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.”

Thomas McGarity, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Auto Safety Rulemaking (Aftermarket News)

In a November 27 article, Aftermarket News, a trade publication for the automotive industry, quoted Professor Thomas McGarity’s testimony from a recent Congressional hearing about the adequacy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a rulemaking agency:

“According to McGarity, ‘The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has effectively given up on rulemaking unless specifically required by statute, focusing instead on its statutory power to force the recall of motor vehicles that contain ‘defects’ related to safety performance. The move away from rulemaking to adjudication gives the agency the flexibility to allow policies to evolve through the gradual process of stare decisis.’”

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.