Carlos R. Romo

Carlos R. Romo


Phone: 303-861-2828 ext. 2531

Federal Lands

Energy and Natural Resources

•  Administrative Law

• Endangered Species
•  Air Quality
•  Water
• Oil Spill Response

Carlos Romo practices at the intersection of energy and environmental law. He has helped clients in a variety of industries navigate complex regulatory requirements and has particular expertise in Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act permitting and litigation matters. Building on his experience as a former briefing attorney to the Honorable Wallace B. Jefferson, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, Carlos blends substantive knowledge of natural resources issues with expertise in administrative law, litigation, and appeals. His clients include oil and gas companies, utilities, energy producers, trade associations, refineries, developers, land owners, and resort operators.

Before law school, Carlos was a project director at a policy think tank and worked in New York and Latin America on finance issues.

Oil and Gas Disputes.  Carlos has substantial experience resolving oil and gas disputes, including disagreements over siting, surface use, water use and disposal, nuisance and trespass litigation, and lease and royalty disputes. He has represented both landowners and operators and has litigated oil and gas issues in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Carlos is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of hydraulic fracturing and is intimately familiar with issues related to local, state, and federal regulation of oil and gas operations.

Clean Air Act. Carlos has nearly a decade of experience working on a variety of Clean Air Act matters. He is particularly knowledgeable about regulations targeting emissions from coal-fired power plants, and also has extensive experience assisting oil and gas developers and refineries with compliance with New Source Performance Standards, CAA Section 114 information requests, and air enforcement matters. Most recently, he assisted utility companies in comments on a proposed rulemaking and a successful challenge to regional haze requirements in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Carlos’ CAA experience includes citizen suit litigation and nuisance and toxic tort suits arising from authorized and unauthorized emission events.

Endangered Species Act. Several of Carlos’ most signature environmental permitting and litigation matters involve endangered species. He was instrumental in drafting innovative “hybrid” conservation agreements for the oil and gas industry to address impacts from oil and gas development on the dunes sagebrush lizard and lesser prairie chicken. His clients often ask him to evaluate proposed ESA listings, regulations, and policies. One of his major successes was the appeal of an adverse order involving water rights and alleged impacts on endangered whooping cranes. His client played a key role in overturning the order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Carlos helped defend the judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court. Carlos also frequently assists clients obtain ESA Section 7 and Section 10 incidental take permits for infrastructure projects.

Water. Carlos’ water practice focuses on recycling and reuse of industrial water under Clean Water Act and state water rights frameworks. Carlos has assisted oil and gas companies permit water recycling operations for reuse with hydraulic fracturing operations in a variety of states and can help companies evaluate benefits of mobile recycling units versus centralized water treatment facilities. He has extensive experience in obtaining water rights with impacts on endangered species and in drafting and negotiating water rights leases and purchases.

Oil Spill Response. Carlos has unique knowledge of how to report and respond to oil spills. In response to a large oil spill that occurred near a National Wildlife Refuge, Carlos served as the sole on-scene lawyer for the client in the earliest days of the spill. Carlos has assisted clients respond to National Transportation Safety Board and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration investigations. Oil spill response requires a calm ability to triage tasks and meet competing demands from the client, state and federal agencies, and the general population. Carlos adeptly manages these requirements while looking to the future litigation risks associated with civil penalties, Natural Resource Damages Assessments, and private citizen suits.

Representative Experience
Clean Air Act

  • Represented clients in responding to EPA regional haze proposals and in petition to stay rule in U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Developed strategy for oil and gas industry response to methane rulemakings
  • Evaluated impact of new climate rules on power industry
  • Drafted briefs in Texas appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court on nuisance and preemption under the federal CAA
  • Drafted briefs related to trespass from “migratory air particles” from oil and gas operations
  • Represented developer of a $9 billion Liquefied Natural Gas export facility in contestedair permit proceedings
  • Defended against challenges to power plant Clean Air Act permits in state court
  • Developed defenses and led drafting of federal court motions in Clean Air Act citizen suit involving coal-fired power plant
  • Evaluated potential challenges to NSPS regulations
  • Analyzed applicability of various state and federal air permitting regulations to equipment upgrades, changes in operations and permit renewals

Endangered Species Act

  • Drafted industry comments on proposed Migratory Bird Treaty Act incidental take permit program
  • Evaluated habitat conservation agreements for oil and gas upstream and midstream companies
  • Drafted industry comments on BLM Draft Environmental Impact Statement and LandUse Plan Amendments affecting greater sage grouse
  • Drafted industry association comments on proposed endangered species listing and evaluated legal issues associated with habitat conservation plan permits
  • Assisted in developing innovative hybrid Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurancesand Habitat Conservation Plans for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and Lesser Prairie Chicken
  • Evaluated Section 7 consultation and permit requirements for pipeline company
  • Developed strategies for multinational energy company to manage risks from EndangeredSpecies Act actions
  • Drafted and negotiated permit conditions for incidental take of endangered species
  • Evaluated water rights issues and drafted motions in federal district court litigation over environmental flows and endangered species

