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Law Summer Courses

Fracking & More: Environmental Issues & Unconventional Energy Development of Oil & Shale Resources 948-RS2

January 08, 2014

The unconventional oil and gas development techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were first combined on a commercial scale in the Barnett Shale in North Central Texas in the late 1990’s. The growth of the oil and gas industry in the United States since that time has been unprecedented. Drilling in tight formations long known to contain significant volumes of gas and oil has proceeded rapidly. Environmental issues have arisen as a consequence of the rapid pace and expansive geographic scope of this growth. In many cases the development has occurred in areas not subject to significant oil and gas development in the past. Both industry and government sometimes lack the knowledge, staffing and laws to keep up with the growth in the sector.

This course will provide the student with a basic understanding of unconventional oil and gas development and the technology which spur this growth. The course will then review the associated environmental and natural resources issues impacted by this change in the energy sector, and the framework of laws and policies affecting the industry.

The course will also include a review of current studies by government agencies and academic intuitions, trends in litigation, and how the environmental issues have been addressed by the oil and gas industry, governmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Finally, the course will explore how environmental issues are typically addressed in an oil and gas transaction.

Class participation will be encouraged and assessed. The principal component of the grade will be based upon a final exam.

James C. Morriss III is a partner and Environmental Practice Group Leader at the law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP in Austin Texas. He focuses his practice on environmental permitting; compliance counseling; facility siting, including wetlands and endangered species work; legislative lobbying; and administrative and judicial litigation before local, state, and federal environmental agencies and state and federal courts. He has extensive experience in counseling clients in environmental risk management, including the design and implementation of environmental auditing programs and environmental management systems, and in the investigation and disclosure of environmental liabilities and contingencies.

Jim has significant experience in litigation involving the investigation and remedy of complex sites including the development and presentation of risk based solutions to contamination.

He represents clients in a variety of industry and commercial sectors including steel, metals recycling, organic and inorganic chemicals, petroleum refining, plastics, cement, oil and gas exploration and production, transportation, and real estate development.

For more information:

Adjunct Professor: Jim Morriss
1 credit
Class Meets: Tuesday July 22 - Monday July 28 
Time:  1:30pm - 4:30pm
Room: Smith
Exam: July 28
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