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Vinson & Elkins LLP

1001 FANNIN STREET, SUITE 2500, HOUSTON, TX 77002-6760, USA
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Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston and 10 more

Larry Nettles

Work +1 713 758 4586
Vinson & Elkins LLP

Work Department



Larry has been practicing environmental law full-time since 1981 and has an exceptionally broad range of environmental law experience that makes him particularly well suited to advise clients with multi-faceted environmental problems, such as those frequently encountered in large business transactions. He has experience in counseling, permitting, and civil and criminal litigation, and has a proven track record in negotiating settlements and liability allocation agreements to resolve complex environmental problems.

Larry has been recognized as the top environmental lawyer in the United States for the past six years by United States Lawyer Rankings. He has also been recognized as one of the best environmental lawyers in the nation in the most recent edition of Best Lawyers in America®; one of the best environmental law attorneys in Texas on the "Texas Super Lawyers" list published in Texas Monthly, and by Chambers & Partners in its recent guidebook on America's Leading Lawyers for Business.

Larry currently serves as V&E's Energy Industry Group Leader, and is a member of V&E's Environmental and Climate Change practice groups. Larry also currently serves on the Policy Subcommittee of the National Petroleum Council.


  • Former Member: Policy Subcommittee of the National Petroleum Council
  • Founder: Environmental Law Section, Houston Bar Association
  • Chair and Past President: The Park People, Inc.
  • Business Community Representative: Houston-Galveston Area Regional Safety Council
  • Fellow: Houston Bar Foundation; Texas Bar Foundation
  • Board of Directors: Trees for Houston
  • Member: Greater Houston Partnership Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
  • Former Chair: Sports and Recreation Committee, Houston Chamber of Commerce
  • Graduate: Leadership Houston, Class IX


Larry graduated from Rice University, B.S.C.E. in 1978, and The University of Texas, J.D. in 1981 (Fraternity: Order of the Coif). Admitted to Texas Bar in 1981.

United States: Industry focus

Environment: litigation

Within: Environment: litigation

In a potentially precedent-setting case, Vinson & Elkins LLP’s ‘vibrant’ practice is representing the San Miguel Electric Cooperative in RCRA, Clean Water Act, and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act enforcement actions filed by the family owning a ranch adjacent to the client’s 440 MW lignite-fired electric power plant in South Texas; the lignite was strip-mined and the ranch reclaimed by filling the mine pits with coal ash from the power plant and covering the ash with topsoil; Houston-based practice leader Larry Nettles and Margaret Peloso in Washington DC are working on the matter. In other highlight work, the firm has been assisting clients before the federal and state enforcement agencies and in NGO and private citizen claims in matters relating to contaminated sites, damage to individuals and property, pipeline projects, climate change and the Clean Air Act. Other notable names include Jim Thompson, Lewis Sutherland and senior associate Matthew Dobbins, all in Houston. Ron Tenpas joined the Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in October 2018.

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Environment: regulatory

Within: Environment: regulatory

The ‘outstanding’ practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP is ‘a great choice for difficult projects’, says one source. With particular expertise in the energy sector, the team defends key permits for development projects, including contested air, water and wetlands permits for power plants and other industrial establishments, and water supply and wastewater discharge permits. In addition, the team also handles approvals for multi-state projects involving NEPA and federal lands, such as pipelines and power transmission lines, and natural resource matters, including endangered species. The firm was retained by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association to advise on the possible safeguards to prevent owners of a physical commodity being held liable for a spill by a third-party, following the Federal Reserve’s proposition to adopt rules preventing banks and other financial institutions from owning potentially hazardous physical commodities due to concerns that the owners could become liable for any accidental environmental catastrophe; Houston-based practice head Larry Nettles led that case. Also recommended are Washington DC-based climate change expert Margaret Peloso, who is ‘among the best in the business’, and Austin-based Eric Groten, who is a full-service Clean Air Act practitioner. Ron Tenpas joined the Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in October 2018. Taylor Pullins is now in-house counsel focused on environmental, health, safety, and regulatory matters at Noble Energy.

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Environment: transactional

Within: Environment: transactional

Preeminent’ in the energy sector, Vinson & Elkins LLP is noted for advising on complex matters involving multiple stakeholders. In one example, the team acted for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Western Gas Equity Partners (WGP) and Western Gas Partners (WES) in a transaction involving Anadarko selling its remaining midstream assets for $4bn to WES with $2bn cash proceeds and the balance to be paid in new Western Gas equity. Further, the team acted on behalf of Vantage Energy Acquisition in negotiating the $1.7bn acquisition of Williston Basin Assets from QEP Resources to form the publicly traded Vantage Energy, involving a post-closing environmental defect mechanism to provide purchase price reductions for environmental issues, and a pending consent decree with the EPA concerning some acquired assets located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Larry Nettles heads the environmental and natural resources practice group in Houston, with other key names including George Hopkins in Washington DC, and counsel Larry Pechacek and senior associate Matthew Dobbins in the Houston office.

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