Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Wall Street Journal Special Report: Creating Environmental Capital

Those interested in what is becoming known as "the business of the environment" (and in reality this should involve all of us) should be sure to check out "Eco:nomics -- Creating Environmental Capital," a special report in the March 8, 2010, edition of The Wall Street Journal.

The two of the most interesting stories are about how a prominent entertainment firm, Disney, is approaching the environment and economics issues from all business perspectives and an interview with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who talks about the Obama Administration's energy policies.

It's well worth taking a few minutes to read through this special report.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Times Are Changing: Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina Team Up in Pursuit of Large Australian Energy Firm

If someone had said only five years ago that a major European-based energy company would be partnering with an arm of the Chinese government to try to buy an energy asset anywhere in the world, a reasonable person would have said, "That is simply impossible." But not only is it possible, it is happening right now in yet another indication of how the world is becoming much smaller indeed when it comes to energy assets.

Earlier this week Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina announced plans to pursue Arrow Energy in Australia. As reported in the Financial Times ("Shell and PetroChina Offer to Buy Australia's Arrow," March 8, 2010), "The Australian company [Arrow] is at the vanguard of a handful of projects in the state of Queensland that are investing billions of dollars in a race to convert reserves of coal-bed methane into liquefied natural gas."

It is not clear whether the deal will close, but for now it is enough to be aware of the fact that Chinese government-related companies and large "western" firms see a benefit in working together to pursue energy assets. Making money and securing natural resources appear to be as natural for western firms as Chinese ones. And that will likely mean some very interesting opportunities for those who are prepared to participate in the "new look" related to global energy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DU Graduate Students Attend Oral Argument on "Roadless Rule" at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit

Yesterday a group of students attended the oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver in the important case of State of Wyoming, v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, The case is also widely known as the "roadless rule case."

The case, which has been going on for more than 10 years, focuses on whether roads can be built on nearly 60 million acres of federal forest land. According to a recent article in Law Week Colorado, the case has national implications. "The roadless rule is one of the most progressive conservation initiatives in decades," Jim Angell with Earthjustice said. "Our old system of addressing this issue on a forest-by-forest basis was leading to the loss of millions and millions of acres of wild land because things were being piece mealed away." On the other hand, Paul Seby, an attorney representing the Colorado Mining Association, has said that the rule established "de facto wilderness areas" in spite of lacking approval from Congress.

Students were hosted at the important hearing by Lori Potter, a nationally recognized environmental attorney with the Denver firm of Kaplin Kirsch & Rockwell. Before the hearing, Ms. Potter explained to the students the context for the case and its overall importance. She also introduced the students to several key actors in the matter.

During the 60 minute hearing (which was only supposed to last 30 minutes, but went longer than anticipated because of the underlying importance of the issues involved), students watched the three-member judicial panel question both sides' attorneys as the judges probed the underpinning rationale on which each side based its arguments.

The students benefited enormously from Ms. Potter's observations both before and after the oral argument.

Before leaving the 10th Circuit Courthouse, Ms. Potter also arranged for the students to meet 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Tim Tymkovich in his chambers. This was a particularly enjoyable experience as the students had the opportunity to ask Judge Tymkovich (who was not a member of the panel hearing the oral argument) questions about his tenure on the bench as well as the process of becoming a federal circuit court judge, one of the highest positions in the entire U.S. federal court system.

All of us at the Sturm College of Law owe a great debt of gratitude to Ms. Potter who proposed the idea of having students attend an oral argument and helped carry it out. Also special recognition goes to Lisa Reynolds, an attorney in Ms. Potter's office and Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Graduate Program Director, for their efforts organizing the event.

Yesterday's experience clearly demonstrates why DU is such a great place to study about environmental and natural resources law. With the help of "community members" such as Ms. Potter students attending DU have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of events -- in this case an oral argument with national implications -- that add immense richness to the experience of studying at DU.

(The picture above is from the historic courtroom three at the 10th Circuit.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Iberdrola, World's Largest Wind Energy Producer, to Invest More Than $10 Billion in U.S. Market

Spanish utility giant Iberdrola plans to spend more than $10 billion in the U.S. wind energy market in the next three years.

During the same period the company plans to spend about $6 billion in Spain and the United Kingdom and $3 billion in South America and other locations.

The money spent in the United States represents about 40 percent of the firm's total investment across its entire energy business, the Financial Times has reported ("Iberdrola to Focus on U.S. Growth," Feb. 24, 2010).

Currently Iberdrola has 3,500 MW of installed capacity in the U.S. and is aiming at growing to 23,500 MW of installed capacity.