Friday, February 18, 2011

The Federal Budget and Funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects: The View From Capital Hill

A timely and fascinating overview of the federal budgeting process as it relates to funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency was provided yesterday at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law by Drew Willison, Vice President, Public Policy and External Relations for Battelle, which operates the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) located near Denver.

Mr. Willison was a guest lecturer in Adjunct Professor Robert J. Noun's "Renewable Energy for the 21st Century: Policy, Law, Markets, Technology" course at the College of Law. Mr. Noun is NREL's Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs.

Mr. Willison, who has a masters in public administration and a JD degree, formerly worked for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He provided an insightful look at the "competing" budget proposals authored by President Barrack Obama, on one hand, and the Republican leadership headed by Speaker John Boehner in the U.S. House of Representatives on the other. He explained the budget calendar, as well as why the U.S. Congress is dealing with the current fiscal year's budget this week (measures are being voted on today in an unusual Friday session for the U.S. House).

In particular, he focused on the proposed budgets for the U.S. Department of Energy, which funds energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, as well as the appropriations process that actually provides money for measures that have been through the budget process. He noted that the President's fiscal year 2012 budget, which will begin on October 1, provides a five percent increase from the fiscal year 2010 current appropriation. However, he explained that all of this funding will be subject to intense review and debate in a "divided government" where the Democrats control the presidency and the U.S. Senate while the Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, described the presentation as both illuminating and informative. "Students in Adjunct Professor Noun's course benefited enormously from Mr. Willison's presentation. Regardless what one may think of the competing budget proposals, there is great value in understanding the process and the key points of decision-making in the process. Mr. Willison's description of the process and its implications, both short and long term, will benefit all of the students irrespective of their final careers.

"It is noteworthy that through his course, Mr. Noun continues to introduce students to cutting edge policy and technology-related discussions. The College of Law is extremely fortunate to benefit from the experience and insight of individuals such as Bob Noun and Drew Willison. DU's ambition is to be the finest U.S. law school for learning about renewable energy, and through the efforts of Mr. Noun and individuals such as Mr. Willison we are meeting that objective," Mr. Smith said.

Editor's Note: In the picture above, Drew Willison is on the far left and Bob Noun is on the far right. Several Mr. Noun's students are also pictured.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DU to Host 2011 Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit: Law Professor K.K. DuVivier Forms Panel of Experts to Consider "Urban Eating"

The University of Denver will host the 2011 Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit at the DU campus on February 17 and 18, 2011.

Sturm College of Law Professor K.K. DuVivier coordinated a panel of DU experts who will discuss “Urban Eating,” improving communities through more sustainable ways of obtaining food. The Urban Eating session will be in Driscoll 1880 from 2:35 to 3:45 p.m. on Friday. Summaries of each session can be accessed by clicking here.

Professor DuVivier, who teaches Energy Law, will provide a framework describing the role of energy in the production and consumption of food. DU Professor David Ciepley will discuss his experiences establishing a student garden on the DU campus. Erin Hough, a 4th year DU undergraduate student will discuss her efforts to bring more sustainable food to the DU campus. Law student Jeffrey John enlisted JD Sawyer, an expert in aquaponics, to talk to those attending the session. Mr. John will discuss the new College of Law student group FARM’s efforts to promote urban gleaning, edible urban landscapes, and other urban agricultural issues.

Sturm College of Law Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Federico Cheever, was one of the founders of the university-wide Sustainability Council at DU, and he served as its first chair.

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program said, "Studying and researching the law and policy implications of sustainability is a growing field. We are fortunate at the College of Law to having two of the leading voices in this field -- Professors Cheever and DuVivier -- who have contributed a great deal to our understanding of the issues, both at a local level and in a wider perspective."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court in New South Wales, Australia, to Speak at Sturm College of Law on February 18

Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court in New South Wales, Australia, will speak on February 18 at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in room 125 from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

This “specialist court” is about 20 years old and is recognized as an innovative model for tribunals handling cases in environmental jurisprudence. A public interest legal centre in Sydney has written that, “A key theme to the reforms that created the Court was the right of the general public to participate in the process of environmental planning. One of the great strengths of the Land and Environment Court is its powers to grant civil remedies such as injunctions and declarations in response to breaches of environmental laws. This has enabled public interest litigants to protect the environment by bringing such matters before the Court.”

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "We are delighted that Justice Preston will be visiting the Sturm College of Law. Justice Preston has helped develop similar judicial forums throughout Australia and in Asian nations. His remarks will provide the opportunity to compare what his court is doing with U.S. courts, where generalist judges are tasked with handling cases involving complex environmental questions."

Lunch will be provided.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bruce Kirchhoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Mining Royalties Firm Royal Gold, Inc., Speaks to DU Students

Bruce Kirchhoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Royal Gold, Inc., spoke recently to students at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law about the business of buying and managing mining royalties involving precious metals.

Royal Gold owns and manages nearly 200 producing, development, evaluation and exploration stage royalties. The royalties are located all around the globe including in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Russia, and the U.S.

He explained how Royal Gold acquires royalties from a range of interests including prospectors, junior mining companies, and in some instances major mining firms. He also noted that in a growing number of situations mining companies are seeking financing from firms such as Royal Gold.

A key step before any royalty is acquired, he said, is to perform careful due diligence about the royalty including examining the royalty's title as well as whether the mine -- if the royalty is attached to a producing asset -- has the proper operating permits in place.

Since Royal Gold is a public company, Mr. Kirchhoff is also centrally involved in making sure the firm's public filings are in place. In this regard, he noted that much of time in recent months has been spent complying with the Dodd-Frank Act, a federal statute enacted last summer that is aimed at corporate governance.

Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "Bruce Kirchhoff's presentation reflected the observations of a widely respected practitioner who has enormous experience in this field. This event represented a wonderful way for students to learn about the professionalism of a general counsel who is intimately involved in the mining sector. The fact that Mr. Kirchhoff is a graduate from the College of Law made the day all the more meaningful."

Editor's note: In the picture, Mr. Kirchhoff is second from the left. Professor K.K. DuVivier, who teaching Mining Law, is second from the right. Don Smith is on the left.