Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resource Systems Law Program


Administrative Law
A study of the legal principles and procedures to which an unelected bureaucracy must conform to achieve legitimacy. The course reviews the problems inherent in a relatively disunited body of law derived from disparate sources, but concentrates on the Constitution and other federal law as the primary sources of organizing principles for administrative law and procedure. Topics addressed may include the constitutional underpinnings of the federal bureaucracy, judicial review of agency fact finding and legal interpretation, extra-statutory administrative common law, the grounds for dividing administrative actions into adjudication and rule making, the essential components of due process in agency adjudication, and the availability of judicial review of agency action. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program.

Agricultural Law
Study of major areas of agricultural law; practical approach including discussions and hands-on assignments; legal issues relating to animal agriculture, food safety, landowner rights, the interaction between agriculture and energy production, agricultural leases, agricultural policy and estate and succession planning for farm families. Prerequisite: One year of law school in full-time or part-time program.

Capstone Course in Natural Resources Systems
This course offers a capstone experience enabling students to blend their substantive doctrinal training in various natural resource-related legal areas with the development of practical skills and professional identity. A chief objective is to better prepare students to begin practicing law upon graduation. Students will also gain valuable experience and contacts, which will enhance their qualifications for long-term career opportunities. The class will be modelled on a typical law firm practice where students will have to work in teams, understand client demands, confront decision-making challenges, and manage workload. Substantively, the course content will depend on the topic identified for that particular semester and could encompass two or more natural resource legal areas, such as agricultural, energy, environmental, land use, oil and gas, and/or water issues.

The Spring 2018 Capstone Course will involve inverse condemnation, water law, land use, and other issues related to the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in late August 2017. The course will respond to a request for guidance and information about legal issues and potential liability relating to water released from Lake Livingston in South Texas that inundated property downstream of the reservoir. The class will work on this project with the Trinity River Authority, which owns and operates Lake Livingston.

Climate Change and Energy Law Seminar
Analysis of evolving climate change control and adaptation policies, both domestic and international; evaluation of policies intersecting with laws regulating energy development; the extent to which laws and policies incentivize technological innovation and encourage sustainable energy development. Prerequisites: All lockstep courses except Constitutional Law.

Energy Law
This course provides an introduction to energy law and regulation in the United States. It focuses on the basic principles of public utility regulation, the division of jurisdiction between federal and state governments, and the key regulatory statutes and case law governing energy resources such as water, coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy. We will analyze the environmental, regulatory, land use, and economic concerns as they relate to each energy source. Finally, this course will provide an introduction to electricity and electric power competition in the United States. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program.

Environmental Covenants: Theory & Practice (Special Topics)
Students in this simulation course will play the role of a new attorney, working with a client who wants to create environmental land use covenants and a senior partner who helps navigate the applicable law. Students will counsel and question the client, research applicable law, and draft covenants, all with feedback from the perspective of both the client and senior lawyer. This course will be graded. Student grades will be based on class participation, written projects, and presentations. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program.

Environmental Law
A study of various approaches for dealing with adverse environmental effects, including private litigation, regulation, and financial incentives. The course surveys air and water pollution, solid and hazardous waste problems, and the National Environmental Policy Act. Attention is also paid to judicial review of legislative and administrative action, the special problems raised by our federal form of government, and the administrative regulatory process in pollution control. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including Property.

Environmental Oil and Gas Law
Exploration of federal, state, and local environmental laws that impact the oil and gas industry; current laws that apply to hydraulic fracturing activities as well as current studies and enforcement actions concerning the same; and analyzes typical claims and defenses asserted in recent hydraulic fracturing litigation. Prerequisites: One year of law school in the full-time or part time program; Oil and Gas.

International Environmental Law
Contemporary perspective of domestic and international law applicable to transboundary and global environmental issues; relationship of environmental law with international relations, trade, development, resource exploitation and conservation and human rights; role of international and non-governmental organizations in the development of international and domestic environmental laws and policies; may include case studies of disputes and investigations; optional final exam or paper that can qualify for rigorous writing requirement.

International Law & Sustainable Development Seminar
New course. Description available soon.

International Oil & Gas Negotiations
New course. Description available soon.

