Professor Hester teaches environmental law courses at the University of Houston Law Center. His research focuses on the innovative application of environmental laws to emerging technologies and risks, such as climate engineering, nanotechnologies, artificial intelligence, genetic modification, wind and other renewable power projects, and on novel compliance and liability issues. Prior to joining the University of Houston Law Center, Prof. Hester served as a partner in Bracewell LLP for sixteen years and led the Houston office's environmental group. He has previously taught classes on Environmental Law, Natural Resource Damages Liability, Environmental Law in Oil & Gas, Climate Change Liability and Litigation, Emerging Technologies and Environmental Law, Advanced Hazardous Waste Law, and Practice of Environmental Law. He also teaches the first year course on Statutory Interpretation and Regulatory Practice.
Prof. Hester co-directs the Environment, Energy & Natural Resource Center's Speaker Series, which annually draws top speakers on energy and environmental topics to the University of Houston campus. He also organizes and assists in the preparation of workshops and symposia on current energy and environmental topics.
During the summer of 2014, Prof. Hester served as the interim Director of the North America Commission on Environmental Cooperation's Submission on Environmental Matters Unit in Montreal, Canada. The Environmental Law Institute also named him as its Environmental Scholar in Residence for 2015.
Prof. Hester was inducted into the American College of Environmental Lawyers in 2015, elected as a member of the American Law Institute in 2004, and named the Top Environmental Lawyer in Houston in 2011 by Best Lawyers of America. He was also elected to the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER) in 2011, and he currently co-chairs SEER's new Law Professors Committee. Prof. Hester is the past chair of SEER’s Special Committee on Congressional Relations as well as its Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee, and he is currently vice-chair of the Greater Houston Partnership's Environmental Policy Advisory Committee.
Climate Tort Federalism, 12 Florida Int'l Univ. Law Review __ (2018) (Symposium Issue) (publication pending).
Abandoned But Not Forgotten: Improperly Plugged and Orphaned Wells May Pose Serious Concerns for Shale Development, co-authored with Prof. Bret Wells, accepted for publication in Michigan Journal of Enviromental and Administrative Law (2018).
CLIMATE ENGINEERING AND THE LAW: REGULATION AND LIABILITY FOR SOLAR RADIATION MANAGEMENT AND CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL, co-edited with Prof. Michael Gerrard. (Cambridge U. Press 2018). Authored chapter on Liability and Compensation, and co-authored Conclusions and Recommendations.
Legal Pathways to Negative Emissions Technologies and Direct Air Capture of Greenhouse Gases, 48 Environmental Law Reporter 10413 (May 2018). To be published as chapter in Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, ed. John Dernbach and Michael Gerrard (Environmental Law Institute Press 2018).
Going Negative: The Next Horizon in Climate Engineering Law (with Prof. Michael Gerrard), 32 Natural Resources & Env't 3 (Spring 2018).
The Paradox of Regulating Negative Emissions Technologies Under U.S. Environmental Laws, 1 Global Sustainability 1 (2018)
Green Statutory Interpretation by Environmental Courts and Tribunals, 29 Environmental Law & Management 1 (2017).
Designed for Distrust: Revitalizing NAFTA's Environmental Submissions Process, 28 Georgetown Environmental Law Review 29 (Fall 2015).
Restating Environmental Law, 39 Columbia J. Envtl L. 1 (Spring 2015). Lead author on article with Profs. Robert Percival, Irma Russell, Victor Flatt and Joel Mintz. A redacted version was published by the Environmental Law Institute in 32 The Envtl Forum 38 (Jan./Feb. 2015) as that issue's lead article.
Report to the NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation's Secretariat on The Legality of Scoping Submissions on Enforcement Matters, prepared at request through the North American Conference of Legal Educators, March 21, 2014.
A Matter of Scale: Regional Climate Engineering and the Shortfalls of Multinational Governance, 3 Carbon and Climate Law Review 168 (2013).
Climate Change Geoengineering: Legal, Political and Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford University 2013) (chapter on U.S. legal issues).
A New Front Blowing In: State Law and the Future of Climate Change Public Nuisance Litigation, 31 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 49 (March 2012).
