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Steve Morton

Partner
+1.512.482.6869
Fax +1.512.482.6859
Steve Morton is a partner in the firm’s Austin office. He has thirty years of experience obtaining necessary environmental permits, defending government or third-party claims before administrative agencies and courts, and assisting clients on regulatory and statutory developments before administrative agencies and the Texas Legislature. Steve advises clients on a wide range of environmental issues. He is experienced in negotiating cost recovery and remedy settlements with state and federal agencies and advising clients in connection with hazardous waste remediation projects. Steve has a background in hydrogeology and helps clients with the management, purchase, lease, sale and other conveyances of groundwater and surface water in Texas. Steve has also been responsible for environmental due diligence and contract review for over $1 billion of M&A, IPO, financing and asset transfers in Texas, California, Florida and 20 other states. He has developed expertise in industrial and oil and gas waste management, including remediation, Superfund, underground storage tanks, underground injection disposal wells, water quality, wetlands, and transactional issues involving the sale and acquisition of contaminated properties.

He is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education and trade association seminars on environmental topics and is a coauthor of a chapter in the Texas Water Resources treatise published by the State Bar of Texas.

Professional Background

Prior to joining the firm, Steve was a partner at prior Austin law firms for over twenty-five years.

Achievements

  • Rated AV-Preeminent
  • Rated Best Lawyers - Environmental
  • Rated Texas Super Lawyer - Environmental
  • Texas State Bar Foundation Fellow, Life Member

Professional/Civic Activities

  • General Counsel to the Industry Council on the Environment, a trade association of corporations in the transportation, communications, petroleum refining/marketing, and utility industries.
  • Editor, “What to do When the Environmental Client Calls.” American Bar Association. 1994.
  • College of the State Bar of Texas 
  •  Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Steering Committee on Risk Reduction Program Rule Guidance, 1999-Present
  •  Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Industry Work Group on the Texas Risk Reduction Rules, 1998
  • Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Task Force 21 Subcommittee on Spill Reporting, 1995
  • Texas Water Commission Petroleum Storage Tank Remediation Fund Advisory Committee: Member 1989-1990

Speaking Engagements

  • “Environmental Due Diligence” Austin Bar Association Real Estate Section Meeting. Austin, Texas 2016
  • “Environmental Law Confidential: Useful Tips and Urban Myths in Real Estate Transactions” 50th Annual William W. Gibson, Jr. Mortgage Lending Institute. Austin, Texas. September 2016; Dallas, Texas. October 2016
  • “Environmental Regulation: An Update on Under the Radar Environmental Developments” Aluminum Anodizing Council Winter Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana. January 2016
  • “The Legal Pitfalls in Recycling Anodizing Waste Streams” Aluminum Anodizers Council, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. September 2014
  • “Litigation Against TCEQ: Survey of Selected Pending Cases, Travis County District Court/Recently Appealed” 26th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas. August 2014.
  • “Making the Most of Agency Brownfields Programs: The Texas Experience” National Association of Environmental Professionals Annual Conference, St. Petersburg, Florida. April 2014.
  • “Confessions of an Environmental Lawyer: Revealing the Urban Myths, Half-Truths, and Misconceptions About Environmental Issues in Real Estate Transactions” February 2013.
  • “Legal and Ethical Considerations in the Self-Disclosure of Environmental Non-Compliance” Industry Council on the Environment, Austin, Texas. October 2012.
  • “Lawyers and Consultants: Into the Matrix.” Air and Waste Management Association Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas. May 2012.
  • “Lawyering Up: Environmental Consulting Agreements, Phase I ESAs and Phase II ESIs.” 23rd Annual Advanced Real Estate Drafting Course, Irving, Texas. March 2012.
  •  "Developments in Industrial and Hazardous Waste Management - Litigation Update." Air and Waste Management Association Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida. June 2011.
  • "Back to the Future: RCRA and CERCLA Update" Air and Waste Management Association Annual Meeting, Calgary, Alberta, Canada June 2010.
  • Update on NAPL Investigation and Remediation Regulatory Issues; Industry Council on the Environment, January 2009.
  • “Tools for Managing Homeland Security Risks: The History and Fate of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.” American Association of Port Authorities - Legal Issues Seminar. Seattle, Washington. July 2005.
  • Local Austin Terrorism legal expert reaction to London bombings, July 7, 2005; television interview with Fox news affiliate and radio interview aired during Morning Edition, KUT FM.
  • “Protecting the Client: Recent SEC and Corporate Environmental Developments.” In-house CLE presentation. March 2005.
  • “Homeland Security.” Trinity Industries, Dallas, Texas. November 2004.
  • Business Associates Environmental Training. In-house CLE presentation. Dallas, Texas. September 2004.
  • “Homeland Security & International Trade Presentation.” Valero Energy Corporation. San Antonio, Texas. June 2004.
  • "Homeland Security, U.S. Customers & Export, and Immigration Law Developments.” Association of Corporate Counsel of America. New York, New York. May 2004.
  • “Brownfields Toolbox: Legal Strategies for Redevelopment.” Industry Council on the Environment. October, 2003.
  • “Homeland Security - Protecting the Client.” Business Lawyers Roundtable. Dallas, Texas. August 2003.
  • “Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.” In-house CLE presentation. Dallas, Texas. May 2003.
  • “Due Diligence after the 2002 Superfund Amendment.” Industry Council on the Environment. Austin, Texas. September 2002.
  • “Groundwater Regulation.” CLE International Texas Water Law Conference. Houston, Texas. May 2000.
  • “Fundamentals of Commercial Leasing: Environmental Issues.” American Bar Association 11th Annual Real Property Symposia. Miami, Florida. March 2000.
  • “Texas Risk Reduction Program Rules” Air & Waste Management Association, Dallas, Texas. February 2000.
  • “Underground Storage Tank Compliance.” Industry Council on the Environment. Austin, Texas. December 1999.
  • “Groundwater Regulation.” CLE International 9th Annual Texas Water Law Conference. Austin, Texas. October 1999.
  • “Historic Contamination.” 11th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference. Austin, Texas. August 1999.
  • “Recent Superfund Developments.” 9th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference. Austin, Texas. 1997.
  • “Port Development: Environmental Opportunities for Development of Contaminated Property.” American Association of Port Authorities. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 1996.
  • “Federal and State Spill Reporting Requirements.” South Texas College of Law 6th Annual Environmental Law Symposium. 1995.
  • “Release Reporting Requirements.” 1994 Annual Texas Environmental Law Superconference, Texas State Bar Environmental and Natural Resource Section.

