Thomas S. West, founder and managing partner of The West Firm, PLLC, is recognized for his distinguished accomplishments in the oil and gas and environmental fields by the Best Lawyers in America®, Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Top Lawyers, and Strathmore's Who's Who. He is rated AV, Preeminent, by Martindale Hubbell. At The West Firm, Tom represents clients in the oil and gas sector on a broad variety of issues involving legislation, compulsory integration, administrative adjudication, civil litigation, and investigations by the New York Attorney General's office. In 2010, he and his firm launched a title practice in New York and Pennsylvania and they are actively writing title opinions in both states for the oil and gas industry.
In his more than 30 years of practice, Tom has represented the oil and gas industry on many issues. He was one of the principal authors of the spacing and compulsory integration legislation that overhauled New York's oil and gas program in 2005. He was also at the forefront of the 2008 amendments to New York law to accommodate the development of the shale resources in New York State. That law authorized spacing units up to 640 acres in size and multiple wells on a common well pad. Since the passage of that law, he has been actively involved with the environmental review process being conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") to prepare a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement ("SGEIS") relative to high-volume hydraulic fracturing. He has been working closely with industry on their comments to the DEC relative to the SGEIS and recently represented an industry working group in responding to technical comments from the DEC. He is also currently counseling several clients concerning the steps that must be taken to defend against the highly anticipated litigation that will be brought challenging the SGEIS and is working with multiple operators in developing the strategy for permitting that will comply with the high environmental standards being set by the SGEIS. Those projects include representation of clients relative to road use agreements and water supply issues, including permitting before the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Tom also regularly represents clients relative to state legislation and currently represents one major operator before the New York State Legislature and the Governor's office relative to oil and gas issues.
Tom is frequently called upon to assist industry with mineral lease interpretation issues, which sometimes involves representing operators in associated litigation and dispute resolution procedures. In that capacity, he has represented operators in cases involving lease extensions, site access for seismic testing, site access for pipeline routing, trespass claims, and top lease disputes, and is currently representing several operators in litigation concerning force majeure lease extensions. Through the title practice, Tom and his firm offer integrated land services to the operator, providing operators title information for permitting and the proper and timely notification of uncontrolled mineral interest owners of their rights under the compulsory integration program. The firm also prepares and sends compulsory integration notices and represents operator interest at the compulsory integration hearing. Tom has represented a number of operators in the disputes referred to adjudication due to issues raised by uncontrolled owners at the compulsory integration hearing.
Tom has also represented clients on a variety of pipeline certification and construction issues. He was active in the legislation streamlining the pipeline certification process before the New York State Public Service Commission and regularly counsels clients concerning midstream strategies and transactions associated with midstream development. Also, he has represented major interstate pipelines on environmental issues and is currently working with one large interstate pipeline company to help streamline the review process before the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Outside of the oil and gas area, Tom has an extensive environmental practice, representing a broad variety of clients on environmental issues involving counseling, civil litigation, administrative practice, and criminal defense. He represented industry groups in litigation successfully challenging overzealous regulations relative to the State Superfund and pesticide programs in New York State. He also has extensive experience assisting clients in obtaining permits in all of the regulatory programs, including air quality, water quality, water quantity, solid waste, hazardous waste and low-level radioactive waste. He is currently involved in one permitting matter where he is defending the right of a landfill operator in New York State to accept drill cutting waste despite allegations of NORM contamination.
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