Ronald Tenpas > Vinson & Elkins LLP > Washington DC, United States > Lawyer Profile

Vinson & Elkins LLP
WASHINGTON, DC 20037-1701
United States
Ronald Tenpas photo

Work Department

Environmental & Natural Resources




Ron Tenpas is one of the country’s preeminent environmental litigators. A former Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ron represents clients in civil and criminal investigations related to alleged environmental violations, imports and other matters. He also represents companies and trade associations in commenting on proposed regulations and in litigation challenging new regulatory provisions.

In counseling clients, Ron draws upon 12 years of experience in the Justice Department. As AAG, a title he held from 2007 until 2009, he managed a 700-person division that included 400 lawyers. He oversaw civil and criminal litigation arising under more than 150 environmental and natural resources laws.

In addition, as AAG Ron defended the government when the government was sued in connection with its own use of natural resources. Ron also advised Cabinet and White House officials on policy and litigation risks associated with the environmental laws. Under Ron’s watch, the Justice Department secured what was at the time the largest criminal penalty under the Clean Air Act.

Before he was appointed AAG, Ron served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Maryland and the Middle District of Florida. He investigated and tried white-collar matters related to healthcare fraud and public corruption.

A Rhodes Scholar and editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review, Ron served as a clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lawyer Rankings

United States > Industry focus > Environment: regulatory

Vinson & Elkins LLP positions itself as one of the go-to firms in the United States for environmental regulatory issues arising under every major environmental statute. The firm is particularly recognised for its capabilities in securing and defending contested air, water and wetlands permits for energy and industrial developments and multi-state projects involving NEPA and federal lands. Besides complex permitting mandates, the practice is also well versed in historical contamination issues and administrative proceedings before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Former Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice Ronald Tenpas  is a recognised environmental attorney, who concentrates his activity in civil and criminal investigations related to alleged environmental violations and litigation challenging new regulatory provisions. He co-heads the department from Washington DC. Fellow co-leader Larry Nettles  is based in Houston. Other individuals to note in the Houston office include Michael Wigmore , whose permitting experience spans upstream oil and gas development, pipelines, mining and manufacturing facilities, and Matthew Dobbins , who is recommended for environmental litigation, regulation and transactional matters.

United States > Industry focus > Environment: litigation

Vinson & Elkins LLP is skilled at handling a huge variety of environmental mandates, ranging from regulatory and permitting matters to federal environmental litigation. The team is well-versed in contentious and historical contamination cases across the country, and in litigating EPA’s regulations of national importance. Larry Nettles in Houston jointly heads up the environmental group with Washington DC-based Ronald Tenpas, who stands out for his strong track record in civil and criminal matters related to alleged environmental violations. In the Houston office, George Wilkinson is experienced in litigation before state and federal courts involving a range of environmental issues, including RCRA and CERCLA. Clean Air Act expert Eric Groten is a name to note in Austin for enforcement action defense. Clients engaged in environmental litigation and regulatory matters which involve complex scientific and technical issues regularly seek Margaret Peloso‘s advice. She is based in Washington DC.

United States > Government > Government relations

(Firms to watch)

Vinson & Elkins LLP‘ offers clients a congressional investigations practice comprised of former high-ranking government officials. Experts in crisis management, the team has successfully prepared and represented corporate and individual clients in complex, nationally significant matters, including investigations into the attacks on the US Capitol, and high frequency retail trading in meme stocks. Washington DC based Michael DryRonald Tenpas, and Zachary Terwilliger lead the team.