Clean Water Act and Water Rights

  • Represented applicant in highly contested water rights permit application
  • Argued for intervenor in federal court district suit involving voting rights and groundwater management
  • Assisted private equity firm in developing drinking water supply
  • Reviewed potential common law and injunctive remedies for protecting water rights during drought conditions
  • Developed strategy for junior water rights holder to avoid enforcement issues during drought conditions
  • Evaluated regulatory requirements for oil and gas water reuse and recycling projects in various states
  • Analyzed availability of groundwater and surface water rights in Eagle Ford Shale area and recommended strategy for obtaining water
  • Analyzed Texas groundwater conservation district regulations and rules related to exempt andnon-exempt uses
  • Recommended appropriate terms for water supply agreements addressing drought conditions
  • Evaluated new facility’s compliance with thermal discharge and cooling water intake structure requirements


  • Evaluated overriding royalty interests in dispute over royalty payments
  • Represented oil and gas companies in common law nuisance and trespass actions
  • Represented responsible party in on-site response to major oil spill and coordinated Natural Resource Damage Assessment activities post response
  • Evaluated National Environmental Policy Act and Presidential Permit requirements for pipeline, bridgeand electricity transmission cross-border projects from U.S. to Mexico
  • Argued appeal of environmental enforcement case
  • Assisted in obtaining injunction against city ordinance restricting waste recycling
  • Developed defenses for RCRA enforcement against hazardous waste recycling facility
  • Represented international energy companies in contested enforcement proceedings, resolving suits with significant reductions in penalties through settlement negotiations
  • Defended low-level radioactive waste rulemaking from temporary injunction in federal court
  • Represented multinational chemical company in RCRA enforcement suit filed by EPA

J.D. (with honors), The University of Texas School of Law, 2007
B.A. (with honors), Stanford University, 1999
Fulbright Scholar

Publications, Speeches, and Presentations

Administration Announces Far-reaching Air Regulations for Oil & Gas Exploration, Production, and Transportation Industry, Environmental Update, May 2016

EPA Regulation of Existing Oil & Gas Sources: Immediate and Long-Term Challenges, Bloomberg’s Daily Environment Report, September 2015

EPA’s ‘Blueprint’ for Regulation of Methane from Oil and Gas Sources, February 2015

Nuisance Law: Key Developments and Emerging Issues, February 2015

Permitting & Siting Energy Projects: ESA, MBTA, & Other Issues, February 2015

Mexico Energy Reform and U.S. Presidential Permits for Cross-Border Projects, January 2015

Fracking From the Frontlines: A Review of Key Hydraulic Fracturing Issues, Including the Interaction of Local, State and Federal Law and Cross – Cutting Regulatory Developments, October 2014

Analysis: Are We There Yet? Carbon Capture Sequestration and Cost-Effectiveness Analyses, July 2014

Analysis: Hydraulic Fracturing, Uncooperative Federalism and Technological Innovation, April 2014

Hot Topic: Hydraulic Fracturing Water Management, March 2014
Hydraulic Fracturing, Uncooperative Federalism, and Technological Innovation, March 2014

Law360 Analysis: Debunking The Myth Of Hydraulic Fracturing, August 2013

Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturin Texas, August 2013

Toxic Release Inventory Sector Expansion, July 2013

Regulatory Regimes for Recycling Produced and Frac Flowback Water, June 2012

Regulatory Regimes for Recycling Produced and Frac Flowback Water, June 2012

Shale Fracturing – Policy & Legal Implications, June 2012

Integrating Water Quality Standards into Water Management Programs, January 2012

Rulemaking Update, June 2011

Clean Water Initiatives, February 2011

Playing To Win and Planning the End Game: The Critical Role of Process, Procedural Options, Forum Selection and Appeals to State and Federal Levels, November 2010

Bar and Court Admissions

State Bar of Colorado
State Bar of Texas – Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Administrative Law and Appellate Law Sections
United States District Court for the District of Colorado
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States District Courts for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Other Professional Affiliations

Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, Chair of Public Policy Commitee
Austin Bar Association
Futuro Fund of Austin, Founder

Honors and Distinctions

Finalist, Austin Under 40 (Legal Category)
Recognized as a Super Lawyer-Rising Star in Environmental Litigation (Thomson Reuters), 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 & 2017
Leadership Conference on Legal Diversity, Fellow


Fluent in Spanish

Our Location

1801 California Street, Suite 3400
Denver, Colorado 80202
View Map
Phone 303.861.2828
Fax 303.861.4017