Tracy Hester

University of Houston Law Center
100 Law Center
Houston, Texas 77204
713-743-1152 (office)



Amanda Parker

Hester Photo

Professor Hester teaches environmental law and emerging technology 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, 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.

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. 


Publications and Speeches

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),

Nanotechnology: Environmental Law, Policy, and Business Considerations, ABA SEER (2010) ed. L. Bergeson (chapter on hazardous waste requirements for nanomaterials).

"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

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
New York

Court Admissions

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th and District of Columbia Circuits
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas


Bar Affiliations

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

Legal Affiliations

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

Civic Affiliations

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 Advisors, 2012-present
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
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