Monday, December 23, 2013

Proud Parents Travel from China to See Daughter Graduate With LLM Degree

From left Jiaxi Wang's mother, Don Smith,
Lucy Daberkow, Ms. Wang's father, Ms. Wang
The December graduation for students from Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Graduate Program was a proud occasion for many graduating students and none more than Jiaxi Wang.  Ms. Wang is from Chengde, China, which is located near Beijing.

Ms. Wang's parents traveled from Chengde to Denver to watch their daughter graduate with a Master's in Law degree.

Don Smith, director of the program, said, "Graduation day is always a proud moment in the lives of our students and their families.  And we are especially proud of international students, such as Jiaxi, who add such richness and diversity to our program.  Jiaxi was a student of mine and I got to know her well.  She will make major contributions to protecting our world's environment, especially in the development of more renewable energy.  All of us at Denver Law will watch her career develop with much admiration and pride."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MRLS Alumna Discusses Her Work with United Nations

Ambika Chawla

Ambika Chawla  graduated from the MRLS Program in December 2012 and currently works as the “Cities and Climate Change Specialist” for the United Nations in Vietnam. She recently told us about her current responsibilities.

"In terms of the scope of my work, I conduct research and writing to develop arguments for why Vietnam must introduce a comprehensive national urban and climate policy which encompasses strategies for both greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and climate change adaptation. 

I just completed writing the UN’s official policy paper on cities and climate change for Vietnam. In addition, I am co-author of the UN’s Green Growth City Development Strategy (GG-CDS) for Da Nang City (Vietnam’s fourth largest city). The GG-CDS aims for Da Nang City to become the first “ecological city” in Vietnam and in the Asia-Pacific Region. 
There are many ways in which the MRLS Program prepared me for this position. For one, I often have to give presentations about my work at UN Conferences and Seminars. The public speaking skills that I learned in the MRLS course have prepared me to take on these challenging public speaking assignments. 

I have to review the environmental enforcement and compliance policies of cities in Vietnam. In addition, I have to analyze Vietnam’s climate change policies, as well as international climate change policies. I have no doubt that the environmental law courses that I took in the MRLS course prepared me for this exciting and challenging position. 
I really love my work! My colleagues are from all parts of the world and I am constantly challenged and learning from my talented and dedicated co-workers. More importantly, I have no doubt that my work will contribute towards making this world a more socially just and environmentally sustainable place."

We are proud to count Ambika as one of our graduates and wish her continued success in her sustainability and climate change projects with the United Nations. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Western Governor's Association Releases New Wildlife Map

The Western Governor's Association (WGA) is a non-partisan organization of U.S. Governors in the western region. The organization seeks to address important policy issues in the west, and enhance the social and economic structures of the region. The WGA focuses on collaborative innovation between state governors as well as Canadian representatives.

The WSA recently released a new wildlife habitat mapping database, which has been five years in the making. The Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) rates resources on a numerical scale, with 6 meaning least crucial. The states involved with the projects have determined their individual priorities based on habitat condition, and the economic and recreational importance of the individual species to the area.

A snapshot of CHAT courtesy of the WGA website
The effort to create CHAT stemmed from the realization that endangered species and habitat preservation were not contained by state boundary lines, nor were planning projects confined within individual states. The GIS mapping project has been praised by developers as well as conservationists.

Although CHAT doesn't provide any regulatory authority, it can assist developers when considering where to develop and will serve conservationists by highlighting important areas. It is hoped that CHAT will bring about greater certainty and predictability to planning efforts in the west.

To watch a WGA webinar on CHAT, follow this link.
For more information, visit the WGA CHAT website.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

LLM Alumna's Sustainability Focused Company Partners with City of Boulder

Eco-Loyalty Program Targets Reducing Consumer Waste

LLM alumna, Leslie Weise, founded BEECO Corp. in 2011 with a goal of creating consumer friendly technology and tools to engage more people to incorporate sustainability throughout their lives. "We are consumers in most aspects of our lives, from family, work and school to social and recreational activities, our purchasing decisions not only reflect the price we are willing or able to pay for goods and services, but also the values the companies who manufacture and sell the products represent," said Weise, the President of the Colorado-based business.

BEECO is currently focused on launching several programs that all relate to each other to enhance consumer awareness and in turn promote the sustainability products and services industry. The City of Boulder has chosen to partner with BEECO to promote BEECO Rewards, an eco-loyalty program that has inherent rewards built in to both retail businesses who subscribe to the program, as well as their customers who shop at their stores with their own reusable bags and to-go mugs.

Customers download the free app to their mobile phones to track the points they earn each time they shop with their reusable container (and forego taking single use disposable bags and coffee cups) while shopping. Once they have earned enough points, users of the program can redeem them for free stuff (products, discounts) that are offered by each store. The City of Boulder has found the program to be a great complement to the bag fee that went into place earlier this year, so that residents and visitors feel they have the opportunity to earn rewards for doing the right thing for the environment, rather than simply pay a .10 cent fee each time they forget to bring their reusable bag when shopping.

The Boulder's Daily Camera paper recently featured BEECO's program, which the City of Boulder has named Brought it Boulder Rewards. More information about the Boulder program can be found here, and you can learn more about BEECO and its sustainability programs for businesses here. If you know of any retail businesses or organizations that would be a good fit for BEECO Rewards, please contact Leslie Weise at

Friday, December 6, 2013

Colorado Energy Coalition Issues New Report: "Resource Rich Colorado"

Resource Rich Colorado Report Cover
The Colorado Energy Coalition (CEC) was formed in 2006, as a organization of diverse interests dedicated to strengthening the business climate in Colorado which supports all sectors of the energy industry. The CEC seeks to brand Colorado as the "Balanced Energy Capital of the West."

