Energy Law (3 credits)
This course will explore the many legal issues that attach to the extraction of fossil fuels and the generation and transmission of electricity. The course will provide you with a basic understanding of oil and gas law, including common law and state statutory regimes that address mineral-surface owner relationships. You will also learn about the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and its requirements in the coal mining context, as well as other coal-related statutes, and you will gain a basic understanding of the regulation of natural gas prices and transmission. Moving beyond primary energy sources, you will then learn the basics of public utility regulation, including the fundamentals of a utility rate case and various state approaches to restructuring of retail electricity. You will also gain an understanding of federal regulation of the electric industry, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s role in regulating wholesale electricity rates and regional transmission organizations (RTOs), which control interstate transmission services. Finally, we will discuss the unique public-private entity—the North American Electric Reliability Corporation—responsible for ensuring the reliability of the national grid, and recent “Smart Grid” developments. The Energy Law course will not repeat concepts discussed in the Emerging Issues in Energy Law seminar from the fall. Prerequisites: None.