Friday, February 25, 2011

Video Interview With Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of Pioneering New South Wales, Australia, Land and Environment Court

Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the New South Wales, Australia, Land and Environment Court, was recently interviewed by Don C. Smith, Director of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program.

To see a streaming video of the interview, please click here.

Justice Preston last week visited the Sturm College of Law to share his insights and observations about the Land and Environment Court, one of the world's first environmental courts.

In the interview, Mr. Smith asks Justice Preston about the following issues:
  • History of the Land and Environment Court
  • Importance of the Court being a Superior Court of Record
  • Access to justice and public participation in the context of the Court's work
  • How expert testimony is handled
  • The Court's unique judicial and executive functions
Justice Preston's observations in the interview are particularly important in understanding the roles of specialized environmental courts. Professor George (Rock) Pring, a globally respected professor of Environmental Law at the Sturm College of Law has written, "Justice Preston is a global leader and educator in the environmental courts and tribunals arena," as well as a jurist who has "developed a comprehensive vision for the problem solving environmental courts and tribunals of the future. He terms it 'the multi-door courthouse.'"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Looking for Environmental and Energy Industry Insight? Check out "IndustryWatch" Offered by The Denver Business Journal

When it comes to searching for a first job or a new job, there is nothing that beats having a good sense of what is happening in the industry sector you are interested in.

One resource that may be of use is the IndustryWatch service provided by The Denver Business Journal. Here's how it works:
  1. Go to the Denver Business Journal website at and create a free account

  2. After you have done this you will be taken to screen where you can sign up for various e-newsletters published by The Denver Business Journal, and the other 40 business journals around the country.

  3. Depending on your interests, two IndustryWatch newsletters that you may want to subscribe to are Environment and/or Energy; by signing up for these e-newsletters you will receive on Monday mornings the latest news from around the U.S.
It may also be useful to look at the full-text of The Denver Business Journal. You can subscribe yourself or use the Westminster Law Library's subscription (although you have to access that while you are in the law building). Look for articles by Cathy Proctor, who covers energy-related issues for The Journal. Ms. Proctor follows the industry and has an excellent record of staying on top of the latest developments.

Don C. Smith
Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alan Gilbert, Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, to Speak March 1 at Sturm College of Law

Alan Gilbert, Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar will speak about "Working at the Department of Interior" on Tuesday, March 1. Mr. Gilbert will speak in room 259 of the Ricketson Law Building at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Mr. Gilbert focuses on the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions for Secretary Salazar.

Mr. Gilbert has a rich and varied career in both public and private environmental and energy practices. He was a partner at the law firm of Holme, Roberts & Owen before assuming his current position. He also was a partner at the law firm of Sherman & Howard, where he practiced environmental and natural resources law for more than two decades.

In 1999, Mr. Gilbert joined the Office of the Colorado Attorney General and was appointed Colorado Solicitor General by then-Attorney General Ken Salazar. He served as Solicitor General for five years, managing more than 1,000 criminal and civil appellate cases annually for the state. Mr. Gilbert worked on matters as diverse as making public the secret records from the 1999 Columbine High School shootings to the successful settlement of the litigation over the cleanup of the Summitville Mine. Mr. Gilbert also served as then-Senator Ken Salazar’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

Professor K.K. DuVivier, who teaches Mining Law and Energy Law at the College of Law, said this about her former colleague Alan Gilbert:
The Senior Advisors are the eyes and ears of the Secretary of Interior in each of the regions, so having Alan Gilbert here with us is giving us access to the top. I worked with both Ken Salazar and Alan Gilbert when we were all associates at Sherman & Howard in the early 1980’s, and you could see then how well the two worked together. Mr. Gilbert would be too humble to admit it, but Ken Salazar’s trust and respect are reflected in his reliance on Alan's advice in almost every phase of his career as Colorado Attorney General, U.S. Senator, and now the U.S. Secretary of Interior. Mr. Gilbert has generously shared his time over the years with the Sturm College of Law as a guest lecturer and adjunct professor, and it is an honor for us to host his visit on March 1.

Mr. Gilbert has taught at the College of Law, including in 2008 and 2009 when he served as the prestigious Natural Resources Practitioner in Residence.

Mr. Gilbert's presentation, which is being sponsored by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program as part of its Speakers Series, is open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

LLM Student Luis Antonio La Rosa Airaldi Reports From 41st Annual ALI-ABA Environmental Law Course in Washington, D.C.

