Gerry Pels, Chair of the Firm-wide Environmental Section – Energy and Industry and ESG practice, has been one of the leaders of the Texas environmental legal community for over 30 years. His diverse practice focuses on:
- Environmental compliance
- Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") program development, reporting and risk mitigation
During his career, Gerry has consistently led teams working on cutting-edge matters of environmental law, including resolving the well-known Cooper v. Aviall litigation and arguing Clean Air Act issues before the Fifth Circuit in litigation involving the Texas SIP. Gerry has been consistently recognized in Chambers USA since 2004 as well as in The Best Lawyers in America® for Environmental Law. He was also an adjunct law professor for seven years teaching both environmental law and an advanced RCRA seminar.
Gerry's wide range of experience includes agency negotiations, assessing and counseling air, water, stormwater and waste permit compliance, representing clients at contested permit, enforcement and other hearings. He has also provided comprehensive assistance and representation to potentially responsible parties and steering committees at both state and federal Superfund sites.
Gerry has been called upon to lead internal environmental investigations and provide strategic board level guidance on ESG and sustainability initiatives, reporting and board/management oversight of the ESG function, including risk minimization; corporate environmental compliance policies; stakeholder involvement and community relations planning; as well as corporate risk assessment and mitigation.
Gerry’s representative experience includes:
- Representing public companies and boards in connection with ESG program development, reporting, oversight responsibility and risk mitigation
- Representing a major manufacturer in connection with environmental indemnity claims involving response at over 100 facilities in the United States and abroad. The matter settled after three weeks of trial
- Evaluating, negotiating and developing risk management strategies related to facility acquisitions and divestitures, including development of manuscripted insurance products, utilization of audit privilege and immunity programs, and other means to address environmental responsibility
- Arguing before the Fifth Circuit a defense of the Houston-Galveston SIP against claims brought by various parties, including environmental activist groups
- Representing a hazardous waste management facility in connection with re-permitting its solvent recycling and fuels blending units to address VOC emissions on a non-speciated basis and defending related enforcement actions
- Representing a major energy company in connection with focused due diligence, including NSR permitting analyses of proposed and existing source modifications and other air emissions compliance matters associated with potential refinery acquisitions
- Representing a Fortune 500 manufacturer in connection with potential emissions aggregation at plants in close proximity to one another and development of a strategy to avert major source thresholds
- Representation of industrial concerns in Title V and other air permitting throughout the United States, including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, New Mexico, Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia and Colorado
- Providing corporate level strategic planning to address environmental initiatives, including air emissions management and reductions, sustainability, and climate change risk assessment and preparedness
- Developing stakeholder analyses to develop and refine facility acquisition and permitting strategies
- Siting and permitting industrial and energy facilities, including solid and hazardous waste management facilities, manufacturing plants, power plants and renewable energy facilities, including wind farms, biodiesel plants, biomass facilities and others
- Providing comprehensive representation of potentially responsible parties and steering committees at both state and federal Superfund sites
- Strategic planning concerning acquisition and agency negotiation for redevelopment of brownfields and Superfund facilities
- Assisting in the review and preparation of remedial work plans and investigations, feasibility studies and community relations plans to both establish an evidentiary basis to support litigation and to defend approaches to response
- Negotiating agreed orders to, among other things, resolve enforcement actions, conduct remedial investigations, feasibility studies and other regulatory actions