Saturday, February 6, 2010

Meet Our Graduates: Lance Russell, LLM class of 2009

The latest in our "Meet Our Graduates" video series has been posted. South Dakota State Representative Lance Russell explains why he came to the University of Denver Sturm College of Law to study for an LLM in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program, and how he thinks it will help him in the years ahead.

Colorado Renewable Energy Portfolio Moving to 30 Percent?

It appears that Colorado is poised to increase its renewable energy portfolio standard from the current 20 percent to 30 percent by 2020.

The new standard, which has support from Gov. Bill Ritter, state-regulated electricity producers, and environmentalists, would position Colorado among the top five states in the U.S. in terms of the percentage of electricity generated from renewable energy.

One of the primary means to meet the new standard would be to encourage distributed electricity production, particularly from roof-mounted solar units, The Denver Post reported ("Panel Hears Proposal to Hike Renewable Energy Requirement," Feb. 5, 2010).

In many respects, the ambitious nature of the measure is not entirely surprising since Colorado has undertaken a strategic effort to become the center of the so-called "new energy economy."

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law has positioned itself as a leader in the study of renewable energy law and policy. Currently, the College of Law offers two renewable energy courses -- "Renewable Energy Project Finance" and "Renewable Energy for the 21st Century: Policy, Legislation, Markets, Technology" -- and several more are in the planning stages.

Friday, February 5, 2010

George Harvey, Recent MRLS Graduate, Staff Member of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts

George Harvey, Masters of Resource Law Studies graduate 2007, is the Scheduling and Education Coordinator for the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts.

The CCLT consists of:
40 coalition member land trusts operating throughout Colorado - 30 local landtrusts and 10 regional, state or national land trusts. Additionally we have 14 local government members who protect land using conservation easements. As of the end of 2006, these groups were responsible for the conservation of over 1,600,000 acres of special lands in the State of Colorado. Nationally, there are over 1,667 land trusts that have protected almost 11.89 million acres. Across the country, approximately 1 million people are members and financial supporters of land trusts, and more than 50,000 people are active volunteers.
According to George, the CCLT is currently working at the Colorado General Assembly to extend the conservation easement tax credit program.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Free Student Memberships to the Colorado Bar Association

Networking with professionals in the environmental and natural resources fields is critical to identifying job opportunities as well as learning more about your chosen field of expertise. One great way to do that is to become involved as a member of the Colorado Bar Association. For students, membership in the CBA is free.

The CBA has sections that focus on issues such as Natural Resources and Energy Law and Environmental Law (although there is a small fee, $20 each, to join these sections). These sections sponsor events, presentations, and generally provide a number of ways for students to connect with practitioners.

For more information about joining the CBA as a student member, please click here. It is never to early to begin associating with those individuals and groups you will be working with in the future.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Greening Brownfields" -- New Book by Will Sarni, CEO of Domani Consulting

"Green Brownfields: Remediation Through Sustainable Development," combines my first 20 years of experience as an environmental consultant with my last 10 years as a sustainability consultant. This book combines these two phases of my career.

The first portion of my career focused on the investigation and remediation of contaminated properties (brownfield sites). The last ten years I have focused on helping global companies develop and implement sustainability programs; global energy, carbon, water and sustainable development initiatives.

The greening of brownfields is a movement that has been in the making for the past several years and is essential the result of a perfect storm of business opportunity and public policy. The reasons for increased brownfield development are multifold: there are fewer “clean” undeveloped urban properties; remediation technologies are becoming cheaper and more predictable (in terms of achieving clean up goals within a specified time frame); and state and federal incentives are in place to encourage redevelopment.

The bottom line is that while the redevelopment of brownfield sites creates value from a liability (“asset conversion”), much greater value can be created if the site incorporates sustainable land use and green building practices. Employing sustainable practices creates greater brand value (especially for a corporation redeveloping a brownfields site) and vastly improves operating efficiency over the life cycle of the development.

A macro view of what has transpired over the past several decades in how developers, communities and industries have moved from the “clean up” of contaminated sites to sustainable development of contaminated properties is illustrated below. Along with a move towards incorporating sustainable development practices into cleaning up contaminated properties increased value is created in the process.

The trends that are driving the greening of brownfield sites include a mix of increased urbanization, increased awareness of the benefits of green building practices and resource scarcity. [For those who want to look more closely at this excellent book, click here --DS].

Despite the impact of the “great recession” on the real estate market we can expect to see a return to increased brownfield redevelopment and a greening of these projects over the next several years. It just makes business sense to turn a brownfield liability into a (green) asset.

