April 2021

April 2021

Natural Resources Law Insights

Biden Order Conservation of 30% of U.S. Lands and Water by 2030: What Is 30x30?
Rebecca Watson
Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C.
On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order (EO) on “tackling the climate crisis.” This EO has received a lot of attention for its provision (§208) “pausing” federal oil and gas leasing. What also deserves attention was the direction (§216) for a plan “to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” (30x30). 
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Delaware River Basin Commission Finalizes Regulations Prohibiting High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Operations Within River Basin
Ross H. Pifer, Chloe J. Marie
Penn State Law Center for Agricultural and Shale Law
On February 25, 2021, the Delaware River Basin Commission adopted final regulations banning high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations within the Delaware River Basin through an amendment of the Commission’s Comprehensive Plan. This action culminates a process that was initiated more than a decade ago when the Commission began to consider regulations that would address the impacts of natural gas development on waters within the Basin. In this article, we will discuss the content of the final regulations as well as the rulemaking process that led to the promulgation of the final regulations and selected litigation that resulted from the rulemaking process. 
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Riparian Mineral Ownership in North Dakota
Matt Dishong, Jennifer Martin
Kuiper Law Firm
Like the paths of rivers and waterways, mineral law and related jurisprudence evolve over time. North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea, which was formed from the Missouri River as part of the Garrison Dam project in 1953, has recently been the subject of two separate attempts to redefine boundaries and reallocate ownership of the minerals lying thereunder. The lake is the largest body of water in North Dakota, with more shoreline than the entire state of California, and these actions could have a massive effect on mineral ownership and oil and gas operations associated with the lake. 
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Multi-State Update on Produced Water
Nicole Blevins, Chris Colclasure, James Parrot
Beatty & Wozniak, P.C.
Western states are actively reviewing their requirements for processing, handling, and disposing of produced water. This article provides an update on recent legislative and regulatory developments in New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. 
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Cracking Down on Fracking? The Case Against an Executive Ban
Marcella Burke, I. Cason Hewgley IV
King & Spalding LLP
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” emerged as a hot-button political issue during the 2020 presidential race. Then-President Trump repeatedly attacked candidate Biden during the campaign by claiming that Biden’s camp wanted to completely ban fracking. Biden walked a tightrope with his position on fracking, trying to appease both the environmentalist wing of his party, which may not be satisfied with anything less than a total ban, and important constituencies in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, where fracking is a major source of jobs (and tax revenue). Broadly speaking, Biden’s position was that there should be “no more drilling on federal lands” and that we should “transition from the oil industry.” 
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Highlights of Recent Programs

The Foundation held a webinar on Recent Developments in Oil & Gas Law on January 14 that was co-sponsored by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute. Our esteemed speakers included Professors Bruce Kramer and Pat Martin, who author the oil and gas treatises The Law of Pooling and Unitization and Williams and Meyers Oil and Gas Law (since 1996) among other works, and Greg Russell and Ilya Batikov from the Vorys firm’s Columbus office. If you missed this presentation on recent oil and gas case law, regulatory, and other legal developments, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

We held a webinar on The Department of the Interior in a Time of Transition: The Future of Oil and Gas Leasing, Public Lands, and Wildlife Law on February 9. Our panel featured Nada Culver, who is now the Deputy Director of Policy and Programs at the Bureau of Land Management and was formerly Vice President, Public Lands and Senior Policy Counsel at the National Audubon Society, Jonathan Hunter, a partner at Jones Walker, Rob Mathes, Managing Counsel – Rockies at Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Katie Schroder, a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs, and Temple Stoellinger, Assistant Professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law. This timely and important webinar surveyed the flurry of policies and regulations issued at the end of the Trump Administration and changes brought by the Biden administration, including the executive order pausing new oil and gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters. It is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

The third webinar in our International Webinar Series was held on February 24 on Consequences of the Biden Administration on U.S. Climate and Energy Policy and Implications for the Global Extractives Sector. Our panel featured Steve Barringer, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, Liliana Diaz, a managing director of economic consulting at FTI Consulting Global, Renato Flores, a a professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in Brazil, and Juan Sonoda, a partner at Beretta Godoy in Argentina. This webinar was supported and sponsored by the Steering and Environmental & CSR/Sustainability Committees of the Special Institute on International Mining and Oil & Gas Law, Development, and Investment to be held in Mexico City in April 2023. If you would like to view this presentation, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

On February 26, we held a webinar on Natural Gas in the Energy Transition in partnership with the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) and the Institute for Energy Law (IEL). This was the first in a series of three webinars from the faculty of the Short Courses on International Oil & Gas Law, Contracts, and Negotiations held annually in Houston. The excellent faculty who taught this webinar were Robert Lesnick, former leader of the World Bank’s Petroleum Advisory Services Practice, Ezekiel Adesina, Secretary of the Africa Energy Study Group, and Harry Sullivan, an in-house attorney for Kosmos Energy and an adjunct professor at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and Texas A&M School of Law. The presentation is available for purchase on AIPN’s website here. If you are interested in attending one of the comprehensive short courses on international oil and gas law, you may register here on our website.