Private Claims for a Global Climate: U.S. and Indian Litigation Approaches to Climate Change and Environmental Harm, __ Journal of the Indian Law Institute ___ (2011); presented at the International Seminar on Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society, New Delhi, India, July 23, 2011. The seminar was jointly organized by the Supreme Court of India, the High Court of Delhi, the Indian Law Institute, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, and the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Remaking the World to Save It: Applying U.S. Environmental Law to Climate Engineering Projects, 38 Ecology Law Quarterly 851 (2011), http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1755203
Nanotechnology: Environmental Law, Policy, and Business Considerations, ABA SEER (2010) ed. L. Bergeson (chapter on hazardous waste requirements for nanomaterials).
Speeches and Appearances
Artificial Intelligence, Environmental Law, and Ethical Obligations, presentation to Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section, Houston, Texas, May 16, 2018.
NAFTA Renegotiation and Energy – Where Are We Now and Where Will We Be?, moderator and presenter in panel discussion, North American Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Conference, Houston, Texas, May 3, 2018.
Emerging Uses of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Environmental Law, presentation at Artificial Intelligence and the Law conference, Vanderbilt Law School, April 20, 2018.
Opportunities and Updates on Environmental Law and Administrative Practice, panel moderator and speaker, Federalist Society, University of Houston Law Center, April 2, 2018.
Participant and speaker in tabletop disaster simulation exercise, Houston Local Emergency Preparedness Committee, March 22, 2018.
Recent Developments in the Public Trust Doctrine in Texas, Maurice Shapiro Symposium, George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC, March 16, 2018.
Climate Change Litigation: How Has It Evolved and What Can Energy Companies Expect?, panelist, Center for American and International Law’s 69th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference, Houston, TX, Feb. 15, 2018.
Hearing Testimony on Challenges Facing Superfund and Waste Management Clean-up Efforts After Natural Disasters, Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Washington DC, December 6, 2017.
End Times in the Permian: Death of OPEC?, speaker and moderator, University of Houston Energy Symposium, Houston, Texas, Nov. 16, 2017.
Environmental Law in Times of Disaster, moderator and presenter in panel discussion, Environmental Law Symposium, Bracewell LLP, Houston, Texas, Nov. 9, 2017.
Climate Tort Federalism, presentation at Environmental Federalism Workshop, Florida International University School of Law, Miami, Florida, Oct. 20, 2017.
Regional Governance Options for Regulating Climate Engineering, moderator and speaker, Climate Engineering Conference 17, Berlin, Germany, Oct. 11, 2017.
God’s Work in Human Hands: The Evolving Role of Religious Environmentalism Under U.S. Law, presentation at Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, Vermont, Sept. 23, 2017.
“Overview of Legal Implications of Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies,” presentation at Climate Engineering Research Registry: Disclosure Mechanisms and Best Practices workshop hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and The Forum on Climate Engineering Assessment, Washington, DC, July 18, 2017.
Organized and moderated panel discussion on The Law of Climate Engineering, (with Dr. David Keith, Prof. Michael Gerrard, and Prof. Anthony Chavez), Natural Resource Law Teachers Institute, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Banff, Canada, June 2, 2017.
Application of Domestic Environmental Laws to Solar Radiation Field Experiments, at Geoengineering Research Governance Workshop, Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, Oxford, England, June 22, 2017.
The Paradox of Regulating Negative Emissions Technologies Under U.S. Law, presentation at workshop on “The Politics and Governance of Negative Emissions Technologies, Between the Paris Agreement and the Anthropocene,” Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 15, 2017.
Regulating Climate Engineering Through Environmental Intervention Law, presentation at Research Roundtable on Global Climate Change Governance, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, Illinois, May 19, 2017.
Lead speaker at panel presentation on Emerging Issues in Environmental and Energy Law Under the Trump Administration, South Texas College of Law Houston, Houston, Texas, April 18, 2017.
Green Statutory Interpretation and Environmental Courts and Tribunals, presentation at the International Symposium on Environmental Adjudication in the 21st Century, hosted by the International Forum of Environmental Judges, Auckland, New Zealand, Apr. 11, 2017. Led subsequent panel and paper presentation regarding judicial process implications of environmental adjudication at follow-up workshop on Environmental Adjudication in the 21st Century hosted by Edward Elgar Publishing, at the Environmental Court of New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand, April 12, 2017.