By Luis Antonio La Rosa Airaldi, 2011 LLM Candidate

On February 2-4, 2011, I attended the 41st Annual ALI-ABA Course of Environmental Law in Washington DC and I reaffirmed myself that this is a high-quality course that is really worth to attend. Before going to Washington, I read of what the course was about and I realized from many opinions and on-line information that this two full-day course has indeed enormous significance within the environmental community in the US.

I think there are several added values related to this course that I really enjoyed and I would like to mention here. For example, there is a diverse group of people who attend this conference from a professional standpoint. You can meet lawyers and other professionals from private law firms, federal agencies, public institutions, and private companies from several jurisdictions. Actually, even though this is primarily a law course, participants are not necessarily lawyers and, in my opinion, this fact makes the course more interesting.

The conference brings together people from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Navy, Department of Energy, Coast Guard, but also people from private companies and other entities along with a small group of law students. Thus, you can see real efforts behind the organization of this event in order to build a diverse conference experience. As a result of this diversity, the opinions, comments and questions expressed during the conference were particularly valuable. Besides, this has been a terrific networking opportunity. I took advantage of the breaks and receptions to talk and know different professionals in the field.

Most of the participants, somehow, are engaged in the practice of environmental law. However, you don’t need to be an expert in the field to take advantage of this course, since it also serves professionals new to the field, in part through the series of optional introductory lectures. Undoubtedly, another added value that deserves attention is the quality and diversity of the speakers selected for this conference. All the presentations were well-organized in terms of content and structure. The topics covered by the conference were really diverse and interesting given the current situation of the environmental arena from a domestic and international point of view. We had lectures which addressed topics such as citizen suits and the latest government enforcement initiatives, congressional and U.S. Supreme court developments, NEPA and environmental justice.

But we also had, for example, an interesting lecture from a Senior Counsel of Kraft Foods who talked about the sustainability issues at this multinational company and its current environmental policies. While there are companies with no responsibility and environmental standards which contribute to environmental degradation problems, there are companies which are committed to the continuous improvement of their environmental performance and to meeting the requirements of all applicable environmental laws and regulations. Kraft is an example of the latter.

Thus, the good work behind each one of the presentations was notorious, as well as the way the speakers focused them and the useful information they transmitted to the participants. In fact, when you show a smile after a presentation -besides the typical applause- is because you are pleased with the results and this was indeed a common and widespread attitude from the participants, including myself, of course.

Even when I am currently studying the LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy at DU, as an international student, I could not necessarily be deeply familiar with the environmental legal framework in the US. In my particular case, I think the fact of having taken the course of Natural Resources with Professor Jan Laitos (where we learned the most important US environmental statutes) was more than helpful to take more advantage of this conference.

Since the first lectures, I knew exactly what the speakers were talking about and I was familiar with most of the content of each one of the lectures. I was very happy to understand all the issues, including some of the recent holdings held by different Circuit Courts regarding the interpretation of terms in the context of environmental law. Definitely, by having this legal basis, I was able to have better approaches and clear perspectives based on the ideas and information received from the speakers. They knew how to explain and address all these environmental topics by balancing the current trends, challenges and things to improve from a technical, practical, legal and economic standpoint. I really liked the way they focused their presentations. It is important not just to analyze the language of the statutes, but to have a more realistic and practical point of view to determine whether they are efficient to regulate and resolve environmental issues given the implied complexity of the sector.

One of the topics and discussions that I liked the most were those related to the current opinions and attempts by some Congressmen who think that the EPA should not exist. There are crazy initiatives from the Congress to eliminate this important federal agency based on a global warming skepticism. These skeptic arguments doubt EPA’s capacity to work and regulate over greenhouse gases emissions under the Clean Air Act. This was a very interesting topic given the presence of some climate change "skeptics" in the Congress. Luckily, all the participants and speakers agreed that the man-induced climate change is a reality and EPA has an important role on climate change.

By attending this course, I have received from several lectures a clear summary of the most relevant environmental statutes in the US, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act – CERCLA, among others. However, the conference was much more than a helpful and well-oriented summary of these statutes. Given the importance of the environmental law for different economic activities (not only for those associated with the natural resources sector), I liked to understand how these statutes are working to deal with new problems and what is the pathway to create innovative and cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges. Indeed, economic growth which is one of the main concerns of the government comes with environmental costs. Nowadays, the economic activities, in general, cannot be thought and implemented without analyzing its environmental consequences and/or implications. This conference addressed the issues regarding this premise. Based on the foregoing, I can say that I learned, enjoyed and took advantage of this conference. I encourage students to attend this course in the coming years.

