College of Law Professor Tara Righetti Appointed Trustee-at-Large by the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

DSC_9265In recognition of her expertise in the field and proactive involvement with the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Professor Tara Righetti has been appointed a trustee-at-large. With an impeccable reputation, she has established herself as a go-to expert in the field, and a tremendous asset in the region.

The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation is a collaborative, educational, non-profit organization dedicated to the scholarly and practical study of the laws and regulations relating to mining, oil and gas, energy, public lands, water, environmental and international law. In her capacity as a trustee-at-large, Professor Righetti will help to advise the Board of Directors leading the Foundation.

“Professor Righetti has distinguished herself as a rising star in the field of oil and gas law,” says Alex Ritchie, Executive Director of the RMMLF. “She also gives willingly and enthusiastically of her time to educate the community of natural resources professionals and landmen on complex oil and gas issues. The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation greatly appreciates the service she has provided to our organization and is honored to have her on our Trustees Council.”

Prior to her career in academia, Righetti served as CEO and general counsel of a privately owned upstream oil and gas company. Since joining the University of Wyoming in 2014, Professor Righetti has been diligently working to provide important research for her discipline, informative resources for the Wyoming natural resources community, and educational opportunities for students. She serves on the Executive Committee of Wyoming Association of Professional Landmen (WAPL), and is a certified professional landman. Appointed in a joint capacity to the College of Law, the College of Business, and the School of Energy Resources, Professor Righetti carries the responsibility of a dedicated researcher and educator, as well as serving as the Director for the Professional Land Management Program.

Some of her current projects are reflective of her drive and passion for the exploration of energy issues. She recently presented a paper at the 64th Annual Institute of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, held in Victoria, British Columbia. Her paper entitled, “Environmental Considerations in Oil and Gas Conservation and Permitting,” will be published in the forthcoming Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute Proceedings later this fall.

Additionally, Professor Righetti gave a presentation at the WAPL Educational Seminar on August 2nd in Sheridan, Wyo. A non-profit, the WAPL is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of the profession of land work in mineral exploration. Her presentation focused on Wyoming’s Split Estate Act and Royalty Payment Act.

Professor Righetti will also be hosting a RMMLF Young Professionals Workshop in the fall. The workshop will allow attorneys, students, and other interested parties to participate in a video-linked presentation and networking event to learn about interesting topics in energy and join the community of young practitioners around the country. (More details on the event will be forthcoming on the College of Law website).

“I am truly honored to be serving as a trustee-at-large for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation,” says Righetti. “I look forward to the opportunity to be more active in the Foundation and to contribute to the important educational work it does for our students and the industry.”

The College of Law commends the RMMLF on their selection of Professor Righetti to be part of the Trustee Council. We are extremely proud of her hard work and achievements.

Professor Stoellinger’s Research Cited in Endangered Species Act Reform Discourse

DSC_7760A recent publication by Professor Temple Stoellinger is proving to be a key asset in the current discussion of reforming the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). The article, “Wildlife Issues are Local – So Why Isn’t ESA Implementation?” was published in the 2017 fall issue of Ecology Law Quarterly, and offers insight into the interpretation of a long-forgotten section of the ESA permitting more authority to the individual states on endangered species matters.

A discussion draft bill recently proposed by Senator John Barasso, leaning heavily on the work spearheaded by Governor Matt Mead (J.D. ’87) through the Western Governor’s Association, seeks to make several changes to the ESA. The proposed legislation has brought new attention on the subject and opened the door for dialogue.

Professor Stoellinger’s publication has been helpful to inform the larger conversation on the state’s role of the implementation of the ESA and the history of the Act itself. The research brief explores the legislative history of the ESA and proposes a solution that would give states greater authority to manage listed species without needing to implement reforms to the actual law.

Professor Stoellinger has been cited in news media outlets across Wyoming including Wyoming Public Media, the Casper Star Tribune, and the Wyoming Business Report.

The College of Law is extremely proud to have to see the efforts of our faculty at the forefront of national legislative discussions.


EENR Clinic Visits Legislature

On February 26th, the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Law Clinic had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Wyoming state legislature. In order to better understand the legislative process, the clinics students, guided by Cindy Delancey, Representative Kinner, and Senator Hastert toured the temporary home of the legislature and spoke with Gov. Matt Mead and several representatives, senators, and lobbyists.

Kara Jennen, a 3L student in the EENR Clinic who serves as the Student Director was one of the eight students that visited the Capital.

“Opportunities like this make me really appreciate Wyoming,” says Jennen. “Even in the midst of trying to wrap up the busy legislative session everyone seemed eager to talk to us, and I think going to the legislature adds value to our legal education by gaining a fuller understanding and appreciation of the law making process.”