Public Health, Environmental Law, and Predictive Disaster Strategies, presentation at the World Conference on Environment – 2017, hosted by the National Green Tribunal of India, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, March 25-26.
Moderated and presented at Reopening NAFTA: What Will Happen to Environmental Cooperation Between Us?, Workshop on “NAFTA, Jobs and the Environment” hosted by the North American Conference of Legal Educators, George Washington University School of Law, Washington, DC, March 17, 2017.
Presentation on “U.S. Law and Solar Radiation Management Field Experiments”, Workshop on Climate Engineering Governance, Carnegie Center for Environmental and International Peace, New York City, New York, Feb. 16, 2017.
Moderated panel on “Environmental Implications of Reopening NAFTA”, North American Energy Summit, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas Feb. 23, 2017.
Presentation on Environmental Law Implications and Applications to Emerging Technologies (Nanomaterials, Synthetic Biology and Climate Engineering), at Workshop on Carbon Dioxide Removal/Negative Emissions Technologies, Forum on Climate Engineering Assessment, at Berkeley School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, California, Feb. 9, 2017.
Presentation on Instant Cities and Transient Sources: Environmental Law and Major Sports Events, Superbowl of CLE, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, Feb. 3, 2017.
Presentation on The Law of Direct Air Capture and Negative Emissions Technologies, Workshop on the Legal Issues of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, Columbia University School of Law, New York City, New York, Oct. 21, 2016.
Moderator and Organizer, Annual Workshop on Texas Water Law and the Endangered Species Act, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, Oct. 14, 2016.
Presentation on Environmental and Energy Implications of the Presidential Election Outcome, BNA Energy Summit, Houston, Texas, Oct. 4, 2016.
Presentation on Subject-Matter Exceptionalism in Statutory Interpretation, Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, Vermont, Sept. 23, 2016.
Moderated and participated in panel on The Future of the Clean Power Plan, Energy Symposium at University of Houston, Houston, Texas, Sept. 20, 2016.
Presentation on Direct Air Capture Technology and U.S. Environmental Law, at the Closing the Carbon Cycle symposium, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, Sept. 30, 2016.
Presentation on NAFTA and the TransPacific Partnership: Environmental Implications, Energy Symposium on Latin America and the United States, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, Sept. 16, 2016.
Presentation of Recommendations and Advice of EPA National Advisory Committee on NAAEC to the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Annual Meeting of Ministers of U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Merida, Mexico, Sept. 8, 2016.
Environmental Statutory Interpretation, presentation at Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium, International Union of Conservation Naturalists, Oslo, Norway, June 21, 2016.
Presentations and meetings to national bar and legal entities of Haiti, with delegation of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, May 30-June 2, 2016.
Invitation meeting of authors for Legal Aspects of Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project, Columbia University School of Law, New York City, New York, May 23, 2016.
Legal and Moral Implications of Climate Change for the Energy Sector, plenary presentation to the annual meeting of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators, The Woodlands, Texas, May 11, 2016.
Moderated and spoke at panel on Emerging Theories of Climate Change Liability, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, April 21, 2016.
Speaker and organizer, Climate Change Resiliency and Planning Workshop for Houston and Gulf Coast Region, workshop at the Association of Industrial and Chemical Engineers, Houston, Texas, April 12, 2016.
Speaker, Impact of the Paris Agreement on Houston and U.S. Climate Policy, annual conference of the Citizens Environmental Coalition, Houston, Texas, March 24, 2016.
“Comparing Environmental Enforcement Review Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA’s Environmental Side Agreement”, North American Conference of Legal Educators, annual conference, Monterrey, Mexico, March 12, 2016.
“The Emerging Law of Ocean Engineering,” presentation to the International Conference on Sustainability and Economic Development hosted by UNESCO and India’s National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, India, March 6, 2016.
“Experiential Teaching in Environmental Law Classes,” American Association of Law Schools annual conference, New York City, January 8, 2016.
“U.S. Supreme Court Update: Air Pollution After Michigan v. EPA,” University of Houston Law Center CLE Series, July 28, 2015.
“Local Laws, Global Liability: How Domestic Laws Can Apply to Transnational Impacts of Climate Engineering,” presented at Climate Engineering Conference 14, Berlin, Germany, August 2014.
“Geoengineering Regulation Using Domestic Law,” Summer Geoengineering Institute, Harvard University, August 2013.
