William T. Gorton III

Bill Gorton is Chair of the Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy Service Group for the firm. He is national counsel to numerous clients on environmental regulatory and land and water resources matters. Bill has represented clients in the waste management sector including acquisitions, due diligence, compliance and contracting. He has been counsel in the development of numerous independent gas, solar and waste-coal power plants. He has been Lead Counsel to numerous surety companies regarding over $4 billion in financial guarantees on bankrupt and/or 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, waste industry, business or corporate transactions, and project development assessing and addressing environmental regulatory issues and accomplishing clients' goals. He advises healthcare clients in permitting, acquisitions and environmental compliance matters. Bill is also an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Kentucky's Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation program.

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

Recent News, Articles & Speaking Engagements

'Waters of the United States' What Next? Proposed Trump Administration WOTUS Rule....2019 Addendum

Kentucky Wetlands Law and Compliance, presented by HalfMoon Seminars, Lexington, KY, March 6, 2019

Continued Turbulence in 'Waters of the United States'

presented at the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Law 4th Annual Innovation and Advancement Symposium, February 28, 2018

Projects push growth in legal expertise

by Susan Gosselin, The Lane Report Northern Kentucky Market Review, February 14, 2018

What Are Waters of the United States? Why It Matters

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

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

State and Federal Reclamation Bonding Programs: Lessons Learned and Current Challenges

Interstate Mining Compact Commission, St. Louis, Mo., 2013

"First, Do No Harm" Should Extend to the Environment

A new era in the coal industry under Clean Water Act Section 404

Reclamation Bonds, The Law of Commercial Surety and Miscellaneous Bonds

Second Edition, American Bar Association Fidelity & Surety Law Committee (with George Thompson), May 2012

Current and Emerging Legal Issues on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Waters of the United States: Federal Jurisdiction Over Activities on My Land?

Kentucky Bar Association's Bench and Bar, November 2011

Understanding Waters of the United States and Federal Jurisdiction on Private Property

presented at University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, November 2011

The Law of Commercial Surety and Miscellaneous Bonds (Second Edition)

Chapter: Reclamation Bonds, American Bar Association, Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, 2011

Waters of the United States: Following Clean Water Act § 404 Jurisdiction Upstream

Kentucky Water Laws and Regulations, HalfMoon Seminars, Lexington, Ky., March 2011

"Green" marketing under FTC scrutiny

Environmental/Reclamation Financial Assurances: Back to the Future

56th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Annual Institute, Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 22-24, 2010

Coal Industry Land Law

HalfMoon Seminars, Lexington, Ky., January 22, 2010

Understanding the reclamation surety relationship before and after operator default

The Suretys Perspective: Deja Vu All Over Again?

U.S. Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining Appalachian States Annual Meeting, June 2009

EPA Issues Final CAFO Rule

University of Kentucky Economic and Policy Update, June 2009

Construction Stormwater Permit Proposed Rule

Primer for Engineering and Technical Professionals regarding Reclamation and Environmental Surety Bonds

published Nov. 2004, Mining Engineering, and presented to the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exporation Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Oh., 2003

Surety's Rights and Obligations Under SMCRA

Surety Bonds and Trouble in the Mining Industry

Conference of Government Mining Attorneys, Knoxville, Tenn., 2003

Optimizing Land Reclamation and Environmental Protection: Making the Most Out of Surety Agreements

Interstate Mining Compact Commission 2002 Annual Meeting

Regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and the Horse Industry: EPA is Mucking About!

16th Annual National Conference on Equine Law, Lexington, Ky., 2001

Legal Considerations Pertaining to Use and Disposal of Coal Combustion By-Products

20 Energy & Mineral Law Institute, Chapter 11, Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, 2000

Legal Considerations Pertaining to Use and Disposal of Coal Combustion By-Products

presented to the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, 1999

Replacing Nationwide Permit 26 - The Next Battle Over Wetland Development

The Construction Lawyer, Journal of the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1998

In Front of the Curve: A Call for Awareness of Environmental Liability for CCBs in the United States

presented at Air and Waste Management Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario, 1997, and presented at the International Ash Utilization Symposium, Lexington, Ky., 1995
Recent Assignments
Bar Admissions
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
American Bar Association
Kentucky Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Energy and Mineral Law Foundation
Assistant Professor, Environmental Law and Regulation-University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Science program
Community Involvement

Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission

Kentucky Rails to Trails Council, Inc., Pro-Bono Legal Counsel

Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, Trustee

More Than Stites & Harbison

Prior to attending law school, Bill was the manager of the Kentucky office of Skelly & Loy Engineers-Consultants and had managed natural resource development and environmental remediation projects throughout the United States. At Skelly & Loy, he developed the mine land reclamation programs under the Title IV of the Surface Mine, Control and Reclamation Act for Alaska and Virginia. He also managed technical projects for the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Bureau of Mines, U.S. EPA, Appalachian Regional Commission and numerous state agency and private sector clients. He was appointed by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to The Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeways Commission and has also advised the Kentucky Rails to Trails Council, Inc. on a pro bono basis, formed as part of the nationwide movement to develop abandoned rail beds into trails for recreation use. Bill is Assistant Professor/Adjunct at the University of Kentucky in the Natural Resource and Environmental Science Program teaching Environmental Law and Regulation. He is also a Trustee to the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation. An avid cyclist, Bill has been a spin instructor at the Lexington YMCA. In 2010, Bill joined a group of amateur cyclists who participated in six stages of the Tour de France.


Martindale-Hubbell® AV-Preeminent® Peer Review Rated

Best Lawyers in America®, Energy Law, Environmental Law, Mining Law and Natural Resources Law (2007-22)

Best Lawyers in America®, Lexington Area Lawyer of the Year for Environmental Law (2022)

ChambersUSA, "America's Leading Lawyers for Business," Environment, Natural Resources & Utilities: Environment (2012-22)

Benchmark Litigation magazine, Litigation Star (2015-22)

International Law Office and Lexology, Client Choice Award for Excellence in Client Service (2015)


. . . acts for clients in the energy, healthcare and waste management sectors on environmental regulatory compliance. He handles environmental support for corporate transactions and project development.

- Chambers Commentary (USA), 2020

. . . noted for his work in land and water resources issues, and is also regularly called upon to advise on coal industry matters.

- Chambers Commentary (USA), 2016

. . . thorough knowledge of the regulatory and administrative landscape.

- Best Lawyers, 2011

. . . knowledge and experience . . . irreplaceable assets to our company.

- Best Lawyers, 2007

. . . busy technical lawyer . . .

- Chambers USA, 2005
M Hicon 2020
Gorton Best Lawyers 2022
Gorton Best Lawyers Lawyer of the Year 2022
Gorton Chambers2020
Benchmark Litigation Star 2019
2015Usacanadalogos 1
See more related to William T. Gorton III
Press Releases

Chambers USA Honors 23 Stites & Harbison Attorneys for 2022

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Chambers USA selected 23 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys in Kentucky and Tennessee for inclusion in their 2022 guide. The Chambers USA guide ranks the top law firms and leading attorneys in the United States.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC June 07, 2022
Press Releases

Benchmark Litigation 2022 Honors 15 Stites & Harbison Attorneys

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The 2022 edition of Benchmark Litigation names 12 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys as “Litigation Stars” and three as “Future Stars” in Kentucky.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC October 08, 2021
Press Releases

Stites & Harbison, PLLC Lawyers Named to 2022 Best Lawyers® Publications

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Stites & Harbison, PLLC is pleased to announce that 93 lawyers are included in the 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Additionally, 11 attorneys are named as “Lawyer of the Year” and 14 attorneys are recognized in “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch,” which recognizes attorneys early in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC September 01, 2021
Press Releases

Chambers USA Honors 22 Stites & Harbison Attorneys for 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Chambers USA selected 22 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys in Kentucky and Tennessee for inclusion in their 2021 guide.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC May 21, 2021

James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference

Date: 3/10/21 - 3/12/21


Environmental attorneys Bill Gorton and Jennifer Cave will be speakers at The University of Kentucky’s James B. Beam Institute's second Annual Industry Conference.

Jennifer J. Cave and William T. Gorton III February 18, 2021
Press Releases

Stites & Harbison, PLLC Lawyers Named to 2021 Best Lawyers® Publications

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Stites & Harbison, PLLC is pleased to announce that 82 lawyers are included in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC August 20, 2020
Client Alerts

Four Important Environmental Law Changes Since You’ve Been Home

Stites & Harbison environmental attorneys address several environmental issues that have been on-going over the past couple of months in this combined client alert.

by William T. Gorton III, W. Blaine Early III, Jennifer J. Cave, Robert C. Moore, Mary Lucille Noah (Mary Lu), and W. Patrick Stallard May 05, 2020
Press Releases

Chambers USA 2020 Honors 19 Stites & Harbison Attorneys

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Chambers USA selected 19 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys in Kentucky and Tennessee for inclusion in their 2020 guide.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC May 05, 2020