Friday, December 4, 2009

DU LLM Student Carolina Crespo Wins Prestigious Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship

Carolina (Caro) Crespo, an LLM student from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been awarded a 2010 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes students who have the "potential to make significant contributions to the field," according to the Foundation, which received a record number of applications this year.

The scholarships are particularly coveted by students since the Foundation is one of the world's mostly highly regarded groups of professionals working in the mineral law sector. In fact, there is no more highly acclaimed organization of its kind in the Western Hemisphere than the Foundation.

Ms. Crespo started the LLM program in August 2009 and intends to graduate in May 2010. She is an attorney with the highly respected Buenos Aires-based firm Estudio Beccar Varela.

In winning the scholarship, Ms. Crespo follows a significant line of recent DU LLM students who have won scholarships. Katia Castillo (LLM 2008), from Lima, Peru, and Marina Marti (LLM 2008), from Buenos Aires, won scholarships in 2008. And then earlier this year, Soudeh Mollasalehi (LLM 2010) from Tehran, Iran, won a scholarship.

To say that we are delighted with Carolina's recognition is an understatement. Indeed we are thrilled with her recognition and what it says about her future in the natural resources industry. Moreover, it is with great pride that we also call attention to Ms. Castillo, Ms. Marti, and Ms. Mollasalehi, since their achievements also point to the diversity and strength of our students.

Felicitaciones a Carolina! (Congratulations to Carolina!) And congratulations to Katia, Marina, and Soudeh!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Major New Environmental/Natural Resources Course Series for 2010 Announced: "Sustainable Natural Resources Development Series"

In 2010 the Sturm College of Law will launch a cutting-edge series of courses entitled the "Sustainable Natural Resources Development Series," which will be taught by an exceptional group of internationally-recognized experts.

The "one of its kind" series (the courses, each three credits, can be taken individually or in sequence) will focus on the vexing -- yet fascinating in terms of potentially positive outcomes -- issues associated with the development of natural resources. Put simply, how can natural resources be developed in a manner that respects environmental and social concerns?

The courses will be held on this schedule: Recently I met with Luke Danielson, a world renown expert and one of the lead adjunct professors in the series, to talk about what sustainable natural resources development means and what will be covered in the three courses he will play a role in. By coincidence, Luke and I met in Leadville, Colorado, about 160 kilometers or 100 miles west of Denver in the central Colorado mountains. The site of the meeting was perhaps somewhat symbolic (although we did not think about this when setting the meeting) since Leadville was a major mining center in Colorado in the late 1800s and at one time was the largest city in Colorado. As such, Leadville has been through a series of up and downs, related to the market for minerals, while also experiencing its share of environmental and social challenges related to the natural resources industry. In the picture above, you will see Luke standing in front of the National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, which is located in Leadville.

This series of courses will be of interest to a wide range of students and professionals involved in various fields including (but not limited to) law, accounting, finance, mining, oil and gas, engineering, and human rights.

In an effort to more fully explain the rationale for the series as well as what each course will cover, Luke and I produced a series of videos as follows:
  • My introduction to the series can be accessed by clicking here.

  • Luke's overview of sustainable development in natural resources is available here.

  • Luke's descriptions of the individual courses can be seen here: course one, course two, course three.
More information about course four, an experiential course that will be led by Prof. Ann Vessels, the director of DU's highly regarded externship program, will be available soon.

I would highly encourage anyone -- JD, LLM, MRLS or any other professionals or graduate students -- interested in these topics to seriously consider joining us in Denver for this series of courses. The first three courses will be offered in a "short-course format," that is to say one week of intense study. The fourth offering, the experiential course, will be offered in the fall 2010 semester.

A text overview of the series can be accessed by clicking here.

Please feel free to contact me at or graduate program Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow at for more information on what promises to be an exceptional learning experience.

"Erik B. Blumel International Environmental Law Scholar" Applications Being Accepted

The Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law is seeking applicants for the position of "2010-2011 Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar." This position is open to recent law graduates (U.S. or foreign) interested in pursuing a Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy with a focus on international environmental law and human rights. International students are especially encouraged to apply.


The Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar was created to celebrate the life of DU Law Prof. Erik B. Bluemel, who passed away in May 2009. Prof. Bluemel strongly supported legal advocacy and research regarding the impact of human-induced environmental degradation on the lives of indigenous peoples around the world. The selected scholar will work directly with an international non-profit client and extensively study the effects of development activity on the environment and human rights. The specific project will be tailored to the needs of the client and the interest of the student, and may include consideration of the effects of hydroelectric development, fishery degradation, climate change, agriculture, human conflict, or resource extraction. By working with international environmental groups, such as EcoJustice or the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Bluemel Scholar will gain both practical and scholarly experience that will enrich their understanding of their chosen topic.

In this one-year program, the scholar is tasked with two specific objectives:
  • First, the student will support the client’s on-the-ground advocacy efforts on behalf of the environment and human rights. Possibilities for such experience include drafting reports and pleadings, appearing before international commissions and courts, and/or appearing at international conferences. The student is also expected to conduct field research and travel abroad (expenses for travel are paid by DU).
  • Second, the selected applicant is expected to engage in scholarship associated with the area of work he/she is engaged in with the client. The resulting article should be submitted for publication in an appropriate journal and/or presented at a conference. Faculty in the clinic will be available to support the scholar’s research and writing, as well as interaction with the client.
The position requires a commitment of 20 to 25 hours per week. The two-semester program is worth 12 credits toward the awarding of an LLM degree. In addition, the student will be required to take a minimum of two substantive courses related to environmental or international law.

