Jim is a shareholder of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite in Denver and practices in the areas of environmental law, water resources development, public lands, and public policy government affairs. He also chairs the firm's Compensation Committee.
His background includes ten years of federal government service in the United States Senate staff and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He gained first-hand insight into the origins and underlying philosophies of today's environmental programs as a result of his tenure as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Gordon Allott, the co-author of the National Environmental Policy Act. He served as Regional EPA Counsel in Denver in the 1970's, and later worked as a policy consultant in Washington, D.C. to the Administrator of the EPA. Before joining Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, Jim was a partner in the Denver law firms of Saunders Snyder Ross & Dickson and Friedlob Sanderson Paulson and Tourtillott.
As one of the first practitioners of environmental law in the Rocky Mountain region, Jim continues to be ranked as a leading environmental lawyer by the Chambers USA 2008 - 2012 Client's Guides. He is listed in Colorado Super Lawyers 2010 - 2012 editions, and is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. His work focuses on achieving client goals in the arenas of air and water quality, wildlife and endangered species, land use, BLM and Forest Service public lands issues, wetlands, waste disposal and underground contamination. Jim possesses extensive experience in lobbying, EIS/NEPA compliance, permitting, negotiating with both government agencies and adversary groups, litigation involving environmental issues, and expert witness selection and coordination.
In governmental policy development, Jim has represented clients in federal and state rulemaking and policy development concerning air and water quality, Wild & Scenic River designation, waste disposal, ground water cleanup standards, and electric transmission line siting. In the permitting arena, Jim's experience extends to air permits, water discharge permits, MS4 stormwater permits, Section 404 permits and federal rights-of-way. In the judicial arena, Jim has defended clients in federal and state enforcement proceedings (air, NPDES, and stormwater) and has prosecuted cases against agencies to force as well as overturn administrative regulations and decisions.
Jim's in-depth understanding of government programs and how agencies work gives him a "leg up" in achieving client objectives. He views himself as a consensus and coalition builder: examples include regional energy development (oil shale and power plants), area-wide water supply solutions, securing adoption of air quality solutions to control mercury emissions and reduce air pollution impacts to National Parks and wilderness areas, and Wild & Scenic River protection. His membership on the Colorado Visibility and Air Quality Related Values Task Force (Colorado Senate Leadership appointment) led to the 1996 enactment of the first state law to protect wilderness areas and national parks from the effects of air pollution and acid rain. Acting as lead negotiator for a coalition of business interests, in 1992, Jim co-authored a major revision of Colorado's air quality law which received unanimous endorsement from both business and environmental groups. In 2007, he negotiated a comprehensive consensus approach among utilities, environmental groups and local governments to regulating mercury emissions from power plants - these consensus rules were unanimously adopted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. He has also assisted legislative sponsors in drafting and testifying on several amendments to the Colorado's air laws and water quality laws.
Jim's other efforts to achieve solutions to resource conflicts include: participant in Colorado Governor Lamm's Metropolitan Denver Water Roundtable (sought a consensus solution to the area's water supply needs); member of the Management Committee of the Colorado Water Congress Special Project on Endangered Species (developed solutions to the conflict between water use and development and recovery of endangered species); and member of Colorado Association of Commerce Industry Committees on Air Quality and Water Quality (developed legislative and regulatory proposals).
Jim often works with the firm's Public Policy practice group to develop a multifaceted program for achieving client goals. Successful outcomes often require more than a traditional "legal approach." He has worked with client teams to create strategies with legislative, political, administrative, judicial and public education components.
He also works with members of the firm's Business and Real Estate practice groups to address the diverse nature of environmental issues that come into play in lending transactions and during mergers and acquisitions. His broad range of experience helps him develop practical and workable solutions to challenges which can arise in the context of corporate transactions.
Jim is frequently asked to speak on environmental, ethical, and administrative policy issues and has published numerous articles on environmental law.