Friday, April 23, 2010

Bureau of Land Management Official Victor Lozano Speaks at the Sturm College of Law

Victor Lozano, a Washington, D.C.-based official with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), spoke recently at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law about the role of BLM in managing huge tracts of federally owned land.

Mr. Lozano, who is shown second from the right in the picture, said BLM manages resources on 253 million surface acres as well as 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estates. These lands constitute about 13 percent of the total land surface of the U.S.

One of the key land managements issues that Mr. Lozano is now working on involves the siting on BLM lands of wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects. These projects have been prioritized for rapid consideration by President Obama and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who happens to be a Colorado native and is a former U.S. Senator from Colorado.

Mr. Lozano, who works closely with Secretary Salazar's staff, said that transmission issues -- that is to say, transmitting the electricity from where it is generated to where it is used -- is a particularly difficult issue since there are many levels of government involved in transmission matters. He also talked about the need for the BLM to work closely with other departments within Interior as well as federal departments outside of Interior such as the Department of Defense.

Before closing, he noted that the BLM will be experiencing significant loss of employees due to retirement in the coming years and he encouraged students to think about applying for BLM positions.

It was a particular delight to host Mr. Lozano since, in addition to his professional role at BLM, he is also a student in the Masters in Resource Law Studies program at the College of Law. Two years ago he started the program while he served at the BLM office at the Federal Center in Denver. With his move to Washington, D.C., he has taken several short courses and will undertake a directed research project in order to complete his remaining course work.

Our nation is served well by the work and commitment of professionals such as Vic Lozano, and many others from the LLM and Masters in Resource Law Studies programs who are also working in key federal positions.

--Don Smith
Graduate Program Director

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DenverBcycle Launched: First Large-Scale Bike-Sharing Program in the United States and DU Campus is Part of the Program

The first large-scale bike-sharing program in the United States is being launched today, Earthday, in Denver. The program will be run by DenverBcycle, which has located dozens of bike stations -- also known as B-stations (for an example, see picture below) -- throughout the city including the University of Denver campus.

The bike-sharing concept, which has been implemented all around Europe including in Barcelona, Brussels, and Paris, is based on the idea that a bike will be available when and where you need it.

According to DenverBcycle,
Bike sharing makes it economical and convenient to use bikes for trips that are too far to walk, but too short to drive. As a member, you can use a B-cycle to run an errand, grab lunch, travel from the bus stop to your office, or just get some fresh air...With your magic red bike, you don't have to look for a parking space or bring your own bike with you everywhere you go.
There are two steps involved in using a bike. First, you must register for the program. Registration costs run from $5 for one day to $45 annually for a student to $65 annually for others. This allows you to check out a bike. Second, there will be a "usage-based" charge. If you use the bike for less than 30 minutes before returning it (to any B-station) there is no cost. From 31-60 minutes the usage cost is $1.10; from 61-90 the cost is $3.30; from 91-120 the cost is $6.60. Thus, as you can see, the program is set up for short trips by bike.

There will be about 50 bikes available around the DU campus. The nearest B-station to the law school is at the Driscoll Center, which is about 100 meters from the front door of the law school. There is also a B-station at the University Light Rail Station, thus making it easy to exit the light rail at the station, check out a bike, ride the .6 mile (1 kilometer), return the bike at Driscoll, and then walk to class.

There are also numerous B-stations all around the city, particularly in the Cherry Creek shopping area and downtown. You can find locations for B-stations by clicking here.

For a short description about how the program will work, please click here.

DenverBcycle is yet another community amenity that will benefit current and future DU students.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Students Visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Nation's Primary Lab for Renewable Energy Research and Development

Energy is a specialty in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. We offer everything from courses on traditional hydrocarbons -- such as oil and gas -- to an entire series of courses on renewables. The graduate program -- for those seeking a Masters of Law or Masters of Resource Law Studies degrees -- even offers a special certificate for Renewable Energy.

Because of the SCOL’s emphasis on hands-on experience, many of our courses include field trips. Professor K.K. DuVivier’s "Energy Law" course, a survey seminar, and Professor Bob Noun’s "Renewable Energy for the 21st Century: Policies, Law, Technology, & Markets" course both recently visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Co., which is about 25 miles (45 kilometers) from the DU campus.

According to Prof. DuVivier, the tours of NREL are especially meaningful because of the laboratory's role as "the nation's primary laboratory for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development. While at NREL my class was able to watch solar photovoltaic and biofuels research in progress."

