Friday, November 6, 2009

Representative From the EU Presidency Speaks to DU Class

Marcus Oscarsson, a representative of the EU presidency (now held by the government of Sweden), spoke to a DU class yesterday. What made all of this even more interesting was the fact that Mr. Oscarsson was in Stockholm and the students were in the Ricketson Law Building in Denver. The connection between Sweden and Colorado was "provided" thanks to the software called Skype.

To provide a bit more context, Mr. Oscarsson participated (we could see and hear him and vice versa) in a course I teach called "European Union Law & Policy." The course is not directly focused on EU environmental law, but the subject does come into play a fair amount since environmental/energy/climate change issues are front and center in the EU.

In any case, I am calling this class session to your attention for several reasons. First, it illustrates (in a very real way) how technology is used at DU to enhance students' learning experience. While it would be wonderful to have had Mr. Oscarsson in Denver, that was not realistic. What was realistic, however, was to have him "join" us electronically.

Second, Mr. Oscarsson's remarks and responses to questions underscored the EU's determination to forge a global agreement on how to address climate change. There is little doubt that the EU has been disappointed in the Obama Administration's ability to deliver a real U.S. approach to the matter. However, as Mr. Oscarsson pointed out, the EU realizes that President Obama needs Congressional support to realize any sort of legislative deal.

Finally, the 75 minute session pointed out that today's world is tied more closely together than has ever been possible before now. How often have any of us listened to a figure from Europe "come into our classroom" and provide his observations about key issues as seen from the overall perspective of the European continent? That's not to suggest that good ideas only come from Europe, but rather that the Internet is a powerful tool for all of us as the various countries and regions in the world try to better understand the views of others. And there are few more vexing issues facing all of us today than energy generation, environmental protection, and the health of the planet.

Learning takes many forms at DU. You never know when a European (or someone from another continent) will join you in class!

From 6,000 miles (10,000 kilomters) between Denver and Stockholm my students and I say, "Many thanks Marcus Oscarsson for joining us in Denver!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hiring News: MRLS Graduate Curt Robinson Joins Navarro Research & Engineering

Curt Robinson, a 2009 MRLS graduate, has joined Navarro Research and Engineering as a Program Specialist II. Navarro, a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Offices in Golden, Colorado, provides energy, environmental, and program management services.

Curt will be involved with the Office of Commercialization and Project Management regarding Green Power and Air Quality initiatives. This includes outreach and policy work, coordination with other governmental agencies, and project monitoring responsibilities.

All of us in the graduate program wish Curt well in his important new role helping make the new energy economy a reality for everyone.

Colorado Environmental Film Festival 2009

One of the great reasons to come to Colorado is to enjoy and learn from events such as the Colorado Environmental Film Festival. The 2009 film festival begins today and runs through Saturday.

The films will be shown in the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado, about 25 minutes from Denver. Tonight at 7 p.m. will be the opening night kickoff featuring the front range premiere of the movie "Tapped," which is about the bottled water industry. On Friday at 7 p.m., the film's makers will answer questions about the movie and how it was made at a special showing at the University of Denver Davis Auditorium.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two U.S. Federal Appellate Courts "Revive" Mass Tort Claims Based on Impact of Greenhouse Gases

Two recent U.S. Court of Appeals decisions -- one in the Second Circuit and the other in the Fifth Circuit -- suggest "...a willingness on the part of the appellate ranks of allow the causes and effects of climate change to be decided in the courts, a step that may place even greater pressure on Congress to enact climate change legislation and that would preempt such actions," according to a new Fulbright Briefing published by the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworksi LLP.

As the Fulbright Briefing explains, "[T]he underpinnings of [the two decisions] pose the potential for increased climate change litigation nationwide." Nevertheless, the briefing points out that plaintiffs in these actions face significant hurdles related to standing.

I think most would agree that trying individual law suits is no way to craft any sort of reasonable climate change policy, but in the absence of any such policy at the federal level these sort of efforts are likely to continue.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Argentine Attorney and 2008 LLM Graduate Leonardo Rodriguez Writes About Key Mining Law Case

The Argentine Federal Court of Appeals in the Province of Salta "correctly applied" the law and "reached a fair solution" in a mining law case that provides "an encouraging scenario for future investors locating in Argentina," according to Leonardo Rodriquez, a 2008 LLM graduate, and Francisco Macias, both of whom are attorneys for Buenos Aries-based firm Marval O'Farrell & Mairal.

Writing in the firm's October newsletter, the two attorneys concluded, "The attempt of the Argentine government to impose new taxes on companies under the Mining Investments Law can be qualified, at the very least, as unfortunate. The government should promote new investments which benefit the economy as a whole. Mining investment demands large quantities of money, is a high-risk activity and, as such, requires being developed with a stable legal framework."

Monday, November 2, 2009

$100 a Barrel Oil Could be Back in 2011

The period of relatively cheap oil could be gone by 2011 according to an oil commodities expert. Francisco Blanch, Bank of America-Merill Lynch head of world commodities research, said last week that the price of crude oil could be more than $100 a barrel in just over a year.

Mr. Blanch said he expects the price to rise from its current $70-$80 per barrel range as the result of growing demand in emerging markets such as China, the Financial Times has reported ("Oil Could Exceed $100 Next Year," Oct. 26, 2009).

If that happens, then expect oil exploration to increase, more interest to develop in nuclear and renewable power, and the financial aspects of biofuels to become more favorable for developers. At a minimum, the opportunities for alternative energy fuel development will catch fire again.

In so far as I know, no one expects the demand for oil to less in places like China and India in the years ahead. And assuming -- a big if perhaps -- that the price of oil reflects demand, the future could prove very interesting for clever alternative energy developers.