Now Accepting Applications: Getches-Wilkinson Water Fellows

We are pleased to announce we have launched a national search for the inaugural pair of Getches-Wilkinson Water Fellows.

The Getches-Wilkinson Fellows Program is a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to train the next generation of leaders in natural resources fields. The intensive two-year program will immerse the two Fellows in the real world challenges of water law and policy. The Fellows will address critical issues affecting western watersheds, conduct reform-oriented research on pressing issues, and interact with public and private sector leaders to inform policymaking.  The Fellows will be actively engaged in water law reform in the public interest and will hone their leadership, communication, advocacy, and research skills. The overarching objective is to create a matchless educational and mentoring experience that will leapfrog their careers and prepare the Fellows to become leaders in their chosen practice areas.

“Fellows will get training from the most experienced people in the field, and then bring diverse voices and creative energy to the region’s most pressing natural resource challenges,” said Sarah Krakoff, Moses Lasky Professor of Law.

The Colorado River provides water and electricity for people throughout the basin states, including residents of Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. It irrigates over 3 million acres of crops and pasture; provides abundant recreational opportunities for rafting, fishing, boating, and hiking; and serves as habitat for a multitude of fish and wildlife species, including several endangered native fish. Increasingly, demand for this important natural resource is outstripping supply.

“In Colorado and beyond there is a rising need for thoughtful policy initiatives at all levels of government to manage water usage throughout the Colorado River Basin,” Krakoff said. “The GWC sees an opportunity to help address this unmet need, and similar ones throughout western watersheds, while training the next generation of outstanding and diverse leaders in water law.”

The Getches-Wilkinson Fellows program was initiated by a generous donation from David Bonderman – lawyer, business executive, and significant supporter of conservation initiatives. The matching funds came from an anonymous GWC supporter and the Water Funder Initiative – a collaborative effort to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the United States, starting in the West.

We are seeking exceptional lawyers early in their careers.  The job description, requirements and application instructions are available here: Getches-Wilkinson Water Fellows

For more information on the GWC Fellows Program contact Shaun LaBarre, GWC Deputy Director at shaun.labarre@colorado.edu or 303.492.1286.

The Climate and Diversity Crisis: Moving Toward a Global Awakening?

Please join us for the Boulder Faculty Climate Science and Education Committee, Spring 2020 Climate Lecture with Dr. Cassandra Brooks.

Tuesday, April 21st 5:00-6:30 p.m. (Webinar)  

University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder Faculty Climate Science and Education Committee
Spring 2020 Climate Lecture

The Climate and Biodiversity Crisis: Moving Toward a Global Awakening?
Dr. Cassandra Brooks
Environmental Studies
University of Colorado Boulder

Tuesday, April 21st
5:00-6:30
 
To participate remotely using ZOOM: Interested attendees should RSVP
to Jennifer.katzung@colorado.edu to receive the correct link and password

 
More information and event sponsors 

Calling all conservation innovators and risk-takers

On behalf of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation, CSU Author: Courtney Massey

In 2020, the planet is facing existential threats from human-induced climate change, species extinction, and rapid population growth – all of which contribute to increasing pressure on and fragmentation of rural and urban landscapes. At the same time, conservation efforts across North America that work to address these challenges are complicated and often inhibited by cultural, geographic, and political divides. In response, the Salazar Center for North American Conservation, based out of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has created the Connectivity Challenge to support innovation in conservation and cross-boundary initiatives.

The Salazar Center is uniquely positioned to support and mobilize efforts working toward a healthier, more resilient future—and the Connectivity Challenge prize is just one of the ways it’s doing just that. With dozens of partners across research, practice, and policy – and the continued engagement and leadership of its founder, former Secretary Ken Salazar – the Center is poised to make big impacts in conservation.

