Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wall Street Journal, Financial Times Publish Special Sections on Carbon Emissions & "Green New Deal"

When the U.K.-based Financial Times and the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal publish special sections on the same day on nearly identical topics, the resulting stories are worth a close look.

On Monday, the Journal published a special section on the environment with the lead article entitled, "Can Countries Cut Carbon Emissions Without Hurting Economic Growth?" Meanwhile, the lead article in the FT special section -- entitled "Green New Deal" -- focused on the important role regional governments may play in addressing climate change.

Neither special section purports to be definitive in terms of all the associated issues much less solutions to the issues, but anytime these two widely-respected publications deem fit to address a topic you can bet that world leaders are taking note.

As one might expect the FT coverage is much broader than the Journal's, reflecting a major difference between the publications. Put another way, the FT special section includes stories about Brazil, the EU, the U.K., U.N., and the U.S. while the Journal special section focuses almost exclusively on the U.S.

Reducing carbon emissions is quickly becoming a strategic imperative for global businesses, a trend underscored in these two special sections.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gene Holland, 2008 MRLS Graduate, and Senior Project Leader at NREL Talks About Renewables

Deployment and commercialization of renewable energy technology is one of the key goals of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) according to Gene Holland (2008 MRLS graduate).

Gene, who has been at NREL -- which is located about 25 minutes by car from the DU campus -- since June 2008, is a senior project leader at the laboratory, the premier U.S. federal government research institute for renewables.

Last week, Ann Vessels, the director of the internship program at DU, and I had lunch with Gene to find out what he is doing as well as hear his observations about what the road ahead might look like in the renewables sector. Prof. Vessels and I have known Gene for nearly two years, and so we were looking forward to catching up with him. And we weren't disappointed.

Gene explained a number of NREL's major initiatives, including its work with state and local governments that are pushing ahead with their own renewables efforts. In particular, he pointed to Hawaii, which hopes to generate 70 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030. He also mentioned other NREL projects such as one involving the small town of Greensburg, Kansas, which was destroyed several years ago in a tornado.

He talked about the importance of policy that underlies renewables as well as the many levels of "integration" that must be undertaken when a technology that is developed at the laboratory is prepared for the commercial market. "Deploying the research is being emphasized today," he said, noting that the real success of a renewables-related technology comes when it enters the marketplace as a viable service or product.

It was interesting to hear Gene talk about the types of people -- and issues -- he deals with in his job. The people he deals with range from engineers to policy analysts to financiers and lawyers. He also deals with people in the U.S. Department of Energy's headquarters.

Gene provided us a fascinating peak into the world of renewable energy technology development and deployment. Meetings like this help DU stay ahead of the curve when it comes to addressing and providing the types of experiences and courses students will need to enter the new energy economy.

It was great to see Gene, and it is impressive that he is playing a very real part helping design what our energy future may look like. We agreed to stay in connect in the future. Hopefully Gene -- and all of our other graduates for that matter -- will keep us posted on what they are doing and how we can continue to improve the graduate program to prepare our graduates for the future.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why We Love Colorado: An Autumn Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

There are many reasons people love to visit, go to school in, and generally spend time in Colorado. Let me share a few from this past weekend, a warm and sunny Saturday in Colorado.

Autumn days often begin with a vividly blue sky and a brisk (but not cold) morning. I left Denver about 7.15 a.m. and by 9 a.m. I was hiking in one of America's great national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), which is located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Denver. The east-side entrance to the park is through the small town of Estes Park.

In the summer, Estes Park is teaming with tourists. But by September, the town has returned to its quieter side. In fact, from September through May the town and the RMNP for that matter are the playground for the "locals."

I had not been to the park in a year or so, but Saturday reminded me of why it is one of my favorite spots in the world. I hiked on the South Moraine Park Trail from the Bear Lake Road to Cub Lake, a distance of about 8 miles (13 kilometers). Along the way I met many people all out for a day of hiking and fun.
In the autumn in Colorado (and the Rocky Mountains for that matter), the Aspen trees turn a rich gold in color. Some even have a hint of red in their leaves. In addition, the elk are everywhere, as you will note in one of the pictures accompanying this posting. There is no hunting in the park, and thus the number of elk has increased over time (or so it seems to me).

After four hours of hiking -- and taking many pictures along the way -- I was ready to head home. These are the kinds of days that make it clear what a magical place Colorado is. Add to that the many talented, diverse, and entrepreneurial people one comes across in the state and you can see why this is a favorite place for many to live. There is also the link between Colorado, natural resources development, and environmental protection that attracts many to live here. And it is worth noting that RMNP is merely one of hundreds of places one might go hiking and exploring. I have never met a person who visited this wonderful state and loved the outdoors who was disappointed with what they found here.

