News Types: Press Releases

Maria Gallucci named 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellow

AUSTIN – Maria Gallucci, a science reporter with Mashable, has been awarded the UT Energy Journalism Fellowship for 2017-18.

Gallucci will spend her year on The University of Texas at Austin campus researching and writing a book on the global shipping industry’s transformation to a low-carbon future.

“Maria has a strong record as a reporter covering important energy and environmental issues,” said Energy Institute Director Dr. Tom Edgar. “We look forward to having her on campus and providing her the opportunity to interact with UT’s energy experts and write her book.”

Formerly an energy and environment reporter with International Business Times and features editor with Makeshift magazine, Gallucci succeeds National Public Radio reporter Lorne Matalon, who has reported on the challenges and opportunities Mexico faces following its recent energy reforms.

The Fellowship, which provides journalists a sabbatical from the grind of daily deadlines to pursue a long-form writing project such as a book or screenplay, is sponsored by the university’s Energy Institute and Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business. Gallucci’s fellowship will run from September 1, 2017 – August 31, 2018.

De-carbonizing the electric grid focus of 7th annual Austin Electricity Conference

This article was previously published in the UT Austin Energy Bulletin May 2017.

Market conditions will continue to drive a movement toward de-carbonization of the nation’s electric grid despite the rescinding of stringent anti-pollution measures put in place by former President Obama, noted panelists at the 2017 Austin Electric Conference. Experts drawn from academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations engaged in a debate of economic, engineering, legal, and policy issues related to a steep growth trajectory in renewable energy that poses challenges for electric grid operators, regulators, policymakers, and industry participants.

Over the course of two days, conference panelists and attendees participated in a robust dialogue sparked by a series of brief presentations relating to four tracks: Deep De-carbonization Plans, Zero-Carbon Generation Technology, Managing the De-carbonization Grid, and De-carbonization Policy. The annual conference, now in its 7th year, is an invitation-only gathering of leading experts and prominent players in a rapidly evolving electric utility industry.

Conference organizers included David Adelman from UT Austin’s School of Law; Ross Baldick from the Cockrell School of Engineering; Varun Rai from the LBJ School of Public Affairs; David Spence from the McCombs School of Business and School of Law; and John Butler and Melinda Taylor from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business.

De-carbonization entails shifting away from a reliance on fossil fuels for electric generation toward cleaner sources of energy. In some regions, the rate of de-carbonization of the electric generation mix is accelerating rapidly, driven by market forces such as low natural gas prices and declining costs for solar and wind energy. In addition, advances in technology have enabled greater integration of renewable energy into the electric grid, assisted by an assortment of state and local policy incentives.

Even in the absence of aggressive state and local policy incentives, the low marginal costs of wind and solar generation (combined with federal tax credits) have facilitated the growth of those technologies in competitive wholesale markets,” the conference program noted.

One theme that emerged from a discussion of various states’ efforts to aggressively transition to a cleaner electric grid was how decentralized forms of electricity generation will affect low-income consumers, many of whom cannot afford to invest in rooftop solar panels, energy efficiency measures, and other technologies associated with Distributed Energy Resources (DERs).

“Deep de-carbonization raises some very significant social justice issues that cannot be ignored,” one panelist noted.

Another panelist suggested policymakers should be mindful of the need to create rebates and other financial mechanisms that incentivize low-income consumers to ‘buy in’ to a cleaner electric grid.

“A key question is: will this transition only benefit people who can afford these things?” she asked.

For more, view 2017 Austin Electricity Conference panelists’ presentations.

Former Texas Law Exchange Student Julian Bordacahar Will Be Legal Counsel at Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague

Juan Bordacahar will be Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. Mr. Bordarahar completed his LL.M. at the Geneva Masters in International Dispute Settlement (MIDS). He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in 2013, after spending a semester as an exchange student at the University of Texas School of Law, where he studied International Investor/State Arbitration and International Commercial Arbitration.

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Constituent Law School Opportunities for Law Students

The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation invites you to visit the Professors & Students page of our website to see all the great opportunities for law students at our Constituent Law Schools (CLS), including:

  • Student attendance at RMMLF courses: Seven upcoming courses are open to students. Waived registration fees and travel cost reimbursement may be available:
    • Cross-Border Natural Resource Transactions: A Video-Linked Workshop & Networking Event, June 15, 2017 – Albuquerque, Anchorage, Bismarck, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Vancouver
    • 63rd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, July 20-22, 2017 – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    • Indian Law and Natural Resources: The Basics and Beyond, September 26-27, 2017 – Westminster, Colorado
    • Oil and Gas Law Short Course, October 16-20, 2017 – Westminster, Colorado
    • Federal Oil & Gas Leasing Short Course, October 16-19, 2017 – Westminster, Colorado
    • The National Environmental Policy Act, November 2-3, 2017 – Denver, Colorado
    • Oil & Gas Joint Operations and the New AAPL Form 610 Model Form Operating Agreement, November 3-4, 2016 – Houston, Texas
  • Student Memberships:  Full-time students may become Annual Members of the Foundation. Join for only $25.
  • Networking Grants: Planning a natural resource law-related networking event? Apply for a Foundation Networking Grant. This program supports collaborative events among student organizations, CLS Trustees, law professors, local law firms, and other Foundation members, that foster education, generate interest in mineral law and related areas, and increase awareness about the Foundation’s educational programs and opportunities.
  • Scholarships:  The 2017-18 Joe Rudd & RMMLF Scholars have been selected—31 students from 18 CLS received a total of 34 scholarships. Their names will be published on our website by the end of the month. The application process will open again in January 2018.

Visit our website at https://www.rmmlf.org for more information. We appreciate your help in getting the word out about these opportunities.

Professor Melinda Taylor and Professor David Adelman Speak at U.S.-Mexico Border Wall Conference

On April 28, Professor Melinda Taylor and Professor David Adelman spoke at a U.S.-Mexico Border Wall conference held at Texas Law. Their presentations focused on the environmental impact of the wall and ways to minimize the impact. For example, a wall would prevent water from flowing across the Mexican border, and there is also wildlife that migrates across the border, including the endangered ocelot, also known as a dwarf leopard, located in south Texas and northern Mexico. “US Fish and Wildlife has spent a lot of money to preserve this animal and there are only a couple dozen left,” Professor Taylor observed.

This symposium marked the 10-year anniversary of the implementation of the Secure Fence Act and it reflected on the potential expansion and hardening of the physical and political reality of the U.S. border wall. It brought together interdisciplinary panels of expert researchers, scholars, activists, and community members who have studied, documented, and experienced the impacts of this structure. This event was sponsored by the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at Texas Law.

Read a CNN article quoting Professor Taylor on the environmental impact of the wall.

7th Annual Austin Electricity Conference a Success

On April 20-21, 2017, The University of Texas at Austin convened the 7th Annual Austin Electricity Conference. The conference is an annual, invitation-only conclave of engineers, economists, policymakers, lawyers and other experts in the electric utility industry, drawn from academia, industry, government, and NGOs. The conference follows the Aspen Institute model, in which extended plenary discussions are organized around short (less than 10 minutes) panel presentations so as to promote cross disciplinary discussion among the invited participants. In this way, the model treats all invited participants as “presenters” and puts less emphasis on formal panel presentations.

This year’s AEC explored economic, engineering, legal, and policy issues posed by decarbonization of the electric grid. The speed of this growth trajectory for renewables poses evolving challenges for grid managers, regulators, and industry participants alike.

In electricity policy, “decarbonization” is in the air. As the name implies, decarbonization entails shifting the fossil fuel mix towards less intense producers of carbon dioxide together with reduced reliance on fossil fuels for electric generation over time. Scholars and think tanks have explored the possibility of rapid, deep decarbonization, demonstrating that it is at least technically possible. Indeed, the rate of decarbonization of the electric generation mix seems to be accelerating accordingly, driven by market forces particularly relating to low natural gas prices and declining cost of renewables, improved methods for integrating renewable energy into the electric grid, and a growing list of federal, state and local policy incentives.

The latter category comprises a smorgasbord of old and new policies, including (i) the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and mercury rules, (ii) new, more aggressive renewable state clean energy standards like the “50% by 2030” renewable energy goals established recently by the states of New York and California, (iii) even more aggressive clean energy goals adopted by some municipal governments, and (iv) attractive financial incentives for the adoption of rooftop solar and other zero-emission, distributed energy alternatives. Even in the absence of aggressive state and local policy incentives, the low marginal costs of wind and solar generation (combined with federal tax credits) have facilitated the growth of those technologies in competitive wholesale markets.

Over two days, panelists and attendees participated in four panels. Panel 1 analyzed Deep Water Decarbonization Plans. Panel 2 discussed Zero-carbon Generation Technology. Panel 3 explored Managing the Decarbonization Grid. Panel 4 talked about Decarbonization Policy.

Conference organizers included David Adelman from the University of Texas School of Law, Ross Baldick from the Cockrell School of Engineering, Varun Rai from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, David Spence from the McCombs School of Business and the University of Texas School of Law, and John Butler and Melinda Taylor from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business.