Press Releases

Jeremy Brown Invited to Columbia Law School Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship

The Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School has selected Energy Center research fellow Jeremy Brown to participate in the Sabin Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship.

The purpose of the colloquium, which is to be held in May, is to allow junior environmental law scholars to present early-stage work and receive constructive feedback from a panel of senior scholars and from each other.

The work that Professor Brown will present focuses on the issues surrounding the use of municipal bonds to finance water conservation improvements on privately owned property.

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Energy Center Releases Two Reports on Water Resources in Texas

The Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law released two reports today on water resources in Texas. The reports address two of the most critical environmental issues facing the State today, water conservation and endangered species.

The first report, “The Conflict between Endangered Species and the State Water Plan: Will New Listings under the Endangered Species Act Thwart the State Water Planning Process?,” examines whether water projects included in Texas’ State Water Plan and certain potential surface and groundwater withdrawals could impact any of the sixteen aquatic species in Texas that the federal government is considering listing under the Endangered Species Act. The report concludes that, overall, the potential listings will not affect the state’s plans to expand access to surface water, as the listings will only impact a small number of projects.

The second report, “Financing Conservation: Texas’ Water Infrastructure Bank and the 20 Percent Set-Aside,” examines the key issues that the Texas Water Development Board will face as it implements the conservation and reuse set-aside included in the state’s new water infrastructure financing scheme. The set-aside was one of the features that helped Proposition 6 to win widespread support and passage in November 2013.

For more information, contact: Melinda Taylor, executive director, UT School of Law, 512-232-3641, or Jeremy Brown, research fellow, UT School of Law, 512-232-1408.

The Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law promotes and sponsors education, collaborative research, critical discussion, policy analyses, and hands-on clinical experience to address the most pressing energy and natural-resource issues of our time.

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2014 Austin Electricity Conference

The 4th Annual Austin Electricity Conference will once again convene a diverse group of experts from across the country to explore issues in the industry. The conference is an annual, invitation-only conclave of engineers, economists, policymakers, lawyers and other experts in the electric utility industry, drawn from academia, industry, government, and NGOs. The conference follows the Aspen Institute model, in which extended plenary discussions are organized around short (less than 10 min.) panel presentations so as to promote cross disciplinary discussion among the invited participants. In this way, the model treats all invited participants as “presenters” and puts less emphasis on formal panel presentations.

The 2014 Austin Electricity Conference will explore the challenges to traditional modes of generating and delivering electricity posed by innovation in the electricity industry. Innovation poses challenges to the traditional utility-centric, central station model of energy service.  Innovation in generation, transmission and metering technologies, in business models and ownership structures for new electric generation facilities, and in regulatory regimes is driving rapid change in the electric utility industry. In some ways, this innovation is driving decentralization in the industry, including the development of distributed generation, micro grids, electricity storage (including, for example, electric cars), and other alternatives to traditional delivery of electric services, and creating new opportunities at the intersection of gas and electric markets.  In other ways, the transmission and distribution utilities sit at the center of all this change.

Program

Sponsors:
Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law
Red McCombs School of Business

 

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UT Law Students Form Environmental Moot Court Team, Win Best Oralist Award

 

Photo of the three members of UT Law's environmental moot court team
Teammates (from left to right) Lindsay Dofelmier, David Fisher, and Nora Gay at the NELMCC

Over the February 22-23 weekend, UT Law students competed at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York. The team, composed of three 2Ls – Lindsay Dofelmier (the Energy Center’s summer 2013 intern), David Fisher (the inaugural Energy Center Fellow), and Nora Gay – were the first ever from UT Law to compete in the competition, which drew nearly 80 teams from law schools around the country.

Coached by UT Law Professors Natalia Blinkova and David Nix, the team represented fictional parties Jacques Bonhomme, Shifty Maleau, and the State of Progress in a Clean Water Act case, which required them to prepare arguments for each party on issues ranging the scope of the Act’s citizen suit provision to the determination of point sources and navigable waters. The team prepared a brief on behalf of Mr. Bonhomme in November 2013, and represented all three parties in oral arguments throughout the competition. They were awarded three “Best Oralist” awards between them at the competition.

“It has been a great opportunity to improve our oral advocacy and brief-writing skills,” said team member David Fisher. “And we learned quite a lot about the Clean Water Act along the way.” The three team members hope to compete again in the competition next year, aided by their faculty coaches.

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Energy Center Co-Hosts Workshop on Texas Water Financing

On February 21, the Energy Center partnered with the UT Office of Sustainability and the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution to host a workshop on a set-aside for conservation and reuse in Texas’ new water financing laws.

Melinda Taylor stands at podium
Melinda Taylor, UT Law Energy Center

In November 2013, Texas voters by a roughly three-to-one margin approved Proposition 6, which amended the Texas Constitution and the Texas Water Code to create a new water infrastructure bank, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).  SWIFT was capitalized with a $2 billion appropriation from the State’s Rainy Day Fund and is subject to a twenty percent set-aside – codified at § Texas Water Code 15.434(b)(2) – for conservation and reuse.

The legislature charged the Texas Water Development Board with responsibility for implementing and managing the new financing scheme.  The workshop explored the issues and opportunities the agency will face.

For slides, audio, and a program from the event, please click here.

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Energy Center Releases Environmental Law Internship Guide

In conjunction with UT Law’s Environmental Law Society and Career Services Office, the Energy Center has released a guide to environmental law internships.

The guide includes information about dozens of internship opportunities and is intended to serve as a guide for law students seeking summer and school-year placements.

While the guide includes positions with the federal government and national nonprofits, the primary focus is on Texas.

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Professor David Sokolow Reaches Out to Potential Chinese Students

UT Law Professor David Sokolow began the Spring 2014 semester in China, where he has traveled to share information about the law school’s leading LLM program.  Professor Sokolow has met with students in Beijing and Shanghai.

The LLM program draws upon UT Law’s deep connections to the energy industry to offer a certificate in Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law.

Professor Sokolow with UT Law alumni in Beijing
Professor Sokolow with UT Law alumni in Beijing

 

 

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Three Baker Botts Attorneys to Coach 2013-4 Vis Team

Three attorneys from the Houston office of Baker Botts have volunteered to coach UT Law’s 2013-4 team in the Vis Arbitral Moot, the world’s  premiere moot court competition focused on international dispute resolution.

Through a rigorous selection process in September, six UT Law students were chosen to compete on the team: Ashleigh Acevedo, Burton DeWitt, Lauren Miller, Josh Nosal, Hayden Schottlaender, and Zahra Usmani.  Two 3Ls who represented UT in last year’s Vis moot – Becca Bennie and Garrett Martin – are returning as student coaches.

The team will be coached by Energy Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor and three attorneys from Baker Botts international arbitration practice: partners Michael P. Lennon, Jr., and Jennifer Smith ’90 and associate Dustin Appel.  Ms. Smith also serves as member of the Energy Center’s advisory board.

For additional information, please see this year’s Vis rules and problem.

 

 

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