Skip to content
Larry W. Nettles
Larry W. Nettles
Partner — Environmental & Natural Resources
Partner — Environmental & Natural Resources

Larry W. Nettles

Larry W. Nettles
Houston

1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002

Larry W. Nettles

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 twelve 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.

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 a major Canadian natural gas distribution company on all environmental matters relating to its acquisition of a U.S.-based natural gas utility company for $6.4 billion

  • 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

  • Represented a major oilfield services firm on all environmental issues relating to its $2.9 billion acquisition by merger of one of the largest hydraulic fracturing and well completion businesses in North America

  • 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

  • Acted as the lead environmental attorney for a major drilling contractor in connection with its acquisition by merger of a significant competitor for $1.8 billion 

  • 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 major international distributor of chemicals and plastics on all environmental matters, including complex permit transfers, arising from acquisition of the company by a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation for $1.65 billion 

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Credentials

  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1981 (Order of the Coif)
  • Rice University, B.S., Civil Engineering, 1978
  • Chambers USA, Environment (Texas), 2004–2019
  • Legal 500 U.S., Energy, 2010; Environment: Transaction & Regulatory, 2012–2019; Environment Litigation, 2016−2019
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings, LLC), Environmental Law, 2006–2020; Land Use and Zoning Law, 2011–2020; Energy Law, 2012–2020
  • National Law Journal, Energy & Environmental Trailblazer, May 2016
  • United States Lawyer Rankings, Number one lawyer in Environmental Law, 2008–2019
  • United States Lawyer Rankings, “Top 10 Lawyers in Environmental Law,” 2006–2019
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2003–2019
  • Who’s Who Legal: International (Law Business Research Ltd.), Environmental Law, 2008 and 2011
  • Who’s Who Legal (Law Business Research Ltd.), Environmental Law, 2007–2017
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating, 1987–2012
  • Vice President: Trees For Houston Inc.
  • 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
  • Texas
  • U.S. District Courts of the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • “Ninth Annual Hydraulic Fracturing Symposium,” V&E Houston Office, October 3, 2019 (speaker)
  • “Eighth Annual Hydraulic Fracking Symposium,” V&E Houston Office, October 3, 2018 (speaker)
  • “Seventh Annual Hydraulic Fracturing Symposium,” V&E Houston Office, October 4, 2017 (speaker)
  • “BSEE Broadens its View: Pipeline ROW Grant Assignments May Now Include Multiple Grant Holders and Reference the Identification of a Single ROW Pipeline Operator,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, September 8, 2017 (co-author)
  • “Not in the Interest of Disclosure: Trump White House Strikes Down Mineral Resource Disclosure Rule,” V&E Environmental & FCPA/Anti-Corruption Update E-communication, February 22, 2017 (co-author)
  • “Trump Administration Acts to Reduce Regulations and Control Regulatory Costs,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, February 9, 2017 (co-author)
  • “Trump Administration Acts to Advance Infrastructure Projects and Pipeline Development,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, January 26, 2017 (co-author)
  • “BOEM Hits the “Pause” Button on New Financial Assurance for Multi-Party Offshore Leases While Operators of Sole Liability Properties Continue under the Original Timeline,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, January 11, 2017 (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)
  • “New Methane Regulations,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, September 2016 (author)
  • “BOEM Issues NTL Imposing More Stringent Financial Assurance Requirements on OCS Lessees for Decommissioning Liabilities,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, July 20, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Landmark TSCA Reform Legislation Enhances Regulatory Consistency, Expands EPA,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, June 23, 2016 (co-author)
  • “A Closer Look at EPA’s New Methane Rules for the Oil and Gas Industry,” June 22, 2016 (presenter)
  • “The Future of Clean Water Act Enforcement and the Jurisdictional Determination Program in the Wake of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, June 7, 2016 (co-author)
  • “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)
  • “Environmental Due Diligence and Defect Procedure,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Oil & Gas Purchase and Sale Agreements, May 12, 2016, Santa Fe, New Mexico (presenter)
  • “Environmental Due Diligence and Defect Procedure,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Oil & Gas Purchase and Sale Agreements, May 12, 2016 (co-author)
  • “BSEE Final Well Control Rule Published,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, April 29, 2016 (co-author)
  • “More Methane Pain: White House and Canadian Prime Minister Release Joint Plan to Regulate Methane Emissions from Existing Oil and Gas Sources,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, March 14, 2016 (co-author)
  • “EPA Announces Expanded National Enforcement Priorities For 2017-2019,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, February 25, 2016 (co-author)
  • “What to Expect in 2016 – Federal Environmental Regulatory Outlook for the Oil and Gas Industry,” Vinson & Elkins LLP, February 10, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Pennsylvania Governor Announces Plan for Regulating Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, January 26, 2016 (co-author)
  • “BLM Wants Royalties for Natural Gas Lost to Venting, Flaring, and Leaks on Federal Land,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, January 26, 2016 (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)
  • “DOT Finalizes Rule for State Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs,” V&E Environmental Law Update E-communication, July 23, 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)
  • “EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study Finds No Evidence of Widespread Systemic Impacts on Drinking Water Resources,” V&E Shale Insights — Tracking Fracking E-communication, June 11, 2015 (co-author)
  • “Shale Wastewater and Public Treatment Plants,” Texas Lawyer, June 8, 2015 (co-author)
  • “Governor Abbott Signs Bill Prohibiting Local Fracking Bans,” V&E Shale Insights — Tracking Fracking E-communication, May 21, 2015 (co-author)
  • “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)
  • “EPA Issues Proposed Rule Prohibiting Disposal of Shale Wastewater at Public Treatment Facilities,” V&E Shale Insights — Tracking Fracking E-communication, April 7, 2015 (co-author)
  • The Legal Impact of Climate Change 2013: Leading Lawyers on Responding to Climate Change Developments and Complying with New Regulations, Ch. 2, West Publishing Co, 2013
  • “Environmental Regulation of Marcellus Drilling,” Hart Marcellus Handbook, June 2011 (co-author)
  • “Abbreviated Guide to the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” Texas Transnational Law Quarterly, June 2009
  • “Oil Regulation,” Global Competition Review/Getting The Deal Through, July 2009
  • “Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: Transportation, Storage, and Other Infrastructure Issues,” Texas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law, October 2008
  • “Conservation and Land Use Statutes,” Texas Environmental Law Handbook–West, 1997
  • “Impact of Environmental Regulation on the Oil & Gas Industry,” Petroleum Landman Magazine, May/June 1994
  • Author of more than 50 articles on environmental law topics for a variety of seminars and continuing legal education programs
  • Frequent speaker on various environmental law topics before professional and industry groups