Friday, October 29, 2010

Leading Natural Resources Attorneys Steve Bain and Robert Bassett to Compare International Mining and Petroleum Law at Sturm College of Law Nov. 10

Two well-known attorney experts in international natural resources law, Steve Bain and Robert Bassett, will compare international mining law and international petroleum law on Nov. 10, 2010, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in room 125 at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Both Mr. Bassett and Mr. Bain teach as adjunct professors in the College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law (ENRL) program. Mr. Bassett teaches "International and Comparative Mining Law" while Mr. Bain co-teaches "International and Comparative Petroleum Law" with Carol Harmon. These courses, which have been very popular among DU law students, are part of a wide selection of natural resources-related courses offered at DU.

Mr. Bassett, a partner at Denver-based Holland & Hart, practices natural resources and international law with an emphasis on the mining industry. In recent years he has handled projects as diverse as: mining counsel in financing of a major coal company merger, a major copper company, and a major lead producer; development of mine methane capture and use programs; acquisition of major copper, gold, and uranium mines and royalty interests in the U.S., Latin America, and Africa.

Mr. Bain, a partner at Denver-based Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, specializes in environmental and natural resources law and has significant experience with government negotiations. He has extensive experience in international law, especially in the former Soviet Union, and is past chair of the International Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. Prior to joining his firm, he worked for two years in the Czech Republic as an advisor to the Czech Ministry of the Environment.

Don C. Smith, director of the ENRL program, said, "Students who have taken these courses from Adjunct Professors Bain and Bassett frequently say how valuable these courses are and point to the significant benefit from learning from industry leaders like Mr. Bain and Mr. Bassett. Their courses are clear examples of why many think at the ENRL program is the best of its kind in the U.S."

For more information about the event, please contact Carrie Golden at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

North America's Largest Environmental Film Festival to be Held Near Denver Nov. 4, 5, and 6

The Colorado Environmental Film Festival (CEFF) will be held in Golden, Colorado, about 25 minutes from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law campus on Nov. 4-6, 2010.

The CEFF, which is presented by the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, will feature 45 films over three days. The movies are from six countries and 16 states and range in length from two minutes to just under two hours.

The environmental film festival, North America's largest environmental film festival, describes itself as:
"...[A] celebration of the power of film to inspire, educate, and motivate audiences. We will present thought-provoking films and dialogue that raise awareness of a wide variety of interconnected ecological, social, and economic themes. We hope to provide an experience for our audiences that goes beyond just passive film viewing..."
Please click here to see descriptions of the 2010 films that will be featured.

The CEFF will be held at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. Tickets can be purchased at the door, beginning one hour before show time or in advance at REI's Denver flagship, Lakewood, and Boulder stores and at Base Camp at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Environmental and Natural Resources Law Graduate Program Alums Danny Splettstosser and Leslie Weise Speak About Careers in Renewables and Clean Tech

Two recent graduates, Danny Splettstosser (Masters in Resources Law Studies, 2008) and Leslie Weise (LLM, 2005), spoke last week about careers in the renewable energy and clean technology sectors to a large group of students at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The event was the second in the on-going Speakers Series, sponsored by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program.

Mr. Splettstosser is a renewable energy project developer for enXco, the American subsidiary of French electricity giant EDF. Ms. Weise is vice president for business development for Boulder-based clean tech firm CoolEnergy.

There are three career tracks available to individuals looking to work in the renewables industry, Mr. Splettstosser said: (1) inside or outside legal counsel; (2) legislative or regulatory specialist; or (3) project development, which is the track he is in. The project development role requires someone who can "see the big picture, is detail oriented, and is willing to work long hours," he said. One of the most satisfying aspects of his job is knowing that "At the end of the day there is something standing [a wind turbine or a solar array] that reflects your social and work ethic," he said.

He identified four key steps that students who are interested in this sector should be thinking about:
  • Take the College of Law courses that address subjects such as renewables [DU now has three exceptionally good renewable energy-related courses], as well as Land Use and Environmental Law.
  • Understand the sector you are considering; read the publications that deal with the sector and be knowledgeable about the business issues companies and developers are facing.
  • Take advantage of the numerous externship opportunities offered by the College of Law (he had an externship at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Golden field office, which works with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that is also in Golden).
  • Be passionate about working in the field and express that passion to those you interview with.
Ms. Weise, who works on legal matters and business development including seeking grant funds, noted some additional ideas regarding how to pursue work in the clean tech sector:
  • Networking is extremely important; get involved in the many diverse industry and social groups (for example the local branch of the Sierra Club) that meet regularly in the Denver-Boulder area; get to know the key players in these groups.
  • Be prepared at the interview; spend time at the company's website and know who the competitors are as well as what is going on in the market.
  • When interviewing with a start up company, be prepared to emphasize your cross functional skills (which you should work on during your education); be prepared to talk about your marketing, writing, research and grant-writing skills, as well as your legal skills.
Ms. Weise also emphasized the importance of pursuing externships during a student's studies. As it turns out, she also was an extern at the U.S. DOE Golden field office.

The event was rounded out by a series of questions and answers, as students sought more detailed information from the guest speakers. Introductions were also made to two professors who attended, Energy Law Professor K.K. DuVivier and Adjunct Professor Anita Halvorssen who teaches courses about Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Don C. Smith, director of the ENRL program observed afterwards that the College of Law is fortunate to have graduates such as Mr. Splettstosser and Ms. Weise, and many others, who are so willing to help current students understand the key aspects of looking for jobs and pursuing them. "Danny and Leslie have been particularly supportive of our program. The time and energy they invest in helping our students reflects their own passion to the sectors they work in and their own personal commitments to building a better world for future generations."

The Speakers Series continues on November 9 when Kate Iverson, assistant general counsel for RTD Fastracks, which is building out Denver's light rail system, speaks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Graduate News: Jill Weitz, 2010 Masters in Resource Law Studies Graduate, Hired by Alaska Department of Environment Conservation

Jill Weitz, a 2010 Masters in Resource Law Studies graduate from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, reports from Alaska, also known as America's Last Frontier, about her new position in the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

The department is responsible for conserving, improving, and protecting Alaska's natural resources and environment to enhance the health, safety, economic and social well-being of Alaskans.

"In September of 2010, I was hired as the Environmental Program Specialist II for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water in Juneau. In this position I am charged with many responsibilities, including identifying, analyzing, and making recommendations to resolve recurring wastewater problems and situations covered by established precedents and procedures to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

"Within the Division of Water, I specifically work for the onsite wastewater program, assisting an environmental engineer in planning for disposal systems. Alternative on-site disposal systems such as secondary treatment plants or package plants are extremely common in southeast Alaska, where poor soil or high groundwater conditions do not allow installation of conventional septic systems. These systems must be designed by an engineer and plans must be reviewed and approved by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation prior to construction.

"I also serve as the technical writer for a guidance document that will be made available to individuals within the state of Alaska who are writing permits for mixing zones (mixing zones are where wastewater and saltwater/freshwater meet). I am collaboratively writing regulations to comply with EPA’s Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990). Additionally, I am developing a community outreach program that will provide smaller southeast Alaskan communities and villages with resources for operating and the maintenance of current/new/upgraded onsite wastewater systems."