Sunday, June 8, 2014

UVA Law and Alaska ...

Click here for article.
The feature article in the Spring 2014 edition of the UVA Lawyer focuses on the effects of climate science on law and business:  Beyond Policy:  How Climate Science is Changing Law and Business.  I am proud to be included as part of the discussion with the opportunity to talk about the effect of climate issues on Alaska in general, and oil development in particular.  In some ways it is an opportunity to follow up on an earlier piece in UVA Lawyer on energy policy in which I participated four years ago.

The article does not try to solve the debate around the causes and appropriate responses to climate change.  Instead it focuses on the ongoing impact of that debate on law and business.  As UVA Law School Dean Paul Mahoney says in his forward to this edition, "while academic researchers can wait to draw conclusions until we have adequate evidence [about the causes of climate change], lawyers and clients do not have that luxury. They must anticipate and adapt to evolving regulations and even shape industry standards."

As demonstrated by the increasing use of the Arctic and its waters, Alaska is on the cutting edge of climate evolution, regardless of its cause.  As I am quoted as saying in the article, there have been "three 'huge changes' in the [oil and gas] industry" since I graduated from the Law School.
First, the end of the Cold War opened access to many areas of the world, notably China, the Soviet Union and large parts of Africa.  Second, advanced technology allows the industry to develop resources that it previously never considered.  And the third, the advent of development in the Arctic. 'It's the emerging story of untapped resources.  But it's very challenging trying to access it in the right way to minimize risk and avoid huge costs.'
I have been fortunate to be a part of the legal, regulatory and commercial response to all three developments. It is an honor to be included in an article discussing the most recent, certainly the most challenging, and most importantly, the most significant to Alaska of the three.