Mike Weller advises clients in the context of enforcement actions and government investigations/ information requests, new regulatory developments and compliance, litigation, permitting, and in quantifying and allocating liabilities during business transactions. Mike has worked with companies throughout the energy industry, from oil and natural gas producers to those in the midstream, refiners, as well as renewable energy developers, industry trade associations, manufacturers, importers, and financial institutions in a wide range of environmental law and business matters. He focuses on matters before the federal government, including laws and regulations relating to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the implementing regulations of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
He regularly counsels clients in the face of new regulatory initiatives undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Transportation (DOT), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Mike joined Bracewell after working seven years as a biologist and satellite imagery analyst, which included extensive work with geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, assisting in the production of the world’s first medium resolution land-cover database for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). His scientific background and prior career enables him to offer clients unique depth and insight into issues involving complex scientific principles. In addition, Mike maintains an active pro bono practice focused on representing veterans in their appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Recent Notable Matters
Major oil field service company — represented the client on environmental and criminal issues throughout all phases of the federal government investigation into the Deepwater Horizon blowout and Gulf Oil Spill
Oil field service company — multi-year EPA investigation and Clean Air Act enforcement action from the issuance of the administrative order up through the settlement phase, including the implementation of a Supplemental Environmental Project
Engine importer — defendant in administrative litigation related to EPA enforcement action commenced under the Clean Air Act, Title II program
Marcellus Shale oil and gas operator — litigation and public relations strategies arising from parallel federal and state investigations into alleged groundwater contamination
Importer — EPA investigation into alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and throughout the settlement negotiation process
Energy company — internal investigation and counseling on detailed aspects of the Clean Water Act related to an EPA enforcement action
Oil and gas company — broad EPA investigation and response to request for information regarding the process of hydraulic fracturing
Upstream oil and gas operator — state Attorney General investigation into the sufficiency of the client
Confidential client — drafting comments on various federal and state policy and regulatory initiatives relevant to the upstream oil and gas industry
Energy company — comprehensive review of the environmental risks associated with decommissioning a coal-fired power plant
Motor vehicle/engine importer — appeals before the U.S. Customs and Border Protection related to the seizure of property
Oilfield service company — U.S. DOT, PHMSA administrative matters related to the issuance of permits and authorizations
One of the largest supplier and recycler of solvents in the U.S. — regional and state regulatory developments related to air emissions
Industry group — preparation of comments on EPA Clean Air Act regulatory initiatives, including the proposed SO2, NO2, and Ozone NAAQS; the Boiler MACT and GACT; and EPA
Coal-fired power plant — negotiations with environmental group and developed litigation strategy related to receipt of notice of intent to sue under the Clean Air Act citizen suit provisions
Confidential client — environmental due diligence associated with the acquisition of a 50 percent interest in a 200 MW wind generation facility, including an assessment of relevant permits and authorizations
Multinational electric utility company — proposed acquisition of interest in LNG facility in Texas; provided an assessment of environmental permitting, FERC approvals and implications of federal policy changes
Conflicts Committee of the general partner of a master limited partnership — environmental counsel in its acquisition from its sponsor of a variety of energy-related assets
Private equity investors — assessment of risk and allocation of environmental liabilities in connection with the acquisition and divestiture of portfolio companies
Major pipeline company — acquisition of approximately $3 billion in assets, including crude oil gathering and transportation pipelines and gas gathering and processing systems
Confidential client — environmental due diligence and risk analyses as part of the divestiture of nearly $250 million in upstream natural gas assets
Large bank — environmental risks associated with multiple mergers and acquisitions
Confidential client — environmental due diligence in potential $1 billion acquisition of natural gas and oil-fired power plants
Confidential client — environmental aspects of numerous acquisitions, divestitures and financing transactions in the energy, refining, electric power, chemicals, real estate and waste handling sectors
Publications and Speeches
Co-author, “Analysis Of PHMSA’s Proposal To Revise Volatility Regs For Crude Oil,” Midstream Business, February 1, 2017.
“Federal Report Identifies New Criteria for Underground Gas Storage Facilities,” Midstream Business, October 26, 2016.
“DC Circ.’s Clean Power Plan Hearing: Key Points,” Law360, October 25, 2016.
“Losing No Time: New Pipeline Rules Quick To Take Effect,” Midstream Business, October 11, 2016.
“Wyoming Federal Judge Sides With States Industry, Strikes Down BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule,” Oil & Gas Journal, July 15, 2016.
“EPA Releases Final Control Techniques Guidelines For Existing Oil and Natural Gas Sources,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, November 10, 2015.
“BLM’s Final Fracturing Rule Outlines More Public Land Regs,” Oil & Gas Journal, June 11, 2015.
“On Site with Michael Weller,” Energy Executive, Vol. 2, Spring 2015.
“Drones and the Oil and Gas Industry,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, February 6, 2015.
“California’s Next Frontier: Development of the Monterey Shale,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, December 2, 2013.
“NY High Court to Hear Cases Determining Future of Hydraulic Fracturing,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, September 12, 2013.
“Environmentally Speaking,” Energy and Mining Magazine, August 6, 2013.
“New ITC Investigation Could Affect Supply of Oil and Gas Tubulars,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, July 29, 2013.
“Fracking Update: NY Appellate Court Affirms Zoning Bans at Local Level,” Property Casualty 360, May 13, 2013.
“FTC Finalizes ‘Rules of the Road’ for Environmental Marketers in Update to Green Guides,” Environmental Leader, January 7, 2013.
"Ohio’s On Top of Underground Injection Control Activity," Law360, July 24, 2012.
“Eagles and Turtles and Salmon, Oh My! – Animal and Habitat Protection Issues and Solutions for Achieving Successful Renewable Projects While Protecting Wildlife,” Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, February 16, 2012.