Resource Rich Colorado: Colorado's National and Global Position in the Energy Economy is the fifth annual publication which focuses on analyzing key data from a variety of public and private sources to assess Colorado's position in a competitive nation-wide and international energy market.

The recent publication, released December 4th, evaluates Colorado's competitive position in the following sectors: oil, natural gas, coal, renewables, power generation, environment and sustainability, policies and programs, and employment and industry.

The report issued the following rankings for Colorado compared to the nation:
  • Second for the amount of square feet per capita that is certified as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
  • Fifth in natural gas production, sixth for natural gas reserves
  • Fifth in installed solar capacity
  • And tenth in installed wind capacity

To access the full report, follow this link.
To view the executive summary of the report, follow this link.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Denver Business Journal's "Who's Who in Energy" Includes Five With Close Ties to Denver Law

Five individuals with close ties to Denver Law have been recognized in the 2013-2014 "Who's Who in Energy" published by the Denver Business Journal. Among these five are graduates as well as current or former adjunct professors.

The publication described its Who's Who listing as "the movers and shakers in the ever-changing fast-moving energy industry..." 

Who's Who in Energy noted that Colorado ranks 10th in the country in the amount of wind-based power the state can produce, ninth in oil production, fifth in gas production, 11th in coal production, a combination of energy sources that the publication described as an "all of the above" strategy.

The five Denver Law-affiliated individuals are:
  • Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for the Environmental Defense Fund and Denver Law graduate
  • James King, Of Counsel at BakerHostetler and Adjunct Professor at Denver Law
  • Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado and graduate of Denver Law
  • Tom Sansonetti, partner at Holland & Hart and former Distinguished Natural Resources Law Practitioner in Residence
  • Rebecca Watson, shareholder at Wellborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley PC in Denver and former Distinguished Natural Resources Law Practitioner in Residence and Denver Law graduate
Don Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at Denver Law, said, "The inclusion of these energy leaders in the Who's Who publication reflects not only the strength of Denver Law's natural resources program but also the types of people who are actively involved in the life of the program and the law school.  All of us at Denver Law congratulate these impressive professionals."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Changes in the Works for Colorado Oil and Gas Emission Standards

A derrick-man services an oil rig.
Photo Courtesy: NIOSH
Recently, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) held a ruling to discuss a new regulation proposal that aims to seriously reduced air pollution caused by oil and gas activities in Colorado. The proposed rule would cut emissions by one third. The ACPD would reduce the thresholds for acceptable emission levels and set the nation's first statewide standard for methane emissions.

The new rules are a product of negotiations between the APCD, three of the state's largest oil and gas developers (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Encana Corporation, and Noble Energy), along with the Environmental Defense Fund.

These negotiations came about due to increased citizen concern regarding the increasing oil and gas industry. The number of active wells in Colorado has risen nearly 50% from 2006-2011; there are more than 30,000 active wells within the state (according to the federal Energy Information Adminsitration).

The increase in oil and gas development has lead to an increase of smoggy haze, especially in areas where new well sites are concentrated. Currently, nine counties, including Rocky Mountain National Park, exceed federal ozone limits. However, current federal regulations apply primarily to new wells, in addition, they do not directly limit methane leaks, nor do they require companies to inspect well locations for leaks.

Colorado's new rules would alleviate these concerns by applying to new and existing wells as well as equipment. The rules would cover traditional petroleum and gas exploration and development, as well as hydraulic fracturing (which receives most of the negative attention).

The new rules are being praised by industry representatives as well as environmentalists. The Colorado environment will benefit from the reduction of pollution and oil and gas companies will benefit from the reduced amount of waste occurring during leaks.

There are still a few sticky issues to consider. Environmentalists have expressed concern that there are no requirements for well site inspections. Another issue, is that much of the cost burden of retro-fitting and adapting operations will be felt by smaller oil and gas companies. The rules could be finalized in February of 2014 and have an estimated cost of $30 million.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LLM Student Attends Special Institute on Renewable Electric Energy: Law, Development and Investment

Thanks to sponsorship from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF), I was able to attend the Special Institute on Renewable Electric Energy in Las Vegas on November 7-8. The Special Institute brought together energy experts, investment specialists, lawyers, law students, and other professionals to examine legal, technological, and investment issues surrounding the development of renewable electrical energy sources.

Topics that were covered ranged from siting and permitting of renewable energy projects, transmission, purchase agreements for renewable power, interconnection and transmission agreements, financing, tax equity and many more. Amongst my highlights was K.K. DuVivier, professor at University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, who spoke about how natural resources are converted into electricity, pointing out that in 2011 renewables counted for 50% of newly installed capacity worldwide.

Professor DuVivier was followed by Robert Noun, formerly working at National Renewable Energy Laboratory and currently teaching at DU. Professor Noun took a closer look at resource impacts of renewable energy projects regarding water and land use. Lastly, the presentation of Mark Safty, practice group leader for Holland & Hart’s Energy and Infrastructure Group as well as adjunct professor at DU, made for the next day’s highlight. Professor Safty reviewed the most significant terms of a Renewable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), pointing out that revenue generated from a PPA is the most important aspect to determine financing mechanisms for a project.

On Friday I was also kindly invited by Frances Hartogh of the RMMLF, who had organized the conference, to join her and K.K. DuVivier, Mark Safty, Robert Noun and Evelyn Lim (from Chadbourne & Parke LLP and also a speaker at the conference) for lunch. I greatly enjoyed this opportunity to talk to all of them in person and hear more about their thoughts and insights on the conference topics.

