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Education
  • The George Washington University Law School, J.D., 1980, cum laude
  • Tulane University, B.A., 1977
Bar Admissions
  • District of Columbia, 1980
  • Louisiana, 1982
  • Texas, 2006
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1988
  • 5th Cir., 1982
  • D.C. Cir., 1981
  • E.D. La., 1982
  • M.D. La., 1982
  • W.D. La., 1987
  • E.D. Tex., 2007
  • N.D. Tex., 2006
  • S.D. Tex., 2006
  • W.D. Tex., 2009
professionalsBio
Michael Chernekoff
Partner
Suite 2900
811 Main St
Houston, TX 77002
713.437.1827 tel
713.437.1927 fax

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Mike Chernekoff is partner in the firm's Business & Commercial Litigation and Real Estate Practice Groups. He also participates in the Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Industry Group. Since 2007, he has been based in the firm's Houston office. Prior to that, he was based in the firm's New Orleans office since joining the firm in 1982. His practice focuses on the areas of environmental law and related areas of environmental litigation and toxic tort defense. He also actively handles commercial and energy litigation. His practice is principally centered on matters and businesses located in Louisiana and Texas. 

Mr. Chernekoff's environmental practice has involved a broad spectrum of matters, including air, water, and waste permitting; regulatory compliance and assessment; transaction due diligence and auditing; enforcement counseling and defense; remediation and response action assessment and coordination; and climate change issues. Some matters of note have included obtaining the first complete response costs reimbursement against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund after completion of an emergency response action pursuant to a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 106 Order; negotiating an agreement with the State of Louisiana on behalf of a refinery under the EPA's New Source Review Initiative; and negotiating the first private-party partial remedial action agreement with the State of Louisiana under its Voluntary Clean Up Program (Brownfield equivalent), placing contaminated property back into commerce.

From January 1981 until joining Jones Walker in June 1982, Mr. Chernekoff worked as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Air, Mobile Source Enforcement at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Chernekoff has written about and presented on a variety of environmental topics including criminal enforcement; civil enforcement; compliance auditing; due diligence; Brownfield reclamation projects; the Oil Pollution Act; and CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act programs.

Environmental Litigation: Federal, State and Administrative Matters

Over the years, Mr. Chernekoff has been actively involved in federal and state environmental enforcement defense, both civil and criminal, including several matters involving parallel-proceedings of contemporaneous civil and criminal matters. He has also assisted clients in internal investigations involving alleged civil and criminal violations.

Mr. Chernekoff has been active in federal and state cleanup actions, including under CERCLA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). He has experience in both CERCLA cost recovery reimbursement pursuit and cost recovery defense. He has served on potentially responsible party (PRP) committees and has also served as PRP group counsel. He has also represented clients with claims under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and in defense of OPA claims.

He has also defended legal challenges by non-governmental organizations to federal and state environmental permits, including permit challenges involving greenhouse gas emissions, as well as citizen suits by landowners and non-governmental organizations involving both federal and state laws and regulations. 

Mr. Chernekoff has defended companies in complex toxic tort and chemical release matters in both federal and state courts involving current and former waste sites and industrial facilities, including to successful jury verdicts. Many of these matters have involved class action issues and punitive damage issues, and have included claims for property damages and personal injuries, including fear and medical monitoring, as a result of alleged releases to air, soils, surface water, and groundwater.

Mr. Chernekoff has also defended companies engaged in energy production—including service companies—against damages claims associated with those activities, including legacy liability claims, seismic damage claims, and equipment damage claims.

Environmental Counseling

A significant portion of Mr. Chernekoff's practice involves counseling businesses on complying with the myriad of federal and state environmental laws and regulations. Over the years, he has counseled both large and small industry clients on compliance with air, water and waste management requirements and permits, and siting requirements, including wetlands issues. 

Mr. Chernekoff has assisted clients with conducting internal audits of environmental regulatory compliance (including assisting clients with audits under the Texas Audit Privilege statute). More recently, Mr. Chernekoff has counseled off-shore oil and gas producer and service company clients on environmental and safety regulations adopted in response to the 2010 BP oil spill incident. 

Further, Mr. Chernekoff routinely counsels lenders, purchasers and sellers in real estate transactions and financing arrangements, including on "All Appropriate Inquiry" issues. He also counsels on environmental due diligence efforts as part of corporate mergers and acquisitions, as well as large asset transactions. 

Mr. Chernekoff assists clients in coordinating with regulatory agencies on environmental releases and spills, including notification requirements, and assists clients in managing response actions and site cleanups. He counsels on responding to governmental cleanup orders, as well as advising on cleanups under state Voluntary Cleanup statutes, and including Brownfield developments. He also counsels on environmental issues involved in new project developments and Greenfield developments.

Noteworthy

  • undefinedListed in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 (Copyright 2017 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC) in the areas of Environmental Law and Litigation - Environmental (listed annually since 2007)
  • Named "Houston Best Lawyers Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year" 2013
  • Recognized in "Chambers USA – America’s Leading Lawyers for Business" in the area of Environment (listed annually since 2006)
  • Listed in the 2007-2009 editions of Louisiana Super Lawyers in the area of Environmental Litigation
  • Listed in the 2017 edition of Texas Super Lawyers in the area of Environmental Litigation (also listed 2011–2013)
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating in Martindale-Hubbell

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Memberships

  • American Bar Association (Member, Sections of Environment, Energy and Resources -- Vice Chair, Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, 2005–2014; Member, Section of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice, Toxic Tort and Environment Law Committee; Member, Section of Litigation, Environmental Litigation Committee)
  • Defense Research Institute
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Houston Bar Association
  • Louisiana State Bar Association (Past Chairman, Section on Environmental Law)
  • New Orleans Bar Association
  • State Bar of Texas