Archived Stories

University of Houston Law Center & Faculty of Law, University of Calgary

will host the inaugural

North American Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Symposium

February 23-24, 2017
Houston, Texas

Research & Publication

Tracy Hester spoke on March 14 in New Delhi at the National Green Tribunal’s international conference on global environmental issues. He addressed the application of international coercive measures to control possible climate engineering research and projects. On March 11, he helped organize and participate in the inaugural Energy Infrastructure Conference jointly sponsored by the UH Bauer School of Business as well as the Law Center. He also chaired the quarterly meeting of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium’s Board of Directors on March 5.  And on February 16 through 18, he participated in the Institute of Energy Law’s annual board meeting in Houston as the representative for UH Law Center.

Susan Sakmar has been selected to serve on the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction (Unconventional Hydrocarbon Network (UHN), https://ec.
. Authorized by the European Commission, the purpose of the UHN is to bring together experts from around the world to collect, analyze and review results from unconventional gas and oil projects.  Professor Sakmar also attended the kick-off meeting of the UHN in Brussels on February 23-24.  Work on the UHN will take place over the next three years. Professor Sakmar also participated in the "Shale Gas in a Low Carbon Europe –The Role of Research” Conference held in Brussels at the European Commission on February 23.

Jacqueline Weaver was invited to lead a seminar class at the University of Calgary's School of Law new "Eminent Speakers in Energy Law" Course on February 2, 2015. The course, funded with a grant from a prominent law firm, invites energy law scholars to the UC campus to meet with faculty and students and also enjoy a weekend in Calgary. She led a discussion of safety management systems used in the oil industry, particularly in offshore operations.

UHLC student chosen for prestigious EPA internship

Spencer Taylor, a 2L graduating from the Law Center in spring 2016, will intern with EPA Region 2 field office’s CERCLA/Superfund Division this summer. Taylor previously interned with the Harris County District Attorney’s office in the Environmental Crimes section, and currently serves as Professor Hester’s academic research assistant where he has researched a wide variety of environmental issues.


Tracy Hester’s article, Restating Environmental Law, was published in redacted form by The Environmental Forum as the lead article for its January/February 2015 issue. The full version of the article will appear in The Columbia Journal of Environmental Law’s Spring 2015 issue. Professor Hester was also named as a resident scholar at the Environmental Law Institute for 2015, and will work at ELI’s Washington, D.C. office during the summer on his research projects involving the governance of climate engineering and on the application of U.S. and foreign environmental criminal laws to disasters.

Susan Sakmar's book, Energy for the 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges for LNG(2013) was recently chosen an Outstanding Academic Title for 2014 by Choice MagazineChoice is widely read by academic librarians in the U.S. and the awards are chosen based on the best-reviewed titles during 2014. Her book will also be part of an exhibit of all the Outstanding Academic Title winners at the American Library Association’s Mid-winter Conference later this month. Professor Sakmar’s article, LNG Exports: Will the United States Become the World's Largest LNG Exporter? was published in the recent edition of the State Bar of Texas Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Section Report.

Jacqueline Weaver was the Course Director and a lecturer for a 5-day Advanced Legal Studies Program on specialized topics in oil and gas law presented to lawyers from Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) at the University of Houston Law Center; Houston, Texas from December 8 to 12. Before that, she moderated a panel on Offshore Exploration & Production: Challenges & Opportunities Panel at the 2nd Mexico Oil & Gas Investment Summit; a conference organized by PetroRock Energy LLC; Mexico City, Mexico; December 4, 2014. This conference followed her lecture on “Offshore Safety in the Gulf of Mexico, the New U.S. System,” that was part of a 4-week training program entitled “Regulation of Hydrocarbons: An Advanced Training Program for Professionals,” organized by the University of Houston Law Center, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) – Centro de Energía y Recursos Naturales, and Wood Mackenzie; Mexico City, Mexico; December 3, 2014.