“Still Speaking Truth to Power? Revisions to the NAFTA CEC Environmental Submissions Process,” International Seminar on Human Rights and Environmental Justice, National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico, Mexico City, Sept. 26, 2012.
“Ethical Issues When The Lawyer is the Environmental Crimes Target,” presentation to the Houston Bar Association Environmental Section, Oct. 10, 2012.
“Private Claims for a Global Climate: U.S. and Indian Litigation Approaches to Climate Change and Environmental Harm,” Presentation to International Seminar on Global Environment and Disaster Management hosted by the State Department of India, New Delhi, July 23, 2011.
"Climate in the Courts: Climate Change Liability and Litigation," 13th Annual Hot Air Topics Conference, Air & Waste Management Association, Houston, January 14, 2010.
"Quiet So Far: A Muted Response to Allegations of the First Human Fatalities Linked to Nanoparticles," Environmental Law Institute, January 2010.
"Fifth Circuit Decision Threatens a Tsunami of Climate Change Tort Cases While the Defense Bar Awaits a Circuit Split," Environmental Law Update, October 22, 2009.
Nanotechnology Deskbook (with Lynn Bergeson), Environmental Law Institute, 2008.
"City of Houston Air Quality Authority: A Dialogue on Air Toxics," Hot Air Conference, American Waste Management Association, Houston, Texas, 2007.
"Environmental Legal Requirements for Nanomaterials," Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, 2007.
"Massachusetts v. EPA: Preliminary Thoughts and Forecasts," Federal Bar Association, Houston, Texas, 2007.
"Keystone Cornerstones: Fundamentals for the New Environmental Attorney," organizer and moderator, Annual Meeting of ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, Keystone, Colorado, both 2007 and 2008.
"RCRA Regulation of Wastes from the Production, Use, and Disposal of Nanomaterials," American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, June 2006.
"New World of Nanowaste: Review of Regulations, Positions, Policies, and Actions Related to Nanotechnology," Environmental Impact of Nanotechnology Workshop, EPA OSWER, Washington, DC, 2006.
"Small Stuff, Big Challenges: Applying Environmental Laws to the New World of Nanoscale Materials," American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Annual Meeting, October 7, 2004.
"Life Ain't So Simple: Environmental Regulation and Permitting for Renewable Energy Projects," Texas Environmental Superconference, August 5, 2004.
"Jurisdictional Wetlands Under the CWA," Greater Houston Builders Association, Houston, Texas, April 5, 2004.
"Nanotechnology in the Transitional Age: Potential Legal Requirements and Future Liabilities," Rice CASE Media Fellowship, Rice Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, March 16, 2004.
"Environmental Justice in Criminal Sentencing," American Bar Association Environmental Crimes and Enforcement Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 2, January 2003.
"Nanotechnology in the Transitional Age: Potential Legal Requirements and Future Liabilities," Nanodays 2003.
"Conference Rice Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, October 13, 2003.
"Texas Regulatory Overview," Progress Ventures/Progress Fuels EHS Forum, Raleigh, North Carolina, March 12, 2003.
"Nanotechnology and Environmental Liabilities," NanoDays 2002 Conference, Rice University Center for Environmental and Biological Nanotechnology, Houston, Texas, September 2002.
"Trends in the Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Laws," Federal Bar Association, South Texas Chapter Meeting Houston, Texas, June 20, 2002.
"The Practice of Environmental Law," University of Houston Environmental Law Society, Houston, Texas April 4, 2002.
"Environmental Criminal Enforcement," NAELS, Houston, Texas, March 23, 2001.
"Corrective Action Strategies," The Advanced RCRA Institute, Government Institutes New Orleans, Louisiana, October 2-5, 2000.
"Environmental Criminal Enforcement," Texas Water Law Conference, Houston, Texas, May 4-5, 2000.
"RCRA: What It Means in Day-to-Day Operations," Environmental Compliance Bootcamp, Government Institutes, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, February 8-10, 2000.
Co-author, "New World, New Laws: Preparing to Advise Clients on Global Warming Legal Policies and Strategies," Houston Bar Association Journal, 1999.
Co-author, "RCRA Corrective Action Program and Administrative Reform Initiative," Bracewell & Patterson LLP Environmental Roundtable, Houston, Texas, September 23, 1999.
