M. Benjamin Cowan is the Chair of the Firm’s Renewable Energy section and has a broad-based environmental law practice with a particular focus on wildlife and natural resource issues under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
He serves as national environmental counsel to several of the largest renewable energy development companies in the United States and has obtained multiple permits under the ESA for incidental take of bats at wind energy projects.
Ben is particularly sought after for his creative but pragmatic approach to difficult project siting issues, and his contributions in that regard led to his recent selection as an “Energy and Environmental Law Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal.
In addition to his renewable energy work, Ben maintains an active practice involving a wide range of environmental issues for clients in the traditional energy, industrial, and real estate sectors.
He frequently advises clients in environmental compliance and permitting matters, contaminated site remediation and Brownfields redevelopment, and civil and criminal enforcement defense.
Additionally, he brings the legal and practical insights gained over 20 years of practice in these areas to advise clients on the effective allocation and management of environmental risk and liabilities in mergers and acquisitions and other commercial transactions.
- Crafted a first-of-its-kind agreement between a major bulk terminals operator and the Virginia DEQ for the voluntary remediation of a heavily contaminated former creosoting site, resulting in a decision by EPA to forego its planned listing of the site on the National Priorities List and facilitating the sale and redevelopment of the property.
- Representing wind developer in industry coalition and negotiations with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on development of Regional Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan for USFWS Region 3.
- Advise a midstream MLP on environmental due diligence and compliance issues in connection with the acquisition, development and operation of numerous assets in the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville and Marcellus shales.
- Represented North American arm of an international utility in the permitting and financing of multiple wind farms with more than 1,000 MW of generation capacity.
- Represented large terminalling services company in the leasing of brownfield areas at multiple terminals across the U.S. to various alternative energy companies for the development of co-located biodiesel refineries.
- Defended real estate development company against alleged Clean Water Act wetlands violations and obtained after-the-fact permits for same without penalty.
- Research and development of legal arguments in complex environmental indemnity litigation involving contamination of drilling fluid sites in multiple states and Canada.
- Represented large energy firm in acquisition of underground natural gas storage and pipeline system.
- Managed environmental due diligence in roll-up of thirteen printing and publishing companies in multiple states.
- Partner, Locke Lord LLP
- Associate, Bracewell & Patterson, LLP (May 1999 – April 2002)
- Associate, Porter & Hedges, LLP (September 1997 – April 1999)
Professional Affiliations :
- Chair, The Clean Energy Leadership Alliance of Houston
- Member, Greater Houston Energy Collaborative Leadership Committee
- Chair, Houston Bar Association – Environmental Law Section
- Member, State Bar of Texas – Environmental and Natural Resources Section
- Member, Texas Association of Environmental Professionals
- J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School, 1997
- M.A., Marine Affairs, University of Virginia, 1995
- B.A., Marine Affairs, cum laude and General Honors, University of Miami, 1992
Admissions : Texas, 1997
Rate : $$$