Friday, October 15, 2010

Rebecca Watson, Former Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Interior Department, to be "Distinguished Practitioner in Residence" in Spring 2011

Rebecca Watson, an attorney at Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley and former Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior, has been named the A.T. Smith/Gerald J. Schissler Distinguished Natural Resources Practitioner-in-Residence at the Sturm College of Law of the University of Denver. Ms. Watson will teach and direct a semester-long program focused on the practical side of natural resources law.

Established in 1987, the Distinguished Natural Resources Practitioner-in- Residence Seminar is an independently endowed “capstone” skills seminar, taught by a distinguished member of the Colorado natural resources or environmental bar.

The seminar’s purpose is to apply the content of substantive law classes a student has taken to the context of what lawyers actually do, and identify how to do it well. Students learn critical lawyering skills from the “best of the best”—prominent guest speakers and a syllabus developed by the Practitioner-in-Residence.

Ms. Watson has more than 30 years of legal and policy experience in the fields of conventional and renewable energy, natural resources and federal environmental law. As Assistant Secretary of the Interior Department she was the overseer of a $1 billion budget and three bureaus which together have the responsibility for management of federal energy resources and 262 million acres of public land. Prior to her service in the Interior Department, Ms. Watson served as the Assistant General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U. S. Department of Energy in the George H. W. Bush administration.

Ms. Watson focuses her practice on public land access and energy development for solar, wind, geothermal, wood biomass, and oil and gas with an emphasis on federal environmental law. She is a frequent speaker and author on these topics. She is a member of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and past appointee of the National Petroleum Council. She serves on the boards of the Western Energy Alliance (formerly IPAMS), Jefferson County Open Space Commission, Center of the American West at the University of Colorado and the Public Land Policy Institute at the University of Montana School of Law.

Rebecca Watson received her J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law, as well as a M.A. and B.A. from the University of Denver. She is admitted to practice in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the District of Columbia.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Speakers Series Continues: Working for a Renewable Energy Developer and a Green Technology Firm

The focus of the second in the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Speakers Series sponsored by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program will feature two Sturm College of Law graduates speaking about their experiences working in the clean energy and technology sectors. They will be speaking in room 170 on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.

Danny Splettstosser, who graduated with a Masters in Resource Law Studies (MRLS) degree in 2008, will discuss his role as Associate Director for enXco and EDF EN Canada. These firms are involved in developing solar and wind energy projects. In this role he is involved in critical aspects of the company's solar business unit, emerging technologies, and mergers and acquisitions. He also has a B.A. in speech communication and political science from Colorado State University. Before coming to DU he was the deputy research director for Ken Salazar's 2004 Colorado U.S. Senate campaign.

Leslie Weise, who graduated with a Masters in Environmental and Natural Resources Law (LLM) in 2008, is vice president of business development for CoolEnergy, a Boulder-based clean technology firm. CoolEnergy has developed the SolarFlow System home energy system that enables home and building owners to reduce their energy bills by as much as 75 percent while providing U.S. homeowners annual returns of 20 percent. Ms. Weise also has degrees in engineering from Boston University, and a JD and a Masters of Intellectual Property from Pierce Law Center.

Food will be available at the event.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Speaker Series features presentations by leaders in these sectors. The next lecture in the Speakers Series will be Nov. 9, 2010, when Kate Iverson, Associate General Counsel for the Denver metropolitan Regional Transportation District (RTD) will talk about Fastracks, the new light rail system being developed in the metro area.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Colorado Supreme Court to Hear "Water Case of the Decade" at the Sturm College of Law; Oral Argument Set for Jan. 20, 2011

The Colorado Supreme Court will hear what has been described as "the water law case of the decade" on Jan. 20, 2011, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Knowing the importance of this particular case and that many DU law students will be interested in the case, the Sturm College of Law approached Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs about the possibility of having the Supreme Court hear the case at DU and the Court agreed.

The case, commonly referred to as the Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company matter, involves five or six long-standing key Colorado water law doctrines. The case will attract the attention of water lawyers from all around the state as well as various groups such as the Agricultural Ditch and Reservoir Company, the Cache La Poudre Water Users Association, the Conejos Water Conservancy District, the Golden Canal and Reservoir Company, the Rio Grande Water Users Association, the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, and the city of Westminster.

The Supreme Court will hear the case, which will be open to College of Law students, in the law school courtroom on the first floor. The exact details of when the case will be heard on Jan. 20 are pending, but they will be available in the near future.

Don C. Smith, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "The importance of this case is well understood by all water users in Colorado. It will be an extraordinary privilege for the Sturm College of Law to host the Colorado Supreme Court for this case. Every student who is interested in natural resources law, and especially water law in Colorado, should plan to attend the oral hearing."

More details about the key issues in the case will be posted on the blog in the weeks prior to the hearing. In addition, additional information about how to attend the hearing will be forthcoming before the end of 2010.

