James K. Vines

Jim Vines

is a partner in King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office. His practice focuses on environmental, health & safety (variously: “EHS, “ HES,” HSE”) and other regulatory counseling. Jim’s particular specialization is with standardized EHS management systems used in the energy, petro-chemical, heavy manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors. He assists clients in the U.S. and in many international locations in building, reviewing, auditing and modifying EHS management systems to meet their business needs, customer and market needs and regulatory demands. Jim has worked extensively with the ISO suite of standardized management systems; tailored systems developed internally by individual clients; systems based on industry best practices (including API recommended procedures and Responsible Care); and systems mandated under accreditation regimes such as the Joint Commission system in the Health Care sector.

Jim has intimate knowledge of the operational integrity management systems developed by the Oil & Gas majors for their global operations and for leveraging responsible EHS performance among the community of contractors and joint venture operators in the oil & gas sector. His experience covers Upstream (including E&P, drilling & completions, large capital projects, on-shore and off-shore exploration, production and storage facilities, upgrading/coking, sour gas treatment, liquefaction facilities), Midstream (including marine, pipeline, rail and truck transport, gathering systems), Downstream (including refining, processing and petro-chemical manufacturing, end user preparations, commercialization facilities).

Jim also speaks and writes regularly on standardized management systems and other EHS regulatory and litigation issues affecting the oil & gas industry. His recent focus has been on Western Canadian oil sands production, upgrading, transport and infrastructure development; U.S. and international shale gas production via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking” or “fracing”); and off shore exploration and drilling, including DOI’s new Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) regulation affecting operators on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. In the last year, he has been quoted on these and other EHS issues associated with oil & gas on Canadian Public Radio, a variety of oil industry daily/weekly publications and in the Financial Times.

In addition to his standardized management system work, Jim maintains an active EHS legal practice related to regulatory counseling and litigation. This work includes:

Counseling, administrative litigation (APA/U.S. Constitution), and rule comments related to federal, state and international regulation in the areas of environmental, OSHA, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare;

Environmental litigation and counseling related to remediation of facilities, landfills or Superfund sites, or alleged liability for asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, mercury, various ground and surface water pollutants (VOCs and metals), and naturally occurring substances;

Health & Safety matters, including permissible exposure limits (PELs), process safety management (PSM), ergonomics, lockout-tagout, hot work, confined space, OSH Act General Duty Clause;

Congressional investigations; and

Trial court and appellate litigation related to a wide variety of confidentiality issues: attorney-client privilege (including crime-fraud exception), attorney-work product, the “litigation” privilege, sealing of documents and in camera proceedings, federal and state FOIA, sovereign immunity protection for governmental information, DOJ privilege waiver requests in criminal investigations.

Published Decisions:

Martin v. Cinn. Gas and Electric, 561 F.3d 439 (6th Cir. 2009) (asbestos)

In re Subpoena in Collins, 524 F.2d 249 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (sovereign immunity)

Hudson Ins. Co. v. American Electric Corp., (11th Cir. 1992) (CERCLA, federal pre-emption of state law)

Leaf River Forest Prods., Inc. v. Ferguson, 662 So.2d 648 (Miss. 1995) (dioxin, fear of cancer)

Prior to his return to King & Spalding in 2006, Jim was in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice office in Nashville, Tennessee as the Presidentially-appointed United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. He also has more than eight years of in-house EHS legal and operational leadership experience at a large global manufacturing and petro-chemical company.

Early in his legal career, Jim was a law clerk to Hon. William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He has taught environmental and OSHA law at Vanderbilt Law School. Before law school, he was a CPA and financial analyst with Price Waterhouse.

He has spoken on environmental management, sustainability and corporate stewardship at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Conference Board, and has lectured on these topics at the Vanderbilt-Owen Graduate School of Business, Vanderbilt School of Engineering, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy (VIPS).


U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory sub-committees on Environmental Issues; Counter-terrorism; Computer Hacking & Intellectual Property Crimes

Master Emeritus, Harry Phillips American Inn of Court

Awards & Recognition

Chairman/CEO award, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 1994, 1995, 1999

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Energy & Natural Resources , 2) Crisis Management , 3) Capital Transactions & Real Estate , 4) Energy Appellate , 5) False Claims Act / Qui Tam Whistleblower , 6) Crisis Management: Energy , 7) Crisis Management: Food , 8) Real Estate and 9) Environmental Counseling
Law School Washington and Lee University School of Law
Education Middlebury College
Most recent firm King & Spalding LLP
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