William T. Gorton  III - Stites & Harbison, PLLC

William T. Gorton III

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2007

Bill Gorton is Chair of the Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy Service Group for the firm.  He is national counsel to numerous clients on natural resource, environmental regulatory and land and water resources matters. He has been counsel in the development of more than 10 power plants. He has been Lead Counsel to numerous surety companies regarding over $2 billion in financial guarantees on defaulting mining operations, hazardous waste facilities and solid waste disposal facilities throughout the United States. He has been primary environmental counsel in the development of interstate pipeline associated with major natural gas resource development. He also counsels on large natural resource and energy, business or corporate transactions, and project development assessing and addressing environmental regulatory issues and accomplishing clients goals.

 Before embarking on a law career, Mr. Gorton managed many projects as an environmental consultant on projects throughout the U.S.

  • "Coal Bankruptcies: Current Issues," presented at the EMLF 37th Annual Institute, Charlestown, S.C., June 14, 2016 
  • "Current Issues and Perspectives on SMCRA Reclamation Bonding," with W. Blaine Early III,  presented before U.S. Dept. of Interior, Office of Surface Mining, Washington, DC, February 11, 2016 
  • "Financial Assurances, Suretyship and Bonding," 2015 Kentucky Mineral Law Conference, Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, October 22, 2015 

Penn State University ParkBS 1976University of KentuckyJ.D. 1988
Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway CommissionAmerican Bar AssociationKentucky Bar AssociationPennsylvania Bar AssociationEnergy and Mineral Law Foundation

Case History

Montana and Wyoming Powder River Basin Coal Company
  • Advised and developed the state and federal reclamation financial assurance replacement program ($150 million) including permit transfer, owner/controller notice and collateral releases associated with Montana and Wyoming Powder River Basin Coal Company sales.
New York Department of Insurance as Rehabilitator of Frontier Insurance Co.
  • Acted as national counsel in coordinating matters for the New York Department of Insurance as Rehabilitator of Frontier Insurance Co. regarding surety exposure on over $1 billion for hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities, underground and surface coal mines, gold mines and processing facilities, solid waste disposal facilities, recycling facilities and other regulated industries throughout the United States.
Timber Investment Management Organizations
  • Counsel to major Timber Investment Management Organizations in the acquisition of large Appalachian timer tracts and surface rights.
Major U.S. surety industry client
  • Lead counsel to major U.S. surety industry client with the United States Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining in federal rulemaking regarding “owner/controller” liability under the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act.
Horizon Natural Resources bankruptcy
  • Led a team of lawyers on behalf of a major surety company in the bankruptcy of Horizon Natural Resources, the largest coal company bankruptcy in U.S. history. The team developed strategies to assure land reclamation on over 400 mines under federal and five state regulatory programs while mitigating over $125 million in surety exposure.
Power Plants
  • Environmental counsel in development and/or financing of numerous independent power plant.

Client Comments

"Bill has a combination of a mining engineering background, in addition to his legal background. Bill has a thorough knowledge of the regulatory and administrative landscape."

-Robert Lavitt
Director and Bond Claim Counsel
The Travelers Companies, Inc.

"Bill's knowledge and experience in environmental regulations, natural resource issues, land acquisition, construction, and nonprofit organizations have been irreplaceable assets to our company. His advice is conveyed in terms that are easy to understand. Bill is always available, pleasant, and helpful. The past two years simply would not have been possible without his help!"

-Janet Bridges
Director of Development & Operations
Riverwoods Environmental Education Center

"Our Botanic Garden project is long term and complex, with "lots of moving parts" and more committees than sometimes seems manageable - just ask Bill!! He's adept not only at understanding all of those parts, but also at making the appropriate connections between them, while providing exceptional leadership in guiding us through the maze. I've been impressed with his ability to see and explain both sides of an issue - that's very important to us, since our project is based more on partnerships than on "winning" at the expense of another party. That said, he stands his/our ground when he needs to, advocating - and educating - for our project when circumstances require it. We could not have chosen - and the selection process was very competitive - a better attorney to help us with this project."

-Lindsay Totten
Horticultural Society of Western Pennsylvania

Office Location

250 West Main Street, Suite 2300
Lexington, KY 40507-1758
United States

Practice Areas

Energy Law (Administrative, Energy Companies, Environmental, Legislative, Project Development, Regulatory)
Environmental Law
Mining Law (Coal, Regulatory)
Natural Resources Law (Contract, Energy, Environmental, Mining, Timber)

Other Information

Gender: Male