News

Tom McGarity, “Texas Family’s Nuissance Complaint Seen As a Win Against Fracking” (Capital Public Radio)

Capital Public Radio quoted professor Tom McGarity on a May 4 story on what’s been called the first anti-fracking verdict in the U.S. after a Dallas jury awarded nearly $3 million to a family who said they were poisoned by a natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict is unique, according to McGarity. “It is rare for any case to go to the jury in a civil case, just simply because most settle,” he says. “[Aruba Petroleum] apparently decided to draw the line, which as it turns out was not necessarily a very good decision.”

David Spence, “Supreme Court’s Air Pollution Ruling Goes Against Texas” (Texas Tribune)

In an April 29 article, the Texas Tribune quoted professor David Spence on the Supreme Court’s air pollution ruling, by 6-2 vote, to reinstate the Cross-State Pollution Rule, a regulation that aims to limit the effects of air pollution across state boundaries. “This is a big decision,” said Spence. “It’s one of the things that is putting pressure on coal-fired power.”

Texas Recycling Data Initiative Internship

Title: TRDI Intern

Wage: Unpaid (?)

Job requirements: Strong written and verbal communication skills; detail-oriented, self-starter who is organized and able to meet deadlines; strong research skills; proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel.

Must have a college degree or be currently enrolled in a university and working toward a degree; must be a US citizen; must be located in the Austin area and have reliable transportation; must be able to work a minimum of 10 hours per week.

Applications instructions: Please submit resumes or further questions to info@recyclingstar.org with the subject line “STAR Internship”.

Contact person: Sara Nichols

Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI): A consortium of industry representatives, led by STAR, is seeking to better understand and quantify the amount of recycling occurring in Texas in order to examine the economic, environmental, and policy issues of interest to businesses, citizens, and governmental entities in Texas. This statewide survey is a game changer for recycling in Texas and should be completed by late 2014. Information on state recycling activities and material recovery volumes are limited in stature throughout the State of Texas even though there is some information collected at the regional level. The information collected is not uniform or consistent across the state. The Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council passed a resolution on July 22, 2011 to allow the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to facilitate a set of stakeholder meetings to define what recycling data can be obtained, determine the best method for its collection, and recommend how this data could be used to study best practices and promote recycling in Texas. As a result, a Steering Committee was formed with broad based representation from trade and professional organizations, Councils of Governments (COG’s), industry, TCEQ, EPA Region 6, local governments, consulting firms and other interested parties to assist in conducting research and making recommendations for how the state should pursue capturing recycling recovery volume data.  One of the results of this Steering Committee was the development of the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI) and the solicitation for the completion of a voluntary survey for data collection, data analysis, and reporting of recycling activity in the State of Texas. As a part of the survey, data will be collected for two calendar years with a report available for the 2015 Texas Legislative Session.

Intern will be researching ordinances, compiling data, and other duties as assigned. Credit can be offered if desired. Please provide paperwork.

UTROG Petitions EPA to Adopt Conflicts Disclosure Rule

The University of Texas Regulatory Oversight Group (UTROG) today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a policy requiring that parties who submit research and data disclose sponsor influence and related conflicts of interest.

The petition argues that the EPA relies heavily on privately produced research in its decision-making but that the agency can only give this research proper weight if it understands the degree to which it may have been subject to biasing effects.

Conflicts disclosure is a common practice within the scientific community and is already required by other federal agencies. In its petition, UTROG recommends as a template the disclosure form that the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors uses.

UTROG is an unofficial organization at the University of Texas comprised of law and other graduate students who work with law professors to identify opportunities to ensure optimal public engagement and participation in federal and state regulatory programs. UTROG’s goal is to provide an independent, balanced, and rigorous analysis of important regulatory issues. Its positions are not necessarily the positions of the administration of the University of Texas.

TCEQ Fall 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.  The posting closes June 6th.

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

PHOTOS FROM THE 2013 AUSTIN ELECTRICITY CONFERENCE

2013 AEC 6

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