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Law Courses Catalog

Solar and Wind Development

NOTE: This course description applies to Summer 2017. You may read the prior course description immediately below this new one.

In this course, students will receive an overview of the law of distributed and utility-scale solar and wind energy on both private and federal lands. Coverage will include state common law, state and federal regulations and statutes, and local ordinances. The focus will be on these laws as they apply to the consecutive stages of wind and solar development, including site selection (whether on rooftops, in solar gardens, or in large solar or wind farms), siting and permit approval, construction, transmission interconnection, and sale of electricity. The class will include skills exercises in addition to course readings, slide shows, and class discussions.

Professor DuVivier has taught at the law school level since 1990, and she has won the Sturm Faculty Excellence Award for “Best Professor,” as well as the Student Bar Association Faculty and Staff Achievement Award for “Mentorship.” Her teaching approach favors more interactive exercises than lecture, so classes will include group simulations, problem solving, interactive quizzes, and policy discussions.

NOTE: The following course descriptions applied in specific sections in Summer 2016 and earlier only:

Electricity Essentials

This basic course, strongly recommended for students with no previous knowledge of energy law, covers electric utility regulation and ratemaking, electric energy resources, and federalism issues in the electricity sector. Those who want to take Renewable Energy law, or Oil & Gas law are particularly encouraged to start with this course. Students who have already taken Energy Law at Lewis & Clark cannot take this course for credit.

Solar and Wind Development

In this course, students will receive an overview of the law of distributed and utility-scale solar and wind energy on both private and federal lands. Coverage will include state common law, state and federal regulations and statutes, and local ordinances. The focus will be on these laws as they apply to the consecutive stages of wind and solar development, including site selection (whether on rooftops, in solar gardens, or in large solar or wind farms), siting and permit approval, construction, transmission interconnection, and sale of electricity. The class will include skills exercises in addition to course readings, slide shows, and class discussions.

Professor DuVivier has taught at the law school level since 1990, and she has won the Sturm Faculty Excellence Award for “Best Professor,” as well as the Student Bar Association Faculty and Staff Achievement Award for “Mentorship.” Her teaching approach favors more interactive exercises than lecture, so classes will include group simulations, problem solving, interactive quizzes, and policy discussions.

Law of Coal

This course will look at the regulation of coal, primarily from a pollution-control perspective. It will cover surface mining regulation under the Surface Mining Control and Recreation Act, Clean Water Act regulation of mountaintop mining, emissions regulation under the Clean Act Act, regulation of fly ash under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and possibly worker safety regulations.

Renewable Energy Contracts

This course will introduce students to the role contracts play in the development, financing, construction and operation of renewable energy projects. A role-playing exercise will allow students to negotiate the terms and conditions of agreements for the sale of electricity and renewable energy credits, as well as debt and equity financing. Students will learn the key provisions included in renewable energy contracts through ?real life? examples of why the provisions are necessary in these contracts.

Grading will be based on class participation and a final exam.

Fundamentals of Energy Law

This basic course, strongly recommended for students with no previous knowledge of energy law, covers monopoly regulation, ratemaking, and federal/state jurisdiction. Those who want to take Renewable Energy Law, Nuclear Law, or Natural Gas Law are particularly encouraged to start with this course. Students who have already taken Energy Law at Lewis & Clark cannot take this course for credit.

The Law of Nuclear Energy

This course will cover the history of the boom/bust of the nuclear industry, current permitting and siting processes, laws governing materials handling (and how to prevent theft/illegal use), and waste storage discussions around Yucca Mountain.

Federal Energy Policy and Congress

This course will help students develop an understanding of the critical regional importance of the Congressional policymaking process and how to influence it. The role played in that process by federal agencies will be addressed. Students will learn about the role played by legal practitioners in these processes as well as learn about the resources, strategy and tactics available for influencing the passage and implementation of energy legislation. As an added dimension, each year the course publishes an energy white paper on the site of The Hill newspaper published in Washington, D.C. and online (see: http://thehill.com/resources/white-papers/organization/553-law-610-seminar-university-of-oregon-school-of-law/).

Hydropower and Wave Energy Development

This course covers the Federal Power Act and its protections for fish, wave energy development and ocean management, jurisdictional issues related to offshore wave development, and environmental concerns about wave development.

Renewable Energy Law and Policy

Renewable power is the cornerstone of the federal government’s push for a new “smart” energy infrastructure in the U.S. Moreover, many states are implementing a palette of renewable energy incentives. This first course in the renewable sequence is a hands-on navigation through real-world legal problems related to implementing renewable options. The course will cover various policies that states and the federal government have employed to incentivize or mandate renewables, including the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, renewable portfolio standards, feed-in-tariffs, net metering and similar programs. After establishing the fundamentals, students will be divided into several private and municipal stakeholder groups, and go through a hands-on simulation of a developer and landlord trying to site a renewable energy facility in an increasingly uncooperative town. This will not overlap with what might have been covered in any environmental course you might have taken, but instead tap local and state legal techniques to use against a power project. The Professor will attempt to supply course-specific material, so that purchase of a book will not be required. Evaluation of class participation in the simulations, as well as a take-home exam, will be the basis for grading. This course is designed to coordinate with Fundamentals of Energy Law taught the same week, as well as provide the foundation for the various renewable energy courses which follow in successive weeks.

Fracking & More: Environmental Issues in Unconventional Energy Developement of Oil & Gas Shale Resources

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.