Max is a member of the firm’s Environmental & Natural Resources Practice Group. His experience includes both transactional counsel and litigation representation. Using his extensive knowledge in environmental, natural resources, energy, and land-use law, he helps businesses resolve disputes regarding federal, state, and local regulations. The industries of Max’s clients include manufacturing, renewable energy, real estate development, petroleum, auto, forestry, and forest products.
Max regularly works with regulatory agencies in several states to address complex hazardous waste and air and water pollution matters. His practice background includes:
- Purchase, sale, remediation, and repurposing of environmentally impacted industrial properties
- Environmental agency claims, agency enforced remedial and removal actions under Superfund and RCRA and voluntary clean ups
- Private cost recovery lawsuits and citizen suits
- Environmental permits
- Sustainability advice
Get to Know
One of the best gifts to give a child is a consistent presence. Tonkon Torp attorney Max Miller, Jr. knows this from raising his own child, and he now offers the same support and stability as a mentor with Faithful Friends.
Faithful Friends is a community-based program that matches vulnerable children aged six to nine with mentors for a year or more. Max met the program’s founder over two decades ago and ended up joining the Faithful Friends board in 2018. After becoming more knowledgeable about the program, Max and his wife Lori signed up to train to be mentors late last summer, and were matched shortly after.
“It was friendship at first sight,” recalls Max after meeting their young mentee. Born premature at just 1.5 pounds, their now eight-year-old friend remains small in stature but has grown into a vivacious personality. She is articulate, reads tremendously well, and has a loving home with her grandmother. One thing that her family felt would be beneficial to her was a consistent and positive male presence.
Max, Lori, and their mentee get together on a weekly basis to just live life and have fun. Playing games, walking the dog, going to bible study, and trips to the grocery store are sprinkled with special outings like taking in a play at the Northwest Children’s Theater. The goal isn’t to buy children in the program a lot of gifts and make every outing spectacular. Rather, mentors like Max and Lori provide a consistent and steady influence on their mentee’s life, reinforcing the importance of responsibility, school, family, and making good life choices. Max shared, “The most important thing is that we show up when we say we will, and never add any disappointment to her life.”
When kids graduate from the Faithful Friends program, usually sometime after 10 years old, the hope is that the friendship continues beyond the agreed upon term of the mentorship. For Max and Lori, a long-term relationship with their new friend is something they are looking forward to building.
Agricultural Property Redevelopment
Oversaw the investigation and remediation of arsenic in soil for the conversion of former agricultural property to residential use.
Represented clients on issues related to asbestos removal.
Clean Water Act Violation Defense
Negotiated settlements with third-party citizen-suit claimants under the Clean Water Act.
Dry Cleaning Operation Cleanup
- Obtained a No Further Action determination (full closure) from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for an owner of property formerly operated as a dry cleaning business, and secured full insurance coverage from historic insurance for the agency's claim.
- Secured Oregon Dry Cleaner Fund coverage for several dry cleaning operation cleanups.
Environmental Audit Oversight
Conducted environmental audits of manufacturing facilities.
Hazardous Waste (RCRA) Violation Defense
Defended a large manufacturing client against multiple hazardous waste violation claims by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, resulting in a reduction of almost $200,000 in assessed violations.
Lacey Act Compliance
Wrote a protocol for and assisted in compliance with a lumber importer's compliance with the Lacey Act, which prohibits the importation of illegally harvested forest products.
Lumber Mill Redevelopment
Counseled clients in the decommissioning of old lumber mills in Oregon, Idaho and Montana and preparing them for different land use.
Mining Waste Cleanup
Represented landowners in mining waste cleanups.
Offsetting Civil Penalties Through Supplemental Environmental Projects
Successfully negotiated reductions and settlements of environmental enforcement actions, including offsetting penalties by supplemental environmental projects.
Petroleum Contamination and Vapor Intrusion Remediation
Negotiated with and secured approval of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a corrective action plan for petroleum contamination at an auto dealership. The matter was complicated by the fact that contamination had migrated offsite, and also implicated Idaho DEQ's vapor intrusion regulations.
Portland Harbor Superfund Site (CERCLA)
Ongoing representation of a large manufacturing company in the $100 million Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for remediation of the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, which has been ongoing for over a decade.