Finally, setting aside the academic part of the conference, this was my first time in Washington DC so I took advantage to visit some of the tourist places. I really liked DC and for me it is one of the nicest cities I have ever known in the US. I walked the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, as well as many of its downtown streets and avenues. Of course, I went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where the White House is located. This is may be the most famous address in the US. While DC has a very cold winter, I was lucky because I had two sunny days which made my walk more enjoyable …

Monday, February 21, 2011

Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of New South Wale's Pioneering "Land and Environment Court," Speaks to Students, Faculty, and Others

Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia, spoke at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law last Friday about the operation and the benefits of a specialized court whose jurisdiction is all matters having to do with environmental law.

"It is a one-stop shop where you can bring all aspects of environmental law,” Justice Preston stated. The court on which he sits is 30 years old, created by statute and operating on the state level in Australia’s federal system. Most environmental disputes in his country, Justice Preston related, are matters of state law. Judges on the Land and Environment Court (LEC) are experts in environmental law, and they are assisted by commissioners, technically able in the complicated matters that come before an environment court.

“Access to justice is of critical importance,” said Justice Preston. Consequently, the LEC has adopted a policy of open standing, permitting any person to bring a case. Asked whether any downside exists to open standing, the Justice adamantly stated, “Absolutely not. There has been no flood of litigation. And you don’t need standing requirements to get rid of cases that amount to no more than rubbish.”

The LEC, he reported, is able to dispose of cases efficiently, with many cases handled in 30 days and nearly all disposed of within one year. Another advantage to the Land and Environment Court, according to Justice Preston, is the nature of environmental issues. “They are polycentric,” he said, involving legal issues and also social, political, economic, and scientific questions.

Justice Preston has advocated for and assisted in the formation of environmental courts in other parts of Australia and in other nations. He related that India is the country most recently that has created an environmental court, passed through a national tribunal act.

Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program, said, "The Sturm College of Law was honored to host Justice Preston. Those attending Justice Preston's presentation benefited from his observations about the LEC, which is widely regarded as one of the leading courts of its kind in the world.

"Professor George (Rock) Pring played a key role in bringing Justice Preston to the Sturm College of Law. Professor Pring has co authored, along with his wife Catherine (Kitty) Pring, a landmark book, Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals. During their work on that book, the Prings became acquaitned with Justice Preston. Students attending the Sturm College of Law benefit greatly from these types of cutting-edge presentations, and all of us are greatly indebted to Justice Preston and Professor Pring for last week's event."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bienvenidos a la Sturm Facultad de Derecho: Latino LLM Students Featured in Monday Event Speaking About Practicing Law in Chile and Peru

One element that makes the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law (ENRL) LLM Program so strong is the geographic diversity of our students. In recent years, up to 40 percent of the students in the program have come from outside the United States, according to Lucy Daberkow, Associate Administrative Director for the ENRL graduate program.

This level of diversity benefits all students at the College of Law, irrespective of what degree they are seeking (JD, LLM, Masters in Resource Law Studies, Certificate in ENRL). Having this level of diversity enriches many courses as well as life at the College of Law in general, Ms. Daberkow says.

On Monday, February 21, part of this diversity will be featured as three LLM students from Latin America -- Carla Araya Pizarro from Chile and Luis Antonio La Rosa and Rocio Urbina, both from Peru, speak in Spanish to the Spanish Students Law Association as part of Latin America Week at the College of Law.

The event will be held from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in room 170.

Ms. Daberkow, a native of Mexico herself and bi-lingual and bi-cultural, said, "The ENRL graduate program has always focused on recruiting international students. One geographical area that we have focused on is Latin America, since students there are often interested in the broad range of natural resources and environmental courses we offer.

"At the College of Law we believe the future for many natural resources and environmental professionals will include work in a person's home country as well as internationally. That is why we remain committed to recruiting students from all over the world. This commitment is part of the College of Law's Strategic Plan, which was approved by the faculty last year," Ms. Daberkow said.

The College of Law has LLM graduates working across the entire Latin American continent including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, as well as the North American countries of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.