Barrett Schitka, UHLC 2015, is the winner of the 2014 Association of International Petroleum Negotiator's (AIPN) annual writing competition. His article, titled "Applying Game Theory to Oil and Gas Unitization Agreements: How to Resolve Mutually Beneficial, Yet Competitive Situations," is now published in the Journal of World Energy Law and Business and can be accessed here.  Barrett will be attending the annual international AIPN conference in Budapest, Hungary in October as a guest of the AIPN.  UHLC students have a pattern of winning papers in this competition and have enjoyed the all-expense paid trips to the annual conferences in many cities around the world. Barrett is one of the first students to enroll in the University of Calgary-UHLC's International Energy Lawyers Program, launched three years ago to allow students in the two energy capitals to graduate with a JD degree from both schools in four years. In May 2015, he will have graduated from both schools.


"International Law and Mexico’s Energy Reform”

Visiting Professor Julian Cardenas participated as a guest speaker at the forum, “Preparing for Energy Reform:  International Experiences and Considerations”,  sponsored by the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)  in Mexico City, on October 3, 2013.  

Andrews Kurth Energy Scholar Hosts Petroleum Transaction Law Discussion

Julian Cardenas Garcia 118 TUIIOn April 24, Andrews Kurth Energy Scholar Julian Cardenas hosted a lunch panel discussion on New Legal Trends for Transnational Petroleum Transactions.  The presentation included an international guest speaker, Dr. Alfredo De Jesus, Lecturer at the University of Versailles and the University of Paris XI, who addressed the legal theory of international petroleum transactions.  

Prof. Cardenas also discussed his research on Best Industry Practices and Environmental Regulation for Offshore Petroleum Operations - A Contribution to the Study of the Lex Petrolea, and he presented a method for the applicability and enforcement of industry standards in the oil industry.


Andrews Kurth Energy Scholar Comments on LNG Export Policy

Susan  SakmarProf. Susan Sakmar, an Andrews Kurth Energy Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor at UH Law Center, recently submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Energy's proposed policy for exports of liquified natural gas.  more...


Professor Jacqueline Weaver and Energy Scholar Julian Cardenas participated in Offshore Colombia Forum May 2013 more...

Chamber of commerce

National Symposium on Environmental Criminal Law.  As part of its National Moot Court competition, UHLC held a symposium on Jan. 26 with a panel of top enivronmental criminal defense attorneys. The moot court competition concluded on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a finals argument before several Fifth Circuit and Texas Supreme Court justices on an enviromental criminal liability case.  more...

NAFTA Environmental Enforcement Review. The University of Houston has joined six other law schools from Mexico, Canada and the United States to begin an independent review of the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation’s submittal for enforcement (SEM) process. This effort will take place under the auspices of the North American Conference for Legal Exchanges, which is led by Prof. Steven Zamora at the University of Houston Law Center.

NAFTA’s SEM process is unique: it provides citizens of all three countries the opportunity to submit complaints to the CEC that will trigger an investigation of that country’s enforcement programs and actions. During its fifteen years of operation, however, the SEM process has begun to draw accusations of ineffectiveness and political manipulation. The NACLE review will field multinational teams of professors and students to create a research report that will identify possible problems and opportunities for improvement in the SEM process.

The NACLE team tentatively plans to complete its efforts by May 2012. Of course, we will alert you and post the results of the report on the EENR Center website as soon as the team completes its work.

Sonangol.  The University of Houston Law Center again hosted the in-house legal department of Sonangol (Angola’s national oil company) in summer 2011 as part of its Environment & Energy LLM program with the University de Catolica in Lisbon, Portugal. We had the honor of sharing the summer with twelve in-house counsel with responsibilities for various programs within Sonangol.

ABA Workshop on Hydraulic Fracturing Enforcement. On May 18, the University of Houston helped support a workshop sponsored by the ABA’s Environmental Enforcement & Crimes Committee on state and federal enforcement initiatives affecting hydraulic fracturing operations. The workshop included simultaneous sessions in Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC linked by videoconference. The speakers included key enforcement attorneys from each state agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can find the presentations from the workshop here.

