Friday, February 19, 2010

Former Division I Hockey Player Daniella Ciarletta Studies (and Plays Women's Hockey) at DU

Tonight the University of Denver Women's Club Ice Hockey team plays its biggest game of the year when it takes on the University of Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder. The game will be particularly interesting for those of us in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program since one of the DU players will be "our own" Daniella Ciarletta, a student in the Masters of Resource Law Studies program.

But the story gets even more interesting since Ms. Ciarletta is also associated (although not tonight) with the CU team as a goalie coach! How do you play as a member of one team while being associated as a coach with the other? Ms. Ciarletta -- a former starting goalie at Providence College -- explains all of this below as well as describes her career in hockey:

"Within women’s hockey at the collegiate level there are the NCAA and the ACHA. The NCAA comprises the Division I programs, of which I was a part the prior four years before I came to DU, and the Division III programs. Below the NCAA is the ACHA which is made up of collegiate teams that are considered at the 'club' level. Many schools have both NCAA and ACHA programs such as DU with the DU men’s NCAA and ACHA.

"The DU women’s club team is not an ACHA team. In Colorado there are only two ACHA women’s programs -- CU and CSU. CSU is a first year program. DU plays in the Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey (WACH), which is a senior women’s league consisting of teams from all over Colorado. CU also plays in the WACH league so that they can play more games without having to travel out of state. They are only required to play 12 ACHA games in a season.

"Tonight's game is a WACH game between DU and CU. However, there is interest in DU becoming an ACHA team and competing nationally on the collegiate stage. This would help develop women’s hockey in the state of Colorado. This weekend’s game is a step toward showing the school -- and the other ACHA teams -- that DU has potential to be a competitor in the ACHA, which will help in getting league approval to join.

"When I first moved to Denver I was not planning to play for the DU club team after spending four years at the NCAA Division I level. I was, however, associated with the coaching staff at CU for the ACHA team. My good friend from high school is the head coach at CU and brought me on as a goalie coach. I have been traveling and coaching the CU team for the 09-10 season.

"In late October I was approached by one of the coaches at DU because the DU goalie had quit the team and they were in need of a goalie. So to help the team I agreed to finish the season for them in net. Prior to my arrival on the team they had not won a game. Since October we have won five games and have one tie.

"I started playing hockey when I was five in the Philadelphia area. I played on all boys AA and AAA teams until I was 14. Before I started high school I moved to Minnesota with my mom. There I made the change to women’s hockey. I played on my hometown varsity team and A traveling team until I went to Shattuck St. Mary’s (SSM) for my junior and senior year of high school. SSM is a boarding school in Faribault, MN, which is known for its hockey.

"My senior year (2005) our the girls prep team won the school’s first Girls U-19 National Championship in Centennial CO. I spent my freshman year of college playing for the University of Minnesota – Duluth before transferring and finishing my college career at Providence College."

The game will be played at 7.30 at the CU Recreation Center. All of us at DU wish Danielle good luck playing Friday night (but not necessarily coaching)!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Part II: Dr. Elizabeth Economy Considers China's Environmental Challenges and Looks Ahead

Dr. Elizabeth Economy recently spoke about "China and the Environment" in a lecture at the University of Denver. This posting is the second of two parts about Dr. Economy's observations about China. Dr. Economy is a world recognized expert on the development and rise of this 1.3 billion person country.

Yesterday's posting related to Dr. Economy's comments about where China finds itself today in terms of environmental challenges. It can be accessed by clicking here. In today's posting, Dr. Economy's thoughts about the response of China's leaders, the role the US might play in helping China, and concluding thoughts are the focus.

II. Response of China's Leaders

China's leaders have responded in several ways to the growing environmental threat. First, the national leaders in Beijing have set targets for environmental protection and some of the targets have been "bold," as characterized by Dr. Economy. However, "real environmental protection" takes place at the local level and, generally speaking, local officials have not been very aggressive at implementing or enforcing the central government's targets.

Second, China is cautiously approaching the concept of "rule of law," a situation Dr. Economy described as in a "nascent stage."

China's leaders have enthusiastically engaged the international community. For instance, China has signed many environmental-related treaties.

However, the greatest hope, according to Dr. Economy, over the next five to 10 years is the non governmental organization (NGO) sector. Despite the fact that many of the NGOs have some relationship to the Chinese central government, there are independent NGOs. "They are developing and expanding" and will likely play a greater role as China moves towards the future, she predicted.

III. China, the US and Environmental Issues

There are several elements to the China-US relationship in the context of environmental issues, Dr. Economy explained, beginning with the need for the US to "lead by example." However, in some cases the US is simply not leading. For instance, "The fact that the US has not pursued greenhouse gas legislation cuts against [US efforts to influence China]," she said.

On the other hand, the US can seek to help China by assisting with "capacity building" in the areas of the law, regulations, and pricing systems. She pointed out that one third of China's factories have modern pollution prevention equipment, but simply don't use it. There is no economic-related incentive to do so, she pointed out. Fines in some cases do not exist or are so inconsequential as to reduce the industries' incentive to actually run the pollution equipment.

But in the final analysis, she said, "The [environmental] issue is really China's to solve."

IV. Conclusion

Dr. Economy is pessimestic in the short term about China's willingness and ability to take the steps necessary to prevent further environmental degradation. "The way China is developing is extremely negative on a global level," she said. However, in the longer term, Dr. Economy harbors some level of optimism. "The Chinese people are becoming aware of and concerned about the environment," she said noting that typically the richer a society becomes the more seriously are its concerns about environmental protection.

