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MVP : Bracewell ' s Timothy A . Wilkins
By Peter McGuire
Law360 ( October 10 , 2023 , 1:08 PM EDT ) -- Timothy A . Wilkins of Bracewell LLP steered clients in coincidental petroleum refinery sales , helped shine a federal spotlight on historic pollution in Houston neighborhoods and headed off federal penalties for the owners of major industrial facilities , earning him a spot as one of Law360 ' s 2023 Environment MVPs .
His biggest accomplishment of the past year : Wilkins represented both Phillips 66 and Par Pacific Holdings on environmental issues in a pair of overlapping refinery transactions that closed within months of one another earlier this year . Refinery deals feature some of the toughest environmental compliance matters of any transaction , including heavy regulation , legacy liability issues and even binding consent orders that require federal approval for transactions .
Nevertheless , Wilkins found himself representing Phillips 66 in its sale of a 3,200-acre Belle Chasse terminal outside New Orleans to Harvest Midstream , while at the same time working with Par Pacific in its purchase from ExxonMobil of a 63,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Billings , Montana . The Phillips deal closed in February and Par Pacific sealed its purchase in June .
Doing just one refinery sale in a year would be an undertaking , but two at the same time was a real challenge , Wilkins said .
" It is this combination of agencies and regulations and judicial orders all happening at the same time in a heavily regulated , high liability environment ," Wilkins said .
Timothy A . Wilkins
Bracewell His proudest moment : In a departure from representing industrial clients , Wilkins was enlisted by the mayor of Houston to turn federal regulators ' attention to the environmental justice plight of mostly Black neighborhoods near a former Union Pacific wood treatment plant . Creosote and other toxins seeping from the facility contaminated groundwater and developed a cancer cluster in residential areas , Wilkins said .
Wilkins moved across different venues to make the U . S . Environmental Protection Agency put pressure