This is an incredibly exciting and challenging time to study environmental and energy law. As these two historically separate fields have converged in the last decade around efforts to address climate change through state and federal energy policy, new opportunities for study, research, and legal practice continue to emerge. The University of Minnesota Law School's Environmental and Energy Law Program has embraced these challenges through new curricular developments, student activities, faculty research, and conferences.
As described in this newsletter, during the past academic year we were proud to host the 20th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations (in partnership with Vermont Law School) as well as the first “Power Shift” Regional Workshop (in partnership with the environmental and energy law programs at Harvard, Duke, and University of North Carolina). Both conferences brought together leaders from around the country in academia, private practice, government, and the non-profit sector to address critical issues surrounding land use regulation, eminent domain, renewable energy development, electric utility regulation, and transportation electrification.
Our student-run Environmental and Energy Law Society continued its tradition of community engagement, social events, and speaker sessions. Students and faculty have deepened connections with the University-wide Institute on the Environment and interdisciplinary Energy Transition Lab.
A new, skills-based seminar this spring in Energy and Utility Law will add to the already rich environmental and energy law curriculum that includes environmental law, energy law, water law, public lands and natural resources law, agriculture and the environment, advanced seminars, and environmental and energy law clinics and moot courts.
We are proud to be at the center of today’s developments in the field and to engage our students, faculty, alumni, and outside partners in academia as well as attorneys and industry leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors around the country and around the world.
Professor Alexandra B. Klass
Distinguished McKnight University Professor
Chair, Environmental & Energy Law Concentration
The 20th Annual Takings Conference: Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations
Attendees from the 20th annual Takings Conference view the Murr property on the St. Croix River.
On October 6th, 2017, the Law School, in partnership with Vermont Law School, convened the 20th annual conference on"Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations.” The conference explored the takings issue as it relates to land use, environmental rules, and other forms of regulation. An examination of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Murr v. State of Wisconsin and its implications for the future of takings doctrine were also featured.
Power Shift Series: Managing Dynamic Change in the Midwestern Power Sector
On December 1, 2017, the University of Minnesota Law School's Environmental and Energy Law Program partnered with Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the University of North Carolina's Center for Climate Energy, Environment, and Economics, and Harvard Law School's Environmental and Energy Law Program to convene a Power Shift Workshop on "Managing Dynamic Change in the Midwestern Power Sector."Participants discussed four critical grid issues in the Midwest: evolving stakeholder processes, power sector fleet transfer, the impact of electric cars on the grid, and responses to changing consumer demand.
Ellen Anderson Receives Critical Collaborator Award
Ellen Anderson, Executive Director of the University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Law School, was awarded the Critical Collaborator Award during the 2018 Environmental Initiative (E.I) Awards.
Minnesota Law faculty, adjunct faculty and colleagues working in environmental and energy law are making a tremendous impact in the community, the nation, and the world. Read this section to learn about media, awards, and presentations that are making a difference in environmental and energy law here in Minnesota and around the world.
Adjunct Professor Jean Coleman was recently appointed by Mayor Jacob Frey to serve on the City of Minneapolis Planning Commission where she will tap into her experience in land use and natural resource protection.
Professor Kristin Hickman presented her scholarly work on administrative law over the past year at numerous conferences and workshops, including at the Texas Office of Attorney General 2018 Constitutional Law Conference; Queensland University of Technology Business School, Brisbane, Australia; Harvard Law School; University of Alabama Law School; Notre Dame Law School, and George Mason University Center for the Study of the Administrative State.
Professor Bradley C. Karkkainen presented his scholarly work at the The 20th Annual Conference of Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations in 2017. He was also quoted in aStarTribune editorial on December 11, 2017, regarding contamination of a local aquifer by 3M Corporation’s spills of PFCs. 3M later settled a natural resource damages suit brought by the Minnesota Attorney General for $850 million.
Professor Alexandra B. Klass presented her scholarly work on environmental and energy law topics over the past year at numerous conferences and workshops, including at Maastricht University, Netherlands; Arizona State University; The Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth at Northwestern University; Dartmouth College; The George Washington University Law School; 5th Midstream Oil and Gas Conference, Houston; National Association of Attorneys General, 2017 Fall Meeting; University of South Carolina School of Law; Vermont Law School; Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Natural Resources Law Teachers Conference, Banff, Alberta; and Danish Technical University, Copenhagen, Denmark. She also published an op-ed in the Duluth News Tribune on lawsuits over copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters and was interviewed by WCCO, MPR, and other news outlets on a range of topics relating to the transportation of oil, gas, and electricity.
