Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall 2010 Environmental and Natural Resources Law Newsletter Available: Sturm College of Law Strategic Plan As Relates to Program is Featured

The Fall 2010 Newsletter published by the Environmental and Natural Resources Program (ENRL) at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law is now available by clicking here.

The Fall 2010 issue highlights the recognition of the ENRL as a flagship program as defined in the College of Law strategic plan, which was approved by the faculty last spring and by the University's board of trustees in the summer.

The newsletter also calls attention to the considerable achievements of the ENRL faculty, which is known as one of the best in the field in the U.S. specifically and across the entire world more generally. Newsletter readers will see the expansive work of the faculty, including publications and presentations during the period from March 2010 through October 2010.

Finally, the newsletter discusses a new innovation in the program, the establishment of a monthly Speakers Series that brings leaders in the environmental, energy, and natural resources fields to the College of Law to speak to student gatherings. The series has been very well received, with students enthusiastically welcoming and learning from the business, law, policy, and regulatory leaders who are helping set the framework for discussion of future environmental, natural resources, and energy matters.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Denver Post Letter to the Editor, Professor K.K. DuVivier Urges Planting "The Right Trees in the Right Place" to Help Combat Climate Change

The Denver Post recently published a letter to the editor by Professor K.K. DuVivier. Professor DuVivier teaches Energy Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and is author of the Renewable Energy Reader, a sourcebook about renewable energy law, due out from Carolina Academic Press in late 2011.

Professor DuVivier wrote in response to "Deciduous trees have decidedly beneficial impact on air pollution" (Oct. 22, 2010). The deciduous trees story noted that a study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research reported that "deciduous vegetation absorbs one-third more air pollution that previously believed -- tens of millions of metric tons worldwide."

However, the article also noted that not all trees are the same with respect to reducing the levels of air toxics. "The right trees include ash, apple, birch, hawthorn, hackberry, maple, pear, and peach. Wrong: poplar, eucalyptus and oak [because]...[t]hese species, NCAR scientists say, emit more volatile organize compounds [VOCs] than they absorb."

Professor DuVivier expanded on the deciduous trees article by identifying which trees that are "right" for absorbing VOCs are also "right" because they do not grow to heights that interfere with neighbors' use of the sun for passive solar heating or electricity generation through photovoltaic panels. Like the "wrong" trees with respect to the emission of VOCs, taller trees whose shading results in the need for more coal-fired power generation, contribute to the climate problem instead of helping it, she has noted.

In her letter, Professor DuVivier urged that planting the right types of trees in the right places is the best way to enlist trees in the climate change battle. Specifically, Professor DuVivier wrote:
"[The] article lauded trees for absorbing smog. Trees also mitigate O2 emissions. But not all trees are equally beneficial: some species emit more volatile organic compounds than they absorb.

"In urban environments, we need more restrictions to avoid negative impacts on those around us: e.g., wood burning or watering restrictions. Sunlight plays an increasing role in energy solutions — for solar energy and urban gardens. Trees that mature at over 70 feet can create shade pollution for neighbors up to three lots away. Several of the 'right trees' for smog absorption are also those that mature at lower heights: apple, hawthorn, pear and peach.

"Where we plant new trees in the city is also important. Branches of deciduous trees still block critical southern exposures catching the low winter sun. So, we should plant more trees, as long as they are the right trees in the right place."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Terence Daintith, Author of Book About the History of Oil and Gas Industry, Speaks to Adjunct Professor Ken Jones' Oil and Gas Course

The author of Finders Keepers? How the Law of Capture Shaped the World Oil Industry spoke recently at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Terence Daintith, the former director of the University of London's Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and a co-editor of a treatise on United Kingdom oil and gas law, was a guest in Adjunct Professor Ken Jones' course "Oil & Gas Law."

Mr. Daintith spoke about a 2008 Texas Supreme Court decision, Coastal v. Garza, in which the majority held, according to Mr. Daintith, that "the rule of capture prevents recovery for drainage caused by [hydraulic fracturing], both to the early development of the rule of capture in the U.S. and to contemporaneous developments in the United Kingdom, where the legal consequences of slant-hole drilling have just been considered for the first time by the U.K. Supreme Court [formerly known as the House of Lords] in Bocardo v. Star Energy."

Mr. Daintith's comparison illustrated the "effects of different property right systems for oil and gas, and also demonstrates the contrasting approaches to policy and doctrinal questions in the two [U.K. and U.S.] courts."

He also talked more broadly about the law of capture (also called the rule of capture), that provides that "oil and gas become the property of the person who recovers them by drilling on land he or she owns or has lawful access to, even if that oil and gas may have migrated from under adjoining lands." In his book, Mr. Daintith writes:
"At first thought, this may seem like just one of a multitude of rather mundane and technical rules of property law; in practice, however, the choice between acceptance and rejection of this particular rule has been crucial to the way the oil industry has developed. This is true not just of the United States, but of oil-producing countries generally...One of the aims of this book is to show why, despite this common beginning, the rule today is of marginal importance elsewhere yet remains the foundation of the complex legal structure that regulates the domestic U.S. industry."
For those interested in the oil and gas sector, this book is well worth reading. Owen L. Anderson, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, has written that the book is "a thorough analysis of the most fundamental of all rules of oil and gas. Every oil and gas lawyer, petroleum landman, petroleum geologist, and petroleum engineer should read this important book."