Friday, March 25, 2011

Alex Aidaghese, Current LLM Student, is Selected as 2011 Winner of the AIPN Scholarship; Will Travel to San Antonio for AIPN Spring Conference

Alex Aidaghese, a University of Denver Sturm College of Law student, has won a highly sought after scholarship from the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators to attend the group's 2011 Spring Conference in San Antonio.

Mr. Aidaghese obtained his Bachelor of Law from Edo State University in Nigeria and is currently pursuing an LLM in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy. Mr. Aidaghese is also one of the spring 2011 winners of the prestigious Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship. Mr. Aidaghese has worked for the Office of the Edo State Commissioner for Energy and Water Resources as well as several New Jersey and New York law firms.

In his application to the AIPN scholarship, Mr. Aidaghese noted that, “An update on recent development in West Africa deep-water oil and gas exploration is one of the major papers at the conference. Winning the scholarship would provide me a huge opportunity to have firsthand knowledge of the latest developments in the region. I would be able to meet, network and interact with the major players in the petroleum industry who are presently engaged in exploration activities in Sub Sahara Africa, as well as those who might be willing to invest in the region, but need further education with respect to existing investment climate."

Lucy Daberkow, Associate Administrative Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Programs, said, “Alex is an accomplished attorney who is a true asset to our LLM program. His commitment to energy issues in Africa and his choice of course work in his LLM program made him the ideal candidate for this AIPN scholarship opportunity.”

Editor's note: In the above picture, Don Smith, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy program is on the left, Mr. Aidaghese is in the middle, and Ms. Daberkow is on the right.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adam Massaro, Sturm College of Law 2010 JD Graduate, Wins "Excellence in Writing Award" From ABA Probate & Property Magazine for Solar Energy Article

Adam Massaro, University of Denver Sturm College of Law 2010 JD graduate, won an Excellence in Writing Award from the editors of ABA Probate & Property for his article, “Solar Power for Commercial Buildings,” that appeared in the January/February 2010 issue.

Adam walks a lawyer through issues he or she must understand when advising a client, building owner or tenant, who wishes to participate in a distributed solar energy opportunity by installing a solar generation system.

The article discusses Renewable Energy Credits (RECs); three methods for obtaining commercial solar (solar power purchase agreement with a third party developer, purchase and installation of a system, and a solar lease); and net metering (where the utility gives credits for surplus solar energy generated).

Adam writes that, “Commercial Solar presents an opportunity for building owners and tenants to achieve both sustainability and business goals.” He counsels that federal and state incentives determine the economics of commercial solar. In this growing market, Adam predicts, “more and more building owners and tenants will seek the advice of lawyers before obtaining Commercial Solar.”

Adam wrote this piece with faculty supervision in the summer of 2009. “The law school’s directed research program provided me the opportunity to work directly with a highly skilled advisor in Professor K.K. DuVivier,” he says. “She was a tremendous resource for a young law student who was seeking his first publication.”

Directed research at the Sturm College of Law is an opportunity for students to research and write on any area of law approved by a full-time faculty member who agrees to direct the project. It is one way to fulfill the law school’s upper level writing requirement.

Professor DuVivier, who is currently writing her own book on renewable energy law, reports that, “Adam took the initiative on this cutting-edge issue of renewable energy practice, and he well deserves this national recognition. I was delighted to supervise his work on this article as part of a directed research project. His accomplishment shows that an enterprising second-year law student can make a valuable contribution to the practice at the same time he is earning law school credit.”

Currently Adam Massaro is a judicial law clerk at the Colorado Court of Appeals for Judge Nancy Lichtenstein. He plans to practice law in Denver after his clerkship ends in August 2011.

Congratulations to Adam Massaro for winning the Excellence Award for “Best Technology/Law Practice Management Article,” bestowed by the editors of ABA Probate & Property.

To see the full text of the article, please click here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adjunct Professor William J. Brady Invited to Speak at Intersol'2011 International Conference in Lyon, France

William J. Brady, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a shareholder and director at the Denver firm Grimshaw and Harring, has been asked to present at the prestigious Intersol'2011, an international conference in Lyon, France, March 28-31, on soils, sediment, and water.

Mr. Brady, who teaches Hazardous Waste Law in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy (ENRL) Program, will discuss "Waste and Soils: U.S. Legal Cases and Insurance Precedants." Mr. Brady has been assisted in preparing his remarks by geophysicist Pierre Andrieux, Professor Emeritus at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris VI. Professor Brady is also a member of the Intersol Committee Scientifique, assisting in the selection of the conference program each year. He has been a frequent contributor to the annual Intersol Conference since 2008.

Early last year, before the BP Gulf Oil disaster, and this year's major property and casualty and business interuption losses from the Australian floods, the New Zealand earthquake and the Japanese trifecta of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear power catastrophes, Professor Brady wrote:
"The looming specter of coming environmental catastrophes presents a 'worldwide financial crisis' of never-before-imagined proportions. Yet, poorly understood concepts of risk transfer cloud the future. Over the past two decades, an explosion in lawsuits concerning past environmental, natural resources damages and government-mandated remediation has erupted in the developed world. Disputes commonly arise when contaminate releases occur at industrial complexes and seaports, municipal owned or operated landfills and airports, active or closed military installations or weapons facilities, nuclear power plants and other hazardous/toxic waste sites. Corporate policyholders continue to scurry to secure insurance coverage for potentially staggering liabilities, not knowing whether their insurers and retrocessionaires will be capable of performing as promised.

The cost of cleaning up toxic waste at more than 60,000 disposal sites in the US may run as high as $500 billion, and worldwide remediation could run into the trillions, leading policyholders and insurers to adopt a 'scorched earth' litigation posture. In many jurisdictions, courts are venturing into unchartered areas of insurance coverage, knowing that the stakes for both policyholder and insurer are high. The very survival of insurers, public and private companies and, in some instances, entire communities, is threatened by staggering response costs designed to achieve a safe and clean environment.

Across the Atlantic, The Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (TEN-TEA) is charged with the responsibility of providing technical and administrative support in collaboration with the Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission. Among other things, this EC Agency ensures the technical and financial management of public works and highway projects co-financed under the trans-European transport networks’ budget. As well, TEN-TEA requires the conformity of projects co-financed by the Community with the transport policy rules and principles applicable to the trans-European network infrastructures. Development requires compatibility, interconnection and interoperability of previously diverse national networks. Future infrastructure development, and meeting the risks posed by its attendant exposures, presents even greater financial and insurance challenges.

The questions to be answered in a troubled world are patent:

Is there enough current capacity in the global insurance market to cover these risks?
Should governments in the developed world assume a lead role in creating multi-national, public-private partnership, insurance pools to meet the financial crises posed by future eco-terrorism or environmental catastrophe?

Can and should funding be appropriated from the imposition of a worldwide carbon tax to meet this challenge?"
Environmental insurance has been a crucial tool in remediating contaminated properties, hazardous waste sites, and polluted groundwater, as well as assuring compliance with US and EU environmental laws and administrative regulations. As case law interpreting policies of insurance sold in the US and the EU has evolved, billions of dollars for environmental liabilities has been made available to policyholders, many of whom initially believed that they may have had no coverage. In many cases, older policies have provided more extensive coverage for environmental releases than later issued policies. Lost and missing policies have been reconstructed from standard forms and other secondary evidence of insurance found in financial records, document repositories and archives, and accepted by judicial fiat. Consideration of the statements of former policyholder employees (many of whom are elderly but whose recollections are clear), insurance brokers and insurance company personnel has also served as a basis for reproducing evidence of insurance.

New tools will also be in focus, such as Environmental Impairment Liability, Pollution Legal Liability, Cost Cap Coverage Insurance and Insurance/Risk Pooling, now widely available in the marketplace to protect against future catastrophic environmental liabilities. This program will also explain how insurance coverage, under both older policies and more recent vintages, can assist with legal, technical and financial requirements of the EU TEN-TEA Agency. The understanding of what coverages are available, how the judicial system and the insurance industry are interpreting them, and their use in the development of US and EU public works projects is vital for those encountering our past and future challenges.

Don Smith, Director of the ENRL program, said, "Intersol'2011's invitation to Bill Brady indicates the high regard in which he is held not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and internationally. Mr. Brady has secured several multi-million dollar insurance verdicts, both after trial and on appeal, and settlements for international mining companies and U.S. municipalities. Students in Mr. Brady's course benefit from an individual who is widely respected as one of the top attorneys in his field."

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Rocky Mountain Energy Blog: Readily Accessible Expertise and Insight About Energy Issues in the Rocky Mountain Region

Anyone interested in following energy developments and challenges in the Rocky Mountain region -- particularly Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming -- should be sure to bookmark (or subscribe to) the Rocky Mountain Energy Blog, which identifies and tracks major developments and trends in the region.

Yesterday I had lunch with Kelly de la Torre, one of the blog's co-authors and an attorney at Beatty & Wozniak in Denver. The firm, which goes by the moniker "Energy in the Law," focuses on energy and natural resources law. As a result, the blog, which is co-authored by Jamie Jost, who also practices at Beatty & Wozniak, is filled with information and observations that will be extremely useful to anyone practicing or thinking about practicing in this area, or (and possibly more importantly) for businesses that are part of the energy or natural resources sector in the Rocky Mountains.

Perhaps what makes this blog so useful is the experience and insight that Ms. de la Torre and Ms. Jost bring to the project. The former practices mostly in the renewable energy sector, and is an expert on transmission issues. The latter focuses on oil and gas, thus bringing perspective to a different segment of the energy sector. Working together, Ms. de la Torre and Ms. Jost cover a great deal of ground writing about issues that are at the forefront of development in the Rocky Mountain West.

A few recent postings illustrate my point. In late February, the blog included a posting about the New Mexico Electricity Transmission Planning Report. In early February the blog reported about "a new report that emphasizes the need to include natural gas in policy and infrastructure planning discussions between industry, regulators, and policy makers."

Ms. de la Torre explained that she represents clients before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. She also regularly interacts with state infrastructure authorities in the Rocky Mountain Region. In brief, she has studied the regulatory and legislative issues involving the often vexing issues related to electricity transmission and thus when she speaks or writes about these issues it makes sense to pay close attention.

You only have to look at what Ms. de la Torre is doing, and her passion for understanding and resolving tough transmission-related issues, to have a better understanding about why many consider Denver and Colorado the center of the "new energy economy."

Don C. Smith
Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Drinking coffee… the solar way…

Lucy Daberkow, Associate Administraive Director of Graduate Programs, visited a very unique coffee shop during a recent visit to Pueblo, Colorado.

Solar Roast Coffee was started in 2004 by brothers Michael and David Hartkop who had a vision to serve eco-friendly coffee. The result was the creation of a solar-powered coffee roaster and the opening of a coffee shop in downtown Pueblo. They now have three locations in Pueblo, but Michael Hartkop mentioned that more stores are planned… in Denver!

For information on their coffee shops, you can visit