|Norton, Gustafson, Smith and Oehlberg |
pose for a picture after the event.
The panelists included former Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton and current president of Norton Regulatory Strategies. Mike Gustafson, the University of Denver's Master Scholar for 2013 and president of Wesco Resources, Inc. Kurt Oehlberg the Managing Director of FBR Capital Markets Corp. in the Energy and Natural Resources Group. Chris Richardson the Managing Partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP.
Each panelist offered insights particular to their experiences in the natural resources field. Norton opened the discussion by highlighting four key aspects to the success of environmental regulation: regulation stringency, predictability, timing and efficiency of the regulations and finally, the impact of public participation on the regulatory process. She highlighted the difficulties posed by the current regulatory environment which is costly and time consuming.
Gustafson shared his experience of regulations while working on the Tongue River Project, a Montana coal bed. He has been working to develop this resource for over 32 years and has worked with over 18 state and federal agencies. He highlighted the difficulty of actualizing resource development in the U.S.
Oehlberg spoke to the growing trend of large-scale NEPA processes necessary for natural resource development. He identified the U.S. natural resource development as a very challenging market in which to work. This is due to the growth of centralized regulations, contradicting regulations between the state and federal level and increased compliance costs. These factors are resulting in a decrease in investors.
Richardson then shared more information from the investor's perspective. He identified three common, current investors: the industry player, private equity investor, and private or government interest from overseas. He asked the question, the biggest impact on resource development is occurring through new regulations and not new legislation, is this constitutional?
All panelists pointed to the complicated regulatory environment as a problem for resource development. Norton advocated for a power shift toward local managers with a more informal management so that they are able to take advantage of local conditions and community resources. She stressed that federal regulations are often too rigid to accommodate local resource conditions.
The panelists offered a final tip to current students, "study Administrative Law."