News

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

2013 AEC 4

2013 AEC 3

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 spill.

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.

 

2014-2015 Energy Law Scholarship Competition

SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION:

The University of Texas School of Law and the Texas Energy Law Association (“TELA”) are pleased to offer scholarships to rising 2L and 3L students at UT Law with a demonstrated interest in energy law. The number and dollar value of scholarships awarded by UT Law and TELA will vary from year to year based on funds available and the number of qualified applicants. UT Law and TELA cannot guarantee that scholarships will be awarded every year. Information on value of scholarships coming soon.

UT Law and TELA will award at least two scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. Scholarship recipients will be announced on April 2, 2014. Recipients will be recognized at the TJOGEL/TELA Spring Happy Hour on April 3, 2014 (visit the TJOGEL website for April 3rd Happy Hour time and location). Scholarships will be disbursed directly to UT Law and will be applied to the 2014-2015 school year.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Rising 2L and 3L students in good standing at UT Law (dual degree students are eligible).
  • Students with a demonstrated interest in energy law.
  • Students are eligible to receive UT Law and TELA scholarships for more than 1 year, but they must reapply each year.
  • Students who are not selected as scholarship recipients for their 2L year are highly encouraged to reapply for their 3L year.

Instructions:

  • Submit the application via email to Mauricio Pajon or in person at the Energy Center in  TNH 3.119 by Friday, March 28th, at noon.
  • Typed applications are preferred.
  • Fill in all blanks and include all materials requested.
  • Email questions to Mauricio Pajon.