Part one appeared yesterday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Part I: China Expert Dr. Elizabeth Economy Discusses China's Environment and the Challenges it Poses for the World's Most Populated Country

Dr. Elizabeth Economy recently spoke about "China and the Environment" in a lecture at the University of Denver. This posting is the first of two parts about Dr. Economy's observations about China, a country that will likely assume in the next two to three decades the mantle of the world's largest economy.

Dr. Economy, CV Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, is particularly well qualified to comment about China's environment. Author of the award-winning 2004 book "The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future," Dr. Economy is a world renown expert on the development and rise of this 1.3 billion person country.

Dr. Economy began by noting that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has referred to China as the "green Sputnik," referring to the space launch achieved by the U.S.S.R. in the late 1950s. But, as she noted, the real question is whether China will be known as the world's leading polluter or a "green technology" giant that the rest of the world may learn from.

I. China Today

China's current challenge reflects that of a developing country that is also, in many respects, a developed industrial country. This plays out in many ways. One third of China's land suffers from the fall of acid rain. The country relies on coal for 70 percent of its energy. This is a key problem, particularly when one understands that the consumption of coal in China doubled between 2000 and 2007. Meanwhile, the energy that is generated in China is used in a wildly inefficient manner thus further exacerbating the country's coal-fired energy woes. Then there is the matter of the vast numbers of Chinese who are moving from rural areas to cities. China expects 400 million people to move from rural areas to cities between now and 2030.

To the average Chinese person water pollution and scarcity are the two biggest problems. Part of this problem is a result of the fact that one third of the industrial waste water generated in the country is poured without any treatment whatsoever into water bodies.

Then there is land degradation. A quarter of the country's land is highly degraded or dessert. "This is a serious and growing problem," Dr. Economy observed.

China's role as a global emitter of pollutants is also an increasing issue. It is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide -- a "title" it wrested from the United States just last year -- and it is also the largest polluter of the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, as Chinese companies venture abroad in search of investment opportunities, all too often they also "export poor environmental practices."

On the other hand, Dr. Economy said the Chinese leadership has recently begun to take a more serious look at environmental issues. "They have targeted improving the environment because they know the environment affects social, political, and economic issues," she said. For example, environmental pollution results in the "sacrifice" of eight to 12 percent of the gross domestic product. "It is hard to know how they arrived at these numbers, but the leaders are asking about this and view it as a very important issue," she said.

There is also growing concern about the relationship of the environment to public health, particularly with respect to the lack of clean water. Currently 700 million people drink polluted water, and of those 190 million drink water that is harmful to their health.

Perhaps the biggest issue is environmental degradation and social unrest, and this will grow in intensity, she predicted, even in rural areas. There is beginning to be a "not in my backyard" mentality involving chemical plants and other potential harmful installations.

And finally is the matter of how China is perceived in the world. "They don't want to be perceived as a big polluter," Dr. Economy said.

Part two will appear tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Careers in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Law" Teleconference Program Available on the Web

Recently the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources sponsored a teleconference program entitled "Careers in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Law."

According to the ABA, "In this teleconference, four lawyers with varied backgrounds in the fields of environmental, energy and natural resources law will provide practical guidance on various career options, advice for achieving certain career goals, and overviews of their day-to-day practices."

The teleconference, which can be accessed by clicking here, provided career option guidance for individuals interested in natural resources, energy, and environmental law. It also included explanations of "pathways" for pursuing careers in these fields.

The panelists on the program included:
  • Robert Ehrler of E.On U.S.., a German-owned utility operating in Louisville, Kentucky

Monday, February 15, 2010

KK DuVivier, Professor of Energy Law, Appears Before Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sierra Club's Energy Committee; Discusses Solar Access

Prof. KK DuVivier, professor of energy law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, recently spoke about the importance of protecting solar access in Denver's new zoning code at a meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club's Energy Committee.

The following is Prof. DuVivier's explanation of the issues related to this matter (her PowerPoint presentation can be accessed by clicking here):
The state of Colorado has almost half a billion dollars of public and private investment in distributed solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office has estimated (in the December 2009 Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure (REDI) report) that 45 megawatts of distributed PV is currently being used in the state. I have made an assumption that approximately $10,000 per KW installed. Other figures from the REDI report are in slide 15 [of the attached PowerPoint presentation] and a reference to the Colorado Energy Profile is in slide 16 showing most of this distributed PV is in the city and county of Denver.

Furthermore, Xcel Energy anticipates increasing onsite PV to 260 MW in its 2010 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan, which would mean Colorado will soon have $2.6 billion of investment [slide 14 shows that Xcel contributed to this by paying out more than $50.5 million in 2009 alone].

Despite all of this commitment to solar, the proposed new zoning codes for Denver provide no protection for this investment. On the spectrum of strategies for promoting solar [see slide 20], Denver is in the "cheerleading" category -- it minimizes some impediments to installing solar, but it does nothing to make sure those systems will continue to have access to the sun and be able to generate power once they are up. In other word, the current proposal allows a neighbor to build a MacMansion next door that will block your solar access and you do not even have any resource if your neighbor plants a really tall tree that blocks your panels. This is a step backward from solar bulk plane (or building plane) protections that Denver had in effect until the latest big house boom in 2003, so essentially despite its image as a progressive green city, Denver is seriously dropping the ball in this arena.

The code is in its fourth draft, and there are few limited opportunities to comment, but we have seen no appreciation of the seriousness of the issue from Denver and no willingness to tackle the issue.