Stormwater Compliance Counseling
Regularly represent a variety of manufacturing and commercial operations to come into or maintain compliance with state, municipal, and local stormwater regulations.
Transfer of Contaminated Property
Counseled landowners and developers throughout the country on federal and state environmental laws associated with the sale and purchase of contaminated commercial and industrial property.
Environmental Remediation and Purchase of Railcar Facility
In 1992, Tonkon Torp helped the Greenbrier Companies lease a large railcar repair facility in Cleburne, Texas; the lease included a purchase option. Following extensive environmental remediation performed by facility owner and negotiated by Tonkon Torp, as well as extensive additions and alterations to the property boundaries, Gunderson Rail Services LLC purchased the Cleburne facility in July 2019.
Acquisition of 540 Acres, Subject to Conservation Easement
Represented the Columbia Land Trust in the acquisition of 540 acres from the Port of Vancouver, USA in the Vancouver Lake Bottomlands, subject to a conservation easement requiring that the land be actively managed to provide a feeding and nesting area for the costal flock of the Pacific Flyway population of Sandhill cranes.
Emergency Removal Actions
Represented the landlord of a metals recovery lab in an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-directed emergency removal action.
Multi-Party Groundwater Contamination Proceeding
Oversaw development of the remedial investigation and feasibility study for petroleum contamination in groundwater and surface water at the Port of Astoria in a multi-party groundwater contamination proceeding.
Solvent-Contaminated Groundwater Cleanup
Negotiated with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for risk-based closure of a site involving solvent-contaminated groundwater.
No Further Action Letter
Obtained No Further Action Letter from DEQ for approximately 85 acres of former millsite brownfield property, allowing it to be developed for industrial use.
Wastewater Pond Decommissioning
Represented agricultural landowner regarding the decommissioning of a food processing wastewater pond.
Water Treatment System Compliance
Represented a bottler regarding the use and disposal of excess water from a reverse osmosis treatment system.
Federal and State Administrative Order Negotiation
Helped negotiate and implement an administrative order for the $6 million cleanup and removal of PCB-contaminated cooling pond at a former sawmill and plywood plant in Montana.
Forest Practices Compliance
Represented timber owners with respect to federal and state forest practices compliance.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Defense
Helped client resolve multiple claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others related to a PCB boiler fire in Montana.
Construction Equipment Company Sold to Petron Enterprises. Inc.
Represented the seller in the sale of the assets of a Tualatin, Oregon rock crushing equipment manufacturer.
Sale of large group of automobile dealerships.
Clean Water Act
Defended citizens' suits alleging Clean Water Act violations.
Conversion of Brownfields
Conversion of brownfields to new residential and commercial development, including prospective purchase agreements.
Establishment of sandhill crane preserve.
Purchase, sale, ground-leasing, and remediation of several environmentally impacted industrial, manufacturing, and petroleum dispensing properties.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act cleanup of a disposal site.
EPA ordered emergency removal at a precious metals lab and a mining facility.
Federal & State Permitting
Federal and state permitting related to timberlands and manufacturing facilities.
Siting and permitting for renewable energy facilities.
The Portland Harbor Superfund site.
Removal of TSCA wastes from a mill pond.
Water Right Transfers
Represented clients in matters concerning the purchase and sale of water and water rights.
Water Rights Protection
Represented clients in administrative proceedings to secure new and protect existing water rights.
Represented land development companies in wetlands permitting matters before the Oregon Department of State Lands.
Acquisition of Peterson Caterpillar Property
Represented the purchaser of the Peterson Caterpillar property in NE Portland. The property consists of 13 buildings containing approximately 264,000 square feet, constructed on 30.64 acres of land. The acquisition involved extensive environmental due diligence which resulted in a No Further Action Letter from the DEQ, issued shortly before closing. Purchase price: $17,500,000.
Due Diligence in Real Property Transactions
Regularly provide environmental due diligence for the purchase and sale of manufacturing facilities, industrial real estate, and timberlands.
City of Hermiston v. LGW Ranch, Inc.
Represented LGW Ranch, Inc., a cattle ranching operation, in a condemnation proceeding involving diversion of treated municipal wastewater. The matter was resolved through a negotiated agreement favorable to our client.
Sale of Linn County Tree Farm
Represented the seller of a Linn County, Oregon tree farm that had been family-owned for some 60 years.
