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January 3, 2008

Professor Ernest Smith to teach first-ever Wind Law course

Professor Smith
Professor Ernest Smith

In the spring 2008 semester, the Law School will offer what it understands to be a first-in-the-nation course on Wind Law. The seminar-style course, entitled Wind Energy and Other Renewables, will be taught by internationally recognized energy law scholar Ernest Smith.

Although wind-generated electricity is rapidly increasing throughout the U.S., a seminar on wind energy is especially appropriate for Texas. Texas has now surpassed California in the amount of electricity generated by wind power and is the number one producer in the U.S. "Because of federal tax incentives, the suitability of vast tracts of land in Texas for wind farms, Texas' Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires retail electric companies to purchase a steadily increasing amount of electricity generated by renewable sources, and Texas' quite favorable regulatory environment, the market for wind leases in the state is rapidly growing," said Smith. "Opposition based on environmental concerns, the potential effect of huge wind farms on the market value of both the land where they are located and surrounding lands, and the disruptions resulting from industrial installations on farm and ranchland has grown with equal rapidity. As of yet, however, only a relatively small number of Texas lawyers have any familiarity with the issues posed by wind energy."

"I want to add that the seminar's coverage will certainly not be limited to Texas," noted Smith, "but will include a consideration of broad policy issues; wind leases on federal lands, including regulatory and jurisdictional issues such as those confronted by Cape Wind off Nantucket; the variety of siting and regulatory requirements that have been enacted in several other states, and a fairly wide range of other national issues."

The new course on wind energy is another step in UT Law's longstanding commitment to research and teaching in energy law and the energy industry generally. Because of the State's historic ties to oil and gas production, UT Law School has long been a center of learning and education in this field. To learn more about wind energy production, contact the Law School's Continuing Legal Education department at to preview and order a copy of the DVD Wildcatting for Wind: The Texas Experience from Turbine to Market, produced by UT Law School.

"There are many good reasons for UT Law to aim at having the best energy law program in the nation," said Dean Lawrence Sager, "but none so great as the fact that we have Ernest Smith on our faculty. He is a towering figure in the area, and his newest course makes clear that he himself remains a resource of enormous value."

Smith earned his undergraduate degree from SMU and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He joined the UT Law faculty in 1963 and quickly established his reputation as an expert in the field of oil and gas law and as an excellent and popular classroom teacher. Smith holds the Rex G. Baker Chair in Natural Resources Law, and he served as dean of UT Law School from 1974 to 1979. Smith is co-author of the leading casebook on Oil and Gas Law (West, 5th ed., 2007) and the leading treatise on Texas Law of Oil and Gas (3 volumes, 2nd ed., LEXIS Law Pub., 1998, & 2007 updates). He also teaches in the area of property, and is co-author of a widely used text, Cases and Materials on Property (Foundation, 9th ed., 2007).

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