In the end, I left the conference with mixed feelings: While all experts agreed that renewable energy no doubt is – and has to be – the future of energy production, there remains a lot of uncertainty in the industry regarding the federal government’s energy policy, especially when it comes to tax benefits for renewable energy projects. Money is a key player in the development of renewable energy sources and financing of projects fluctuates alongside prices and availability of fossil fuels. For example, with the recent increase in the production of cheap natural gas (in Vegas, even the buses are powered by natural gas, see picture) raising the capital for renewable energy projects, which are oftentimes extremely expensive, has become more and more of a challenge. But projects like the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power Project outside of Las Vegas (see picture) clearly show that, particularly in the West, projects are being developed despite financing difficulties and that the field of renewable energy is a booming industry, where cutting-edge technology is invented, built and put to work an a regular basis.

Andy Liniger, 
Master of Laws in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy (LLM) Candidate,
May 2014

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Third Annual Carver Colloquium Presented at Denver Law: "The Colorado River Compact: Effective or Obsolete?"

"The Colorado River Compact: Effective or Obsolete?" was the subject of debate at the Third Annual Carver Colloquium held recently at Denver Law.

The Colorado River Compact, signed in 1922, involves the upper basin states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and the lower basin states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Nevada. It sets the allocation of water from the river among the seven states.

Co-sponsored by the John A. Carver, Jr., Chair at Denver Law, the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute (RMLUI), and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Carver Colloquium explored two competing sides to the Colorado River Compact issue. Jim Lochhead, CEO and manager of Denver Water, asserted that the compact should be maintained as it now is. On the other side, Denver Law Professor Tom Romero argued that the compact is in need of revision or complete re-writing.

Professor Jan Laitos, current holder of the John A. Carver, Jr. Chair, began the evening by noting that, "The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American southwest. This region could not have grown as it has without the Colorado River." 

Susan Daggett, director of the RMLUI, said, "Negotiated almost a century ago, the Colorado River Compact allocates water supply among many of the western states, but it may be outdated. The compact overestimated the amount of water available from the Colorado River and failed to anticipate current and future demands on the river that have been exacerbated by climate change. Jim Lochhead and Tom Romero explained why this is such a crucial issue and two different futures for the compact."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

University of Denver Hosts Green Schools Summit

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) presented its 7th Annual Green Schools Summit last Friday. The Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Graduate Program, which is committed to promoting sustainability, was one of the proud sponsors of the event.

The Summit held sessions geared towards two types of professionals: educators and industry experts. The sessions covered a variety of topics such as Implementing Sustainability Initiatives Successfully, Behavior Change Strategies, Trends in Energy Efficiency, Achieving Intended Performance from School Buildings, and Building Sustainable Garden Programs at the District Level.

The event’s Keynote speaker was Stephen Ritz, an acclaimed TED presenter, educator, and founder of the Green Bronx Machine. Mr. Ritz has successfully implemented sustainable opportunities in schools in the Bronx, like the first indoor edible wall in NYC, which generates enough produce to feed 450 students. Follow the link to hear Mr. Ritz’ TED talk.

Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow
attended the Summit. “Instilling the concept of sustainability at an early age is definitely crucial when it comes to the greening of schools. This Summit gave the attendees some excellent ideas on how to successfully implement sustainability initiatives easily and at low cost. Creating school spaces that are sustainable, energy efficient, and healthy promotes a sense of pride and ownership in students.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Denver Law Offers "First of Its Kind" Course on Emerging Issues in Oil & Gas Development

In response to the high level of activity in the Colorado oil and gas sector and the growing need for well-trained oil and gas professionals, Denver Law has just finished a "first-of-its-kind" course entitled "Emerging Issues in Oil & Gas Development."

Co-taught by Noble Energy Lease & Contracts Advisor Jessica Richards and Denver Law Environmental & Natural Resources Law Director Don Smith, the Emerging Issues course focused on a range of key topics involving the rapid development of the industry that has resulted from the increased deployment of fracking and horizontal drilling in Colorado and the U.S. more generally.

Ms. Richards, who has Juris Doctorate and Master's in Resource Law Studies degrees from Denver Law, and Mr. Smith said the Emerging Issues course was not only timely, but also very important in terms of covering a subject matter that has garnered huge attention as the country's oil and gas production has rapidly increased.

"Colorado has received a remarkable amount of attention about these emerging issues because of the state's leadership role in regulating the oil and gas industry as well as the industry's investment in the state" they said.  "This is an attractive state for industry to point to because of their ability to successfully operate in a state that takes pride in its environment.  On the other hand, Colorado's regulations have attracted interest in environmental circles because of the example that resources can be extracted while still addressing environmental concerns."

"Our approach," they said, "was to consider the emerging issues in a fair and reasoned manner.  No one benefits from emotion-laden or careless consideration of these important issues. To be sure, the regulatory climate in Colorado continues to change to address new issues.  But consideration of those changes necessarily must be based on a good understanding of the issues at hand, and that is what we sought to develop in this course."

The objective of the two-weekend, three-credit course was to identify and then analyze the issues that represent both risks and opportunities for the $30 billion Colorado industry.  As part of the course, students learned from a "who's who" of influential actors who are playing major roles as Colorado becomes an increasingly important oil and gas area of activity and is recognized as a leader in the regulation of the industry.

