December 2020

December 2020

President's Message - Stuart Butzier


Dear Valued Member of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation,

I want to thank each of you who completed our first membership survey this year and briefly share some of the results. Members who completed the survey were entered into a drawing for two prizes: a complimentary trip to an annual institute or special institute, including free registration. Congratulations to our winners, Mike Curry from Midland, Texas, and Noelle Kompkoff from Anchorage, Alaska! 

Survey respondents provided our leadership with meaningful and actionable feedback. 377 members completed the survey, which provided us with a 95% confidence level in the data. According to the survey, our members are extremely loyal, with a 78% loyalty rating based on willingness to renew their membership, likeliness to recommend membership to others, and perception of membership value. I am hopeful that when renewal notices go out this month, you will continue to support the Foundation’s ongoing mission and goals, just as the Foundation’s leadership and staff have continued to effectively pursue them during this most challenging period of its long history.

You told us the top reasons you belong to the Foundation are the ability to network with others, to earn continuing education credits, to access educational resources, to access professional development opportunities, and to keep up with the latest information relevant to your profession. We worked hard after the onset of the pandemic this year to reinforce member value by providing a free virtual annual institute, two low-cost virtual special institutes, 15 high-quality free and low-cost webinars, a number of free virtual networking events, a monthly free virtual program for small groups of young professionals, along with hundreds of on-demand CLE presentations, free online programs for law schools, and other new programs.

We have been using this publication, the Natural Resources Law Network, to keep you updated on the Foundation and the natural resources law profession, and to provide more opportunities for members to publish short articles and alerts. We continue to publish new books, including the just-released International Petroleum Law and Transactions and the upcoming Montana Water Law. We continue to produce CLE programs and professional education. And we continue to provide scholarships and other funding for students and professors. In other words, despite the pandemic, we continue to support our unique value proposition – scholarship and collegiality.

The membership survey also pointed out that most members believe our mission spending programs for students and professors are extremely or very worthwhile. This year, to support these programs, and to honor two of our great friends we lost in the past year, we received generous donations that established the James M. King Scholarship and the Mary A. Viviano Scholarship. Fundraising for the Mary Viviano Scholarship is still underway. Mary’s family generously contributed $50,000 and will match contributions from others dollar-for-dollar up to another $50,000 with the goal of endowing a scholarship in Mary’s name in perpetuity. This year, the Foundation will also launch a new Equity and Inclusion Scholarship specifically for Black and Indigenous law students as part of a broader initiative that I am proud the Foundation is pursuing to encourage opportunities for underrepresented individuals within the professions it serves.

The membership survey was driven by our 2018 Strategic Plan. The Foundation’s staff and Board of Directors continue to analyze the data to maintain and improve upon our unique drivers of membership value. As we endure the ongoing pandemic and transition to a post-pandemic era of opportunity and renewal, it is our steadfast goal to maintain and advance the traditional values of the Foundation in ways that will continue to earn your trust, involvement and support. If you ever have suggestions as to even more we can do to improve upon member value, please do not hesitate to contract us.


Stuart Butzier


Natural Resources Law Insights

EPA Finalized Revisions to Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards
Julie R. Domike, Michael H. Winek, Gary E. Steinbauer, and Gina N. Falasch
Babst Calland

In September 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published final rules related to the New Source Performance Standards for the Crude Oil and Natural Gas Industry at 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subparts OOOO and OOOOa (NSPS).

Read more.


Canada's New Impact Assessment Act: A Carbon Trojan Horse?
Zachary Silver, Alexandria Pike
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

In August 2019, Canada’s federal Impact Assessment Act came into force, replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and ushering in Canada’s new, although not entirely novel, impact assessment regime. Key objectives of the new regime include a more streamlined and transparent process, greater certainty for developers, and increased opportunities for public input.

Read more.


What Businesses Should Expect in Potential Covid Liability Protection Legislation, and What They Can Do About it Now
Mark Champoux, Sterling J. LeBouf, and Daniel A. Richards
Davis Graham & Stubbs

If an employee or customer contracts COVID-19 at a place of business, should that business be held liable? Even though the business followed every bit of health and safety guidance from relevant authorities? These questions are likely top of mind for most business operators, especially as communities reopen and employees return to work. The answers may depend on whether the U.S. Congress passes legislation to limit businesses’ liability related to COVID-19.

Read more.

