News

TCFall Internship for UT Law Grads Awaiting Bar Results

This fall, the TCEQ Office of Public Interest Counsel is once again participating in the Long Career Launch Program for UT law graduates who have taken the bar exam and are awaiting results.  The 400 hour internship must be completed between August 4th and November 21st, 2014.

The internship opportunity is posting #14971.  It should be posted soon, if not today.  The posting closes June 6th.

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.

David Spence, "What a Ban on Fracking in Denton Could Mean For the Rest of Texas" (State Impact)

State Impact Texas quoted professor David Spence in an April 8 story on a potential hydraulic fracturing ban in the Dallas suburb of Denton. In it, Spence explained that courts have tended to side with local governments in legal challenges to land use restrictions on fracking but that there is no Texas precedent squarely on point. “This issue may be enough of a hot-button issue that courts are going to really work hard to try to find a way to be able to uphold local ordinances, and at least we’ve seen a little bit of that in the northeast.”

 

 

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.

AIPN Student Writing Competition & Scholarship Program

The deadlines for the AIPN Student Writing Competition and Student Scholarship Program are approaching.

The prize for the winners of the Student Writing Competition includes registration, travel and accommodations for our International Conference, which will be held this year in Budapest, from October 5-8, 2014.  Please note that for the Student Writing Competition, students enrolled at schools with a member of the AIPN Education Advisory Board must submit their papers to that professor, who will then submit the top four (4) papers from that school.  Applicants must apply by April 14, 2014.  More details can be found at the following link: https://www.aipn.org/StudentComp.aspx.

For the Scholarship Program, AIPN will be underwriting up to 13 scholarships in the amount of US $5,000 each, which will be awarded for the academic semester beginning Fall 2014.  Applicants must apply by May 9, 2014.  The scholarships will be disbursed over the Fall semester 2014 and Spring semester 2015 ($2,500 each semester).  The funds will be paid directly to the recipient’s college or university to offset tuition.  Previous AIPN Scholarship winners are not eligible to participate again.  More details can be found at the following link: https://www.aipn.org/ScholarshipProg.aspx.

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

 

Melinda Taylor, "Ship Operator in Houston Spill on Probation for Pollution" (Washington Post)

Numerous media outlets have quoted Energy Center Executive Director on the Galveston Bay oil bill.

The Washington Post, running a Bloomberg story, quoted her as saying: ““I think we found after the BP oil spill it’s very difficult to predict how that oil is going to behave … A lot of it depends on weather conditions, the type of oil that spilled, the weight of that oil, and the constituents in that oil.”

Research Assistant Opportunity, Summer 2014

Research Assistant Opportunity

NEPA Litigation Project

Supervisor:
David E. Adelman
Harry Reasoner Regents chair in Law
The University of Texas School of Law

Recruiting for Summer 2013

Contact: David Adelman

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is often referred to as the “Magna Carta” of U.S. environmental law.  It marked a dramatic change in U.S. environmental policy and represented the first in a series of transformative environmental laws passed by Congress in the 1970s.  NEPA is distinctive in that it imposes only procedural requirements—as opposed to substantive standards—and broadly encompasses federal actions that “significantly impact” the environment, which can range from timber sales, to funding new highways, to implementing trade agreements, to military actions.  The intuition behind the law is simple—if federal agencies are required to identify the
environmental impacts of their projects and to examine options for mitigating them, they will be more likely to avoid environmentally destructive actions.  Information generated through the NEPA process also facilitates
public oversight of federal actions.  NEPA’s influence has been global because its framework for environmental reviews, exemplified by detailed “environmental impact statements,” has become a model for environmental
policies in more than 150 countries.

Over the past decade or so, legal scholarship has been greatly influenced by economic research methods and has increasingly incorporated sophisticated empirical methods.  However, the adoption of these methods has been uneven, with a disproportionate share of empirical studies occurring in certain fields of legal scholarship (e.g., intellectual property, corporations, torts).  While environmental law has been deeply influenced by scholarship at the intersection of law and economics, this work has not extended to empirical studies of litigation and has only recently included empirical work on rulemaking by federal agencies (i.e., issuance of regulations).  The proposed project would be among the first empirical studies of environmental litigation to utilize methods beyond descriptive statistics, and the first comprehensive study of litigation under NEPA.  This kind of work is long overdue, but one benefit to the lag in
empirical environmental scholarship is that the study design will benefit from work in other fields of law.  Recent studies of patent litigation, in particular, will provide valuable models for the study proposed here.

Legal scholarship tends to focus heavily on cases issued by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals.  In any given year, the Courts of Appeals collectively rule on about 20 cases that address issues under NEPA; the Supreme Court has issued just 17 opinions on NEPA claims since 1970.  Even granting the lesser precedential value of their opinions, the great majority of NEPA litigation occurs in the U.S. District Courts.  This project will collect comprehensive data on NEPA litigation in each of the three levels of the U.S. courts.  The data we plan to collect will encompass information on litigants and judges/circuits, the duration of litigation, the issues litigated (including success and failure rates), and the types of remedies and outcomes.  These data will enable us to examine patterns of litigation over time, to assess conventional wisdom about the importance of specific NEPA procedures, to evaluate differences in NEPA compliance across federal agencies, and to analyze litigation strategies and impacts.  Given the tractable number of cases filed, roughly 100-150 annually, constructing the data base is a readily achievable objective.  This work will be of broad significance to scholars working on environmental law and policy, officials in federal agencies, and policymakers, as well as lawyers in non-governmental organizations and private practice.