Summer Teaching Activities. Professor Jacqueline Weaver taught for a week in the LL.M Program in Petroleum Law at Agostinho Neto University's law school in Luanda, Angola in May 2011.This is Angola's premier public law school. Its LL.M. in petroleum law began with a $2 million donation from BP and the tireless efforts of BP Senior Counsel Norman Nadorff to create a world-class curriculum at the law school in this area. Prof. Weaver lectured on Sustainable Development issues. She also gave a presentation to Sonangol professionals on the Deepwater Horizon spill. Over the past 4 years, lecturers from the United States, Portugal, Brazil and other countries have taught segments of the A. Neto curriculum. Increasingly, Angolan law professors are doing the teaching and the university is running the program on its own. After Luanda, Professor Weaver flew to Lisbon where she taught International Petroleum Transactions in the Global LL.M program at Catolica University, which the Financial Times ranked as one of the best programs in the world in 2011. Catolica is a sister school to the University of Houston Law Center.

EENR Lecture by John Cruden.   John Cruden, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment & Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, gave the EENR Lecture for Spring 2011. Mr. Cruden is a well-known national figure in environmental law. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General, he was responsible for supervising a wide variety of environmental litigation, including civil enforcement actions in federal court for the key environmental statutes, including Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA, Safe Drinking Water Act, and CERCLA/Superfund. In addition, he supervised wetland enforcement, challenges to EPA rule making, and environmental actions filed against the United States. Shortly after he gave his EENR lecture, Mr. Cruden accepted a new post as the President of the Environmental Law Institute. We were honored and excited to have him join us.

Symposium on Counting on Catastrophe: How Environmental and Energy Laws Account for Catastrophic Risks. On February 18, 2011, the Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal hosted its seventh annual symposium at the JPMorgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston. The symposium's topic – a review of how environmental and energy laws respond to catastrophes, including the Macondo well blowout -- was both timely and vitally important to the Texas legal world.  The symposium keynote speaker was Jim Noe, the general counsel for Hercules Energy and executive director of the Offshore Energy Producers Task Force.

PLI Energy & Environmental Institute. On February 4 and 5, the University of Houston Law Center co-sponsored the Practising Law Institute’s first Annual Energy & Environment Institute in Houston. The program featured top-notch speakers, including FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer, John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, and Adam Kushner, the director of EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement.

Law Center’s energy and environment curriculum is first in nation. A recent survey by Vermont Law School tallied the environment and energy courses offered by law schools throughout the United States. We were proud to learn that our program ranked No. 1 nationally for the most substantive courses offered on environment and energy
law. Energy Law Curriculum Survey 2009-2010, Institute for Energy and the Environment , Vermont Law School at p. 2 (2010). We gratefully thank all of our professors and extend our special appreciation to the Law Center’s adjunct faculty who collectively make this achievement possible.

Sonangol summer program. The Law Center had the privilege in summer 2010 to host the in-house legal department of Sonangol, the national energy company of Angola. The students attended intensive courses during July 2010 as part of a joint program with the Catolica Global School of Law (with the Universidade Catolica in Lisbon, Portugal) to provide a LL.M. degree in advanced legal studies with several courses in energy and environmental law. The students had an opportunity to take in Houston’s sights, meet the professional environment and energy bars at a downtown reception, and – most important – learn about U.S. law on energy production, environmental protection and multinational contracts under Professors Jacqueline Weaver, Peter Linzer and Brigham Daniels (now at the J. Ruben Clark School of Law).

On Feb. 26, 2010, the EENR Center was a key host for a major symposium on “Climate Change, Water and Adaptive Law.” This event, which was sponsored by the Environmental and Energy Law & Policy Journal at the Law Center, featured a keynote address by the Honorable Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) and presentations by some of the nation’s top water and climate change legal experts, including Prof. Robin Kundis Craig (University of Central Florida), Amy Hardbetter (EDF’s water policy leader for Texas), Daniella Landers (Sutherland Asbill) and Scott Deatherage (Thompson Knight). Prof. Arnold provided the guiding spirit and working hand behind the symposium, and he – along with the Journal’s hard-working staff – staged an enormously impressive and productive event. You can review the agenda and materials for the symposium here.

The Symposium also offered a special side event: our Symposium Dinner, which provided an opportunity for EENR Center sponsors to meet the speakers and share thoughts and perspectives with the EENR faculty and guests.