The presenters were:

  • Willam (Bill) Brady, a Denver Law JD alum, Denver Law Adjunct Professor, and Of Counsel at Spencer Fane & Grimshaw
  • Cindy Jennings, Founder and President of Volition Strategies, considered the corporate social responsibility and social license to operate activities that the oil and gas industry is undertaking
  • Catherine Keske, a Ph.D. research economist at the University of Colorado and an Adjunct Professor at Denver Law, covered the economics-related issues dealing with the potential export of liquified natural gas to international markets
  • Sarah Landry, Chief Operating Officer at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), spoke about the industry's assessment of business opportunities as well as steps it is undertaking to support a broader dialogue on oil and gas regulation
  • Kevin Lynch, Professor in Denver Law's Environmental Law Clinic, reviewed the Clinic's involvement representing the citizen group "Save Our Longmont"
  • Pete Maysmith, a Denver Law JD graduate and Director of Conservation Colorado, addressed the environmental concerns related to fracking and horizontal drilling as well as his group's advocacy of stronger regulations
  • David Neslin, former Director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and now a partner at Davis Graham and Stubbs, explained the development of Colorado's regulatory regime over the past six years
  • Robert Randall, Deputy Director of the State Department of Natural Resources and one of the key players in the drafting of Colorado's 2008 fracking rules, described the state's role in oil and gas development
  • Craig Rasmuson, a senior executive at Synergy Resources Corporation that operates 284 producing wells in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, spoke about the "business" aspects of oil and gas development
  • Katerina Yared, a senior geologist for oilfield services firm Baker Hughes, discussed horizontal drilling and fracking 

  • The course involved a number of assignments, including student-led presentation simulations to a group of investors about the risks and opportunities associated with investing in several states.

    "This course represented Denver Law's on-going commitment to educate students about the real issues of our time, with the learning aspect involving the top people in this state who are associated with the issues of regulating the sector and protecting the environment," Mr. Smith said.

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Sturm College of Law 2014 Natural Resources Distinguished Practitioner in Residence Dan Domenico Recognized at Annual Dinner

    Annual Dinner Hosting Dan Domenico
    Colorado Solicitor General Dan Domenico has been named the 2014 Sturm College of Law Natural Resources Law Distinguished Practitioner in Residence.  In this role, he will lead a hand-picked group of students as they consider the issues and opportunities associated with a natural resources law-focused legal practice.

    Mr. Domenico, a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, formerly served as Special Assistant to the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has been Colorado's Solicitor General since 2006.

    The 2014 Distinguished Practitioner in Residence was recently honored at a dinner hosted by Denver Law Professor Jan Laitos and Carrie Noonan.

    The annual dinner, which includes former Distinguished Practitioners in Residence as well as members of Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law program faculty, welcomes the newest Distinguished Practitioner.  The Distinguished Practitioner in Residence is a prominent natural resources or environmental lawyer who has extensive experience in energy, resources, or environmental law work.

    The Distinguished Practitioner in Residence Program is now in its 24th year.  Students in the course apply to and are selected by Professor Laitos.

    Among the former Distinguished Practitioners in Residence who attended the annual dinner were:

  • Paula Campos
  • Robert D. Comer
  • Alan Gilbert
  • Howard Kenison
  • Thomas L. Sansonetti
  • Rebecca Watson

  • Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Students Review Third Annual Renewable Energy Law and Policy Summit

    Last month, the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program held its annual Renewable Energy Law and Policy Summit. The all day event featured over a dozen speakers and focused on renewable energy law and policy, opportunities and challenges.

    Students in Professor K. K. DuVivier's Energy Law class were sponsored to attend the event and wrote summaries of each session. The students have agreed to share their reviews of the sessions on our blog. If you are interested in a particular session, feel free to click the links below and read more about the topics!

    Third Annual Renewable Energy Law and Policy Summit Reviews

    U.S. Renewable Energy Policy During the President's Second Term: What Have We Accomplished and Where are We Going?
    ~Steve Black
    Renewable Energy in China and China-U.S. Cooperation/ Competition
    ~Jeff Logan, Adam Reed, Clay Stranger,
    Moderated by Mark Safty
    The 21st Century Electricity Grid- National Policy and Western Perspectives
    ~Linda Davis, Jennifer Gardner, Robert Henke,
    Moderated by Alex Daue
     Renewables and the Utility Sector: My Perspective
    ~Marc Manly
    After the Gold Rush: What's Next for Federal Renewable Energy? 
    ~Marcilynn Burke, Albert Ferlo, Heidi VanGenderen,
    Moderated by Rebecca Watson
    Renewable Portfolio Standards: Mixing it Up on the Energy Front
    ~John Eick, Todd Foley, Cathy Proctor,
    Moderated by K. K. DuVivier

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    BLM Auctions First Solar Rights on Public Lands

    The San Luis Valley in Colorado.
    Photo Courtesy of Pam
    For the first time, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is auctioning rights to develop solar power on public lands. Preliminary applications had suggested that five companies were interested in obtaining permits in the San Luis Valley and there were another 27 inquiries interested in more information about the parcels. Based on that data, the BLM scheduled an auction for 3,700 acres of land in the valley.

    However, no one showed up to the first auction last week. BLM officials see this as the continued impact of uncertainties within the federal regulatory system as well as within the solar market. They are still confident in the viability of solar development on BLM lands.

    The BLM created 19 solar zones in six western states that are targeted for fast-track development. The decision to designate the areas for fast-track development was based on the geographical context. In these areas, access to transmission currently exists and they are not in environmentally sensitive areas.

    BLM officials will move forward with the parcel auctions. It is hoped that once the uncertainties of government regulation and market factors are more predictable, interest and demand for solar development in these areas will increase.

    For more information, visit the BLM website.

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Cindy Jennings, ENRGP Alum to Teach Corporate Responsibility Course

    Cindy Jennings, President of Volition Strategies, a sustainability strategy consulting firm, will be teaching a course for ENRGP in the 2014 spring semester. In her work, Cindy has assisted with numerous food and beverage ingredient companies to develop leaner, more responsible supply chains and operations. In addition, Cindy is well-connected to the local sustainability and corporate responsibility community. She serves on the boards and committees of Colorado Cleantech Industry Association Policy Committee, Cleantech Open Sustainability Chair, Women in Sustainable Energy Board among other nonprofit and trade associations in which she participates.