Requisite Qualifications and How to Become an Erik B. Bluemel International Environmental Law Scholar

Applicants must be eligible LLM candidates. Applicants should have demonstrable interest in the intersection of environmental law, human rights, and international law. While not required, language skills other than English add significant dimension to an applicant’s profile. To apply, the following should be sent directly to the director of the Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic, Prof. Michael Harris, at
  • Resume or CV, including contact information for three references.
  • Cover letter (750 word max.) explaining your qualifications and experience as a scholar or in the field of the three topics of research, your interest in being a Bluemel Scholar and any ideas you have for the direction of your research.
  • A writing sample.
In addition, scholars need to apply for admittance to the DU Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program (LLM). Applications are accepted and reviewed on a revolving basis so applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible; the official deadline is March 5, 2010. More information about the graduate program is available from Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow at In addition, application information can be accessed by clicking here.

About the DU Environmental Law Clinic

The Environmental Law Clinic at DU provides a real world experience for students interested in environmental law who wish to develop practical legal skills. Under the supervision of Michael Harris, director of the Environmental Law Clinic, and Kevin Lynch, Environmental Law Clinic Fellow, students represent environmental advocacy organizations before courts and administrative agencies in a broad range of environmental matters, including endangered species, public lands, and air quality. The clinic’s efforts have produced significant protections for the environment and public health.

About the Life of Erik Bluemel

Prof. Harris has said this about his friend and colleague Erik Blumel:

Although only thirty-one years old when he died, Erik lived a rich and accomplished life. He studied and distinguished himself at Berkeley, the University of Chile, New York University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center. Even before he went to law school, Erik had backpacked throughout the world, studying cultures and giving presentations on topics of law and culture. Indeed, Erik’s expertise in global climate change had made him an emerging international commodity on the lecture circuit -- he was scheduled to present in Montana and Italy in the weeks following his untimely death. He had already presented in Norway earlier in the year, and China before that. Erik particularly relished his trips abroad, where he could explore discussions with colleagues worldwide about the relationship between the complexity of government structures and potential future solutions to the problem of climate change. Perhaps most impressive of all, given his age and other commitments and accomplishments, he was a prolific writer.
To be sure, this is a tremendous opportunity for the right person. Learning while doing and at the same time creating a network of contacts...the combination presents a compelling case to apply!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Financial Times Reports That Some U.S. Industrial Firms Are Worried About Lack of Climate Law

As the U.S. government lurches (does anyone really know whether President Obama can deliver on his recent pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?) towards the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen next week, there are indications that at least some major U.S. industrial firms are very apprehensive about what sort of legal and regulatory environment they will face in the absence of federal legislation.

In effect, they are concerned that in the absence of federal legislation the legal and regulatory environment may be dictated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or state legislation or perhaps both. Such a result would create enormous compliance issues, according to the firms.

For instance, the FT reported ("Industrial Groups Warn Over Climate Law," Dec. 1, 2009) that Peter Molinaro, Dow Chemical head of government affairs, said "an enormous administrative burden" would result in the absence of federal legislation. "Manufacturers are having enough trouble in [the U.S.] competing with foreign companies. We'd be adding administrative and cost burden where we shouldn't," he said.

The story also noted that a spokesman for the German firm Siemens said that in order to plan for the future, firms must know if there is a price for emitting carbon. "How do you have one price of carbon if you've got four or five different regimes," she asked according to the FT.

Before the holidays, we should know more about all of this. But in the meantime, the matter of how industrial firms can plan for future investment in the absence of any clear carbon price signals (at least in the U.S.) is daunting if not impossible.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vote for LLM Graduate on Huffington Post!

Leslie Weise, a 2005 LLM graduate, is competiting for a Huffington Post "citizen journalist" spot for the upcoming UN Climate Convention in Copenhagen.

Take a look at her video and then cast your vote.

As she says, "It will only take a minute, and if you don't have a minute - just take a second to vote." She goes on to write, "Thank you very much - I would really love to be nominated for this. Please forward or post to anyone you know who would be willing to give me a TOP VOTE."

This will benefit all of us since if she wins, then I'm sure she will post some of her thoughts on this blog!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Financial Times' Book of the Year: "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air"

A book that the Financial Times describes as an "influential account of the science behind renewable energy" has made the paper's prestigious "2009 Books of the Year."

And the great thing about "Sustainable Energy -- Without the Hot Air" is that it can be freely downloaded by clicking here. The book is authored by David J.C. MacKay, a University of Cambridge (England) physicist. A synopsis of the book is available by clicking here.

If you are like me, you may want to read a review (or several) about the book before plowing through it. One review, published by the London Guardian last spring ( "Power to the People," April 29, 2009 ), noted that the book:
[I]s being hailed by some as a 'game changer;' a text that could revolutionise popular thinking about our future energy needs and how we could supply them...[The book] has gathered fans and accolades from all corners of the energy and climate change debate -- politicians, business leaders, environmentalists."
Meanwhile, The Economist ("Meltdown," April 8, 2009), said:
"Irritated by the waffle that often surrounds discussions of energy and climate change, Mr. MacKay...has chosen to illustrate the challenge of breaking our fossil-fuel addiction armed only with the laws of physics, reams of publicly available information and the back of an envelope...The book is a tour de force, showing, for example, how the potential contribution of biofuels can be approximated from just three numbers: the intensity of sunlight, the efficiency with which plants turn that sunlight into stored energy and the available land area in Britain...

With global climate-change and energy policy consisting mostly of feel-good rhetoric rather than action, Mr. MacKay's reminder that the natural world does not care for political expediency...should be engraved on environment-ministry doors the world over. For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real problems involved, [this book] is the place to start."
It is worth noting that the book is written largely about energy issues in the United Kingdom. However, do not let discourage you from checking out this useful work.