John Riley is an environmental and energy attorney who focuses on permitting and enforcement matters in the air, water and waste media. He routinely counsels clients on the development of positions in legislative and rulemaking matters.

Mr. Riley advises entities in the power generation, hydraulic fracturing, chemical, manufacturing and waste disposal sectors. He primarily represents clients in matters before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He also has represented numerous clients in contested case hearings in permit and enforcement matters before the TCEQ at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in Texas.

Before entering private practice, Mr. Riley served as the director of the Litigation Division at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), which is now the TCEQ. While there, he was directly responsible for the development and implementation of the Texas Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act, as well as other legislative, rulemaking and policy developments affecting the full range of the environmental laws in Texas. He also oversaw the development of the Special Investigations Unit, which is the TCEQ's environmental crimes investigation group.

Prior to the TNRCC, Mr. Riley served as the Deputy Commissioner for Energy Resources, Administrative Law Judge and Director of Audit Hearings for the Texas General Land Office (GLO). He also worked as Senior Trial Assistant District Attorney for the Kings County District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was a prosecutor in the Homicide Bureau and Trial Cadre.

In addition, Mr. Riley presents at numerous environmental regulatory conferences. He also has testified before the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as before the Texas, Alaska and Louisiana legislatures.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully represented a client in a federal citizen suit brought under the federal Clean Air Act New Source Review provisions, including negotiating a multiparty consent decree with citizen groups and federal governmental authorities
  • Successfully represented a client by obtaining an air permit for a facility that was opposed by a citizen group, the county government, as well as federal, state and local political figures
  • Successfully represented a client in a time-sensitive matter by obtaining an authorization for a new air emission source through a combination of regulatory authorizations
  • Successfully represented a client as lead counsel in obtaining authorizations for construction and operation of a lignite-fired power plant in Texas
  • Successfully represented companies seeking prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permits and other air authorizations in Texas

  • Successfully represented a client by obtaining contested underground injection control (UIC) and related environmental permits for a commercial waste disposal facility
  • Successfully represented a client by obtaining several contested municipal solid waste (MSW) permits authorizing landfill expansions throughout Texas
  • Defended a waste disposal company in an environmental enforcement action brought by private attorneys seeking more than $1 billion in penalty on behalf of a local government involving a long-closed waste disposal site

  • Successfully represented a client in negotiating a federal consent decree resolving a citizen suit after a liability finding had already been made by the trial court

  • Successfully represented an oil and gas exploration and production company leading to the U.S. EPA's withdrawal of its unilateral administrative order against the company

  • Successfully represented a client in obtaining a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) emergency order authorizing air emissions from an alternative loading device following the catastrophic collapse of the permitted product loading structure
  • Successfully represented a client in resolving an investigation instigated by a civil lawsuit plaintiff's complaint to the TCEQ of illegal waste handling without any enforcement action being taken by the agency
  • Defended numerous administrative and civil environmental regulatory enforcement matters on behalf of clients

  • Responsible for the original drafting and implementation of the Texas Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act
  • Participated in numerous environmental regulatory audits for a wide variety of industries


  • Boston University School of Law, J.D.
  • Cornell University, B.A.
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Texas
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
Honors & Awards
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Environment, 2012-2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Administrative/Regulatory Law and Environmental Law, 2006-2015, 2018-2024; Administrative Law, 2016, 2019-2021; Litigation-Environmental, 2024
  • Texas Super Lawyers magazine, 2003, 2004, 2012-2019


Speaking Engagements