Highlights of Recent Programs

The Foundation held a comprehensive three day Special Institute on Bankruptcy and Financial Distress in the Oil & Gas Industry: Legal Problems and Solutions virtually on October 21-23, 2020. The Institute was chaired by Greg Nibert, a partner with Hinkle Shanor LLP in Roswell, NM, and included 13 separate presentations examining the legal complexities and challenges related to bankruptcy and financial distress in the oil and gas industry. The reviews for this course were outstanding. The extensive program manual includes more than 800 pages of detailed scholarly papers and other materials that already are the most current and best source for legal and practical analysis of the intersection between oil and gas law and operations and the laws and regulations related to bankruptcy and distress. These materials are essential for lawyers and other professionals who represent operators, non-operators, service providers, lenders, and investors during these turbulent times for the oil and gas industry. To purchase the materials, contact the Foundation.  If you would like to view any of the presentations, they are now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

The Foundation's first annual Water Law Institute was held virtually on November 19, 2020. The Institute was co-chaired by Wendy Bowden Crowther, a shareholder with Parsons Behle & Latimer, and Craig P. Wilson, managing partner with K&L Gates. After proudly assuming this program from the ABA and more than a year of planning, the Foundation and the program committee were planning to hold this first of many water law institutes in San Diego, but the pandemic made that impossible. This program consisted of four presentations that covered Interjurisdictional Water, Global Water Stress, Dam Removal and Fish Recovery: What We Are Learning, and Tribal Water and How It Looks in the Future. These excellent and timely presentations will be available soon on our Online Natural Resources Education platform. Water law practitioners save the date. The next Water Law Institute will be held live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on November 4-5, 2021. 

The Foundation held a webinar on What Does the Supreme Court’s Decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma Mean for Natural Resources Development in the United States? on September 10, 2020. Our esteemed speakers included Jennifer Weddle, a partner at Greenberg Traurig, Stacy L. Leeds, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas, Troy A. Eid, a partner at Greenberg Traurig, and Lynn H. Slad, a partner at Modrall Sperling. If you missed this timely and important presentation that explores the boundaries between tribal and state authority through a natural resource lens, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

We held a webinar on The New NEPA Regulations: Long Overdue Update or Radical Sea Change on September 18, 2020. Our panel included Hadassah (Dessa) M. Reimer, a partner at Holland & Hart LLP, Susan Jane Brown, a staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, Mario Loyola, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Courtney Shephard, an associate at Davis Graham & Stubbs. The new NEPA regulations went into effect on September 14, 2020. The panel discussed the new regulations and implications for the changes. If you would like to view this presentation, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

The first program in our International Webinar Series was held on October 7, 2020 on Investment Due Diligence for International Mining Projects. The panel featured David Allman, a partner with Edwards, Kenny & Bray LLP, Oscar Benavides, a partner at Rodrigo, Elias & Medrano Abogados, Erik Goldsilver, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Luis Lucero, a partner at Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal, and France Tenaille, a partner at Gowling WLG. This webinar was supported and sponsored by the Steering and Mining Committees of the Special Institute on International Mining and Oil & Gas Law, Development, and Investment to be held in Mexico City in April 2023. The webinar attracted 329 attendees, with 51% coming from Latin America, 17% from Canada and 12% from the United States. If you would like to view this presentation, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

On November 10, 2020, the Foundation held a webinar on Bankruptcy Complications in Federal Offshore Decommissioning. The panel featured Eric Andreas, an attorney in the Solicitor’s office with the Department of the Interior, Ryan Lamb, an attorney advisor in the Division of Mineral Resources in the Office of the Solicitor with the Department of the Interior, Emily Wall, an attorney with Cavazos Hendricks Poirot, PC, and Stephen Wiegand, a shareholder with Liskow & Lewis. This webinar was organized by the program committee for the Short Course on Federal Offshore Oil & Gas Leasing and Development. If you are a part of the small community of lawyers and other professionals who practice or work in the area of offshore oil and gas development and operations, save the date for the next Offshore Short Course, which will be held on February 15-17, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the fabled Hotel Monteleone.  If you would like to view this presentation, it is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

A webinar on VOC and Methane Emission Reduction Regulations in the Oil and Gas Sector After the Election was held on November 12, 2020. The webinar featured Colin Harris, a partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Brandon Kirkham, a principal at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Scott Mason, Lead – Environmental Programs at Enerplus Resources, and Jon Wagner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at American Petroleum Institute. The panel examined new EPA air regulations for the oil and gas industry, court challenges to the changes, trends in compliance programs, and practical tips to comply with the evolving standards. This webinar is now available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform here.

The Foundation held a webinar on What is Environmental Justice in Indian Country? The Chaco Canyon Case Study on November 17, 2020. The panel featured Pilar Thomas, a partner with Quarles & Brady LLP, Mario Atencio, a Board Member-at-Large with Diné C.A.R.E., Brian Lewis, an attorney with Brian Lewis Legal LLC, and Kathleen Sgamma, President of Western Energy Alliance. The panelists explored environmental justice considerations and the battle over oil and gas leasing and development in the checkerboard lands adjacent to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin from the varied perspectives of individual tribal members, Indian allottees, the Navajo Nation, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, and the oil and gas industry. The webinar attracted 230 attendees from across the United States and Indian Country.

The Foundation held the second webinar in our International Webinar Series on Politics in Latin America: The Above Ground Risk for the Oil & Gas Industry on December 1, 2020. The panel featured Amalia Sáenz, a partner with Zang, Bergel, Viñes, Daniel Linsker, a partner at Control Risks, Armando Zamora Reyes, President of the National Hydrocarbons Agency in Colombia, and Timothée De Reynal, General Manager of the newly opened Perenco subsidiary in Brazil. This webinar was supported and sponsored by the Steering and Oil and Gas 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 will be available soon on our Online Natural Resources Education platform.