Later this year, the Connectivity Challenge will award $100,000 to an interdisciplinary team working on an innovative approach to landscape conservation and connectivity in North America. The incentive prize encourages new, inventive approaches to solving big conservation challenges in North America and will support a team whose work removes barriers, catalyzes change, builds capacity, or scales impact. The Center especially encourages proposals that feature non-traditional applicants, ideas for projects that have legislative impacts, and/or teams that include policy makers. The application process for the prize has been designed to provide tangible benefits to all applicants (not just the winning team) by building a community of interest, providing expert feedback on all applications, and inviting finalists to participate in a pitch event at the Center’s annual symposium in Denver, CO in September 2020 that will provide the opportunity to present to peers and funding organizations.

Applications are open now for the Connectivity Challenge. The first step in the application process is for interested teams to register online by 5 p.m. MST March 19, 2020. For more information, and to register, visit ConnectivityChallenge.org. Additional questions can be directed to Dominique Gómez, Salazar Center Program Director, at dominique.gomez@colostate.edu.

About the Author:

Courtney Massey is the Office & Administration Intern at the Salazar Center for North American Conservation and splits her time between the Center and her master’s program in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University. The Salazar Center supports and advances the health and connectivity of natural systems and landscapes of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico — whether they be urban or rural; working or wildlands; public or private. Its efforts are rooted in the recognition that healthy natural systems bolster climate adaptation and resilience, protect biodiversity, and sustain long-term human health. Its team envisions a future where healthy, connected landscapes in North America promote a rich diversity of life; play a critical role in responding to climate change; ensure the production of clean air, water, and economic benefits for human communities; and are conserved and protected across political borders throughout the continent.

Getches-Wilkinson Center to Launch Fellows Program With Focus on Water in the West

The Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and Environment (GWC) at the University of Colorado Law School has raised $840,000 to launch the GWC Fellows Program, a first-of-its-kind initiative that will train the next generation of natural resource leaders.

The program will formally begin in spring 2020 with the hiring of two full-time fellows, who will be selected through a competitive national search in early 2020. With a focus on the water and the Colorado River in particular, the first two fellows will address critical issues affecting western watersheds, conduct reform-oriented research on pressing issues in the field, and interact with public and private sector leaders to inform policymaking.

“Fellows will get training from the most experienced people in the field, and then bring diverse voices and creative energy to the region’s most pressing natural resource challenges,” said Sarah Krakoff, Moses Lasky Professor of Law and interim executive director of the Getches-Wilkinson Center.

The Colorado River provides water and electricity for people throughout the region, including residents of Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. It also irrigates over 3 million acres of crops and pasture; provides abundant recreational opportunities for rafting, fishing, boating, and hiking; and serves as habitat for a multitude of fish and wildlife species, including several endangered native fish. Increasingly, demand is outstripping supply for this important natural resource.

“In Colorado and beyond there is a rising need for thoughtful policy initiatives at all levels of government to manage water usage throughout the Colorado River Basin,” Krakoff said. “The GWC sees an opportunity to help address this unmet need, and similar ones throughout western watersheds, while training the next generation of outstanding and diverse leaders in water law.”

The GWC Fellows Program is supported by David Bonderman, a lawyer, businessman, and significant supporter of conservation initiatives, who contributed a matching grant of $420,000. Additional financial support came from an anonymous donor and the Water Funder Initiative, a collaborative effort to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the United States, starting in the West.

For more information on the new GWC Fellows Program, contact Shaun LaBarre at shaun.labarre@colorado.edu or 303.492.1286.

The Risk of Curtailment under the Colorado River Compact

New Study of Colorado River Cutback Risks by GWC Senior Fellow, Anne Castle and University of New Mexico Water Resources Program Director, John Fleck

With a credible risk that declines in the Colorado River’s flow could force water curtailments in coming decades in Colorado and the rest of the Upper Colorado River Basin, communities need to think about what kind of insurance is needed, a new report argues.

A repeat of drought conditions seen in the first decade of the 20th century could nearly empty the Upper Basin’s primary storage reservoirs. “While the risk of that happening remains low in the short-term, the threat increases substantially over time, and regardless of the time frame, the consequences could be dire,” said Anne Castle, the study’s lead author – a loss of economic activity, jobs, income, and community benefits in cities and rural communities that depend on the water. “The chances that my house will burn down are low, but the result would be disastrous. So I buy insurance,” said Castle, a senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School. “The question is – What kind of insurance against the risk of Colorado River water curtailment should water users buy?”