"Update on RCRA Corrective Action Strategies and Texas Risk Reduction Program," Bracewell & Patterson Environmental Roundtable, September 23, 1999.
"U.S. Environmental Laws & Regulations Course," CERCLA Update, Government Institutes, San Antonio, Texas, June 22-24, 1999.
"Practical Strategies for Environmental Compliance in Texas," Government Institutes, Houston, Texas, November 5-6, 1998.
"EPCRTKA-6 New Categories," 9th Annual Environmental Law Conference, Houston, Texas, April 23-24, 1998.
"CERCLA for the Next Century: Cleanups Amidst Creative Chaos," Government Institutes, Houston, Texas, November 6, 1997.
"A Report on Reporting Requirements: An Update on Activity Under EPCRA," Environmental Law Institute, South Texas College of Law of Texas A&M University, Houston, Texas, April 23-24, 1997.
"Management Strategies for Environmental Compliance," Government Institutes, San Antonio, Texas, January 27-29, 1997.
"Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program and the Texas EPA Agreement: A Prototype for Other State Voluntary Cleanup Programs," American Gas Association, 1996 Comprehensive MGP Management Symposium, September 12, 1996.
"Environmental Liabilities and Effective Management Strategies to Protect Yourself and Your Company," Government Institutes, San Antonio, Texas, February 12, 1996.
"Environmental Liabilities and Effective Management Strategies to Protect Yourself in Today's Oil and Gas Industry," Government Institutes, New Orleans, Louisiana, December 4-5, 1995.
"Cleaning Up Calamities, Environmental Issues in Plant Disasters: Federal Law," Major Workplace Incidents Seminar, Bracewell & Patterson LLP, Houston, Texas, September 7, 1995.
J.D., Stone Scholar, Columbia University School of Law, 1986
B.A., high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, The University of Texas at Austin, 1983
District of Columbia
U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th and District of Columbia Circuits
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
State Bar of Texas, Environmental Law Section
District of Columbia Bar
State Bar of New York
American Bar Association, Environment, Energy and Resources Section:
Chair (with Prof. Robin Craig), Law Professors Committee, 2016-current
Elected to SEER Council, 2011-2014
Chair, Special Committe on Congressional Relations, ABA SEER, 2014-2016
Chair, Environmental Crimes and Enforcement Committee, ABA SEER, 2008-2010
Vice-Chair, Renewable Energy Committee, 2004-2008
Vice-Chair, Corporate Counsel Committee, 1999-2000
Houston Bar Association, Chair of Environmental Section, 2000-2001
American College of Environmental Lawyers
American Law Institute
University of Houston Energy Fellow
American Bar Foundation, Fellow
Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
Nanotechnology Standards Panel of the American National Standards Institute, Steering Committee
International Council on Nanotechnologies, Advisory Committee
Houston Local Emergency Preparedness Committee, Pro Bono Counsel, 1998-2004
Greater Houston Partnership, Vice-Chair, Environmental Advisory Committee, 1999-present; Waste Subcommittee Chair, 1999-2003
Member, National Advisory Committee to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency re NAFTA's Commission on Environmental Cooperation and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
Texas Environmental Research Consortium, Chair, 2014-present
Houston Audubon Society, Board of Directors 2018-present, Board of Advisors 2012-2018
Galveston Bay Foundation, Trustee, 2004-2012
Texas Risk Reduction Program Advisory Group, Steering Committee, 2004-2012
Representative, Houston Ship Channel Dioxin TMDL Stakeholders Group
Galveston Bay Council, member, 2004-2006
Texas Association of Environmental Professionals, Board of Directors, 2004
Virtuosi of Houston, Board of Directors, 2002-2005
Inducted into American College of Environmental Lawyers, 2015
Elected to American Law Institute, 2004
Interim Director, Submittal on Environmental Matters Unit, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 2014
Environmental Scholar in Residence, Environmental Law Institute, 2015
Named Top Environmental Lawyer in Houston by Best Lawyers in America, 2011
Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, Environmental, 2003-2010
Highly Recommended Individual Attorney, Practical Law Company, Environmental Law
Best Lawyers in America, 2006-2016
Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition, 2009
Texas Super Lawyers, 2003-2009
Articles Editor, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Columbia University School of Law