Law Students Start New Energy Law Blog

Editor’s note: We invited an article from Matt Hardin, President of the Energy & Mineral Law Society (EMLS) and second year law student at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA to prepare an article discussing the EMLS recently launched blog, as well as some of the community service work they do in their area. As the article notes, the EMLS has been set up to provide law students and practicing lawyers in the Appalachian region with a reliable means of staying up to date on changing laws and regulations that impact the mining sector.

If you are part of a coal-focused organization and would like to spread the word about your work, please don’t hesitate to contact Jason Hayes about preparing a similar article.

Law Students Start New Energy Law Blog

by Matt Hardin

For the law students in the Energy & Mineral Law Society, educating both the public and attorneys practicing in the field of energy law is key to the survival of both the coal industry and the Appalachian economy. The EMLS, founded in 2009 by students at the Appalachian School of law in rural Southwest Virginia, has consistently worked to educate practitioners and the public about the legal environment in which mining takes place, as well as the broader future of America’s energy sector. Now, the EMLS has taken to the web, launching a new blog which promises to keep practicing attorneys, law students, industry, and the general public abreast of current regulatory and legal developments which affect the coal mining industry.

The Energy & Mineral Law Society has worked for the last three years to build awareness of the effect that increasing regulation has on the coal industry in Appalachia. Since I took the helm as president of the EMLS last May, I’ve heard from a number of attorneys who have practiced in the coalfields for their entire careers, and even they are having trouble keeping pace with all the new regulations coming out of Washington. Making things more difficult, those attorneys who practice in rural areas (where nearly all mining takes place) have difficulty accessing the most up-to-date legal analyses of the new regulations, because conferences for mineral law attorneys are often held in large urban centers hundreds of miles away from the coalfields of central Appalachia.

The EMLS was founded with the goal of bringing together law students and attorneys in the coalfields to learn about current developments in the field of energy and natural resources law, and we take these challenges very seriously. The new blog will help us in tackling these difficulties, but we also have a series of events planned to bolster the knowledge base of attorneys practicing in the coalfields. This fall, the EMLS will host a forum on surface mining regulations in Grundy, Virginia. We’ll have engineers, attorneys, and politicians in the room together, and we hope that we can all learn from each other and find a way forward for those who depend on coal and its contribution to the Appalachian economy. Following that, the EMLS will host a continuing education program in the spring of 2013 for attorneys who deal with Black Lung cases.

The Appalachian EMLS Blog will serve as a supplement to the current, printed newsletter that the Energy & Mineral Law Society publishes on a quarterly basis, and as a forum for the open discussion of problems and solutions for the mining industry. On our blog, you can expect student-authors and attorneys to post commentary on recent legal developments and policy issues that affect Appalachia, as well as updates on the outreach work the Energy & Mineral Law Society is involved in, the conferences we attend, and the community service projects we organize.

The EMLS was founded at the Appalachian School of Law in rural southwest Virginia, where community service is a way of life. The school, established in 1997 with a community service component in its curriculum, works with the Energy & Mineral Law Society and its members to coordinate community improvement projects in southwest Virginia and across the region. Last spring, the EMLS partnered with the Office of Surface Mining and planted almost 500 trees on a former strip mining site in southern Buchanan County. The EMLS has always been committed to giving back to the community, and being good stewards is part of how we do that.

Now in its third year of operation, the EMLS has planted a total of almost three acres of hardwoods on former surface mining sites in central Appalachia, including the near-extinct American Chestnut tree, and has been represented at dozens of mining and reclamation conferences throughout the region. The EMLS has also attracted the attention and support of several of the largest engineering and law firms practicing in Appalachia. We couldn’t have had even half as much impact as we’ve had if it were not for the support we’ve received from the community. Hunton & Williams, a law firm in Richmond, Virginia, was especially generous in funding our most recent reforestation project, and TerraTech, a southwest Virginia engineering firm, provided materials and technical expertise. We’re proud to show the progress that can be made when individuals and organizations from around the region come together in support of a common mission, and we’ll be continuing our tradition of service over the coming year with more tree-plantings and other events in southwest Virginia.

Be sure to check out the new blog to find out more about the Energy & Mineral Law Society, and its work in keeping practitioners, industry, and the public abreast of legal developments in the coalfields.

About the author: Matthew Hardin is currently serving as president of the Energy & Mineral Law Society and is a second-year law student at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va.

17. August 2012 by Jason Hayes
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