Castle will be discussing the study at the Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum Nov. 13 at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

The report, written with University of New Mexico Water Resources Program Director John Fleck, connects the latest hydrology and climate science with an analysis of the legal framework governing the Colorado River’s allocation.

Drawing on water supply analyses by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and independent experts, the study finds that the risks are significant:

• A recent Bureau of Reclamation analysis found that a repeat of the conditions of the drought of the early 2000s could, in fewer than five years, drain Lake Powell to levels at which it would be unable to generate electricity.

• Water supply simulations commissioned by a group of western Colorado water agencies found a greater than one in three chance that flows could drop so far in the next decade that the ability of the Upper Colorado River Basin states – Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico – to meet their legal obligations to deliver Colorado River to downstream users in Nevada, Arizona,California, and Mexico would be in grave jeopardy.

Those hydrologic realities collide with legal institutions designed nearly a century ago that allocated far more water than the river has, without clear rules for handling sustained low flows.

The result, the report found, is significant risk of shortfall combined with uncertainty about whose water supplies would be cut, and by how much.

This suggests a need to prepare now, so communities are not blindsided, the report’s authors write.

Options include:

• Negotiating legal agreements among the Colorado River Basin states to clarify rules for sharing shortages

• Setting up voluntary, temporary, compensated water conservation programs now to bank conserved water as a hedge against risk

• Waiting – not taking proactive action, but rather letting the chips fall where they may, an option the authors warn is high stakes poker

The authors caution against litigation against the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada as a path to settling the issues. Such litigation could drag on for many years, creating uncertainty and hindering the types of collaborative agreements that have kept the River sustainable so far, they argue.

Full paper: The Risk of Curtailment under the Colorado River Compact

Risk of Curtailment Summary

12th Annual Schultz Lecture in Energy

Energy as a Locally Desirable Land Use

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Professor Hannah Wiseman  

Florida State University College of Law

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.

Event Video


The Law of the River, 2019

By Colorado Law Graduates Eric Dude, Marisa Hazell, and Shelby Krantz

The Law of the Colorado River seminar, taught by Professor Sarah Krakoff, is a deep-dive into the American West’s most important resource – the water of the Colorado River. We studied every aspect of the river and its management; the Colorado River Compact, the two major dams at Glen Canyon and Boulder Canyon, Tribal water rights and the Tribes’ involvement in the development of the modern Law of the River, how management is changing in response to aridification in the West, and more. Unlike many other law school courses, the bulk of the course is not about legal arguments in appellate courtrooms. Instead, it focuses on how the stakeholders who rely on Colorado River water have negotiated throughout the last century to prop-up an allocation scheme that promises too much from a river that provides less water every year. To cap off the seminar, we took a two-week trip down the Colorado River’s mainstem through the entire Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce Ferry…

When our bus pulled up to Lee’s Ferry on May 7, we caught our first glimpse of the river we had been studying so closely for the last four months. It was clear and frigid-cold. Just hours before our arrival, this water had been released from the bottom of Glen Canyon Dam, where all of the silt the river carried from the Colorado Plateau settled behind its seven-hundred foot high concrete walls. We settled into our boats (wooden dories) and began our course west as the Kaibab Limestone—the layer of rock that makes up the rim of the Grand Canyon—rose out of the water. For the next two weeks, we would watch this layer rise thousands of feet into the air above us, as each successive layer beneath it added new colors and textures to our canyon landscape.

These two weeks on the river are, in many ways, reducible to some meaningful numerical figures:

14 days;

277 river miles;

Over 100 rapids;

5 dory boats;

5 guides;

12 newly minted JDs;

3 rising 3Ls;

2 conferred LLMs;

2 Colorado Law professors;

1 Public interest lawyer

2 Colorado Law alumni donors.

But the reducible parts of this trip only provide the barest outline of what we experienced. The story is more satisfyingly filled in, as are most stories in life, by the uncountable:

Waiting to climb behind a limestone waterfall onto a moss-clad ledge to jump into a pool of warm, cerulean spring water, and the cheers that erupted as each of us did so in turn (including one epic belly flop);