    Cindy graduated from ENRGP with her Master of Resources Law Studies degree. We are more than happy to welcome her back to the program as an Adjunct Professor for the spring 2014 semester! Cindy will teach Strategic Corporate Responsibility Reporting. The course will cover the structure of one of the leading reporting frameworks, the Global Reporting Initiative, but more importantly, the thought processes and procedures involved in creating a material, relevant report that is meaningful to internal and external stakeholders of an organization.

    The class provides an exciting opportunity to gain real experience by partnering with a local energy company interested in determining their sustainability strategy and performance indicators. Students will be able to participate in a 'live lab' during class. Company representatives will be available both in class and between the weekend classes to provide a rich learning experience. The objective is to prepare students to be able to lead the process themselves within their own organization or for client organizations.

    The course will also consist of legal discussion blended with business discussion as the class looks at the impacts of the Clean Water, Clean Air, Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd Frank Acts (among others) on today's organizations. Students will identify the risks, opportunities and complexities that these laws create for industry as well as within the live lab company.

    Cindy shared the following about her course: "A corporate responsibility (CR) report, if done well, is the end result of strategic thinking and commitment to improving an organization's operations, community and industry position, and management transparency."

    Please consider adding Cindy's Strategic Corporate Responsibility Reporting course to your spring schedule!

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    Don Smith, Editor of the Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, Presents Annual Editorial Report to International Bar Association

    Don Smith, Director of Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, met recently with the officers of the International Bar Association's Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL).

    Mr. Smith, who is editor of SEERIL's flagship peer-reviewed publication the Journal of Energy &Natural Resources Law (JERL), presented his Annual Editorial Report to the SEERIL officers. The meeting took place at  the IBA's Annual Meeting in Boston.

    Among his comments to the officers were:
    • During 2012, JERL was published in March, June, August, and December
    • Twenty articles and five book reviews were published
    • Authors from every corner of the world were published
    • A special section was commissioned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of JERL, which was launched in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s
    JERL continues to be one of the most prestigious publications of its kind with 2,500 subscribers from around the world. Its international perspective allows authors and readers to better understand the key issues related to energy and natural resources and the intersection of these two topics.

    For more information about the journal please click here.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013

    Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation to Hold Special Institute on Renewable Energy November 7-8 in Las Vegas

    The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) will sponsor a Special Institute on "Renewable Electric Energy: Law, Development, and Investment," in Las Vegas on November 7-8, 2013

    The Special Institute will examine state and federal policies and regulations driving development of renewable power projects, and discuss project management as a coordinated whole. Among those associated with Denver Law who are involved with the Special Institute include Professor K.K. DuVivier, Adjunct Professor Bob Noun, Adjunct Professor Mark Safty, and former Practitioner in Residence Rebecca Watson.

    Don Smith, Director of the Environmental & Natural Resources Law program at Denver Law said, "There is no finer organization when it comes to issues related to natural resources than the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.  Their conferences are second to none.  Denver Law is delighted to co-sponsor this important conference."

    More information about the Special Institute can be found by clicking here.

    Denver Law is a constituent organization of the RMMLF.

    Friday, October 25, 2013

    "Oil & Gas Development Key to U.S. Future," Write Rebecca Watson and Don Smith in Christian Science Monitor Opinion Piece

    Oil and gas development using fracking and horizontal drilling will support U.S. energy security and benefit the national economy, according to an opinion piece co-authored by Rebecca Watson, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior and Denver Law graduate, and Don Smith, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program.
     "Fracking, or more broadly, oil and gas development, is an industrial activity and can cause negative environmental effects," Ms. Watson and Mr. Smith wrote in the piece published October 23,2013, in The Christian Science Monitor.  "But many modern industrial and everyday activities have environmental or human health risks.  The reasonable response is sensible regulation, at both the federal and state level, rather than wholesale bans."

    Ms.Watson, a Denver energy and land-access lawyer, is a shareholder with Welborn Sullivan Meck &Tooley, P.C. in Denver.

    The Christian Science Monitor is considered one of the nation's leading publications and is read by opinion makers across the U.S. and the world.  Click here to read the entire opinion piece.

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013

    '07 MRLS Alum Discusses Wind Energy in Boulder

    Danny Splettstosser graduated from DU’s MRLS program in the winter of 2007. After working for 3 years as one of Electricite De France – Renewable Energy’s first utility scale solar project developers, he returned home to Colorado. Danny is currently the Manager of Business Development for juwi Wind based out of Boulder Colorado. Danny runs a small team of business developers which specialize in utility scale wind project mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures, and renewable energy power sales.

    Over the past two years, Danny has focused on diversification of juwi’s wind energy portfolio away from the uncertainties of U.S. renewable energy tax credits. In particular, Danny has been instrumental in beach-heading new markets the Canadian Maritimes provinces. Creation of this new market opportunity has included: working with Canadian corporate and tax counsel to create a viable and financeable corporate structure; leading acquisitions of more than a half dozen community wind projects; comprehensive coordination of project development activities with internal and external contract project developers; securing provincial and municipal permits; coordinating interconnection studies and interconnection agreements; leading the negotiation of four joint ventures with community wind project co-owners, three of which are with First Nations, and subsequently managing those joint ventures; leading a consortium of market participants in PPA negotiations with Nova Scotia Power under their Community Feed-In-Tariff including assisting in writing filings for Nova Scotia’s Utility Review Board; preparation of a portfolio of more than $65 million of wind energy projects for finance and construction in 2014; leading efforts for further diversification within the Canadian wind energy market.

    Key elements of his course work at DU which have directly applied to his work experience are: Land Use Development Law, Environmental Law (particularly related to NEPA processes), Corporate Social Responsibility and  Renewable Energy Finance.

    Danny shares, “The work is extremely challenging, but every day before I go to work, I get to tell my son that ‘Daddy is off to save the world’  and that’s a pretty good feeling.” 

