Law School Course Areas and Related Classes
WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT. Courses grouped in this area deal with the ownership, management, protection and development of natural resources. These resources include not only land, but also water, wind, oil and gas, other minerals, timber and wildlife. They may be publicly owned, either by the state or federal government; privately owned or, in some instances, unowned. Even when privately owned, natural resources are typically subject to regulation by either state or federal agencies or possibly both. Income and gain from the exploitation of such resources is subject to taxation.
Oil and Gas and Water Law, which are offered on a regular basis, and Oil and Gas Contracts and Financing, which is offered only occasionally, deal primarily with privately owned resources, the types of property interests that can be created in them, how they are transferred and how they are regulated at both the federal and state levels. International Petroleum Transactions deals with these issues as they arise in international and comparative law. Natural Resources and Environmental Law deals with the management, development and protection of publicly owned resources, including land, water and wildlife.
All environmental law courses (discussed in the Environmental Law section), Land Use Planning, Regulated Industries, and Administrative Law are also relevant to natural resources. These courses emphasize both statutory interpretation and the economic analysis of regulations. Taxation of Natural Resources deals primarily with the federal tax system as it applies to the production of oil and gas and the transfer of interests in these resources.
BASIC COURSES. Oil and Gas, Water Law and Natural Resources and Environmental Law are basic building block courses for students interested in this area.
For students primarily interested in problems arising from public regulation of natural resources, Administrative Law, Environmental Law and Natural Resources, any and all of the other basic environmental law courses, Land Use Planning, and Regulated Industries, provide good introductions to regulation of natural resources. Energy Law, when offered, is a specialized course that examines federal policies and regulation relating to electricity, oil and gas, coal, wind energy, hydropower, solar power, and other energy sources. The other courses mentioned examine a wide range of regulation; students interested in applying these regulatory principles to oil and gas or water should take Oil and Gas or Water Law. For students interested in state regulation of oil and gas production, Oil and Gas as well as Texas Government and Administrative Law would both be particularly useful.
PREREQUISITES. Oil and Gas is prerequisite to Oil and Gas Contracts and Financing.
A student should take either Oil and Gas or Federal Income Tax as a prerequisite to Taxation of Natural Resources. Both courses are not required.
Administrative law is indispensable to any natural resources lawyer. Federal and state administrative agencies make all the key decisions.
HOW TO SAMPLE THE AREA. The basic course is Oil and Gas. Although it deals primarily with property-law issues, it also serves as an introduction to the state and federal regulation of oil and gas and is the ideal sampler course. Starting in 1999, the Texas Bar Exam eliminated the two essay questions dedicated to Oil and Gas. There will be questions on Real Property which may include Oil and Gas.
Water Law has the same advantages as Oil and Gas as a sampler. If only two courses in the area could be taken, these two courses should be taken. Environmental Law and Natural Resources would be a close third because of the vast area of public lands and the significant extent to which regulation of endangered species, wetlands and other natural resources extends to private land.
SPECIALIZED COURSES. In the past, seminars have regularly been offered by adjuncts, and sometimes by regular faculty, dealing with different specialized topics in natural resources law. For instance, seminars have been offered on financing oil and gas transactions, environmental issues in oil and gas, oil and gas litigation, International Energy Transactions, International and Comparative Oil and Mineral Law. A seminar on wind energy may be offered in the future. Specialized seminars of this sort would be extremely useful to anyone interested in practicing in this area. In addition, Taxation of Partnerships and S Corporations would be useful to anyone interested in a practice involving oil and gas transactions.
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