Friday, March 19, 2010

New Chilean Legislation Establishes Ministry of Environment and Other Related Bodies

Chile has enacted a new law involving the environment. One part of the legislation will create the Ministry of the Environment, a Cabinet-level department, which will advise the country's president about designing and implementing new plans, policies, and programs to protect the environment. The Ministry will also take part in promoting renewable energy as well as improving the country's regulatory framework for environmental protection.

The legislation also establishes a Ministerial Council for Sustainability, a body that will assist the president in matters involving sustainable development. Moreover, the legislation establishes the Consultative Council of the Ministry of Environment that will include representatives from business, economic, labor, science, and other groups from around the county.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tonye Oki, LLM Graduate, Now Teaching in the Graduate Program at the Sturm College of Law

Often I am reminded of the very great successes of our graduates. One who comes to mind because of his recent contributions to the graduate program is Tonye Oki.

Adjunct Prof. Oki is a licensed Nigerian attorney as well as a Chartered Arbitrator. In 2006 he earned his LLM at the Sturm College of Law, and was recognized with the Scholastic Excellence Award. I had him as a student in my course "Comparative Environmental Law" in 2004, and I knew from his performance in that course that he was going to be a high achiever.

Currently Prof. Oki teams with James King, a partner at Baker & Hostetler in Denver and former president of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, to teach a popular course called "Negotiating Natural Resources Agreements." Profs. Oki and King approach their subject in an engaging and informative manner that is marked by years of experience in the fundamental aspects of negotiating resources agreements. We could not have two more qualified and personable adjuncts.

In particular Prof. Oki concentrates on teaching about negotiating skills. Moreover, over the last few weeks he has substituted for me in this semester's "Comparative Environmental Law" course while I have been traveling and working in Europe. His lectures have been about Nigeria in particular and Africa more broadly, and the environmental and resources challenges and opportunities the African continent faces.

Outside of his teaching responsibilities, Prof. Oki is the chief legal officer for Tyche Corporation's Africa and Asia affairs. The Tyche Corporation is a multi-national resources transactions corporation. More specifically, Prof. Oki handles the following:
  • Responsible for all legal matters arising from Tyche's transactions, manages day to day corporate issues, oversees risk management, legal cost containment, contracts, leases, and import/export issues
  • Negotiates and drafts a full suite of upstream exploration contracts including host government agreements, joint bidding agreements, joint operating agreements, farm in/our agreements, and provides legal advice and guidance on all legal issues relating to exploration and new venture activities internationally
  • Negotiates with relevant regulatory authorities to obtain permits to operate, exploration licenses, and any other licenses to operate
  • Communicates and coordinates activities on both domestic and international operations
The graduate program and our community of friends is enriched by the involvement of impressive individuals like Tonye Oki. We at DU are extremely proud to call "the Professor" (as we now refer to him!) a member of our body of alumni, and we expect he will continue to achieve great things well into the future.

--Don Smith

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

China's State Owned Energy Firm CNOOC Makes Move Into South America

CNOOC, a Chinese state-owned energy firm, has announced plans to acquire 50 percent of Bridas Energy Holdings for $3.1 billion. Bridas has holdings in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.

The deal is likely to foretell other similar deals by CNOOC in South America. On Sunday CNOOC president Yang Hua characterized the deal as representing a "good beachhead for us to enter Latin America," according to the Financial Times ("CNOOC to Pay $3.1 Billion for Argentine Stake," March 14, 2010).

In a statement, CNOOC said, "The transaction is aligned with the company's growth strategy by expanding the company's reach into Latin America and establishes a foundation for future growth in the region and other countries."

Proven reserves of CNOOC will increase by 318 million barrels of oil equivalent when the transaction is completed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

European Union on Target to Achieve 20 Percent of Energy From Renewables by 2020

The European Union is on target to generate from renewable sources more than 20 percent of the total energy it consumes by 2020.

According to a statement released last week, the EU will reach an overall share of 20.3 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Gunther Oettinger, European Energy Commissioner, said, "This is a very positive sign for the environment, as it will help us to cut CO2 emissions and at the same time enhance our energy security. It is also a very positive message for our economy and our companies. It is an incentive to invest in green technology and the production of renewable energy."

According to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), member states unable to meet their targets with domestic resources alone must acquire transfers from other member states who have met their targets or from countries outside the EU.

Germany and Spain, two of the EU's renewable energy leaders, are expected to surpass their targets.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Colorado Governor's Climate Advisor Alice Madden Speaks to Cutting-Edge Renewable Energy Course at the Sturm College of Law

Alice Madden, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's Climate Change Advisor, spoke recently to Adjunct Prof. Bob Noun's "Renewable Energy in the 21st Century: Policy, Legislation, Technology, Markets" course at the Sturm College of Law.

Ms. Madden, who served from 2004 to 2008 as the Majority Leader in the Colorado House of Representatives, spoke about attending on behalf of Gov. Ritter the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009 and the fact that the U.S. was much more active at the Copenhagen conference than it had been in previous climate change conferences.

She also explained the evolution of Colorado's renewable energy portfolio standard, the state mandated measure that sets a minimum level of renewable energy generation as part of a utility's entire generating portfolio. In 2004 state voters approved a "first of its kind" referendum that required investor owned utilities operating in Colorado to produce at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2020. Under her leadership that percentage was subsequently increased by the State Legislature to 20 percent in 2007 and now the state is on the verge of increasing the number yet again to 30 percent by 2020.

The Governor's office, under the direction of Ms. Madden, has worked carefully with key stakeholders to build legislative and business support for the 30 percent level. She noted that assuming the 30 percent level is approved by the legislature, Colorado will have one of the most ambitious renewable energy targets in the country, a level that will underscore Colorado's objective to be the center of "the new energy economy." Looked at another way, the fact that Colorado has gone from no renewable energy target in 2003 to probably 30 percent by 2010 is a testament to the leadership provided by a key group of renewables advocates including Ms. Madden.

Prof. Noun, who serves in a leadership position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, and is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the U.S. about renewables policy, has organized what some consider the most forward-looking renewable energy course offered by any American law school. Including learning from Ms. Madden, who is situated directly in the center of Colorado's policy making process, students have also heard from leaders in the renewable energy field including policy makers, lawyers, and technology experts.

"Renewable Energy in the 21s Century" is a "one of its kind" offering and the Sturm College of Law is delighted to be associated with nationally recognized leaders such as Prof. Noun and Ms. Madden.

--Don Smith