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    New Specialization in Sustainability Offered

    We are pleased to announce that students in the Environmental and Natural Resources Graduate Program (ENRGP) can now apply for a new specialization in Sustainability Law and Policy!

    Sustainability has become increasingly popular as companies and individuals strive to reduce their impact on the environment. Corporate sustainability has expanded and many organizations now have large teams devoted to incorporating sustainable methods into the business. These teams address issues regarding resource depletion, supply chain sustainability, as well as generation of energy savings and consumer behavior habits.

    The sustainability sector offers a variety of careers options for students to pursue. Students are able to apply their degree to sustainable international development, others focus on corporate social responsibility or green marketing. Sustainability is in demand and the type of employment is open to the individual's skills and preferences.

    Students in the ENRGP are able to choose from a selection of courses to obtain the Sustainability Law and Policy specialization. These courses range from Corporate Social Responsibility to National Legislation and Policy for the Sustainable Development of Natural Resources.

    Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow shared, "We strive to offer our students the most up to date and relevant course choices. Creating a  specialization in Sustainability allows  students to focus their studies in an area that is of the most importance at the local, national, and global levels. The study of topics such as Global Warming, Sustainable Development of Natural Resources, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sustainability prepares today's students to be the leaders of a more prosperous and green future. "

    For more information about our specialization options, visit our website!
    Click here to apply to our program!

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Former Student Featured on KDVR

    Steam Espresso Bar was recently featured on KDVR, local channel 31 as the hot new coffee hangout. To watch the video see above or follow this link.

    Hani Yaafouri, a 2010 ENRGP MRLS graduate, and his brother Zahi, MBA '03 and MRECM '01, opened  Steam Espresso Bar in May. The brothers were intent upon creating a sustainable business concept that offered excellent coffee and a wonderful atmosphere.

    The brothers used reclaimed wood from 1930's railway box cars and upgraded the building to be more energy efficient. They are also using eco-friendly paper cups, locally-sourced food items,
    and stainless steel filters to prevent the waste generated from paper filters.

    Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Director had this to say, "Steam Espresso Bar is a true gem of a coffee shop. We are so proud that Hani, our friend and former student, designed a place that is not only inviting but also environmentally friendly. It is great to see that Hani is putting into practice all the sustainability and renewable energy concepts he acquired while pursuing his studies here. Make sure you stop by for the best coffee you’ll ever have!"

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Denver Law Environmental Law Professor Rock Pring and Catherine Pring Featured in Panel Discussion at Recent International Bar Association Annual Meeting in Boston

    Professor George Pring, third from left, and Catherine Pring, fourth from left.
    Sturm College of Law Professor George (Rock) Pring and Catherine Pring were featured presenters recently at the International Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Boston. 

    The Prings, internationally respected experts on the growing roles of environmental courts and tribunals, were part of a panel entitled "Environment and natural resources courts - do we need independent and specialized adjudicators?"  The Prings are co-authors of Green Justice: Creating and Improving Environment Courts and Tribunals, which was published by the Access Institute of the World Resources Institute.

    The panel, which included several other experts from around the world, was moderated by Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the New South Wales Land & Environment Court.  (Justice Preston visited Denver Law several years ago.)

    Don Smith, Director of Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy program, said, "Rock and Kitty Pring are known around the world for their precedent setting work on environmental courts and tribunals.  The Prings continue to bring their insights and observations to a topic that is of major interest to those involved with environmental issues.  All who seek a more environmentally conscious world are indebted to these pioneers."

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    2013 Renewable Energy Conference Next Week

    The 2013 Renewable Energy Conference will take place on Friday, October 18th. This is the third annual renewable energy conference and the event will focus on: "The World of Renewable Energy: State, National and International Perspectives on Renewable Energy Law and Policy."

    The Conference will delve into a variety of topics including China's energy programs and the intersection with U.S. interests. In addition, the Conference will discuss challenges and opportunities in federal renewable energy policy. A major issue with renewable energy are the challenges associated with the transmission of the energy generated from renewable resources. A special panel will discuss those transmission challenges.

    Registration information:
    The deadline to register is Monday, October 14th.
    Students are offered a discount rate of $37.50!!
    The Conference includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, free parking and access to conference materials.

    Join us for a full day of education and networking as key leaders examine state, national and international perspectives on renewable energy law and policy. 

    Click here to register for the event!

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    Kimberly Jackson Discusses Her Position as Oil and Gas Planner

    Kimberly Jackson, LLM'13, accepted a position in the CO Department of Public Health and Environment earlier this year as the state's Oil and Gas Planner. We recently caught up with Kimberly and learned more about what it means to be an Oil and Gas Planner.
    Kimberly's primary responsibility is to collaborate with citizens, local municipalities, other states and the federal government to work on the planning and development of oil and gas operations. She shared, "Our goal as a Division is to ensure that oil and gas projects are being appropriately scoped, planned, and managed in a way that allows for the safe exploration and production of these energy resources without harming public health or the environment."

    Her role includes a lot of stakeholder engagement, and involves anything from speaking to community groups about the impacts of oil and gas development, working with the oil and gas industry to ensure that they are in compliance with current state regulations, assisting local governments plan for oil and gas activities within their communities, collaborating with other states in our efforts to come up with effective oil and gas regulations, and assisting the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in conducting Environmental Assessments on air quality impacts of oil and gas production in Colorado and throughout the region as a part of their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.    

    When asked where she see's herself in a few years, Kimberly replied, "I am starting to become more involved in the inspection and permitting of oil and gas operations across the state of Colorado as well. My Division has a phenomenal oil and gas enforcement and permitting group, so I am being trained to conduct inspections as a part of this newly expanded team that is tasked with conducting on-site inspections as a way to ensure that oil and gas operators are conducting their work in a manner that is environmentally sound with appropriate control devices to reduce harmful emissions."

