Interview Year: 2016
Pam Giblin was finishing law school at the University of Texas at Austin when she heard about an opening for a lawyer at the Texas Air Control Board, one of the first state air pollution agencies. She won the job, rose to General Counsel in six months, and plunged into the exciting task of preparing the first State Implementation Plan for Texas required by the federal Clean Air Act of 1970. Representing a state experienced in industrial air pollution control, she often traveled to Washington to work on legislation directly with Leon Billings, majority staff director of the Senate environment subcommittee, and another pioneer interviewed in ELI’s oral history. She describes that work as one of the “most amazing experiences to hear from the author of the Clean Air Act how it all hung together, how it was intended to work.” She believes the 1970 Act established principles and programs capable of solving most of today’s air quality problems, without all the complex and lengthy amendments added since then. Simpler is better, she says.
Following government service, Giblin entered private practice and became a partner at the firm of Baker and Botts in 1994. She is widely respected for her skill in managing highly complex permit proceedings for major oil, chemical, and mineral companies and is proud of helping to add good jobs in Texas communities. She also represents companies in Mexico, work that draws on her early years living in Mexico where her father’s company ran plantations and paper mills. Her mother was born in Mexico City, and her grandfather was one of the drafters of Mexico’s constitution. Giblin credits her exposure to a “diversity of languages and cultures” with strengthening her ability as a lawyer to communicate well with people with differing interests. As a leader in the profession, she contributes her expertise to EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and is a past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and a member of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute.