Law & Policy Program Update

Feb 29, 2024 | Stegner Center

Law & Policy Program by the numbers

4 articles published in top tier environmental law reviews | 2 invitations to testify before Congress on recent scholarship | 19 presentations (national and international) on recent scholarship | 2 administrative comment submissions on timely public lands management issues | 1 Amicus Brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court| Quoted monthly in printed press | 5 team members dedicated to elite scholarship on relevant issues

Focused on pragmatic and objective legal research on emerging issues, the Law & Policy Program had another great year. The program consists of five experienced attorneys—Jamie Pleune, Beth Parker, Tom Mitchell, John Ruple, and Brig Daniels.

This year, the Law & Policy Program expanded in partnership with Professor Brig Daniels to launch the Great Salt Lake Project, described in more detail elsewhere in this newsletter. In addition to being an instrumental part of  that exciting launch, Beth Parker co-authored an article with Heather Tanana that will be published in the Pace Environmental Law Review, Indigenous Efforts to Advance the Human Right to a Healthy Environment. She also coached the Pace Moot Court team, which proudly represented the College of Law by winning Best Brief for Petitioners and second place for Best Brief overall. Tom Mitchell has been researching correlative rights, a topic that is becoming increasingly relevant as carbon capture and sequestration projects become more common. He is also working on an article exploring the legal complexities arising out of the Utah legislature’s House Joint Resolution 26 which rejected the proposed exchange of School and Institutional Trust Lands located within the Bears Ears National Monument for developable land elsewhere.

Focusing on public lands, the Law & Policy Program partnered with the Getches Wilkinson Center to issue a Legal Analysis of BLM’s Public Lands Rule shortly after the issuance of the final rule. We were proud to have one of our students, Wesley Peebles, join as co-author on the piece. Prior to that, in November Jamie Pleune published BLM’s Conservation Rule and Conservation as a “Use” in the Environmental Law Reporter, addressing the legal foundation for the proposed Public Lands Rule. She also presented at the Symposium on Sustainable Business Law, hosted by the Pace Environmental Law Review in April. Her presentation, Commercial Conservation on Public Lands? was based on a forthcoming article.

The Law & Policy program was also proud to serve as the lead organizer for the Stegner Symposium this year, which focused on different aspects of permit reform and the transition to a renewable economy.

Turning to critical minerals, Jamie was honored to be invited to join two different delegations from the Commercial Law Development Program to conduct workshops on mining and environmental governance. The program is jointly supported by the Department of Commerce, State Department, and the Bureau of Energy Resources. The first delegation went to Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Bucharest, Romania. The second delegation hosted a two-day workshop in Fiji with multiple ministries seeking to strike the right balance between sustainable mineral development, climate mitigation, and environmental protection.

John Ruple remains on leave to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he is serving as Senior Counsel. While we are proud of the work he is doing, we look forward to welcoming him back in late 2024.