Energy Center to Sponsor Students at Harvard Environmental Justice Conference

The Energy Center will sponsor two UT Law students to attend this year’s National Association of Environmental Law Societies conference, being hosted by Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Society on March 28-29.

Applying: The sponsorship is open to all UT Law students with a commitment to environmental law.  To apply, students should submit a resume and short letter (one page) explaining their interest in environmental justice to Jeremy Brown at by Monday March 3 at 5 pm.

About the Sponsorship:  The Energy Center will cover travel expenses, hotel for up to three nights, and registration fees, if applicable.  The center’s administrative assistant will work with students to make travel bookings.

About the Conference: In recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice, the theme will be “Environmental Justice: Where Are We Now?” The conference will focus on three themes: progress on the goals of environmental justice, social justice aspects of today’s national and international environmental movements, and strategies to ensure that environmental justice is a priority in future environmental work.  Conference highlights include:

  • A keynote address by Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Friday evening
  • A plenary address by the “father of environmental justice,” Dr. Robert Bullard
  • An interview with UT Law’s Gerald Torres, who, as counsel to the Attorney General, drafted the President’s groundbreaking Executive Order on Environmental Justice,
  • Presentations by Professor Michael Gerrard, Columbia University, and Professor James Grijalva, University of North Dakota School of Law
  • Panels with environmental justice community leaders from around the country, including, among others, Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, based on West Harlem, NY, Pamela Bush, Lead Organizer of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, in Dorchester, MA, Kalila Barnett, Executive Director of Alternatives for Community and Environment, and Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Delano and San Francisco, CA, and
  • An event honoring the life and career of Luke Cole, co-founder of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment

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.

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.

Melinda Taylor, “Lesser prairie chicken losing ground in Texas, other states” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Energy Center director Melinda Taylor, with scientist and former Defenders of Wildlife vice president of policy Timothy Male, published an op-ed in the January 29 Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s impending decision on whether to list the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as endangered.  Taylor and Male warn that a state-led conservation plan alone would not sufficiently protect the LPC.  For the species to survive, it will also need strong federal protection.

TCEQ Accepting Applications for Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program

The environmental agency for the state of Texas is currently accepting applications for the 2014 Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program (MLEIP). Undergraduate and graduate students majoring in natural and physical science, environmental science/studies, engineering, public health, computer science, business, accounting, finance, pub-lic administration, and law are encouraged to apply. Interns have the opportunity for hands-on learning and professional development in protecting the environment. Employers value the experience, skills and knowledge students gain from completing an internship while at-tending college. Most MLEIP interns are assigned to TCEQ; however private companies, other state agencies, and non-profits also request interns from the program. All internship assign-ments are in Texas. Hundreds of students apply every year for this valuable opportunity.

Applications are due by March 14, 2014.  For additional information, please review the program flier.

AIPN Requests Submissions for Student Writing Competition

The Association of International Petroleum Negotiators has put out a call for papers for its annual Student Writing Competition and Student Scholarship Program.

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:

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:

Nuclear Arms Control and Climate Change Negotiations: Shared Lessons and Possibilities

This conference will bring together a group of experts in nuclear arms control and environmental policy to examine the comparative history and contemporary lessons from global arms control and climate negotiations.  During the Cold War, nuclear arms control dominated global diplomatic efforts. No other issue brought so many countries together to negotiate agreements involving a complex mix of technical, political, and strategic issues. Nor did any other issue raise so much fear and hope. In the last two decades, ambitious multilateral efforts to negotiate a global climate treaty have taken up a similar role. These negotiations are also filled with fears of planetary destruction and hopes for global renewal. From the Rio Summit of 1992 through the Durban conference of 2011, national governments, the United Nations, and many other organizations have labored to reach a multilateral agreement on a comprehensive plan to combat climate change. The conference is premised on the belief that scholars of nuclear arms control and climate change negotiations can learn a great deal from each other, and that comparative analysis of this kind will enhance scholarship and policy development in each domain. This event is by invitation only but there is room for up to 5 students to attend. If you are a student and are interested in attending, please contact Gena Dawson at

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



Thomas McGarity, “What Obama Left Out of His Inequality Speech: Regulation” (New York Times)

In a December 8 opinion piece, professor Thomas McGarity argues that income inequality is an outgrowth of deregulation.  Inequality can be addressed, in McGarity’s words, only if “political forces realign themselves and a new social bargain is struck under which the business community’s economic freedoms are once again constrained by a government that is more willing to impose greater responsibilities on powerful economic actors and a legal system that is capable of holding them accountable for the harm that they cause.”