Robert J. Joyce


(918) 574-3040

Bob Joyce focuses his practice on environmental and toxic tort litigation, regulatory compliance and enforcement and transactional matters. Drawing on his background as a chemical engineer in the petroleum industry, Bob has developed particular expertise with environmental and regulatory issues affecting refineries, pipelines and other midstream and downstream oil and gas facilities, as well as manufacturing, aviation/aerospace and mining companies. He has a diverse environmental, health and safety practice with particular emphasis on defense litigation, as well as compliance and enforcement issues related to hazardous waste treatment, storage, transportation and disposal, site remediation, wastewater and storm water treatment and discharges, underground waste injection wells, above-ground and underground storage tanks and facilities, EPCRA/SARA Title III, and OSHA. Bob also advises clients on DOT issues including issues related to the pipeline and trucking industry.

Bob represents clients in complex environmental litigation, arbitration, and enforcement proceedings involving issues such as common law toxic tort and property damage claims, CERCLA enforcement, cost recovery and allocation, natural resource damages, contribution and contractual indemnity claims, and regulatory noncompliance. He has significant experience in working with testifying experts to develop strong positions and in obtaining exclusion of opposing expert testimony. Bob has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies. He also has significant experience in defending against OSHA citations, including claims involving worker fatalities.

In addition to his litigation practice, Bob works extensively on regulatory compliance issues associated with day-to-day operation of commercial and industrial facilities. Much of this work involves hazardous and solid waste issues under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). His experience with RCRA issues includes work on the closure of RCRA treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDs), post-closure care of such facilities, and negotiation and implementation of risk-based closures and cleanups. In addition, Bob specializes in providing advice to TSDs and hazardous waste generators and transporters regarding the application of the environmental regulations to their operations and regarding methods for reducing or eliminating regulatory impediments to current or proposed business practices. He has successfully represented clients before state and federal agencies regarding a wide variety of enforcement issues under RCRA, the Clean Water Act and other environmental regulatory programs. Bob has also provided extensive input and comment on numerous proposed EPA regulations and works with businesses and industry groups to develop comments.

On the transactional side, Bob represents clients on environmental issues, permit transfers, due diligence and indemnities arising in the course of purchase and sale transactions, and in the course of the development and expansion of facilities.

Bob’s experience and expertise have earned him inclusion in Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America (commercial litigation; environmental law; environmental litigation; mining law) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers. He was selected by Best Lawyers as “Tulsa Environmental Lawyer of the Year” for 2018 and “Tulsa Environmental Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2021, honors given to a single lawyer in each legal specialty in each market.

Bob previously served as leader of the firm’s Environmental Group.

Prior to joining McAfee & Taft in 2009, Bob was a partner with Joyce & Paul, PLLC, a law firm he co-founded in 2000. His extensive career experience includes serving as executive partner of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, office of Gardere & Wynne, LLP, process/project engineer in the natural gas liquids division of OXY/Cities Service Company, and as senior attorney and manager of environmental compliance for Hilti, Inc.


