Letter from the Executive Director
The world today faces an energy challenge of unprecedented and unexpected dimensions. Sophisticated technological innovations in the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have led to an energy revolution in the United States, with new supplies of oil and gas that dramatically reposition the U.S. in the global market. This new abundance has completely changed the conversation about energy from one of peak supply to one of peak demand and has shifted the center of oil production from the Middle East to the Western Hemisphere over the last few years. One major result of this change is that the United States is set to surpass Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil by 2017 and could become a net exporter by 2030.
Around the globe, developed and rapidly developing nations are focused on securing sources of oil and natural gas to fuel their economies. Countries with significant petroleum reserves assert the sovereign rights of nations to self-determine the extraction of their natural resources. Disputes between sovereign nations and investors, as well as commercial arbitrations in the energy sector, are growing rapidly – both in frequency and magnitude. At the same time, developed and developing countries alike must grapple with the realities of global climate change, water and air pollution, and myriad threats to biodiversity associated with energy production. Typically, the search for new and secure sources of energy takes place against a backdrop of environmental and social concerns and challenges.
To address these challenges, the School of Law and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin have created the Kay Bailey Hutchison for Energy, Law, and Business to catalyze the interdisciplinary study of energy, including the structure of the energy industry, energy transactions, dispute resolution, and environmental law, science, and policy. We are bringing together students, faculty, practitioners, and government officials from the United States and Latin America who are interested in developing and applying innovative approaches to energy and environmental business, law, and policy challenges. We offer a number of innovative courses designed to prepare students to succeed in the energy sector, host distinguished lectures, conferences and symposia related to energy, and produce original research on energy problems from legal and business perspectives.
The University of Texas at Austin is uniquely positioned to offer students the finest educational opportunities in the world to focus on energy. Texas is the largest oil, gas, and wind power producer in the U.S. Nearly 30% of the nation’s proved natural gas reserves are in Texas. It contains one-fourth of the nation’s refining capacity, 40% of the country’s chemical production capacity, and utilizes an independent electricity grid that serves 24 million people. In addition, the state has more than 13,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity. Texas’ solar power potential is also among the nation’s highest, representing one-fifth of the U.S. total. Texas has an abundance of biomass energy resources, and the energy sector is one of the most important employers in the state. The KBH Energy Center is committed to ensuring that our business and law students are prepared to make an impact in the energy sector upon graduation. Our mission is to train the next generation of energy leaders in Texas, the United States, and the world.
Melinda E. Taylor