    Kimberly worked for an oil and gas operator in North Dakota last year when an industry colleague told her that the state of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was creating a brand new position that focused specifically on our state’s oil and gas development with a particular emphasis on public health impacts as they relate to air quality. "I thought that my background as both a licensed nurse and environmental law practitioner would be a great fit for this new position, so I applied."

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    MillerCoors Brewery Goes Landfill Free

    MillerCoors Brewery in Golden, CO
    Photo Courtesy of Jorge DFW
    MillerCoors is the largest brewery in the nation and has recently revolutionized its waste processing system. The Golden brewery creates 100 tons of waste per year and now recycles or re-uses nearly all of it.

    The revolution in waste processing was due to the sustainability ethics of one man, a factory worker from Ohio. His name is Kelly Harris who was raised in a family centered on eco-conscious living. He was instilled with the message that you only have one planet, you had better be sure to take care of it.

    He redesigned the company's business plan to reduce the amount of waste generated. His plan included easier efforts to incorporate waste materials into beneficial uses, such as animal food. Harris realized that their sustainability efforts had to go outside of their immediate operations to include those processes which yielded their supplies. This line of thought led MillerCoors to work collaboratively with the Nature Conservancy in an effort to reduce the amount of water needed to grow hops.

    MillerCoors' ultimate goal is to produce zero waste. They are almost there now, but still incinerate non-recycleables. This is an example of how big companies can do more to help solve or at least reduce environmental problems.

    As Harris signs each email: "Save the earth, its the only planet with beer."

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Yewande Adeyemo, MRLS‘12, Accepts Position at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

    Earlier this year, Yewande Adeyemo accepted a position as an Energy Industry Analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington D.C. Yewande graduated with her Master of Resources Law Studies degree in 2012. She was initially drawn to the ENRGP's small size and the variety of course offerings.

    While in the program, she focused her studies on energy specific courses and took advantage of the related networking opportunities. Yewande shared, "After graduating from DU, I interned at the Solar Energy Industry Association. I did work on regulatory and legislative affairs. This combined with my degree helped paved the way for my current position as an Energy Industry Analyst at FERC."

    Yewande enjoys the work that she does at the FERC, which is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, oil and natural gas, as well as associated projects. In addition, the FERC assists consumers in obtaining reliable, efficient and sustainable energy services at a reasonable cost through regulatory and market means. As an analyst, Yewande applies rules and regulations to the analysis of cases. The work varies widely depending on the issues presented by the utility or gas company, meaning she never gets bored.

    Yewande offered the following advice for other students in the program: "An internship post-graduation may be a necessary step to getting a foot in the door."

    Congratulations to Yewande! We wish her all the best in her future!

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    Colorado Recovers From Flooding

    Two weeks ago, Colorado was hit by an intense storm system which caused flash flood conditions. The state had been in the midst of a drought after battling wildfires earlier this year and was not prepared for the "biblical" rain fall (National Weather Service).

    The TIME Science and Space reported that the average rainfall in September for the Boulder area is 1.7 inches, compared with the previous all time record of 9.59; the recorded 17.27 inches of rainfall that fell two weeks ago is extreme.

    The flood waters caused damage to private property, contaminated water supplies, destroyed existing infrastructures such as roads, bridges, pipelines and electricity poles. The contaminants in the water mostly resulted from sewage spills caused by flooded septic tanks at the commercial (animal feed plants), private home and at the city level (Lyons). There are also concerns about contamination and cleanup from oil spills.

    The floods caused several other energy problems as well. Rushing water damaged electrical equipment, power lines, and pipelines. Xcel is faced with repairing an estimated 20 miles of natural gas pipelines. However, they will need to wait until the flood damaged roads are able to stand the weight of the repair vehicles. In addition, Xcel will need to make strategic repairs in the short term to ensure safe operations and will need to re-engineer entire stretches of the existing infrastructures.

    DU is hosting a Flood Relief Fundraising Feast event on October 8th. Please attend and help support the communities hit hard by the flooding.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    New NREL Building Dedicated on Wednesday

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado recently became the subject of great interest to the U.S. Department of Energy. NREL has created a new facility that will research issues of generation, transmission, distribution and end-use challenges related to large scale implementation of renewable energy.

    The building has been named the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) and will include a new liquid-cooled supercomputer, the most energy efficient of its kind in the world. The supercomputer will enable researchers to perform previously impossible modeling tasks. NREL officials have called the building a "game-changer" for renewable energy.

    It is hoped that the new facility will help researchers solve the difficulties of renewable energy storage and transmission. Renewable energy has proven difficult to implement on a large scale due to its variable nature. The amount of power generated varies with each passing cloud or gust of wind. Researchers are now struggling to find a way for the current electricity grid to handle these fluctuations.

    Energy Secretary Moniz, oversaw the dedication of the new facility on Wednesday and stated,
    “The Energy Department has been at the forefront of large scale computation and modeling, and new NREL supercomputing capabilities will support the groundbreaking science and innovation we need to address the effects of global climate change and pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

    Angelica Oman
    Graduate Program Assistant

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Program Director Welcomes New Students

    Last Friday, new students were invited to attend a gathering at Director Don Smith's house. Despite the previous rainy days, the clouds parted for most of the evening. New students were able to meet continuing students as well as adjuncts, faculty and graduates over delicious appetizers.

    The guests mingled throughout the evening with the conversations ranging from professional plans to learning techniques to where to buy the best shoes. The program hopes that these events allow new students to feel more comfortable and connected to their new environment.

    Associate Administrative Director, Lucy Daberkow, commented: "It never ceases to amaze us how diverse and incredibly talented our students are. Participating in these get togethers outside of the classroom strengthens their ties to their classmates and the Denver Law community."

