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Eric Groten
Eric Groten
Partner — Environmental & Natural Resources
Partner — Environmental & Natural Resources

Eric Groten

Eric Groten
Austin

2801 Via Fortuna
Suite 100
Austin, TX 78746

Some days, I’m in federal district court defending enforcement cases, or in dialogue with EPA and DOJ and NGO lawyers to resolve them. Some days, at clients’ operations, working through their permitting strategies in support of development plans, or investigating compliance issues. So I get to do most things lawyers do, but with a focus on obligations imposed by the laws governing air quality.
Eric Groten

Eric Groten is an accomplished Clean Air Act practitioner with nearly 35 years of experience navigating state and federal air quality laws. His work covers the full array of legal work generated by air quality laws, including defending enforcement actions, applying for the permits they require, transacting emissions rights, counseling clients on compliance and lobbying to change rules and the laws themselves. He has represented upstream, midstream and petrochemical facilities, power generators, and extractive industries in enforcement actions brought by EPA, by state agencies and by citizen groups.

Chambers USA described Eric as “a highly experienced air emissions lawyer, distinguished in the market by the sizable volume of contested air permitting work he undertakes,” and “creative in thinking through how to find an interpretation that’s going to get you the result you need” (2019). Indeed, Eric relishes the opportunity to help a client that’s willing to actively defend itself when it believes it has operated within the law. And to find a way through permitting disputes that stand in the way of capital projects that modernize our industrial base.

Experience Highlights

  • Counsel to lead petitioner organization in DC Circuit and Supreme Court judicial review proceedings challenging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiatives to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act 

  • Successful contested case prosecution of air permits for various industrial sectors in Texas, including coal- and natural gas-fired power generation, chemical manufacturing, nonferrous smelting, waste disposal, and rock quarrying and crushing

  • Defended challenges to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) permitting decisions in Travis County District Court and Texas Court of Appeals related to power plants and other industrial facilities

  • Defended enforcement actions brought by the TCEQ against many industrial sectors, including upstream, midstream, power generation, and petrochemical facilities

  • Defended citizen suit brought in Ohio federal district court against gas pipeline company, with mediated resolution 

  • Assisted client in obtaining a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit for GHG emissions from EPA Region 6 for a proposed 400 MW power project in Texas

  • Defended EPCRA enforcement actions brought by EPA against a polymer manufacturer and a steel equipment fabricator

  • Defended allegations of emission limit violations brought against power company in New Mexico District Court

  • Defended claims brought by State of Ohio in State court alleging violations of nuisance prohibitions and related requirements by client’s compressor station

  • Defended citizen suit brought against a power company in U.S. District Court alleging noncompliance with MACT requirements, including Fifth Circuit appeal and Supreme Court petition for certiorari

  • Obtained issuance of PSD permit for hydrogenous fertilizer manufacturing facility in Idaho following contested case

  • Defended EPA enforcement action against oil terminal operator in California 

  • Defended EPA civil actions alleging violations of fugitive emissions and other requirements applicable to upstream and midstream operations 

  • Defended nationwide enforcement action brought by the EPA to enforce rules governing industrial use of CFCs

  • Developed permitting strategies to enable cost-effective modernization of a Pennsylvania refinery and conducted negotiations with EPA to implement same

  • Filed first notices of audit and disclosures under Texas Environmental Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act, and continued active participation in audit programs and policies

  • Developed legislation authorizing cross-border, cross-pollutant emission trading, as well as the rules to implement the legislation, and then obtained governmental approval of the first trade under those rules

  • Negotiated first-ever multiparty emissions trades with Area Emission Credit Organization in Texas

  • Developed and negotiated first-ever single property agreement approved by State of Texas

  • Negotiated EPA MACT standards for the copper smelting industry

  • Developed PM-10 SIP for an industrial area in Arizona

  • Prosecuted property tax use determination for a gas-fired power plant in Texas

  • Obtained emergency orders authorizing the reconstruction of chemical processes affected by accidental damage

  • Advised clients on risks associated with environmental issues in M&A transactions  