International Petroleum Transactions
Examination of laws, legal issues and principal contracts utilized in the international oil and gas industry in the exploration for and production and marketing of oil and gas; practical knowledge of international oil and gas legal issues by working with actual international oil and gas contracts.

International Water Law Seminar
This seminar surveys international law and policy relating to the uses of and rights to fresh surface and ground water resources. Discussion topics will include: availability, distribution, and scarcity of global freshwater; the ethics of and human right to water; water and the environment; rights to and sovereignty over natural resources; development, exploitation, and conservation of transboundary waterbodies; and water-related conflicts and conflict resolution. Prerequisites: All lockstep courses except LAW 7010.

Land Use
A study of private and public means of controlling land use. Emphasis is placed on the areas of planning and zoning, including the emerging problem of exclusionary land use controls. Further discussion topics include subdivision controls, restrictive deed covenants, eminent domain proceedings, and urban renewal. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including Property.

LARW III: Environmental Litigation Drafting
Introduction to a realistic view of the pretrial litigation process in a typical environmental lawsuit; utilization of a state district court forum and the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure; conduction of research and litigation documents drafting from the clients’ first contact through the pretrial process. (Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Course)

LARWIII: Oil and Gas Drafting
Drafting effective and clear oil and gas contracts; review of basic components and building blocks of contracts; translating the business deal into an oil and gas contract; proposing solutions for problems encountered by counsel in the oil and gas industry. (Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Course)

LARW III: Real Estate Drafting
This practice skills course covers drafting commonly used real estate documents. The focus is on Texas practice, and both personal and commercial transactions are covered. Students will draft several substantive documents during the course. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including LARW I & II and Property. (Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Course)

Law & Policy of Clean Energy Innovation (Special Topics)
What makes it so difficult to move innovative energy technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace? Why is the venture capital model so poorly equipped to finance energy innovation? Is utility regulation a catalyst or roadblock? These are but a few of the questions this class will tackle. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program.

Law and Science Seminar
This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the interrelation of the law with science in varying contexts including the courts, legislative and agency action, and societal norms and expectations. It will explore the impact science has on the law and how the law affects scientific research and progress. It will also consider the application of science in legal circumstances as well as the law to various scientific topics. Topics covered in the seminar may include: the role of the public, government, and private sectors in scientific development; the role of courts and the law in managing scientific information; legal and scientific standards and methodologies; risk assessment; scientific misconduct; and environmental regulations. Prerequisites: All lockstep courses except Constitutional Law.

Natural Resources Law
This course surveys the legal and policy questions surrounding individual and societal activities as they relate to natural resources, including forests, ranchlands and endangered species. This course will cover the frameworks to think about natural resources and the management and preservation of those resources in public –federal and state- and private lands.

Oil & Gas
A study of oil and gas law with emphasis upon the interests that may be created in oil and gas, the transfer and conveyance of such interests, rights of operators and landowners, provisions in the oil and gas lease, the rights of assignees, and regulations dealing with exploration, production, and conservation. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including Property.

Oil, Gas & Natural Resources Seminar
Explores natural resources law, the body of legal rules and processes that govern the ownership, human use, management, and protection of natural resources including oil and gas and other minerals, wildlife, rivers, national parks, and forests; history, politics and economics of natural resources law; practical aspects of practicing in this area; tools needed to find and understand the laws relevant to particular resources. Prerequisites: All lockstep courses except Constitutional Law

Special Environmental Issues Seminar (Special Topics)
This course will examine several environmental law issues in depth by studying leading environmental law cases and several contentious regulatory and policy issues. In the spring 2017, the seminar focused on the analysis of evolving climate change control and adaptation policies from a domestic perspective. The students will have the choice of writing a final paper (which can satisfy the rigorous writing requirement) or submit a series of assignments throughout the semester. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program.

Texas Real Property
This course examines Texas real property law through Texas case law and the Texas statutory law. Topics include conveyances of real property (including contracts and deeds), liens, adverse possession, and servitudes (i.e., easements, real covenants, and equitable servitudes). Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including Property.

Water Law
This course examines the legal control of water resources, an issue of increasing concern in Texas and the nation. Topics include riparian rights, the water permit system, groundwater issues, water as a regional and shared resource, beneficial uses v. waste, underground conservation districts, and navigability. Prerequisite: One year of law school in the full-time or part-time program, including Property.