Energy generation is a classic example of a locally undesirable land use (LULU). Everyone needs energy, but many residents fervently oppose proposals to build a wind farm on a local mountaintop or hydraulically fracture a gas well near their neighborhood. The response is therefore typically a “not in my back yard,” or NIMBY, argument. But changes in technology, markets, and the law are making energy different from other LULUs. These changes allow communities to make more choices about the types of energy they prefer and to better address concerns about undesirable energy development within their locality. From a technological perspective, advances in energy storage and distributed (on-site) energy generation mean that large generating equipment and transmission lines can sometimes be avoided in places where there is strong opposition to these land uses. Technological changes such as horizontal drilling also allow oil and gas companies to locate miles from the target formation, thus avoiding certain surface locations. (Pipelines are still a challenge, though.) In terms of markets, energy development is moving towards economically competitive distributed solar and mid-scale renewable generation coupled with battery storage—also aided by subsidies and mandates. Finally, a range of legal solutions, such as community choice aggregation, updated building and zoning codes, locally-applicable taxes on hydraulically fractured wells, and bonding requirements increasingly empower communities to better align energy development with residents’ preferences, or, at minimum, to better address the damages of energy development.
Charting a Better Course for the Colorado River: Identifying the Data and Concepts to Shape the Interim Guidelines Renegotiation
Thursday, June 6th and Friday, June 7th, 2019
On June 6-7, 1869, John Wesley Powell’s expedition down the Colorado was prepping for passage through the Canyon of Lodore, an arduous journey that ultimately cost the expedition a ship and a third of the expedition’s provisions. Exactly 150 years later we gear up for a journey through Colorado River rapids of a different kind: How best to navigate through the upcoming negotiation of the new Interim Guidelines. The existing Interim Guidelines (IG)—which expire after 2026—have been instrumental in slowing reservoir declines, delaying curtailments, and establishing a collaborative environment for subsequent innovations, but truly sustainable water management is still an unrealized goal. With the help of emerging drought contingency plan (DCP) programs, is the new negotiation (IG 2.0) the last best opportunity to craft a lasting solution to the river’s broken water budget? If so, what data, concepts, frameworks, and principles are key to success?
The Symposium opened Thursday evening with a look at natural resources challenges at the State level, including the future of oil and gas regulations and western water issues.
On Friday, we turned to federal issues. As the Trump administration enters the second half of the President’s term in office, the time is ripe for an exploration of the past, present, and future of public lands law. The administration’s management of public lands has become a flashpoint for many of the controversies of our day. These efforts intersect with numerous policies and an array of legal issues – from the constitutional authority of the President – to regulatory design. We are joined by scholars, former political appointees, and practitioners across a range of specialties to address these issues in a manner that has broad practical import for policymakers, litigators, the outdoor recreation industry, and those who enjoy our public lands. In her keynote address, former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will speak about the current state of public lands management.
The Getches-Wilkinson Center is hosted the 2019 Martz Winter Symposium in collaboration with the Colorado Law Review and the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Review. It is our hope that these dialogues and the forthcoming law review articles will generate solutions that can be implemented by practitioners on the ground and will inform future lawyers entering the field.
Day One Video: Armchair Discussion with Dan Gibbs, Director-Colorado Department of Natural Resource
Day Two Video: The Changing Landscape of Public Lands
Climate and Energy Law in the Trump Administration
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Jody Freeman Harvard Law School, Archibald Cox Professor of Law Director, Environmental and Energy Law Program
Professor Freeman discusses the major policy reversals on climate and energy during the Trump administration and describe their implications and legal vulnerabilities. Among other things, she covers the administration’s rules freezing fuel efficiency standards, rescinding and replacing the clean power plan, and rolling back methane standards.
Cost-Nothing Analysis: Environmental Economics in the Age of Trump
Professor Lisa Heinzerling, Georgetown Law
The annual Distinguished Lecture Series is a cooperative venture between the Getches-Wilkinson Center (GWC) and the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, & Environmental Law Review to host a distinguished figure in the fields of natural resource, energy, and environmental law and policy. The Distinguished Lecture series provides a public forum for thought-leadership, allowing the speakers to reflect on their experiences and provide insights on the current challenges facing natural resources, energy, and the environment. The articles and transcripts resulting from these lectures are published in the Law Review.
Now in its fifth year, Colorado Law is excited to announce a new endowment to bolster support of the Distinguished Lecture series so that we will be able to bring this free event to our community for years to come. Thanks to a generous gift by the Wright Family Foundation to the GWC, we are thrilled to launch the Ruth Wright Distinguished Lecture in Natural Resources to honor her inspiring legacy as a leader in western natural resources, land conservation, and environmental policy and advocacy.
Cost-Nothing Analysis: Environmental Economics in the Age of Trump
Cost-benefit analysis has always
resisted environmental protection. For this reason, presidents since Nixon have
used cost-benefit analysis to stifle environmentally protective regulation. The
present administration has taken this practice one step further by ignoring or
eliminating benefits entirely in many instances — thus ushering in an era of
cost-nothing analysis. Cost-nothing analysis assumes it costs us nothing to
degrade the environment, even as the evidence grows that it may cost us
This conference brought together women in electricity law and regulation to discuss the most pressing questions facing legislators and regulators today. Each of the panel topics was selected for its relevance in ongoing debates about the right way to structure and implement legal oversight of the electricity system. The event was anchored by the law school’s annual Schultz Lecture, held the evening before the conference. This year, the Schultz Lecture was delivered by former FERC Commissioner Collette Honorable (video below). The Conferencel also featured a conversation among energy journalists covering conference topics (and others like them). This was an opportunity for an open conversation with other panelists and the audience about ways in which law professors, policymakers, and others can support the work of independent journalism in chronicling energy developments.
Colette Honorable, Former FERC Commissioner, Partner Reed Smith LLP
The 2017 Shultz Lecture focused on the evolution of energy policy in the U.S. and beyond following the Paris Agreement and the 2016 presidential election. The presentation highlighted the events following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the climate accord – in particular the incredible response from grassroots organizations, local and state leaders, and industry- and the unprecedented showing of leadership from the people.
Professor Mary Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor, Faculty Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center, University of Oregon Law
In face of irreversible climate tipping points and the failure of statutory law to control carbon dioxide pollution, youth around the world are suing their governments to act before it is too late. The campaign, called Atmospheric Trust Litigation, recently won a landmark ruling from a federal district court declaring a constitutional right to a stable climate system. Professor Wood discusses this litigation in the context of climate urgency and the federal government’s policy to spur production of fossil fuels.
Since the turn of the 21st century, storage on the Colorado River has declined while stress over the region’s water future has intensified.
The combined impact of overconsumption, drought, and climate change have exposed longstanding problems with the regional water budget, and have focused national attention on the urgency of improving management. Water managers, river advocates, and other concerned stakeholders and decision-makers are responding, increasingly through basin-wide initiatives that go beyond specifying how looming shortages will be distributed to actually trying to head-off the most painful potential impacts. Many of these efforts are at a critical juncture. As they come to fruition, several questions arise: Are we doing the right things? Is it enough? What needs to happen next?
Sponsored By: Walton Family Foundation Water Funder Initiative U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Porzak, Browning, and Bushong LLP Southern Nevada Water Authority
Moderated By: Doug Kenney, GWC Western Water Policy Program