Additional Information

  • Graduate work in hydrogeology at the University of Texas at Austin

Transactional

  • Water conveyance aspects of sale and acquisition of various 50,000 acre properties.
  • Redevelopment of former commercial properties into charter school facilities.
  • Acquisition of Federal Superfund Site in Colorado for re-use as mixed commercial/ residential development.
  • Advise lenders on environmental aspects of loan transactions, environmental due diligence.
  • Negotiation with State of Virginia on Highway Construction contracts.
  • Represent pension fund advisors in connection with environmental contract negotiations; due diligence.
  • Represent REITs in connection with real estate acquisition, contract negotiation; due diligence.
  • Nationwide environmental aspects of real estate acquisition and sales for automobile dealers.
  • Manufacturing and commercial facility acquisition; indemnity dispute.

Remediation

  • PRP Group Counsel Superfund Site; represent large companies in Texas in connection with PCB state superfund site; work with bankruptcy trustee; developed allocation model and led successful cost recovery against 250 parties; negotiated RI/FS Order with State; work with consultants on RI/FS.
  • Risk Based Cleanup Rule Development. Served on TCEQ Steering Committee to develop guidance on "TRRP" Rules; authored guidance on notice and institutional controls, successful challenge to rulemaking attempts to drastically alter PCB analytical methods.
  • Part B Corrective Action SWMU Investigations and Closures; representation of international chemical manufacturing companies at multiple locations in Texas.
  • Assisted copper smelter and copper refinery on hazardous and solid waste remediation issues.
  • Closure of antimony smelter slag site.
  • Remediation of vermiculite mine Superfund site in Colorado.
  • Successful closure of State's worst perc free product site through TCEQ Voluntary Cleanup Program; negotiations of settlement with adjoining property owners, City.
  • Municipal Settings Designation applications, representation of multiple clients to obtain closure of groundwater issues at sites in Dallas Fort Worth area..
  • Remediation of perchloroethylene release into Edwards Aquifer (DNAPL issues).
  • Remediation of “Brownfield” commercial sites in Texas, Washington, Florida, California, Montana, New York.
  • Petroleum remediation at major Port in Texas.
  • Former aluminum extrusion facility groundwater remediation.
  • ARARs development at Hardage and Motco Superfund Sites.
  • Negotiation of fixed price remediation agreement for major cleanup in Houston.

Risk Management

  • Acquisition and negotiation with AIG for Environmental Insurance Portfolio Coverage.
  • Environmental Coverage Dispute with AIG; obtained coverage.
  • Negotiations on over 50 Environmental Policies.

Litigation/Enforcement

  • Successful cost recovery against 200 parties in Superfund Cost Recovery action,
  • Representation of 150 clients in settlement negotiations against State of Texas in Superfund Cost recovery matter.
  • Defense against EPA Region VI enforcement alleging improper recycling of hazardous waste; Case dropped.
  • Obtained dismissal of EPA enforcement on hazardous waste characterization issues.
  • Defense of violations alleged by Federal Aviation Administration; favorable settlement.
  • Part of team defending multimillion dollar claim against national environmental consulting firm for damages for alleged cross contamination; favorable settlement.
  • NPDES/Pretreatment enforcement defense; favorable settlement.
  • Defense against DOJ claims of improper hazardous waste recycling; favorable settlement
  • Negotiation of environmental aspects of Bankruptcy Court Plan of Reorganization in connection with VPG Superfund Site.
  • Asbestos abatement enforcement defense.

Regulatory Counseling

  • General Counsel and Founding member, Industry Council on the Environment. State wide trade association to represent interests on environmental regulatory developments.
  • Regulatory Counseling on State and Federal Water Quality/Pretreatment Environmental issues.
  • Regulatory Counseling on State and Federal Hazardous Waste Recycling issues.
  • Environmental counseling to company competing for X Prize; rocket test fire issues, launch pad acquisition.
  • Hazardous Waste Deep Well No Migration Petition, Part B permitting.
  • Environmental aspects of securities counseling.