Alan J. Gilbert, Senior Advisor to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, spoke yesterday at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Mr. Gilbert, who spoke about the work of the Department of Interior, was the March speaker in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program's Speaker Series.
In particular, Mr. Gilbert noted several key initiatives that have been undertaken by the Department under the direction of Secretary Salazar, who formerly served as a U.S. Senator from Colorado as well as Colorado Attorney General.
One top initiative involves energy development on public lands. "This is very, very important," Mr. Gilbert noted. "President Obama and Secretary Salazar want to promote energy development on public lands," he said. The Obama Administration is particularly keen to encourage the development of utility-size renewable energy generation on public lands.
As part of this effort, Secretary Salazar has instituted a "fast track" program that encourages utility-size renewables projects on public lands. Moreover, the Department is working to make sure that the way the Bureau of Land Management reviews applications for these projects is more effectively integrated into the way the government looks at renewables.
A second top initiative is called the Water SMART Program, which is aimed at "finding more water in the west by managing public water resources better and more efficiently," Mr. Gilbert said.
The matter of improving consultation between the Department and Native American tribes is another key initiative. The Department's goal is to develop new processes that will facilitate and improve the consultations now and into the future, he said.
America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Americans is also among Secretary Salazar's prioritities. This is an effort to protect special lands and waters managed by the Department across the country in consensus with the states, local authorities, and other interested parties as well as to reconnect Americans with the outdoors. An executive summary of this program can be accessed by clicking here.
Finally the Youth in the Great Outdoors, which emphasizes employing, educating, and engaging young people in the preservation of America's natural and cultural heritage, is another key priority for Secretary Salazar.
Before closing, Mr. Gilbert called special attention to the Honors Attorney Program, which is part of the Department's Office of the Solicitor. Current solicitor Hilary Tompkins reinstated the program last year, and he encouraged students to consider applying for it if they were interested in natural resources law work. The program, which is designed to recruit highly qualified junior attorneys, is 14 months in length during which Honors Attorneys work on the full range of environmental laws relating to management of the nation's public lands, national parks and wildlife refuges, general administrative and government business law, and law related to the U.S.' relationship with Indian Tribes.
Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "It was a pleasure for the College of Law to host Alan Gilbert, a key long-time advisor to Secretary Salazar. Students benefit enormously by learning from individuals such as Mr. Gilbert, whose life experience is rich and expansive when it comes to understanding the country's resource policies. We at DU hope that Mr. Gilbert returns soon and often to the College of Law."
Mr. Gilbert has taught at the College of Law on several occasions, including serving as the prestigious Practitioner in Residence.
Editor's note: From left to right, Alan J. Gilbert, Law Professor K.K. DuVivier, Don Smith, Professor Emeritus and former U.S. Undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Interior John A. Carver Jr.