Overview

Jim Morriss is an environmental attorney in Holland & Knight's Austin office. Mr. Morriss focuses his practice on environmental permitting; compliance counseling; facility siting, including wetlands and endangered species work; legislative lobbying; and administrative and judicial litigation before local, state and federal environmental agencies as well as state and federal courts.

Mr. Morriss has extensive experience in counseling clients in environmental risk management, including the design and implementation of environmental auditing programs and environmental management systems, and in the investigation and disclosure of environmental liabilities and contingencies.

Industry sources commend Mr. Morriss' skills, saying:

(He) has provided thoughtful, timely, and pragmatic advice, balancing the considerations of legal, financial, and environmental risks. He quickly assesses the issues and his advice and work product demonstrate a good understanding of our business objectives.

Chambers USA – America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide, 2019

In addition, Mr. Morriss has significant experience in litigation involving the investigation and remedy of complex sites, including the development and presentation of risk-based solutions to contamination. This work has involved both state and federal Superfund matters as well as voluntary cleanup programs in a number of states. He has represented clients in a variety of industry and commercial sectors, including steel, metals recycling, organic and inorganic chemicals, petroleum refining, plastics, cement, oil and gas exploration and production, transportation and real estate development.

Mr. Morriss served as an adjunct professor at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, teaching Fracking and More: Environmental Issues in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development course. He also was an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, teaching Environmental Issues in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development.

In addition, Mr. Morriss is frequent speaker at various continuing legal education (CLE) programs on environmental law topics. In 1988, he served on the Texas task force on Waste Management Policy, a Joint Senate-House Committee that evaluated the need for changes to laws governing solid waste management in Texas.

Representative Experience

  • Represented a land owner with almost 6,000 acres within the habitat of the endangered Houston toad before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and secured approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan, Incidental Take Permit, Safe Harbor Agreement and Conservation Bank pursuant to Sections 7 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act
  • Defended an agency investigation and threatened enforcement action relating to the beneficial reuse of byproducts from a steel manufacturing, and pipe and tubing production facility
  • Developed and implemented strategy for assessing risks to human health and the environment from historic releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from a large industrial complex and for presenting findings to regulatory agencies and the public
  • Developed and implemented a strategy for a steel manufacturing facility as debtor-in-possession to resolve a comprehensive solid waste and water enforcement action and claim filed by the state of Texas
  • Served as counsel to a chemical and plastics company in connection with upset and release issues arising from the startup of a new chemical plant
  • Represented steel and cement companies in connection with the development of an innovative byproduct use/reuse project involving the use of a coproduct from the steel industry as a valuable raw material in the manufacture of Portland cement
  • Represented the petrochemical and plastics industry in major state and federal air enforcement actions filed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
  • Represented a major oil company in connection with offsite soil and groundwater contamination from historic refinery operations
  • Developed and implemented an environmental audit program for a steel manufacturing facility
  • Conducted a due diligence assessment of environmental risks and liabilities in steel and cement operations in connection with a public debt offering
  • Conducted environmental due diligence of several steel manufacturing facilities in conjunction with the preparation of a bid to purchase the facilities
  • Represented the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development in support of byproduct synergy projects and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) policy development

  • Developed and provided legislative support for HB 3152 in Texas' 78th Legislative Session; the bill authorizes creation of municipal setting designations to address groundwater contamination in a cost-effective manner
  • Developed and provided legislative support for the Innocent Owner/Operator legislation passed in the 75th Legislative Session
  • Developed and provided legislative support for lender and fiduciary liability protection provisions in the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act during the 75th Legislative Session

Credentials

Education
  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D., with honors
  • Southern Methodist University, B.S.M.E., with high honors
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Colorado
  • Texas
Memberships
  • Austin Bar Association, Administrative Law Section, 1995-2019; Environmental Law Section, 1995-2019
  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER), 1976-Present; Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, 1976-2019
  • Dallas Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, Chairman, 1986
  • State Bar of Texas; Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section, Chairman, 1988-1989
  • Keeping PACE in Texas, Board Member, 2013-Present
  • Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, President, 2017-2018
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business, The University of Texas at Austin Advisory Council
Honors & Awards
  • The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), Fellow
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide, Environmental Law, 2004-2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Litigation-Environmental, 1989-2021
  • The Legal 500 USA, Recognized Attorney, Energy: Regulatory; Environment – Regulatory, 2015-2021
  • Texas Super Lawyers magazine, Environmental, Environmental Litigation, Government Relations), 2003-2004, 2012-2020
  • Texas Super Lawyers magazine, Top 50 Central/West Region, 2012, 2014
  • Who's Who Legal: Texas, Environmental, 2007-2020
  • ICFM Leading Lawyers 500, InterContinental Finance magazine, 2013

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News