University of Wyoming College of Law students uniquely benefit from the close relationship with lawmakers in the state, and are able to gain a real understanding of current issues as they apply their legal educations. 2016 legislative session

The Wyoming Legislature began its 20 day budget session for 2016 on February 8th, and wrapped up March 4th. Many important topics were discussed including the impending budget cuts for across the state as a result of the current lull in the energy industry.

Faculty Highlight: Tara Righetti

Professor Tara Righetti recently presented a paper at the Energy Policy Research Conference (EPRC) which took place September 10-11 in Denver. The paper entitled “The Impact of Social Cost of Carbon Analyses in the Development of Western Region Energy Projects,” was co-authored by Professor Temple Stoellinger of the University of Wyoming Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and Kipp Coddington of the Carbon Management Institute. DSC_9265

Their research explores the use of the federal social cost of carbon in National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) documentation for western energy projects. The SCC is a metric which was designed for use in the rulemaking context; However, environmental advocates have been pushing to require inclusion of the SCC in NEPA analyses. Inclusion of the SCC could mandate that agencies not only disclose GHG emissions estimates but also make a quantitative estimate of the economic impacts related to climate change. .The paper explains the SCC and how it has been used thus far, reviews the formal and draft agency guidance on the subject as well as the few cases that have directly addressed the question, and discusses how inclusion will impact the development of energy projects on public lands in the West. 

“This is an important issue for Wyoming,” says Righetti. “This tactic is being used in legal challenges to coal and oil & gas permits on federal lands, which could have far reaching impacts on our state.” 

The annual Energy Policy Research Conference (EPRC) is hosted by the Energy Policy Institute. EPRC is the premier energy policy research conference held in the Western United States and is targeted toward academic and professional energy policy researchers.

Energy Law CLE – UW Summer Roadshow

From April-June 2015, University of Wyoming faculty members Tara Righetti and Temple Stoellinger will host educational energy law sessions across Wyoming and in Denver, focusing on emerging issues in oil and gas and energy law and regulation and ethics. The sessions will cover the potential impacts of federal protections on sage grouse, the BLM’s fracking rule, and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan; and the evolution of surface access rights on federal split estates. The sessions will also include an ethics program addressing specific ethical issues raised by extractive industries, and anticipated impacts of commodity price changes.

This program is a joint initiative among the UW School of Energy Resources (SER) and the UW Colleges of Law and Business.

Righetti-pic-2Tara Righetti will speak on an oil and gas lessee’s right to utilize the surface of a severed mineral interest within a federal exploratory unit which has historically been limited to the land directly overlaying the subjoining minerals: use of the surface of one parcel to benefit or access the minerals of a separate, adjoining parcel, was prohibited. The Tenth Circuit’s 2014 decision in Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC potentially expands the mineral lessee’s rights of surface use. Focusing on the U.S.’s rights of disposal under the Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916, the court upheld a mineral lessee’s use of the surface to access adjoining validly contributed to a unit pursuant to Section 226 of the Mineral Leasing Act. This session examines the Entek decision and the effect of unitization under the Mineral Leasing Act on surface development of field-wide infrastructure for production, gathering, and wastewater disposal.

Temple Stoellinger will speak on the policy and legal implications of the Bureau of Land DSC_7760Management’s recently issued hydraulic fracturing rule, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the potential listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act in September of 2015. Recent changes in federal rules and policy pertaining to energy development have the potential to have a big impact to the State of Wyoming and to the industries operating within the state.

The series will kick off in Laramie on April 29, 2015 at noon in the Energy Innovation Center Room 201. Lunch will be provided. For registration and more information on this event, or other events in the series, please visit the Energy Roadshow website.

Wyoming Team Claims Podium Finish at the National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition

The winning team from the University of Wyoming’s Davis and Cannon Natural Resource Moot Court Competition went on to claim a podium finish at the National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition March 13-15, 2015 in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Wyoming team of third-year law students Bailey Schreiber, Courtney Amerine and Laurie Rogers maintained an undefeated record throughout the competition and placed third overall behind Texas Tech and North 3

“I am incredibly proud of the team,” boasts Temple Stoellinger, the Wyoming team’s supervisor and coach.  “They put a lot of time and effort into this competition and it paid off. We were the team to beat at this year.”

The Wyoming team is no stranger to success. Schreiber, Amerine and Rogers also won the Davis and Cannon Natural Resource Moot Cophoto 2 (2)urt Competition in 2014 and competed last year at the Pace National Environmental Law Competition. Building off their past experience, they were able to hone their advocacy skills and work as a unit. In West Virginia, the team was ranked first heading into the advanced rounds of the competition out of the 16 teams that made it through the preliminary rounds.

“The competition was a great learning experience,” comments Schreiber. “It gave us the opportunity to develop and refine our speaking and writing skills. The other teams performed so well and really pushed us.”