--Will Sarni
Founder and CEO of Domani Consulting

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

White House Proposes 5 Percent Increase Over Fiscal Year 2010 for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) has been published.

According to the White House, "The FY2011 budget request of $2.4 billion, an increase of 5 percent over FY2010, is aimed at accelerating revolutionary change in the nation's energy economy. The request includes programs associated with meeting the President's goals of investing in the next generation of clean energy technologies, vehicles and fuels, and energy efficiency measures that reduce energy use in federal agencies and the industrial and building sectors."

To see what President Obama has specifically proposed for renewables and energy efficiency, please click here and then, on the left hand column, scroll down and click on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

It is worth bearing in mind that this represents just the first step in the process of building the FY2011 budget. The President's proposal now moves to Capitol Hill where Congress will take a hard look at the spending priorities as proposed by the White House.

Stay tuned. To paraphrase former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, this is the end of the beginning. Not the beginning of the end.

DU Environmental Law Prof. George (Rock) Pring Co-authors Ground-Breaking Book "Greening Justice"

A ground-breaking book "Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals" by George (Rock) Pring, a University of Denver Sturm College of Law professor of environmental law and his wife Catherine (Kitty) Pring, a professional mediator, which provides step-by-step practical guidance on how to structure and operate an effective environmental court and/or tribunal (ECT) has just been published.

According to Prof. Pring, "We had two goals from the outset. First, we wanted to reach a target audience of judges, government officials, lawyers, NGOs, and other leaders around the world with the first-ever guidebook on how to create (or improve) specialized environmental courts and tribunals. Second, we wanted to find a publisher that would provide free in print and on-line access to the book. We succeeded at both goals."

The multidisciplinary husband-wife team identified 12 key characteristics of ECTs -- the "building blocks" or design decisions that contribute to making ECTs work effectively. Designed for capacity building, this comparative study provides a range of options and alternatives within each building block suitable for developed, developing, or least-developed countries. Real world "best practices" and successes and failures are provided for each step, making this a book that will be invaluable to any country or constituency considering creating or improving an ECT.

The full-text of the book can be accessed by clicking here. More information about the Prings' Environmental Courts and Tribunals Study can be accessed by clicking here.

This important new book was the result of two years of research and more than 150 interviews with experts across the world. LLM and Masters of Resources Law Studies students who study under Prof. Pring will benefit enormously from this state-of-the-art look at environmental courts and tribunals.

The book is published by The Access Initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, D.C.

Monday, February 1, 2010

19th Annual Land Use Conference at the DU Sturm College of Law: "The New American Landscape"

The 19th Annual Land Use Conference, undertaken by the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and held on March 4 and 5, 2010, at DU will focus on "The American Landscape."

The conference will kick off on March 4 at 9 a.m. with the John A. Carver Jr. Distinguished Lecture and Keynote Address by Joel Kotkin, adjunct fellow with the Legatum Institute and author and distinguished presidential fellow in Urban Futures, at Chapman University in Orange, Cal. The second keynote address will be delivered by Tom Ragonetti, senior shareholder and director of the law firm Otten, Johnson, Robinson, Neff, and Ragonetti. Mr. Ragonetti, one of the country's foremost experts on land use issues, also teaches a highly popular land use course at the DU Sturm College of Law. To see the complete conference schedule click here.

This is an exceptional opportunity to learn from and meet some of the most forward-thinking leaders in the area of land use. Attending the conference will be well worth the time of any ENRGP student. And to make things even better, any student interested in volunteering is welcome to contact the institute at Heather McLeod, program coordinator, will answer any question that students might have and get them started with the volunteer sign-up and separate registration process. Students who commit to four hours of volunteer time receive general conference registration at no charge. On the other hand, any students wishing to attend the conference will need to pay a student registration fee of $80 before Feb. 6 or $100 after Feb. 6. If you would like to register on-line, please click here.

Established in 1992 for the purpose of undertaking education and research programs on legal and public policy issues related to land use and development, the Institute is widely recognized for its interdisciplinary conferences, workshops, research projects, and nationally marketed publications and videos. The first annual land use conference was held in 1992 and by 1999 had grown to 700 participants, making it the largest land use law conference in the country.

The Institute, under the leadership of interim director Katherine Iverson, a graduate of the DU College of Law as well as a registered architect, has put together a great program that represents a wonderful opportunity for students in our program to learn from the best in the land use planning profession. This is yet another great reason why studying at DU includes so many "side benefits."