On March 9, we held a Mining CLE and Virtual Reception (during PDAC) on the Rise of the Socially Conscious Investor in the Resource Sector. The webinar focused on the legal risk associated with ESG and how resource projects can reach social acceptance becoming sustainable while still delivering value to shareholders. An esteemed panel presented on the topic, including Oscar Benavides (moderator), Partner, Rodrigo, Elias & Medrano Abogados, Lima Peru, Carlos Castro, Manager of Corporate Affairs and Business Development, Las Bambas Mine Operated by MMG, Lima, Peru, Susan Joyce, President, Senior Social and Human Rights Specialist, On Common Ground Consultants, Inc., Vancouver, Canada, Monica Opsina, Founder and Director, O Trade, Toronto, Canada, and Elizabeth Steyn, Cassels Brock Fellow and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University, Ontario, Canada. This program and virtual reception were brought to you by our generous sponsors for this program: A.H. MacSkimming Law Office, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Crowley Fleck PLLP, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Fasken, Terra Law Group, LLC, and Western University. Without their support, we would not have been able to offer this program complimentary to all attendees. This presentation will be available in the Online Natural Resources CLE library soon.

We held a webinar on The Importance of the Confidentiality Agreement on March 17, the second webinar in the series in partnership with AIPN and IEL developed by the faculty of the Short Courses on International Oil & Gas Law, Contracts, and Negotiations. This webinar was taught by Felipe Alice, a partner at Morgan Lewis in Houston. To purchase the presentation, please visit AIPN’s website here. To register for one of the comprehensive short courses on international oil and gas law, visit our website here.

We held the first webinar in our new Renewable Energy Webinar Series, Energy Storage Technology and Regulatory Implications for Renewable Energy Power Supply, on March 19. Sponsored by our Renewable Energy Task Force, the webinar featured Julian Boggs, State Policy Director for the U.S. Energy Storage Association, Nick Phillips, Director of Integrated Resource Planning at Public Service Company of New Mexico, Jim Curry, a shareholder at Babst Calland, and Joan Drake, a partner at Modrall Sperling. This webinar, offering a primer on energy storage technology, challenges facing electric utilities in incorporating energy storage, and related legal and regulatory opportunities, will be available in on our Online Natural Resources Education platform.

On March 23, we held the fourth webinar in our International Series, Trends in Investment Arbitration in the Natural Resources Industries in Latin America. This webinar was developed by the Steering and Host Committees of the Special Institute on International Mining and Oil & Gas Law, Development, and Investment to be held in Mexico City in April 2023. It featured Eduardo Siqueiros from Hogan Lovells in Mexico City, Gabriela Alvarez-Avila from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in Mexico City, Elliot Friedman from Freshfields in New York, Rafael Villar Gagliardi from Demarest Advogados in São Paulo, and David Orta from Quinn Emanuel in New York. If you are interested in learning about Latin American investment treaties, including BITs and the USMCA for Mexico, the circumstances under which a claim can be submitted to arbitration, and related practical issues, look for this presentation in our Online Natural Resources Education platform - available soon.

We continue to hold the Young Natural Resources Professionals Coffee Break Series Conversations with Industry and Foundation Leaders each month. These discussions bring together young professionals to engage in conversation with an industry or Foundation leader about their career, how they overcame challenges, managed risk, defied conventional standards, and became the unique leaders they are today. The seventh conversation in the series was held on December 18 with Pilar Thomas, former Deputy Director for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy and former Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She is currently a partner at Quarles & Brady, LLP in Tucson, Arizona. The eighth discussion was held on January 21 with Professor Emeritus Bruce Kramer. Bruce is a nationally-known oil and gas, energy, and land use scholar and, along with Pat Martin, the co-author of the multi-volume treatises The Law of Pooling and Unitization and Williams and Meyers Oil and Gas Law. On February 18, we held the ninth conversation with Alex Nikolic, partner at Fasken in Toronto and seasoned corporate and securities lawyer who advises mining companies seeking to raise capital in Canadian markets. And on March 18, we held our tenth conversation with Dean Kevin Washburn, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law. In addition to serving as Dean at Iowa and previously at the University of New Mexico School of Law, he is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and has served as the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and the leader of the Biden administration transition team for the Department of the Interior.

Stay up-to-date on upcoming programs here


Young Professionals Update


The Young Professionals Committee (YPC) promotes the development and involvement of the Foundation’s young professional members (ten or less years of practice), preparing them for future leadership roles in the Foundation and in the natural resources industry. Currently the YPC has 12 members, including Committee Chair, Austin Brister, and Committee Vice-Chair, Kristin Nichols.

Over the past year, the YPC has been hard at work in keeping young professionals involved with the Foundation, hosting a monthly Coffee Break Series Conversations with Industry and Foundation Leaders. The YPC has received wonderful feedback from Foundation leaders, young professionals, and student participants. The YPC is currently working on the YP networking event and the Mentor-Mentee program for the Virtual 67th Annual Institute. On an April 22, the YPC will be hosting a Wine Tasting Networking Event, which is limited to the first 50 registrants.

Look for updates on future programs here

New Publication

Montana Water Law


Stephen R. Brown | Michelle L. Bryan | Russ McElyea
Edited by Michelle L. Bryan 

This new book provides a comprehensive, contemporary summary of major water law topics in Montana. Its co-authors are the current Montana Water Court judges and the professor of water law at the University of Montana School of Law, all of whom previously worked on water law matters in private practice. This essential treatise belongs in the library of practitioners, consultants, and policy makers working in the Montana water, real estate, energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors. Coverage includes: 

  • Overview of Montana water rights
  • Basic prior appropriation concepts
  • Adjudication of existing water rights
  • Agency approval of new and changed uses
  • Litigating water disputes in Montana district court
  • Tribal, federal, and interstate water rights
  • Water rights transactions
  • Other laws affecting water rights

Order Your Copy Today!


Rob Risley