A webinar on Ethics for Transactional Attorneys: Identifying the Client in Multi-Party Transactions was held on December 4, 2020. The program was presented by David G. Ebner, a partner at Lohf Shaiman Jacobs Hyman & Feiger PC, and Allison McKenna Donovan, Counsel with Hogan Lovells. If you need ethics credits before year-end, we have 12 or more excellent presentations available on our Online Natural Resources Education platform.

Last week on December 10, 2020, we held a webinar on The COGCC Mission Change Rulemaking: A New Framework for Oil and Gas Regulation in Colorado. The webinar featured an incredible panel, including current COGCC Director, Julie Murphy, past COGCC Director and Founder, Insight Energy Law, Matt Lepore, past COGCC Director and current Davis Graham & Stubbs counsel, David Neslin, Earthjustice Attorney, Michael Freeman, and Chevron Lawyer, Greg Nibert, Jr. This webinar is critical for anyone who practices in the area of oil and gas or works in the oil and gas industry in the State of Colorado, and included a discussion of the most significant regulatory changes, forthcoming guidance, new application and permitting procedures, options for landscape level planning, and requirements to protect the public, the environment, and wildlife. The webinar will be available soon on our Online Natural Resources Education platform.

Earlier this week, on December 15, the Foundation held a webinar for oil and gas industry federal reporters called A Guide to ONRR Data Mining Requests for Lessees. The webinar was presented by Judy Matlock, a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs and arguably the nation's leading expert on federal royalty reporting, with help answering questions from Amanda Martinez, a compliance management team manager at the Offices of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). Since the Office of Natural Resources Revenue October 1 deadline, federal lessees have converted to processed gas reporting to meet that deadline and have encountered data mining requests from ONRR. If you or your company have to deal with these data mining requests, you should watch this webinar, which will be available soon on our Online Natural Resources Education platform. 

The Foundation held its first Virtual International Networking Reception on October 29, 2020, and its second Virtual International Networking Reception on December 16, 2020. These events bring together colleagues from around the world to revive old friendships and to meet new attorneys and professionals in a relaxing environment.

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 fourth conversation in this series was held on September 18, 2020, with Stuart R. Butzier, President of the Foundation and a shareholder with Modrall Sperling in Albuquerque. The fifth presentation was held on October 16, 2020 with Suedeen G. Kelly, a highly recognized energy practitioner, former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and a partner with Jenner & Block in Washington DC. The sixth presentation was held on November 18, 2020, with Marcilynn A. Burke, Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law and former Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior. The next conversation is scheduled for December 18, 2020, 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 Interior. She is currently a Partner at Quarles & Brady, LLP in Tucson, Arizona.

New Publication


International Petroleum Law and Transactions


Owen L. Anderson, Jacqueline L. Weaver, John S. Dzienkowski , John S. Lowe, Keith B. Hall, and

Frédéric Gilles Sourgens

This essential reference for lawyers, negotiators, commercial investors, regulatory agencies, and the many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations concerned with oil and gas development builds on its predecessor, International Petroleum Transactions 3d ed. Extensively revised, reorganized, and updated, it provides the tools to analyze and understand current and emerging international petroleum arrangements and issues. 

  • Overview of key players in the industry, petroleum geology, and reservoir management
  • Sovereignty over petroleum resources and resolution of territorial and boundary disputes
  • Governing law and extraterritoriality of U.S. law, focusing on anti-bribery laws
  • Host government petroleum codes, contracts, and fiscal terms
  • Oil spills, offshore safety systems, and decommissioning
  • Sustainable development: indigenous rights, human rights, and community impacts
  • Political risk, investment treaties, sovereign immunity, and dispute resolution
  • Intra-industry contracts, including joint operating, confidentiality, and farmout agreements
  • Seismic, drilling, and well-services contracts, risk management, and allocation of risk
  • Crude oil, natural gas, and LNG transport and marketing
  • Future of petroleum industry and challenges of climate change

Excerpt of Review of International Petroleum Law and Transactions by Norman Nadorff 

Counsel, Mayer Brown, Adjunct Professor, University of Houston Law Center, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law 
"[International Petroleum Law and Transactions (IPLT)] is an exquisitely organized and richly detailed summary of the petroleum industry and its technology, laws, economics, and agreements. As such, it serves as both a one-stop textbook for international petroleum transaction ("IPT") courses as well as ,m authoritative desk guide for practitioners and policy makers. IPLT is hardly the first book of its kind, but it beats its precursors hands down. Previous textbooks either followed the impractical U.S. casebook format, were poorly organized or contained huge gaps in coverage.... Potential users of IPLT extend well beyond law professors and students and include (i) students In other petroleum-related disciplines, (ii)in-house lawyers, (iii) outside counsel, (iv) commercial managers, (v) negotiators, (vi) economists, (vii)financial and tax advisors, (viii) engineers, (ix) geoscientists and (x) policy makers." Read the entire review here.

Order Your Copy Today!


Rob Risley