Credentials

  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1985
  • Baylor University, B.A., Chemistry and Environmental Studies, 1981
  • Chambers USA, Environment (Texas), 2004–2019
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings, LLC), Litigation−Environmental Law, 2001−2020
  • International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers (Law Research Business, Ltd.), Environmental Law, 2011
  • Who’s Who Legal: Texas, (Law Business Research Ltd.), Environmental Law, 2007−2011, 2016 and 2017
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) 2003−2019
  • Euromoney‘s Project Finance, Sandy Creek Coal Power Project Financing, “North American Single Asset Power Deal of the Year,” 2008
  • de Novo magazine, “Legal Innovator,” 2003
  • Legal 500 U.S, Environment: Regulatory, 2019
  • Board of Directors: Zachary Scott Theatre (President, 2005–2007); Ballet Austin, 2005–2006; Austin Lyric Opera, 2005–2006; Texas Lyceum Association, 1991–1996
  • Fellow: Texas State Bar College, 1993–present; Texas Bar Foundation, 1998–present; Austin Bar Foundation (Life Fellow)
  • Coordinating founder of TCEQ Environmental Assistance Program for pro bono defense of TCEQ enforcement cases (established 2016)
  • Coach to University of Texas School of Law National Environment Law Moot Court Team (2016-17)
  • Arizona; Texas; Supreme Court of the United States; U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Second, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits; U.S. District Courts for Texas, Arizona, and Colorado
  • “Unwinding the Finding,” Texas Lawyer, December 5, 2017 (author)
  • “Environmental Citizens’ Suit Defense: Preparing for “Private Attorneys General” in the Trump Administration,” V&E Houston Office, February 7, 2017 (speaker)
  • “Recent EPA Actions Open Windows of Project Permitting Opportunity in Houston and Dallas Areas,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, November 22, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Oil and Gas Beware, Regulations Are in the Air,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, November 10, 2016 (co-author)
  • “As EPA Pursues Existing Sources, Could Well and Pipeline Blowdowns Be Next?: EPA’s Plan to Expand Regulations of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, October 17, 2016 (co-author)
  • “The Clean Air Act for Power Project Developers,” University of Texas School of Law (Guest Lecture, September 27, 2016)
  • “A New Slew of Oil and Gas Regulations: What You Need to Know,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, May 18, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Protecting Environmental Consultant Work: A Cautionary Tale,” Law360, March 10, 2016 (co-author)
  • “EPA Announces Expanded National Enforcement Priorities For 2017-2019,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, February 25, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Pennsylvania Court Ruling on Discovery of Private Air Monitoring Program Provides Cautionary Tale on Protecting the Work of Consulting Experts,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, February 8, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Environmental Enforcement and Next Gen Enforcement Tools: Views from Enforcement Defense Counsel,” Air and Waste Management Association, December 8, 2015 (speaker)
  • EPA Proposed Rule Could Resurrect Confusing Test for Air Permitting,” Texas Lawyer, September 16, 2015 (co-author)
  • “New Methane Regulations Proposed for the Oil and Gas Sector: What You Need to Know,” V&E Shale Insights — Tracking Fracking E-communication, August 26, 2015 (co-author)
  • “High Court Overturns EPA Air Toxic Rule for Coal-Fired Power Plants,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, June 30, 2015 (co-author)
  • “Texas Legislature Re-Reforms Contested Case Permit Process(1),” Law360, June 10, 2015
  • “The Frack Pack Strikes Back: Hydraulic Fracturing Legislation in the 114th Congress,” V&E Shale Insights — Tracking Fracking E-communication, May 11, 2015 (co-author)
  • “Here Be Dragons: Legal Threats to EPA’s Proposed Existing Source Performance Standards for Electric Generating Units,”  Environmental Law Reporter, February 2015 (author)
  •  “Clean Air Act Regulation of GHG: EPA’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Texas Public Policy Foundation Energy-Climate Summit, Houston, Texas, September 25, 2014 (speaker)
  • “U.S. Supreme Court Issues Long-Awaited Decision on EPA GHG Permitting Authority,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, June 26, 2014 (author)
  • “BSEE’s Voluntary Confidential Near-Miss Reporting System,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, April 29, 2014 (author)
  • “Another Texas Case Affirms TCEQ’s Authority to Deny Hearing Requests,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, April 11, 2014 (co-author)
  • “Scope of TCEQ Actions Subject to Judicial Review Clarified by Third Court of Appeals,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, March 20, 2014 (co-author)
  • “Roadblocks Ahead for EPA’s Stationary Source GHG Permitting?,” Zephyr Currents, January 2014 (co-author)
  • “The U.S. Energy Policy Agency?: EPA Uses the Clean Air Act to Redirect Our Electricity Future,” Kiewit Power Technical Workshop, San Diego, California, April 20, 2012 (speaker)
  • “(Un)Defining Compliance: Forgotten Lessons from Leviticus to Leventhal,” Lecture to the Source Evaluation Society 36th SSSAAP Conference, March 7, 2012 
  • “EPA: Environmental Protection or Employment Prevention?,” Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 10th Annual Policy Orientation For The Texas Legislature, Austin, Texas, January 12, 2012 (panelist)
  • “EPA Settlement and Penalty Provisions,” Edison Electric Institute Tax Committee Conference, Dallas, Texas, November 14, 2011 (speaker)
  •  “EPA Regulation of ‘Greenhouse Gases’: Using the Clean Air Act to Control a Constituent of Clean Air,” The University of Texas at Austin Forum, November 5, 2010 (invited lecture)
  • “Treatment of Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act,” LexisNexis Global Climate Change Special Pamphlet Series, 2010 (co-author)
  • “An Inconvenient Suit: Challenges Facing U.S. Regulation of Greenhouse Gases,” International Soda Ash Industry Conference, London, England, June 24, 2010 (speaker)
  • “The Intersection of Law and Technology,” Utility Executive Leadership Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 7, 2008 (invited panel presentation)