Overview

Paul Sarahan is an Austin litigation attorney who focuses his practice on a wide variety of environmental issues. Mr. Sarahan represents clients in the energy, chemical, manufacturing, transportation, technology and retail industry sectors. He has more than 20 years of experience in the law, policy, regulation and commercial use of the environment.

Mr. Sarahan is well-versed in handling civil and criminal enforcement, permitting, auditing, litigation, workplace safety, air quality, water rights, water quality, waste handling and disposal, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) matters.

In his practice, Mr. Sarahan represents clients before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as before state environmental agencies in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Wyoming. He also has handled matters before the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Sarahan served seven-plus years as the director of the Litigation Division at the TCEQ, and four years as a senior attorney or staff attorney for the TCEQ. Mr. Sarahan was directly responsible for the commission's Environmental Audit and Supplemental Environmental Projects programs.

During his tenure at the TCEQ, Mr. Sarahan litigated complex environmental cases involving enforcement and permitting. In addition, he assisted in rulemaking, compliance history, penalty policy and emissions events issues, and testified before the Texas Legislature on environmental enforcement and compliance issues. He advised TCEQ's Superfund program, voluntary cleanup program (VCP), innocent owner/operator program (IOP) and petroleum storage tank (PST) program. Mr. Sarahan also supervised TCEQ's criminal investigations unit, reviewed criminal cases brought by the state's environmental crimes task force and served on the agency's Homeland Security Task Force.

Experience

  • Prepared comments on behalf of an industry group and testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the EPA's proposed rule addressing Petroleum Refinery Sector Risk and Technology Review and New Source Performance Standards
  • Represented clients in civil and criminal environmental enforcement actions brought by local governments
  • Represented clients in administrative enforcement actions brought by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the EPA
  • Assisted clients in developing and implementing environmental audit programs addressing air, water, waste and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) issues
  • Represented clients in Superfund matters
  • Represented a shipping company to address environmental issues with the U.S. Coast Guard and TCEQ in response to a maritime accident

  • Represented a petrochemical facility in emergency response activities related to multiagency investigations and enforcement actions
  • Advised various oil and gas operations on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enforcement matters, including investigations related to operations in the Barnett Shale, air permitting matters, emissions inventory issues, greenhouse gas reporting requirements and Department of Transportation registration requirements
  • Advised various pipeline operations on Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) enforcement matters
  • Advised refinery, chemical and midstream oil and gas operations regarding various air issues, including Title V compliance, emission event reporting requirements, permitting and greenhouse gas reporting requirements
  • Represented a power plant in seeking a reversal of a negative use determination on an application for an environmental tax exemption
  • Represented a chemical company in handling a criminal investigation; succeeded in avoiding criminal charges and all civil and administrative enforcement actions were dropped

  • Represented waste facilities in administrative permitting hearings, and in related state district court litigation
  • Represented a chemical facility in handling an emergency response incident, including a site investigation by federal, state and local governmental agencies, and  subsequent personal injury lawsuits and an environmental enforcement action
  • Represented chemical facilities on Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Aviation Administration enforcement actions
  • Advised clients on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements

Credentials

Education
  • University of Houston Law Center, LL.M., Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law
  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D., with honors
  • The University of Texas at Austin, B.B.A., Finance
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Texas
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
Memberships
  • College of the State Bar of Texas
  • State Bar of Texas, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section
  • State Bar of Texas, Administrative and Public Law Section
  • The University of Texas, Chancellor's Council
Honors & Awards
  • Chambers USAAmerica's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Environment, 2017, 2019
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Environmental Law, 2016, 2018, 2019
  • Texas Super Lawyers magazine, 2014-2018
  • The Legal 500 USA, Energy: Regulatory, 2015

Publications

News