that resulted in a unique settlement that did not require the payment of any fine or penalty
  • Represented a major U.S. manufacturing company in the successful defense of civil air pollution charges filed by Harris County and the State of Texas
  • Represented a major crude oil pipeline company in the negotiation of an efficient, structured settlement of civil air pollution charges filed by Harris County and the State of Texas
  • Represented dozens of clients in the defense of administrative enforcement actions initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and other environmental agencies

Counseling & Permitting

  • Represented a major independent electric power producer in successfully obtaining, on a timely basis, all water supply, waste water discharge, air emissions, and other permits for an 850 MW merchant power plant in Grimes County, Texas, that was subject to vigorous local opposition
  • Assisted an international energy company in the preparation of all environmental documentation for a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to be constructed in Baja California
  • Advised an international energy company in securing approvals under the National Environmental Policy Act for a new LNG terminal to be constructed in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Represented dozens of property owners in obtaining closure letters, certificates of completion, and other final action documents from governmental agencies in connection with the remediation of more than 100 contaminated sites
  • Assisted project sponsors in securing controversial permits for a major highway construction project in the Houston area
  • Represented dozens of interstate pipeline companies in obtaining environmental approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other environmental agencies for new pipeline construction and expansion projects
  • Negotiated a series of interrelated environmental remediation and liability allocation agreements that facilitated a $300 million redevelopment of a high-profile contaminated site in downtown Houston
  • Represented dozens of clients in securing pollution legal liability and remediation cost cap environmental insurance policies for a wide variety of contaminated properties located throughout Texas

Insights

Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.4586
F +1.713.615.5538
lnettles@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Larry's Practices

  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1981 (Order of the Coif)
  • Rice University, B.S., Civil Engineering, 1978
  • Admitted to practice: Texas; U.S. District Courts of the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of Texas; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Chambers USA, Environment (Texas), 2004–2016
  • Legal 500 U.S., Energy, 2010; Environment: Transaction & Regulatory, 2012–2016; Environment Litigation, 2016
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Environmental Law, 2006–2017; Land Use and Zoning Law, 2011–2017; Energy Law, 2012–2017
  • National Law Journal, Energy & Environmental Trailblazer, May 2016
  • United States Lawyer Rankings, Number one lawyer in Environmental Law, 2008–2016
  • United States Lawyer Rankings, "Top 10 Lawyers in Environmental Law," 2006–2016
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Environmental Law, 2006–2015; Land Use and Zoning Law, 2011–2015; Energy Law, 2012–2015
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2003–2016
  • Who's Who Legal: International, environmental law, 2008 and 2011
  • Who's Who Legal (Law Business Research Ltd.), Environmental Law, 2007–2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating, 1987–2012
  • Former Member: Policy Subcommittee of the National Petroleum Council
  • Founder: Environmental Law Section, Houston Bar Association
  • Chair and Past President: The Park People, Inc.
  • Business Community Representative: Houston-Galveston Area Regional Safety Council
  • Fellow: Houston Bar Foundation; Texas Bar Foundation
  • Board of Directors: Trees for Houston
  • Member: Greater Houston Partnership Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
  • Former Chair: Sports and Recreation Committee, Houston Chamber of Commerce
  • Graduate: Leadership Houston, Class IX