DU is particularly pleased to have Mr. Noun, an attorney by training, as one of our adjunct professors. He is Executive Director of Public Affairs at NREL and one of the nation's leading experts on renewables policy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

U.S. Climate Change Litigation Chart: Excellent Resource for Following "Progress" in U.S.-based Lawsuits

Despite the fact that the United States continues to lack any sort of federal legislation on climate change, there is a growing range of climate change-related litigation unfolding in the U.S. International law firm Arnold and Porter LLP has put together a remarkable resource for those interested in U.S.-based (primarily) legal actions.

The resource is called simply Climate Change Litigation in the U.S. It is organized into four types of actions:
  • Statutory claims
  • Common law claims
  • Public international law claims
  • Climate protests
The website is certainly worth a look for those interested in how climate change litigation is developing in the U.S.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Water as a "Critical Business Issue:" Sustainability Expert Will Sarni's New Book to Address Rapidly Growing Business Issue

Will Sarni, founder and CEO of DOMANI Sustainability Consulting, is one of the nation's leading experts on using sustainable strategies to improve business performance. Consequently, when he talks about a rising business issue it is worth paying close attention.

Mr. Sarni, who has degrees in hydrogeology, has a long and successful career in environmental consulting. He has authored many books, including Greening Brownfields, and given scores of presentations. Recently he has identified corporations' "water footprint" as being as significant a business issue as their "carbon footprint." Early this year he wrote about this concept in this blog (click here to see his commentary).

Recently Mr. Sarni and I talked about the growing need for businesses to think carefully about water strategies. Among his observations are:
Multinational corporations have now recognized to varying degrees that sustainability is an essential element of their business strategies. Resource constraints are one of the significant business drivers for sustainability. These constraints can present a material risk to their business, restrict their license to operate, and have a negative impact on their brand value.

Water has now emerged as a critical issue for multinational corporations and for the public sector. Historically, business has viewed water as a minimal cost of doing business and not a strategic issue. However, this has changed in response to extreme drought conditions in Australia and the U.S. and increased recognition that multinational corporations play a critical role in addressing the challenges of global water shortages.
Partly in response to this new challenge facing business as well as his own experience in consulting with major multinational firms on water issues, Mr. Sarni is now writing a book entitled Corporate Water Strategies that will be published in 2011. It is worth noting that one of the world's premier environmental/sustainability publishers, London-based Earthscan, will be publishing Mr. Sarni's book. This is yet another indication of the importance of the underlying issue.

Mr. Sarni, who has been a regular contributor to this blog, has shared the book outline with us. Among the key topics that the book will address include:
  • The Global Challenge of Water
  • Global Issues With Local Solutions
  • The Water Pricing Versus Water Value Problem: Water is not priced according to its actual value, a matter that is complicated by the fact that all users of water have an equal right to this water at a low cost.
  • The Implications of "Virtual Water": Virtual water is also known as embedded or embodied water and refers to, within the context of trade, how much water is used in the production of a product.
  • Water and License to Operate: The issue of "license to operate" is essential for any business, and civil society has the ability to withdraw this license to operate for a business not only through regulatory controls but also through activism.
  • Water as a Brand Value: The intangible value (brand and reputational value) of a company as a percentage of the total value has risen steadily over the past several decades; in particular this increase in brand value makes companies very sensitive to any threat to their brand.
  • The Role of the CEO and the CEO Water Mandate: The "green" CEO has emerged as a powerful voice in mobilizing companies to truly build a sustainable business operation; leadership by CEOs is now a powerful tool in not only addressing globally sustainable challenges such as water and climate but also driving top and bottom line growth for their companies.
  • Developing and Implementing a Successful Corporate Water Strategy
  • Case Studies
  • The Future: Where are we headed with regards to building a sustainable approach to global water issues?
As mentioned above, the book will not be available until 2011. But in the meantime, it is well worth our time to listen to Will Sarni, a sustainability opinion leader, and to begin thinking about the challenges as well as business and professional opportunities that will arise from this new approach to thinking about water.

In this regard, the Carbon Disclosure Project has recently asked more than 300 of the largest global companies to being reporting for the first time on water use and other water-related issues "to increase the availability of high quality business information and raise awareness of water-related risk."

--Don Smith
Director of ENRL Graduate Program