Teammate Laurie Rogers concurs. “The most exciting part of the competition was watching our team’s advocacy skills improve with each performance. We observed other teams in action and noticed who was persuasive and why. We listened to the judges’ feedback and adjusted our presentation when appropriate. We got better and better and inspired each other to be exceptional. I will never forget that part of our experience in West Virginia.”

In addition to their third place finish in the oral argument portion of the competition, the team also had a notable finish for their brief as the runner up to Utah for Best Brief Overall.

As an appellate competition, each team is required to independently write a brief without any outside help and give an oral argument in front of the fictitious 12th Circuit Court. This year’s problem had two issues:

  1. Whether a mid-stream gathering and pipeline company could be considered a “public utility” under the statutes of the fictitious states of Vandalia and Franklin.
  2. Whether the US Army Corps of Engineers had jurisprudence over a wetland that the mid-stream gathering and pipeline company would like to place a pipeline through.

While the brief was independently written, the team received immeasurable support from the Wyoming legal community in preparation for their oral arguments.

“It was great fun representing the University of Wyoming this past weekend,” says Amerine. “Thanks in particular to the support of our professors, Temple Stoellinger, Sam Kalen, and Tara Righetti in particular, and practitioners in the community, we were prepared for every question that came our way.”

The team would like to thank all of those that helped them prepare for the competition: the natural resources faculty at the College of Law, the Wyoming Public Service Commission, Jeff Pope from Holland & Hart, and Dave Ross and Matthias Sayer from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office.

The College of Law is exceedingly proud of the team and congratulates them on a job well done.

Stoellinger notes, “Bailey, Courtney and Laurie did a wonderful job representing the University of Wyoming and demonstrated that Wyoming stands among the top energy law schools in the country.”

Students Compete at the National Environmental Moot Court Competition

IMG953481The student team representing the University of Wyoming College of Law at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, hosted by the Pace University Law School, had a successful run competing this past weekend, Feb. 19-21, 2015. The team of second-year law students Casandra Craven, Monica Houston and Jasmine Fathalla, was selected to represent the College of Law after the intraschool Davis & Cannon, LLP Natural Resources Law Moot Court Competition during the fall 2014 semester.

Each February, law students from around the country assemble at Pace Law School to compete in the national event. The competition is the largest interschool moot court competition of any kind under one roof, attracting in excess of 200 competitors from diverse law schools and 200 attorneys who serve as judges. The teams are presented with a unique problem, drawn from real environmental cases, with three parties, much like real environmental litigation with an industry party, a state or federal government party, and a conservation group party. Each team writes a brief for one of the three parties and files that brief in November. The teams come to the Pace campus in White Plains, New York in mid-February for oral arguments. Each team argues all three sides, taking a different side during each round. Switching sides provides a vigorous intellectual workout, as the competitors must understand the legal arguments and strategies of all three sides and be able to deliver a persuasive argument on the position assigned.

The College of Law team advanced through three preliminary oral argument rounds in the national competition, beating out the teams from UCLA, Tennessee, Florida and Houston along the way. The team just missed a chance to advance to the quarterfinal round. Advancement is extremely competitive, with only 27 of up to 81 teams advancing after the preliminary rounds. Though they did not make it to the upper rounds, the ladies represented Wyoming well and brought home the accolade of Casandra Craven being awarded “best oralist” during the team’s second and third rounds, narrowly beating out her teammate Jasmine in the second round. Before the best oralist in the first round was announced, the coaches from the two other teams in that round touted Casandra Craven as best oralist as well.  The loss of the extra accolade in that round was by a slim margin, and the recognition by two other coaches was well-deserved.

After each round the team received an overwhelming majority of positive comments from the judges. One judge of twenty years said she had never seen a team pick up what the other teams were arguing and use it to their advantage as well as Wyoming’s team. She also praised the team for following up seamlessly on questions posed by judges to the other teammate earlier in the argument, which demonstrated teamwork, preparation, and an advanced set of oral advocacy skills.

The team received coaching support from members of a former University of Wyoming team that took second place at the Moot Court participants UWYONational Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in 2010, Christyne Martens (J.D. ’10), Temple Stoellinger (J.D. ’10), and Maryt Fredrickson (J.D. ’10), who donated her time to the law school to accompany the team to White Plains, New York for the competition. The team also had coaching support from the law school faculty and members of the Wyoming Bar, including the Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael (J.D. ’85) and other members of the Attorneys General’s Office including James Kaste, (J.D. ‘98), Dave Ross, and Blake Klinkner.

Coach Maryt Fredrickson said after the competition “I am thrilled to see a team of this caliber represent the College of Law. This group worked perfectly as a team, with each oralist evenly matching their teammates in every round and supporting each other in practice rounds, drilling each other with practice questions. They worked hard prior to the competition and continued that demanding work while in New York. These students reflect terrific skills as oral advocates and have bright futures as practicing attorneys.”

The College of Law is overwhelmingly proud of Casandra, Jasmine and Monica on their performance!