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H. Michael Keller

Attorney / Partner
Salt Lake City
Licensure: UT


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Mike is a partner with Fabian VanCott and practices environmental and natural resources law. He represents a wide variety of clients, including electrical power producers, natural resource companies, industrial clients, Indian Tribes, municipalities, landowners, and developers.

Mike’s environmental practice includes counseling on environmental permits and compliance, developing internal compliance policies, negotiating consent decrees and conducting administrative proceedings before state and federal agencies that have involved air and water quality, hazardous wastes and materials, toxic substances, radioactive materials, petroleum storage tanks, NEPA, endangered species and migratory birds. In Magnesium Corp. of Am. v. Air Quality Bd., 941 P.2d 653 (UT 1997), Mike successfully challenged an enforcement action by the Utah Air Quality Board seeking substantial penalties for excess emissions from equipment breakdown. On behalf of an interstate natural gas pipeline company, Mike negotiated an Administrative Order on Consent under CERCLA with EPA to allow the company to proceed with scheduled construction of its pipeline through an area contaminated from historic mining.

Mike represents a major interlocal (public joint action) entity in developing and providing energy services to its municipal and community-owned electric system members, advising on environmental and natural resource issues in development and operation of electric energy projects, involving renewable power (wind, solar, waste heat), coal-fired power plants, natural gas turbines, diesel generators, and electric power transmission.

Mike works closely with the firm’s real estate and corporate attorneys advising clients on environmental risks and liabilities in acquisitions, mergers, and real estate transactions, including acquisitions of industrial brownfield sites for commercial and residential development. He assisted a client in its acquisition of a large lead-arsenic smelter site undergoing CERCLA remediation, negotiating agreements with state and federal agencies to allow the client to purchase and develop the smelter site as a regional medical center without liability for environmental response costs or natural resource damages.

Mike’s natural resource practice focuses on public lands, mining, oil and gas, and water rights. In Hegarty v. Bd. of Oil, Gas, & Mining,  2002 UT 82, Mike obtained a significant ruling on well spacing under the Utah Oil and Gas Conservation Act.

Mike represents Indian Tribes on public land and environmental matters affecting their communities. He obtained an important ruling against the Department of the Interior in Skull Valley Band of Goshutes and Private Fuel Storage v. Davis, 728 F. Supp. 2d 1287 (D. Utah 2010).

Professional History

Admitted Utah State Bar; U.S. District Court, District of Utah; U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

Utah State Bar, Energy, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law Section

American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

Dartmouth Lawyers Association


J.D., Duke University, Cum Laude, 1978

A.M., Geology, Dartmouth College, 1975

A.B., Geology, Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1973

Community Service

Salt Lake Rotary Club 24

Conservation Committee, Tracy Aviary

Past Trustee and Officer:

  • Board of Trustees, Friends of Tracy Aviary
  • Board of Trustees, Judge Memorial Catholic High School
  • Board of Trustees, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake
  • Board of Trustees, Utah Law-Related Education
  • Board of Trustees, Utah Bar Foundation

Publications & Presentations

Water Quality Update and Program Co-Chair, Utah Water Law Conference, CLE International, (2005 – 2022)

Contributor, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, Air Quality Committee Report, The Year in Review (2015-2021)

Legal Implications of Vapor Intrusion and EPA Guidance, 32nd Annual Utah Conference on Safety and Industrial Hygiene (2015)

Co-author, Utah Chapter, ABA Handbook, Brownfields: A Comprehensive Guide to Redeveloping Contaminated Property (3rd ed. 2010)

Chapter 4, Regulated Activities, ABA Handbook, Wetlands Law and Policy – Understanding Section 404 (2005)

Co-author, Know the Chessboard Before You Make Your Move – A Landman’s Guide to Well Location and Spacing Regulation, 54 Rocky Mtn. Min. Law Inst. 6-1 (2008)

Environmental Risks in Real Estate Transactions, Advanced Real Estate Law in Utah, National Business Institute (2005)

Look Before You Fill: The Impact of Wetlands Permitting on Real Estate Development in Utah, Utah State Bar Annual Meeting (2004)

Waters of the United States (How Many Drops Does It Take), Special Inst. on Water Quality and Wetlands, Paper No. 3, Page No. 3-1, Rocky Mt. Min. L. Fdn. (2002)

Lode or Placer? – Locating the Distinction, 31 Rocky Mtn. Min. Law Inst. 12-1 (1985)

Recognition and Awards

Chambers and Partners –Natural Resources & Environment

Best Lawyers

Super Lawyers

Utah Legal Elite

AV rating, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review

Utah Law-Related Education Scott M. Matheson Award, 2011

Utah State Bar Energy, Natural Resources and Environmental Section Distinguished Service Award, 2010

Utah State Bar Natural Resources and Environmental Lawyer of the Year, 1991