Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rare Earth Minerals Discussed by Mining Investment Executive and College of Law Alumnus Cassie Boggs and Denver Post Reporter Bruce Finley

Cassie Boggs, General Counsel for Resource Capital Funds, and Bruce Finley, a reporter for The Denver Post, addressed the political, business, and environmental issues related to extraction and refinement of rare earth minerals at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law recently.

Ms. Boggs and Mr. Finley were guest lecturers in Professor K.K. DuVivier's "Mining Law" course.

Ms. Boggs, a 1981 College of Law JD graduate and a former Senior Vice President at Barrick Gold Corporation, has worked all over the world in positions in the mining sector. She has a particularly well-informed perspective on rare earth minerals since Resource Capital Funds (RCF) -- a private equity firm that invests in minerals -- was one of the original investors in Molycorp Minerals, which owns a mine in Mountain Pass, California, that produces rare earth minerals.

These minerals are highly sought after for clean technology-related manufacturing (e.g., in building clean tech cars, wind power turbines, etc.). Nathan Vardi, who writes "The Jungle" for Forbes, has gone so far as to characterize RCF's increased investment value in Molycorp as "staggering."

Molycorp, Ms. Boggs pointed out, is the only major rare earth minerals provider outside of China. She noted that in 2008 129,000 metric tons of rare earth minerals were produced worldwide, but only 4,000 metric tons were produced outside of China. In fact, over the last 10 years 96 percent of the world's rare earth minerals have been produced in China. One challenge related to this production pattern, Ms. Boggs said, is that China has increasingly restricted the export of these minerals. Consequently, the value of Molycorp has also increased. Molycorp's goal is to establish a fully integrated supply chain operation that will extract, refine, and make rare earths alloys and minerals as well as magnets.

Mr. Finley, who has reported about rare earth minerals in his role as environmental reporter for The Denver Post, identified several key challenges the world -- and the U.S. in particular -- faces with regard to rare earth minerals. One key challenge involves the extent to which the U.S. should prioritize the production of domestic rare earth minerals for security reasons.

Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said the presentations made by Ms. Boggs and Mr. Finley were very useful to students whose professional lives will likely involve, on some level, rare earth minerals. "This topic is one of the key matters of our time, particularly as involves how firms and countries will access rare earth minerals. Students in Professor DuVivier's course were able to learn from two highly respected individuals, thus enriching their overall knowledge of the matter.

"All of us are indebted to Professor DuVivier for setting up this discussion and to Ms. Boggs and Mr. Finely for helping educate us on this extremely important and timely matter."

Editor's note: In the picture, Ms. Boggs is on the left, Professor DuVivier is in the center, and Mr. Finley on the right.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taciana Fonseca Marques, 2010 LLM Graduate From the Sturm College of Law, Working for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C.

Taciana Fonseca Marques, a 2010 Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy LLM Program graduate from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is working for the Inter-American Development Bank.

Currently Ms. Marques is stationed in Washington, D.C., where she provides legal advice on the bank's loans and guarantees.

Beginning in mid-2011, she will spend two years working in Brazil where she will be responsible for helping move forward transport infrastructure projects. Specifically she will serve as coordinator for the Government of Sao Paulo's Public Private Partnership Commission for Concessions for rail and subways.

Ms. Marques earned her Brazilian legal license and practiced law in the country before coming to study at the University of Denver.

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, said, "It is thrilling for us at the Sturm College of Law to see Taciana in this key position at the IBD. The next several years will be exciting ones for Brazil, where the World Cup and the Olympics will soon take place. Ms. Marques' efforts to help develop additional infrastructure in her home country will benefit Brazil as well as all who will visit Brazil. We congratulate her on achieving this important position and extend our best wishes for her future success."

Established in 1959, the IBD is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean, "with a strong commitment to achieve measurable results, increased integrity, transparency and accountability," according to the IBD.

While a regular bank in many ways, the IBD is also unique in some key respects. Besides loans, the bank provide grants, technical assistance, and does research. The IBD's shareholders are 48 member countries, including 26 Latin American and Caribbean borrowing members, who have a majority ownership of the IDB.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

University of Denver Water Law Review 2011 Symposium to be Held April 15: "Balancing Population Growth With Increasing Water Demand"

The University of Denver Water Law Review presents its 2011 Symposium on Friday, April 15. It is titled, “A Vision for the Future: Balancing Population Growth with Increasing Water Demand.”

The all-day affair, which includes seven speakers and panels, is held as the Sturm College of Law and offers nine CLE credits (one Ethics).

“This is a great opportunity for students and practitioners to gather and talk about the real issues facing the future of Colorado,” says Symposium Editor Anthony Basile. “With the state’s population predicted to nearly double by 2050, lawyers and water professionals need to take action to ensure there is an adequate, responsible, and sustainable supply in the future. From state government entities to water engineers and from conservationists to policy makers, our speakers represent a range of interests that will need to work together to address our population and supply issues.”

More information about the Symposium can be found by clicking here. Registration is available by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Former FERC Commissioner Sudeen Kelly Speaks at Sturm College of Law

Sudeen Kelly, an internationally-recognized energy industry expert and former Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), spoke at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law yesterday.

Ms. Kelly spoke in the Distinguished Environmental and Natural Resources Practitioner in Residence course that is being taught by Rebecca Watson, former U.S. Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management and now a partner at Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley PC.

Nominated by Presidents Bush and Obama to two terms as FERC Commissioner, Ms. Kelly, who is currently a partner at Patton Boggs LLP, resolved 7,000 disputes with published Commission decisions and personally authored 100 separate statements during her tenure.

She is credited with spearheading change in numerous regulatory policies, including integration of renewables into the grid, transmission interconnection and planning reform, deployment of smart grid technology to the transmission grid, the inclusion of smart grid demonstration grants in the stimulus effort, and natural gas quality standards to facilitate U.S. entry of liquefied natural gas.

Ms. Kelly created a Smart Grid Collaborative between FERC and the association of state regulators to promote technology deployment and helped to grow membership to 30 states. She also pioneered internal strategic planning efforts to enable market reforms to adapt to new Congressional proposals regarding carbon emissions, demand response and efficiency, smart grid and hydrokinetic, offshore wind turbine and photovoltaic technologies.

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, said, "Students in Adjunct Professor Rebecca Watson's course have benefited enormously from her own experience and insight as well as that of many of her guest lecturers, including former Commissioner Kelly. The richness that experts such as Ms. Watson and Ms. Kelly bring into the classroom is an extremely important element of what our students learn."

Monday, March 28, 2011

What We Are Reading & Listening To

"Wind Power and Wanderlust: A Hands-on Approach to Management has Helped the Head of Vestas Weather the Recent up and downs of Renewable Energy," Financial Times, March 21, 2011

"Business & the Environment: Special Report," Financial Times, March 22, 2011

"Italy Freezes its Nuclear Plan After Japan Crisis," National Public Radio, March 23, 2011

"Banyan: The Worth of Water, An Encouraging Model Suggests Urban Asia's Water Problems Could be Easily Fixed," The Economist, March 26, 2011

"Briefing: Nuclear Power, When the Steam Clears," The Economist, March 26, 2011

"Highly Charged: A Powerful Experimental Battery That Can be Recharged Completely in Minutes," The Economist, March 26, 2011

"In Tour, U.S. Nuclear Plant Opens Doors to Make Case," The New York Times, March 26, 2011

"Nuclear Think Tank: Nuclear's Future is Okay," National Public Radio, March 27, 2011