    A hearty "welcome" to all of our new students and "thank you" to all of the wonderful faculty, staff and adjunct professors who took time out of their busy schedule to meet the new students!

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Colorado Moves Toward an "All of the Above" Energy Strategy

    A wind turbine blade installed in CO.
    Xcel Energy filed a proposal with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to increase its use of renewable energy sources. Xcel will nearly triple its solar power capacity and increase its amount of wind power. If approved, the plan would cut Xcel's carbon dioxide emissions by one third the levels of 2005.

    The new proposal is the result of intense bidding from renewable energy developers. Most renewable energy development projects aren't able to compete with the cost effectiveness of natural gas. The robust competition and competitive costs to renewable energy projects in Colorado is exciting to see. Xcel's plan to include more renewable energy at a utilities scale is a big step toward an "All of the Above" energy strategy.

    The hope is that with a more diverse energy portfolio, Colorado can begin to significantly reduce the environmental effects of energy development. The diversity of energy sources has led Xcel to also consider shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by the end of 2013.

    Angelica Oman
    Graduate Program Assistant

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    2013 LLM Alumn, Sonia Nunez Orduz Collaborates with the Nature Conservancy

    Sonia Nunez Orduz, a recent LLM graduate from Colombia, recently began working for the Nature Conservancy. Sonia attended a law school in Bucaramanga City in northeastern Colombia before moving to Denver. She became interested in environmental law during an internship she had with the Municipal Waste Company of Bucaramanga. In this position, she examine environmental pollution and solid waste recycling issues and developed a desire to conserve the environment.

    Sonia now serves the Nature Conservancy as Attorney for Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean. She provides legal advice and support to other attorneys on a variety of legal matters. Sonia stated, "Earning a Masters Degree from the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy program taught me how to analyze, interpret and apply the U.S. laws regulating the environmental industry. In addition, it assisted me to improve my research skills and gave me the opportunity to network with experts in the field."

    Sonia is happy that her work for the Nature Conservancy will allow her to continue to develop her expertise in environmental law. She advises current students to look for opportunities to develop their practical skills and to take advantage of networking opportunities while in the program through conferences and seminars.

    Congratulations to Sonia! We are confident that she will make the most out of her current position with the Nature Conservancy and wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Program Director and Adjunct Write Guest Commentary for the Denver Post

    Director Don Smith and Adjunct Professor Rebecca Watson co-authored an article, The Global Impact of U.S. Oil and Gas Development, for the Denver Post. The article was published at the end of August.

    The article takes a broader view of the impacts of domestic oil and gas development in the global energy market. Energy demand will only continue to rise and the U.S. stands to receive "a foreign policy dividend" from the development of its resources.

    To read the whole article, visit the Denver Post here.

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    SCOL ENRL Program to host Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s Annual Conference

    CRES Annual Confence:  this Friday, September 6
    Carbon dioxide concentrations reached a record 400 parts per million in May of 2013.  This threshold not only represents an all-time high within the course of human history, but also represents a level “unsurpassed in at least 800,000 years.”

    The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that global temperature increases due to greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced to below 2 degrees Celsius if countries around the world shifted their generation and consumption of energy from fossil-fuel sources to renewables. In fact, the IPCC believes that appropriate public policies that enable renewable sources could boost their contribution to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply by mid-century.  Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) (roughly a thousand page comprehensive assessment compiled by over 120 leading experts from all over the world for IPCC‘s Working Group III).

    "‘With consistent climate and energy policy support, renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human well-being by sustainably supplying energy and stabilizing the climate,’ said Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III at the report launch. ‘However, the substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging’ he added. …

    Ramon Pichs, Co-Chair of the Working Group III, added: ‘The report shows that it is not the availability of the resource, but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades.’” …

    Renewable energy resources have recently enjoyed some gains in Colorado.  The Colorado General Assembly passed SB 252 in 2013 that attempts to increase Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard and to encourage the capture of methane.$FILE/252_01.pdf  But some argued that SB 252 was part of a “war on rural Colorado,”  which partly has sparked secession threats from fossil-fuel rich counties in the state. Although Governor Hickenlooper signed SB 252 into law, he did so only after issuing an executive order establishing a panel to look into potential adjustments needed to implement the bill.

    Some might consider Boulder’s efforts to leave the Xcel franchise and convert into a municipal utility that employs more renewable energy generation sources a step forward.  Yet, Xcel continues to throw up road blocks to the City’s efforts including a fight for whether Boulder County residents can join the City in the utility and participation in initiating a second vote on the municipalization issue.

    In addition, it should be good news that the City and County of Denver was recognized as the first city in the country to qualify as a “Solar Friendly Community” under an innovative program attempting to bring down the soft costs of solar installations.  Largely because of these efforts and similar ones across the state, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found Colorado to have some of the lowest costs for installing a photovoltaic solar array in comparison to anywhere else in the United States.  Utility response to this good news about solar, however, has been to identify it as “as a potentially ‘disruptive technology’ that could compete with” their bottom line.

    Xcel Energy has submitted a plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that would deeply cut solar incentives.  According to Blake Jones, of Namaste Solar, “ The utility industry sees rooftop solar as a threat to its business model…. For the solar industry in Colorado, it is a question of survival."

    SB252, Boulder’s Municipalization, Xcel’s study to support cutting solar incentives, and many other exciting topics will be the focus of over a dozen sessions during this Friday’s (9/6) annual conference of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society.  ENRLP is hosting the event from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Rooms 165, 280, and the law school forum.  In addition to the sessions, there will be exhibits and an outdoor display of cutting-edge Medved, Tesla, and NREL electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Go to to register.

    Guest Author: K.K. DuVivier
    Professor of Energy Law and Renewable Energy Law