News

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.

 

 

Wendy Wagner, “EPA Official Says Senate Bill Needs Deadlines to Spur Completion of Chemical Reviews” (Bloomberg BNA)

A November 13 BNA Bloomberg article quotes Professor Wendy Wagner on legislation Congress is considering to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act:

“Wendy Wagner, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said S. 1009 would unduly restrict the types of scientific evidence that the EPA could consider as it determines the safety of chemicals.
“The constraints of the legislation would be inconsistent with recommendations the National Academies has made about the science the EPA should use to underly its decisions on chemicals, she said.
“‘By my count, at least 40 pages of Senate Bill 1009 are dedicated to developing these legislative constraints on the types of evidence EPA may consider and how it must use this evidence,’ she said.
Problems Foreseen
“Those requirements would create opportunities for some manufacturers to claim the agency failed to implement the law correctly, Wagner said.”

Wendy Wagner Testifies before House Committee on TSCA Reforms

Professor Wendy Wagner testified November 13 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which if passed would result in the most significant changes to one of the bedrock federal environmental laws – the Toxic Substances Control Act – in more than a generation.  To read her testimony, please click here.

 

Jeremy Brown, “Your Voting Guide” (Daily Texan)

In a voting guide, the Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper, quotes Jeremy Brown on the workings of Proposition 6 and its potential impact for students. “Brown said the amendment would create new jobs if it passes and works the way it is intended to. ‘The exact jobs would depend on the nature of the expenditures,’ Brown said. ‘The construction of a new reservoir, for instance, would create different sorts of jobs than the installation and maintenance of water-efficient technologies.’”

Jeremy Brown, “With or Without $2 Billion, Water Woes Unlikely to Go Away” (New York Times)

A New York Times article on Proposition 6 quotes Energy Center research fellow Jeremy Brown on the relatively long lead time needed for new water infrastructure projects:

“‘It could help with future droughts, but it’s unlikely to help with the current drought,’ Jeremy Brown, an environmental law researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, said of Proposition 6.

“’By the time projects are identified, bonds are issued, and projects are actually initiated and then come online, that’s some ways down the road,’ Brown said, ‘even for the most shovel-ready of projects.’”

UT Energy Forum Competition

The UT Energy Forum is soliciting abstracts from undergraduate and graduate students conducting energy-related research for the opportunity to compete in the UT Energy Forum research poster competition on February 19-20, 2014, which will award nearly $10,000 in prizes. Abstracts are due by December 20, 2013. The UT Energy Forum will be held in the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center at the University of Texas at Austin on February 19-20, 2014. For detailed information about the research competition, please see the official Call for Abstracts.

Energy Center Publishes White Paper on Financing Water Infrastructure

The Energy Center has released a white paper exploring bills the Texas legislature passed earlier this year to finance water infrastructure.  The white paper - Paying for Water:  The 83rd Legislative Session and the $2 Billion Water Infrastructure Bank – analyzes policies that it finds could have “profound and long-lasting impact on Texas water law and water resources.”

Thomas McGarity, “Environmentalists & Attorney General Both Happy About EPA Case, But For Different Reasons” (Texas Public Radio)

An October 16 story in Texas Public Radio quotes UT Law professor Thomas McGarity on the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear a case on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

“University of Texas law professor Tom McGarity said Abbott is arguing that the new permitting effort violates the Clean Air Act by widening the agency’s reach.

“‘If they decide to uphold it, it’s still probably not the ideal way of going about it,’ McGarity said. ‘It would be better to have a statute that was devoted to greenhouse gases, but it will allow us to move forward.’”

“But McGarity said getting a statute out of the current seated congress addressing greenhouse gases would nearly impossible.”

 

David Spence, “State: Judge is Wrong to Say It Must Protect Atmosphere” (Texas Tribune)

In an article about a move by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to appeal a state court decision finding that the agency has jurisdiction over the atmosphere under the public trust doctrine, the Texas Tribune quotes UT Law professor David Spence:

“David Spence, a professor of business and law at the University of Texas at Austin, said the scope of public trust is more symbolic than practical.

“’In a sense it’s a kind of low-stakes argument,’ Spence said. ‘The public trust doctrine in the U.S. is a fairly weak thing.’ 

“Each state applies the principle differently, and few have used it with much force. The doctrine has generally been successful only at protecting open beaches for public use, Spence said.

“Spence said the appeals court could vacate [the district court statements about the doctrine] because her entire opinion is up for review. But the court may also say, ‘Look, this is dicta. Everybody calm down,’ Spence said.”