WVU College of Law Expands Energy Curriculum to Add 6 New Courses

With the addition of Professor Josh Fershee to the faculty at WVU College of Law in the fall of 2012, the curriculum of energy law courses will be expanded next year with the addition of six new courses. Professor Fershee, currently an Associate Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law, has taught energy courses at UND for the past five years. The members of the faculty specializing in energy law include Professor James Van Nostrand, Professor Fershee, Dean John Fisher, Visiting Professor Barton Cowan, and Adjunct Professor Nate Bowles. The energy curriculum will expand further in the 2013-2014 academic year, as the law school completes its building addition and the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development moves into its new space.

The six new courses to be offered during the 2012-2013 academic year are:

  • Energy Law and Practice. (3 Hours, J. Fershee, Spring 2013) This course considers energy law issues in context and as part of the larger practice of law. The course first considers energy issues across the traditional law school curriculum, including Torts, Property, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Business Associations, and Administrative Law. The course then provides practical exposure to key legal and regulatory issues related to how energy is produced, distributed, and consumed, and the legal, economical, and environmental differences and similarities between energy sources.
  • Permitting and Siting of Energy Facilities. (3 Hours, Van Nostrand, Fall 2012) This course focuses on regulatory approvals to develop energy facilities, including all forms of electricity generation (thermal power plants, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro), energy resource production (coal, natural gas), and energy distribution (pipelines and transmission lines); principles of eminent domain.
  • The Energy Business: Law & Strategy. (3 Hours, J. Fershee, Fall 2012) This course examines the systematic use of law and regulation for strategic purposes in the energy industry. This course studies the use of law as a business strategy across markets and reviews the evolution of energy law from a business perspective. The course also considers how energy law has and can be used to pursue (and oppose) the goals of those doing business in the energy sector.
  • Renewable Energy and Other Alternative Fuels. (3 Hours, J. Fershee, Spring 2013) This course focuses on the energy industry of the future, with a particular emphasis on the convergence of energy and environmental issues. The course includes renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biofuels); “clean” energy sources (nuclear, coal and natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration); energy efficiency; demand response and smart grid technologies; renewable portfolio standards; and climate change and carbon markets.
  • The Science and Technology of Energy. (3 Hours, Van Nostrand, Spring 2013) Lawyers practicing in the energy industry will be expected to have a basic knowledge of the science and technology of the industry, and this course is designed to provide that background information, along with the associated legal issues. This course focuses on the scientific principles and technology associated with the extraction of energy resources; generation, transmission and distribution of electricity; and emerging energy technologies (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, biofuels, solar, energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration) as well as more traditional energy sources (hydro, nuclear, fossil fuels).
  • Nuclear Law and Policy. (3 Hours, Cowan, Spring 2013) This course examines the nuclear power industry in the United States, including the Atomic Energy Act, the regulatory practices and policies of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a survey of recent developments in the industry. The course will also discuss the role of nuclear energy in the context of climate change.
    The six new courses are in addition to the law school’s existing curriculum of four energy courses that will be offered during the 2012-2013 academic year:
  • Energy Law Survey [formerly Energy Law]. (3 Hours, Cowan, Fall 2012) This is an introductory energy law course that provides an overview of the law and regulatory policies that govern and affect the energy industry. The course includes a review of the various energy sources, economic regulation of the energy industry, and briefly examines alternative and renewable energy sources.
  • Energy Regulation, Markets and the Environment [formerly Energy Regulation and the Environment]. (3 Hours, Van Nostrand, Fall 2012) This course examines the economics of the energy industry, and includes principles of cost of service regulation for regulated energy companies as well as alternative regulatory approaches to setting energy prices. The course will also include an examination of market-based approaches to energy and environmental issues, including emissions trading and renewable energy credits.
  • Sem: Issues in Energy Law. (2 Hours, Fisher, Spring 2013) This seminar provides an understanding of a variety of issues regarding energy law and policy, both past and present, in the United States. A research paper on an energy law issue is required.
  • Coal, Oil and Gas Law. (3 Hours, Bowles, Fall 2012) Nature of ownership of subsurface minerals; methods of transferring ownership thereof, partition among co-owners, analysis of leasehold estates, and rights and duties thereunder, coal mining rights and privileges.