The deep relaxation brought on by a warm, sunny lunch break after hours of shivering through cold wind and rain;

The ease of existing in a world not overburdened by connection—two weeks of cell-service-less bliss—and the creativity that flowed from the space created;

The validation of solidifying connections with old friends and creating connections with new ones, and the sweet exhaustion of hours of belly-laughing and late-night sing alongs;

The panic of realizing on Day 8 that we might run out of beer—and the calm when it all worked out;

The pure joy of riding through rapids with successive twenty-five-foot waves, and that of making it through unscathed;

The incredibly fleeting feeling of cleanliness and refreshment after braving a cold bath in the river;

The pride we felt during our river-side graduation ceremony, and the gratitude of sharing it intimately with important mentors and close friends; and, importantly,

The pure awe of experiencing a new and unmatched beauty around every bend in the river through the entire length of the Grand Canyon.

Each person on this trip, undoubtedly, could add pages of their own to this list. While some of these feelings are shared among us, each person took their own important lessons from the trip. Some of us were inspired to add new routines to our personal lives to emulate what we enjoyed on the river—more time dedicated to journaling, reading, or quiet contemplation. Others were encouraged to get back out for more river trips, more climbing, more hiking. And we each felt driven to prioritize time outside away from the grind in our careers in order to ground ourselves and recharge.

The academic insights were just as numerous and uniquely impactful. Spending the entire semester learning about the history of policy and law on the Colorado River fundamentally changed the experience of rafting down the canyon from merely an immersion in nature to an immersion in history and culture. To us, the trip wasn’t just through Grand Canyon National Park; it was through the heart of a river that has always sustained the people of the Southwest. 

As we traveled from Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry, it was inspiring to run the same rapids as John Wesley Powell and know the hardship his crew faced in the very same spaces. It was humbling to see petroglyphs from centuries ago and picture the tribes that inhabited the canyon before colonization, while at the same time understanding the law and policy that pushed them onto reservations to facilitate western expansion and public lands development. And as our guides read the rapids based on water flows from the Glen Canyon Dam and told stories of higher levels, we understood which government forces were impacting the water we floated on and how the communities that depended on energy and water from the dam were growing because of it (for better or worse).

Watching the moon rise over canyon walls each night, we pictured those before us who had done the same: American Indian tribal members, adventurers, policy makers, and fellow rafters. Each with their own perspective on the canyon and how it should be utilized or preserved. All who had, in their own way, influenced how we were experiencing the canyon. Rafting with this context allowed us to understand how we, as students passionate about protecting spaces like the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, would be a part of this long connected history. That is, how our future careers are not just about the issues of today or the present state of nature, but build on the fabric of the past and the changes that the law has brought to these landscapes.

Through three years of law school and grueling office internships, our work can feel very detached from the communities and spaces the law impacts. Somewhere along the way, we all get caught up in the culture of law school and the compulsion to always do more, and we lose touch with our base motivations. Many of us came to law school because we wanted to solve problems for communities and environments with compassion and insight, not merely engage in the rote application of legal rules. Rafting the Grand Canyon with the knowledge we gained through this seminar will allow us to do just that. And in the grandeur of billions of years of history displayed through striking rock layers, the trip made us feel a little less small in the world and more connected to it all.

At mile 210 of the Grand Canyon, Professor Krakoff gave us our commencement speech in our chair circle on the beach while Andy, one of our guides, played “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” on his guitar. In that moment, it was impossible not to feel grateful to have come to Colorado Law and been given the opportunity to have this experience as a capstone to our legal education and a catalyst to our legal careers. The trip gave each of us a renewed sense of wonder and purpose. It is the ideal energizing experience to take with us into our careers. We gained perspective on how we wanted to prioritize our lives to ensure they will be meaningful—in our legal careers, as advocates, and as people. We will forever remember the inspiration of the trip, the amazing connections we made together, and the joyful adventure we shared. rful

Attacks on the Antiquities’ Act (2019 National Preservation Law Conference)

Professor Mark Squillace Luncheon Keynote

Professor Mark Squillace

The 2019 National Preservation Law Conference was held on Tuesday, June 25 in Washington, D.C. The conference is put on by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center. This intense one-day summit provided a highly focused look into historic and cultural preservation law, highlighting recent and influential developments in the field. Attendees were able to gain knowledge and skills to effectively advocate and champion key preservation issues. This year’s speakers were all national legal experts on a wide variety of topics, including federal level regulations, legal tools for the built environment, religious properties, the Antiquities Act, and climate change.

