Students compete successfully at Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

S.J. Quinney College of Law students Dillon Olson, Meg Osswald and Libby Park recently competed at the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, adding another chapter to the U’s remarkable success at environmental, energy, and other national moot court competitions.

The Pace competition is the largest and oldest environmental law moot court in the U.S. with hundreds of students participating each year. The Pace competition is known for its cutting edge problems. Students at this year’s competition were presented with a  problem involving the question of whether an electric generation facility that uses biomass as its fuel source is a “major emitting facility” subject to PSD regulation under section 169(1) of the Clean Air Act either: (1) as a “fossil-fuel fired” source despite only using fossil fuels in its start-up burners; or (2) because the facility has the “potential to emit” more that 250 tons of carbon monoxide per year at full operational capacity although a local site plan limited the facility’s hours of operation and thus capped its production at 75 percent  capacity. The problem also involved the issues of whether a biomass-fueled facility is subject to PSD review as an emitter of greenhouse gases, and whether the state regulatory authority properly rejected consideration of a wood gasification and partial carbon capture plan as the best available control technology for the facility, and permissibly imposed a sustainable forest plan instead.

In addition to writing an outstanding brief, the team performed superbly against eight other teams, several of which had participated in the final rounds of the competition the year before. The team advanced to the quarterfinal round. The team was assisted before the competition by practice round judges, including professors Arnold Reitze, Lincoln Davies, Jaimie Pleune, Jared Bennett, John Ruple, Megan Houdeshel, and Ben Machlis, and practitioners, Mitch Longson, Kate Tipple, Melissa Reynolds, Doug Crapo and John Robinson, and national moot court team members (and fellow students), Sara Parker and Jon Williams.