Colorado -- the lifestyle, the people, the scenery, the experience -- is all part of what our community enjoys. It is part of America's great west, and yet it is a region that is firmly committed to looking at the future and addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with development and environmental protection.

However, in the spirit of full disclosure I should note that after the wonderful weekend we enjoyed, the weather turned cold and snowy beginning on Monday. While it has not snowed in Denver, it has snowed in the mountains. But that is what makes this state so fun. One day it's sunny and warm. The next day it can be snowing and cold. But the mountains, the creeks, the hiking paths, the bike trails, and (in the winter) the ski resorts do not change regardless of the weather.

Colorado is what we call home, but it is also a launching pad for those who want to explore the world. Just ask our graduates.

And by the way, check out this link to a web cam focused on Long's Peak in the south part RMNP.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roger Martella, EPA General Counsel in Bush Administration, Explains How EPA Regulation of Carbon Emissions May Be Close

Roger Martella, a partner at the Washington-based law firm Sidley Austin, recently discussed how the Obama Administration is moving ahead with a regulatory approach to reducing carbon emissions.

For those -- and there are a growing number -- who think that the U.S. Congress will not take action this year (or perhaps next year either) to address greenhouse gas emissions, the regulatory approach may be the path that the administration pursues. Of course, this has some important consequences not least of which is that a legislatively driven cap-and-trade scheme may not come to fruition.

Mr. Martella spoke to E&ETV's Monica Trauzii in mid-September ("Climate: Former EPA General Counsel Martella Discusses Agency's Push to Regulation Emissions," OnPoint, Sept. 17, 2009).

U.S. EPA Announces Major New Greenhouse Gases Rule; European Union Questions American Progress on Emissions Reductions

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the "Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule,", which requires large sources of greenhouse gas emissions to report emissions data.

Suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons per year, and manufacturers of vehicles and engines fall under the rule's coverage. According to the EPA the "new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions."

The facilities involved emit about 85 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Under the rule, data collection will begin on January 1, 2010.

Does this mean the U.S. will at some point legislatively mandate greenhouse gas emissions reductions? Not exactly. What it does mean is that the U.S. federal government will know who is emitting what. The European Union, the only major governmental entity that has instituted a carbon emissions trading scheme, did not have a similar data collection system in place when the EU trading scheme took effect January 1, 2005. Some Europeans have pointed to this lack of data as a major error on the EU's part.

Despite the announcement, however, major figures in Europe are expressing concern about the lack of U.S. progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, an article in the Financial Times ("US-EU Rift Clouds Climate Summit," Sept. 22, 2009), quotes an unnamed European Commission source as saying, "So far, we thought the basic problem was the Chinese and the Indians. But now I think the problem appears to lie most clearly with the U.S."

The Obama-EU honeymoon is officially over. All men (and women) to their battle stations (in a manner of speaking of course).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deutsche Bank Asset Management Leader Discusses Green Energy Investment Opportunities

Much can be learned about the opportunities related to green energy from investment leaders, who are paid to know about emerging investment fields (although we all know how wrong they can also be bearing in mind the last 18 months or so).

Kevin Parker, head of Deutsche Bank's Asset Management Division, is one financial leader who is following the green energy sector with great interest. In a recent interview on EETV's "On Point" program (Sept. 15, 2009), Mr. Parker made a number of interesting observations about what lies ahead for the green energy sector. The nine-minute interview is definitely worth watching for those interested in the intersection of energy and finance.

Perhaps the most interesting comment Mr. Parker made involves the role China may play at the U.N. Copenhagen Conference in Denmark in December. No one doubts that the European Union will come prepared with an ambitious agenda. But how about the U.S., India, and China?

Well Mr. Parker thinks China might surprise everyone. "[W]e think there's a possibility that China comes to Copenhagen with a much more attractive [carbon reduction] deal to put on the table. And if that is the case, then I think the U.S. faces the potential of being caught flat-footed here."

Hum. Would not that be something to behold. The EU and China taking the lead while the "back benchers" (e.g., India and the U.S.) moan and complain about a new climate regime. This may not be likely, but if it does happen credit Kevin Parker for saying it first.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Diego Parravicini, 2008 LLM Graduate, Begins Work With Agentina's Estudio Beccar Varela

Diego Parravicini (2008 LLM graduate) has started work with Estudio Beccar Varela in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Diego is a member of the firm's Natural Resources and Energy Law Department.

After graduating in May 2008, Diego worked for one-year at the Denver firm Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell. While there, Diego worked with Lori Potter, one of the finest environmental attorneys in the U.S. and a good friend of the graduate program.

From all of Diego's friends in Denver, "Buena suerte nuestro amigo!"