Picture of R. Lee Vail P.E., Ph.D.

R. Lee Vail, P.E., Ph.D.

Of Counsel

Phone: 504.620.3356
Fax: 504.585.3051

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Lee Vail is of counsel to the New Orleans office of Kean Miller. He joined the firm in 2010 and practices in the environmental regulatory, Process Safety Management, emergency response, and intellectual property groups. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining Kean Miller, Lee served as Manager of Environmental Affairs for a worldwide oil and gas company.

Lee brings more than 30 years of process engineering, project management, process safety management, and environmental regulatory experience in the petroleum refining industry to the representation of industry clients. His expertise includes sophisticated interaction on behalf of industry clients in connection with regulatory compliance and permitting, Process Safety Management (PSM), Risk Management Program (RMP), RAGAGEP, Process Safety Information (PSI), OSHA, EPA, and CSB investigations, release reporting, incident management, and litigation avoidance. Lee also represents clients in connection with pipeline regulatory and safety issues under PHMSA and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources programs, including jurisdictional determinations, registration requirements, compliance and due diligence associated with mergers/acquisitions of pipeline facilities or financing of projects including pipelines.

Lee is also a registered Patent Attorney and is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Representative Experience
  • Successfully prosecuted multiple patent applications. Also successfully appealed multiple previously rejected patent applications before the Patent Appeal Board.
  • Acted as in house environmental attorney for a major chemical manufacturer on a seconded basis for 18 months following acquisitions of billions of dollars of assets in the Gulf Coast region
  • Representation of major midstream and chemical manufacturers in negotiations with the EPA concerning alleged RMP violations and with OSHA on safety regulations, including but not limited to alleged PSM violations
  • Representation of pipeline company in connection with explosion at natural gas pipeline facility resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries, and ensuing litigation. Kean Miller also represents the client in associated investigations by PHMSA, OSHA, and LDEQ.
  • Representation of pipeline company in connection with NGL pipeline fire and explosion resulting from pigging operation, resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries. Representation in associated investigations by OSHA, Louisiana State Police, LDNR, and LDEQ.
  • Representation of a major chemical production facility in the management of complex OSHA, EPA, and other administrative agency investigations following an explosion and fire at its Louisiana facility
  • Representation of a major midstream petroleum company in negotiations with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in reference to a compliance order and notice of penalty.
  • Representation of a major paper company in negotiations with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in reference to a compliance order and notice of penalty
  • Representation of a global fertilizer company in the negotiation of an Engineering Services Agreement for Front End Engineering and the Licensing Agreement for necessary technology in connection with a multi-billion dollar Louisiana facility expansion
  • Successfully appealed previously rejected patent application before the Patent Appeal Board by redrafting rejected claims (prepared by another) and filing a successful Appeal Brief, leading to the issuance of a patent
  • Successful negotiations on behalf of a pipeline owner before the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, regarding a desired non-applicability determination, i.e., that the product carried by the line would not fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Conservation. The decision exempted our client from pipeline safety regulations

Lee earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University in 1978. He earned his M.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Tulane University in 1983 and his M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans in 1987. Lee earned his J.D., cum laude, in 2010 from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, where he was recognized as a Crowe Scholar. He earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Tulane University in 1990.

  • Admitted, Louisiana, 2010; Texas, 2016; United States Patent and Trademark Office
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