Purchase of Portland Property
Represented purchaser in acquiring half-block of downtown Portland property with known environmental issues for future development.
City Center Parking Acquired by Canada-based Impark
Represented the general partner in the sale of Portland's largest local parking management and services company to an international firm. The company operated approximately 200 lots, mostly in the core of the City. Transaction included contractual arrangements for 28 lots owned by affiliates of the company's owners.
Stimson Lumber Co. v. International Paper Co.
In Montana, assisted Stimson in the negotiation and implementation of an administrative order for the $6 million cleanup and removal of a PCB-contaminated cooling pond formerly owned by Stimson. Successfully asserted claims against prior owners of the cooling pond under CERCLA, recovering past and future cleanup costs.
Meridian Rail Holdings Corporation Stock Acquisitions
Represented The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. in connection with acquisitions of stock of Meridian Rail Holdings Corporation for approximately $230 million.
Acquisitions of Operating Assets
Represented The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. in connection with acquisitions of operating assets of Rail Car America, Inc. (RCA), its American Hydraulics division, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Brandon Corp., for $34 million.
Represented the General Partner in the sale of Portland’s largest local parking management and services company to an international firm. The company operated approximately 200 lots, mostly in the core of the City. Transaction also included contractual arrangements for 28 lots owned by affiliates of the company’s owners.
Stimson Lumber Company shifted its strategic focus to the inland Northwest with its initial expansion into Montana in 1993, drawing on longtime counsel Tonkon Torp’s expertise to handle the deal. Since then, Stimson has been adding to its inland operations in Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s Real Estate & Land Use Practice Group are celebrating a successful real estate purchase for pro bono client Albina Head Start (AHS). For more than 40 years, AHS has leased space at a former church building in NE Portland for its Tina Clegg Center. The Center, a community pillar for one of Portland’s historic communities of color, houses both a Head Start program serving 60 low-income families and AHS administrative offices that coordinate and provide services for numerous additional families.
Tonkon Torp attorneys Owen Blank and Max Miller represented the buyer in a recent purchase of Portland area property that was previously the site of a gas station and had contaminated soil that presented potential liability and development risk issues.
Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s real estate and land use, and environmental and natural resources teams represented the Columbia Land Trust in negotiating and completing the transfer of property for a habitat preserve. Find details and more featured cases here.
Community Involvement & Activities
Faithful Friends PDX
2017-Present, Board Member
1000 Friends of Oregon
Past Cooperating Attorney
Friends of the Children
Past Mamber, Endowment Committee
The Right Brain Initiative
2009-2015, Governing Committee
2011-2013, Chair, Development Committee
City of Portland
2011-2013, Mayor’s Economic Cabinet
Business for Culture and the Arts
2004-2010, Board Member
2008-2010, Board Chair
Oregon Episcopal School
1997-1999, Chair, Alumni Board
1997-1999, Board of Trustees
Regional Arts and Cultural Council
2009-2015, Board Member, Secretary, Vice Chair, Nominating Committee
West Coast Chamber Orchestra
1984-1989, Board Member
Oregon State Bar
Member, Real Estate & Land Use, Environmental & Natural Resources, and Sustainable Future Sections
Past Treasurer, Sustainable Future Section
Member (2015-2017), Sustainable Future Section Executive Committee
Past Chair, Public Service and Information Committee
Past Chair, Environmental & Natural Resources Section
Past Member, Sustainability Task Force
Co-Editor, Environmental and Natural Resources Law (Oregon CLE 2002)
Editor (1994-1997), Oregon Environmental and Natural Resources Outlook
American Bar Association
Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Section
Real Property Section
Multnomah Bar Association
Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future
Green Team Task Force
The Best Lawyers in America
2009-2022, Environmental Law
2009-2022, Land Use & Zoning Law
2021, Lawyer of the Year – Environmental Law, Portland
Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers
Oregon State Bar
2013, President’s Sustainability Award
2010, Sustainability Leadership Award
2013, Volunteer Award
2011, Volunteer Award
Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 39 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022
Chambers USA has recognized 23 Tonkon Torp attorneys in seven practice areas in its Chambers USA 2021 guide.
Four Tonkon Torp partners have been named Portland Lawyer of the Year in their specialties by Best Lawyers in America 2021. In each community, only one lawyer per specialty is honored as Lawyer of the Year by the peer-review survey.