Professor Mark Squillace from the University of Colorado Law School dove deep into attacks on the Antiquities Act from our past, present, and postulates on the future impacts on this important legal precedent.

Attacks on the Antiquity Act (Video)

#PreservationForum

40th Annual GWC Summer Conference

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? 

Event Program

Day One Video

Day Two Video

Speaker Presentations

Audio File Day One

Audio File Day Two

Energy Policy in the Age of Emergency Governance: New White Paper from Sharon Jacobs and Ari Peskoe

By Ari Peskoe, Sharon Jacobs

See the full white paper here: Energy Emergencies vs. Manufactured Crises: The Limits of Federal Authority to Disrupt Power Markets by Ari Peskoe and Sharon Jacobs

We live in an age of governance by emergency. In February, President Trump declared a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border after lawmakers repeatedly denied his funding requests. Next, he declared a national economic emergency to prevent U.S. firms from doing business with the Chinese technology company Huawei. Most recently, he invoked a national emergency to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan without Congressional authorization.

These invocations are each significant. But they are also piecemeal, making them even more dangerous than a more comprehensive power grab. Each individual emergency declaration may appear justifiable, or at least insufficiently threatening to warrant dramatic response. Before long, however, we may find that the executive has come to rely on emergency invocation as a tool of governance in peacetime.

We fear that the electricity industry may be next in line for governance by emergency. Since early 2017, the Administration has sought to support certain unprofitable coal (and sometimes nuclear) power plants. The Administration’s justifications for bailing out decades-old power generators are a moving target, and have included reliability, a nebulous concept called “resilience,” and, most recently, national security.

Make no mistake: power system reliability is vitally important, and the electric system must be able to recover from both routine and extraordinary shocks. We do not deny that natural disasters and physical- or cyber-attacks are real threats. Our disagreement is with the Administration’s flirtation with statutory emergency authorities to remake the energy system.

In a jointly authored paper released today, we make two primary arguments. First, the electric power sector is not in crisis. Despite recent closures of coal-fired power plants, interstate power networks operate reliably, and the nation has more than enough generation capacity to meet demand. A mix of federally regulated market rules and reliability standards, including standards related to physical and cyber security, as well as industry protocols and state oversight, keeps the system in balance.

Second, we argue that statutory emergency authority in the energy space is highly circumscribed. We look at four statutes: the Federal Power Act, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, the National Energy Act of 1978, and the Defense Production Act. With respect to the first three statutes, emergency authorities may only be invoked in the face of an actual threat to the grid. These statutes permit a narrow range of actions tied to the particular emergency, and their authorities terminate upon the emergency’s end (or, in some cases, sooner). The Defense Production Act enables government subsidy of private sector goods and services, but only where deemed critical to national defense.

One thing is clear: these statutes are not roving licenses to advantage particular types of generation. Over the past two years, the Trump Administration has attempted to invent a crisis in order to funnel support to ailing coal-fired generators. Its rationales are unrelated to the public interest and unsupported by the government’s own research. Most recently, Secretary Perry has suggested that multiple statutory authorities might be combined to achieve these ends. But as we explain in the paper, addition of these statutory authorities does not create anything greater than the sum of their parts.

Lawmakers, regulators, and industry actors are confronting genuine questions about adapting the power system to modern challenges, from introducing greater levels of renewable generation to mitigating climate impacts. These complex challenges are properly dealt with in the context of existing reliability frameworks and established stakeholder processes. They are not the sort of questions that lend themselves to effective resolution by reflexive reaction to imagined emergencies.

Sharon Jacobs is an Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Law and Board Member Getches-Wilkinson Center

Ari Peskoe is the Director, Electricity Law Initiative, Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program