Spotlight on Minnesota Law Alumni
Assistant Attorney General for Minnesota Joseph Dammel
“Earning the concentration in Environmental and Energy Law at the University of Minnesota Law School has helped me in at least three important ways. First, during my dual law and public policy studies, the concentration curriculum helped me design an interdisciplinary track in which I could get quality theoretical and practical training with an emphasis on many facets of environmental and energy law. Second, having this concentration on my transcript helped to emphasize my training in this area of law to potential employers. Finally, third, the classes I took toward this concentration have been an invaluable asset as I practice energy law before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. I went to law school with the goal of one day becoming an environmental or energy law attorney. I chose the University of Minnesota Law School to accomplish this goal, and the Concentration in Environmental and Energy Law has been critical to my success now working in this field." —Joseph Dammel '13, Assistant Attorney General for Minnesota
Joseph Dammel ’13 graduated with a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude, with a Concentration in Environmental and Energy Law and an M.S. in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. During law school, Joe was the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 13 of the the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology. Joe began his career working in the regulatory division of CenterPoint Energy in Minneapolis. Since 2015, Joe has been an assistant attorney general at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where he represents the interests of residential and small business customers before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Experiential Learning in Environmental & Energy Law
Students in Adjunct Professor Charlie Nauen and David Zoll's Advanced Environmental Law class meet with Governor Mark Dayton at the Minnesota State Capitol.
In spring 2018, the Law School’s Advanced Environmental Law class conducted a mock oral argument on a water-related case before Justice Margaret H. Chutich of the Minnesota Supreme Court and received feedback from Justice Chutich.
Environment & Energy Law Clinic
One of 24 diverse clinics at the University of Minnesota Law School, the Environment & Energy Law Clinic is a client-driven course that encourages students to develop and use critical thinking skills to analyze problems in environmental and energy law and policy, as well as giving those students the opportunity to work directly with advocates on environmental and energy law issues. Clinic clients are typically nonprofits or other nongovernmental entities seeking legal advice on advocacy related to a wide range of environmental and energy issues, including clean water, renewable energy, utilities law and concentrated animal feeding operations.
Why I Chose Environmental and Energy Law
"The Environmental & Energy Law concentration appealed to me because it engages a lively area of law where the stakes are high and the work touches nearly everyone's lives, ranging from local disputes to global dilemmas. The broad selection of classes provided me with the concepts and tools that will allow me to support public and private actors in developing a safe, efficient, and responsible energy future."
—Zachariah Sibley, 3L
The Environmental and Energy Law Society
Environmental and Energy Law Students at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy's
Legally Green Gala in fall 2017.
The student-run Environmental and Energy Law Society (EELS) sponsored or participated in the following events in 2017-18:
EELS Introductory Event (Sept. 20, 2017)
Rebirth of Fossil Fuels Discussion (co-sponsored by FedSoc) (Oct. 2, 2017)
Save the Boundary Waters Campaign presentation (Oct. 19, 2017)
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy Legally Green Gala (Oct. 26, 2017)
Environmental and Energy Law Career Panel (Nov. 14, 2017)
Cargill Panel Discussion (co-sponsored by Women's Law Association and Business Law Association) (Mar. 8, 2018)
Minnesota State Bar Association Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Section Factory Farming Discussion (Apr. 23, 2018)
Earth Day BBQ (Apr. 24, 2018)
EELS students at an Earth Day BBQ in April 2018.
Taylor Mayhall ’18 Receives Environmental and Energy Law Student Award
Taylor Mayhall ’18 was the 2018 recipient of the Charles Nauen and Pati Jo Pofahl Environmental and Energy Law Student Award dedicated to honoring a graduating student in the environmental and energy concentration who exemplifies a strong commitment to environmental and energy law, academic accomplishment in the area, and leadership in and contributions to the Law School's environment and energy law program. Ms. Mayhall was the President of the Environmental and Energy Law Society (EELS) in addition to completing the concentration.
Ms. Mayhall is currently a judicial law clerk for the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C.
She explained, "The environmental and energy law concentration gave me the substantive knowledge to prepare me for a job with the federal government. Through hands-on seminars, I had the exciting opportunities to meet with the Governor, visit an energy transmission system operator (MISO), as well as learn about current issues from professors who are leaders in the community."