Forty-nine Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 36 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2021. A majority of attorneys have been named to the peer-review list in past years, and most have been recognized for more than five years.
Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business has recognized 20 Tonkon Torp attorneys in seven practice areas in its 2020 USA Guide. Eighteen of the Tonkon Torp attorneys named have been previously ranked by Chambers.
By a vote of 26-2, the Oregon Senate passed the “Brownfields Land Bank Bill” today. HB 2734 had previously passed the House with a vote of 43-15. The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for signature. With the enactment of the Brownfields Land Bank Bill, local governments will have a significant new tool to assist them in redeveloping brownfields.
On June 11, 2007, in U.S. v Atlantic Research Corp., the United States Supreme Court solved a portion of the puzzle that has confounded so-called potentially responsible parties (PRPs) since the Court’s decision in Cooper Industries, Inc. v Aviall Services, Inc. in 2004.
Ear to the Ground Blog
Night of the Corporate Zombies – How Undead Corporations Can Help Fund Oregon’s Environmental Cleanup
We all know that corporations and limited liability companies can die. In actuality, they are dissolved and given time to wind up their affairs, but the point is that after five years following proper notice to potential creditors and other claimants, they effectively become “dead and buried.” As such, they are no longer subject to suit. However, the operations of several such dead and buried companies have been found to have contributed contaminates to Superfund sites such as Portland Harbor.
If you’ve enjoyed an ocean fishing trip or whale watching tour off the Oregon coast, you know that the wave action is relentless. It makes some people turn green just thinking about that bouncy feeling. Well, those constantly rocking waves may yield another type of green – green energy that is not intermittent. The sun will set and the winds often subside, but the wave action off the Oregon coast never stops.
Usually when you think of cranes on urban land, you picture yellow tower cranes signaling the newest high rise on the horizon. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of representing Columbia Land Trust (CLT) when it acquired about 500 acres of bottom land inside the city limits of Vancouver, Washington near Vancouver Lake
While I was social distancing at home, I was talking with an electrician friend and he said that builders are not slowing down on projects at all. If anything they are accelerating.
Farmland is going out of farm production in Oregon at what seems to some to be an alarming rate – near double the nationwide rate. As everyone knows, we also have a dearth of low income housing, at least near urban areas. “Wait a minute!,” you say, “what could these two sentences possibly have in common?” Well, they may have an unusual intersection in two bills before the 2020 legislative short session.
Publications & Presentations
“Night of the Corporate Zombies – How Undead Corporations Can Help Fund Oregon’s Environmental Cleanup,” Ear to the Ground, June 2021
“Wave Energy Could Be Close By,” Ear to the Ground Blog, March 2021
“Cranes and Cows,” Ear to the Ground Blog, November 2020
“Building in the Time of COVID-19,” Ear to the Ground Blog, March 2020
“Preserve Suburban Farms or Advance Suburban Low Income Housing?” Ear to the Ground Blog, February 2020
“Is Pre-Fab Coming of Age?” Ear to the Ground Blog, August 2019
“Where Will Right Brainers Thrive?” Ear to the Ground Blog, February 2019
“A Fresh View of Sichuan’s Air Pollution Solutions,” Ear to the Ground Blog, November 2018
“Worker Shortage Hits Portland Builders Two Ways,” Ear to the Ground Blog, August 2018
“Conserving the White Oak,” Ear to the Ground Blog, April 2018
“Determining Who Pays for Environmental Remediation: Legal and Technical Issues,” 22nd Annual Superfund in Oregon Conference, October 2016
“What Does the Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si’, Say to Lawyers?,” The Long View, Oregon State Bar Sustainable Future Section, Summer 2015
“Determining Who Pays for Contaminated Sediment Cleanup,” Cascade Luncheon, Northwest Environmental Business Council, June 2015
“The Portland Harbor Superfund Site,” Multnomah Bar Association, November 2014
“Decker v. NEDC,” Environmental & Natural Resources Law Section E-Outlook, Oregon State Bar, April 2013
“Tax Credit May Give Wind Energy a Gust,” Daily Journal of Commerce, January 2013
“Encouraging Lawyers to Adopt Sustainability Goals,” Sustainability: The Journal of Record, October 2011