New Book Addresses Fundamental Challenges China Faces in Terms of Environment and Natural Resources: Good News & Bad News

A recently published book about China, When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind -- or Destroy It, provides for some sobering reading about the impact of China's rapid and continuous market growth over the last several decades.

There is no question that the Chinese have followed a similar growth pattern as western countries have with the consequent environmental impacts. But the larger question is exactly where China goes from here. And does the West have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing China's industrial performance in relation to environmental degradation bearing in mind their own growth histories.

Consideration of these questions, and many others, provides the basis for a fascinating -- perhaps sometimes even frightening -- view of what the world may look like in future years as China moves steadily on in an economic sense.

Written by Jonathan Watts, who covers east Asia for the London Guardian newspaper, the book seems destined to be one of the pillars of work for those trying to understand where China is and where it is going.

A recent review of the book in the Financial Times ("Nature Will Constrain China's Growth," Oct. 4, 2010) makes this observation:
"Watts' assertion is that China cannot follow the path of other industrializing nations, which polluted first and cleaned up later. 'This model relied on those at the clean-up stage being able to sweep the accumulated dirt of development under a new and bigger rug,' he writes, arguing that there is no rug big enough to accommodate China's future appetites."
Another review in the London Guardian ("When a Billion Chinese Jump by Jonathan Watts," July 17, 2010) suggests:
"We are barely three decades in to China's industrial and consumption revolution. There are still hundreds of millions of poor Chinese who wish to prosper and consume in a country that wastes so much energy that its average per capita carbon emissions already equal those of France. The most worrying thing about the Chinese industrial revolution is not even the appalling damage that Watts meticulously chronicles, but the capacity for more that is still in the system."
Added to all of this is the observation, made just last week at a University of Denver lecture by Professor David Shambaugh who is himself a China expert, that dealing with environmental issues is one of the great political and social challenges ahead for China.

There are no easy answers to all of this. On the one hand, China desires what other sovereign nation states want -- a growing and vibrant economy, unrestrained to any significant degree by the policies of other nation states. The West certainly would not have paid a wit of attention to the Chinese during their industrialized revolution. But on the other hand we now clearly understand that the consequences of slap-dash economic growth can now reverberate across the globe and do so without regard to whether a country or society has enjoyed the benefits of that economic development.

It is no longer enough to now what is going on in one's own backyard or even neighborhood. Key challenges, and opportunities, now lie thousands of miles or kilometers away. Put simply, what happens in Beijing no longer stays in Beijing (to borrow from the saying "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.) This fascinating, albeit troubling book confirms that and is worthy of the attention of all of us.

--Don C. Smith

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

¡Lo logramos! Success!

¡Esta noche todos somos Chilenos!

Tonight, in every corner of the world from the highest peaks to the largest cities to the smallest farms and villages, we are all Chileans!

The first of the 33 miners trapped nearly 1/2 mile beneath the earth in Chile for 69 days has been rescued in the last few minutes. Of course there are 32 more miners needing to stand again on the surface of northern Chile.

However for this moment it is impossible for anyone in the world -- and especially anyone associated with natural resources -- not to be thrilled and emotional at the rescue of the first miner.

From all of us in Denver to all of our amigos and colleagues in Chile and across the world, we can think of only one thing to say:

¡Esta noche todos somos Chilenos!

Tonight we are all Chileans!

--Lucy Daberkow & Don Smith

The View From Our Window: Elk Meadow Park, Colorado

While these photos are not literally from our windows at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, they were taken at Elk Meadow Park, which is only a short distance (25 miles, 40 kilometers) from the law building. I took them yesterday afternoon just as the sun was beginning to go down after a mostly (but not entirely) cloudy and drizzly autumn afternoon.

For those of you who have not visited Colorado in the autumn, these pictures depict the golden leaves of Quaking Aspen trees. There's really no bad time to visit Elk Meadow Park, which is part of the Jefferson County open space, but it is difficult to beat the warm days and cool afternoons and evenings.

If you want to know more about this park, click here.

Experiences, such as my hike in Elk Meadow Park, remind all of us why living and studying in Colorado is such a great experience.

--Don C. Smith

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maria Carolina Crespo, 2010 LLM Graduate, Begins Work as Foreign Associate at Washington, D.C. Office of Crowell & Moring

Maria Carolina Crespo, a May 2010 LLM graduate from the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Graduate Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, has started an internship as a foreign associate at the firm of Crowell & Moring.

Ms. Crespo's position, which is at the firm's Washington, D.C., office, is part of the Visiting International Scholar Program (VISP). Each year the firm selects two foreign lawyers who have completed an LLM degree in the USA to be visiting scholars for a period of nine months.

She will be part of the firm's International Trade and Arbitration Department. As a member of the VISP, Ms. Crespo will have the opportunity to network and work with members of the firm, share ideas, and build a stronger relationship between Crowell Moring and Ms. Crespo's home firm of Estudio Beccar Varela in Buenos Aires, Argentina.