Representative Experience

  • Lead counsel for a Fortune 500 client in the defense of personal injury claims alleged to have been caused by lead contamination in soil.
  • Managed the claims process for a Fortune 500 oil company in connection with indemnity obligations related to the sale of its refining and marketing division, and arbitrated such claims as necessary.
  • Achieved partial dismissal of and significant reduction in penalties for claims made by EPA against a chemical manufacture for alleged improper planning and reporting under EPA’s Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program.
  • Successfully defended and achieved dismissal or favorable settlement of various OSHA citations involving employee deaths at industrial facilities including a tank explosion at a chemical plant, alleged lockout/tagout violations at an asphalt plant, a tire rupture at a tire supply facility, and falls at construction sites, trucking facilities and oil field facilities.
  • Obtained a high seven-figure settlement in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against an insurance company that failed pay its insured for damages suffered and cleanup costs incurred in connection with a petroleum product pipeline rupture.
  • Routinely advise manufacturers, construction companies, airlines and other businesses regarding compliance with OSHA regulations and general duty requirements.
  • Performed environmental and permitting due diligence on behalf on developers and investors in connection with the construction and financing of more than a dozen wind and solar energy facilities in Oklahoma.
  • Successfully represented a municipality in an action to force the shutdown of an animal slaughtering and meat packing facility due to odor and improper waste handling and treatment.
  • Obtained a significant monetary recovery for a pipeline company in connection with a contractor’s improper installation of fusion-bonded epoxy anti-corrosion coatings on a petroleum products pipeline.
  • Drafted and negotiated environmental provisions in long-term leases of hangar, warehouse and terminal space at numerous major international airports in the U.S. for a Fortune 100 Airline.
  • Favorably settled an enforcement action by EPA against a chemical manufacturing company for alleged violations of Chemical Data Reporting requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
  • Worked with consultants to prepare a CERCLA cost recovery action against scores of former tenants for historic soil and groundwater contamination at a large international airport.
  • Served as co-counsel on and implemented numerous aspects of the closure of a RCRA permitted TSD in Oklahoma, and managed and negotiated groundwater modeling effort in support thereof.
  • Worked with consultants to develop a model of air emissions from aircraft fleets in connection with the major source-mobile source air quality rules for airports and airlines in southern California.
  • Obtained a $1.6 million verdict for a Fortune 500 pipeline company in connection with the rupture of a crude oil pipeline by an excavation contractor and the resulting cleanup of over 2000 barrels or crude oil. Was successful in excluding a significant portion of contractor’s expert testimony under Daubert.
  • Together with a team of lawyers, successfully represented client against natural resource damages claims by Indian tribe at a former mining site.
  • Together with a team of lawyers, successfully defeated a property damage class action and, subsequently, hundreds of individual cases by property owners near former mining sites.
  • Together with a team of lawyers, successfully represented client against over five hundred personal injury claims at a former mining site.
  • Successfully negotiated Consent Orders for the Oklahoma Voluntary Cleanup Program for two former refinery sites.
  • Successfully obtained affirmation of a judgment in favor of a crude oil pipeline client before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Served as lead counsel for a group a deminimis parties in connection with the settlement of EPA claims at the Chief Supply corporation superfund site.
  • Successfully obtained reversal of a criminal conviction from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (en banc) against a corporation in connection with alleged illegal use of real property.
  • Negotiated the final RCRA closure of an aircraft maintenance center in Kansas City with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
  • Negotiated wastewater pretreatment permits and permit modifications for numerous manufacturing facilities.
  • Prepared a cost recovery case, including extensive historical records and witness search, against the Department of Defense for remediation of a major industrial complex in south Florida.
  • Obtained an injunction in Federal District Court prohibiting interference with a crude oil pipeline right away and requiring removal of construction debris from right-of-way.
  • Devised system for tracking and managing environmental issues for a portfolio of discontinued operations previously owned by a major U.S. refining and marketing company.
  • Prepared and submitted numerous sets of comments on behalf of industry client in connection with various Clean Water Act and Resources Conservation and Recovery Act rulemakings, and worked with various industry groups such as the Air Transport Association to prepare group comments.

Honors and Awards

  • Listed in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
  • Named “Tulsa Environmental Lawyer of the Year” for 2018 and “Tulsa Environmental Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 by The Best Lawyers in America
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (commercial litigation; environmental law; environmental litigation; mining law)
  • Listed in Oklahoma Super Lawyers
  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

Professional Organizations and Memberships

  • Tulsa County Bar Association
  • Oklahoma Bar Association (Litigation Section; Environmental Law Section)
  • American Bar Association (Litigation Section; Section of Environmental, Energy and Resources)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • Defense Research Institute

Speaking Engagements

  • Oklahoma, 1988
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western, Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • J.D., University of Tulsa, 1988
    • Order of the Curule Chair; Staff Member, Energy Law Journal
  • B.S. (Chemical Engineering), University of Tulsa, 1981