LAW Energy, Natural Resources

Prof. Steven Ferrey,

2 credits day; 2 credits evening.


Previously known as Technology, Energy and the Environment/NOT OFFERED 2016-17Students using this course to fulfill the experiential learning requirement may not also use this same course to meet the legal writing requirement.


Energy has been the motive technological force driving civilization from the early invention of the wheel which allowing use of animal power, to pre-industrial use of wind and water power. Coal and the steam engine created the industrial era, petroleum is the foundation of 20th century industrialized society, and electricity is the often unappreciated driver of our information society, computers, air conditioning, and even making possible high-rise city design. Advances turned on energy. The societal "cost" of our patterns of energy use is significant pollution, congestion, and global warming. Energy and its production, sale and use are very significantly regulated at the federal, state and local levels. Twenty states, including almost every major state in the U.S. and all Northeastern states, are in the process of deregulating and making competitive the once monopolistic utility/energy business. This course will use real-world simulation/problem solving modules with significant class participation to examine how, by whom and at what levels energy, and the technology it creates, are regulated and the legal implications of deregulation. The class will examine the issues listed above, the recent collapse of the California energy market, as well as international experience, based on the professor's work with the United Nations on renewable energy projects. After establishing this foundation, the class will engage in a month-long simulation of a local Massachusetts community utilizing local legal tools to attempt to stop a power project from locating within its borders. Students will complete a paper on an energy, environmental, or related socio-legal topic of their choosing, in lieu of an exam.


Faculty comments: This particular course does not employ Socratic or lecture format, but instead will work on several real-world energy and related environmental problems. Energy is the last of the regulated industries, so aspects of this regulation and environmental impacts is the focus through student participation resolving real-world energy questions. This course will focus on electric power regulation and supply for the first 2/3 of the course, including conflicts between state and federal authority. During the final 1/3 of the course, students will represent different groups of clients in applying local and state environmental laws (not the national environmental laws typically the subject of an Environmental Law course) to work through a confrontation involving an effort to site or expel a renewable energy project in Massachusetts. It qualifies as a “skills” course. Participation in these problem-solving class problems is at least 35% of the grade, as is a final paper in lieu of an exam. Students also present their draft paper orally during the last two weeks of the semester. If participating in class discussion and simulated problem-solving in class is not your preferred learned method, this format is not recommended for you. This course is offered no more than once per academic year, and class size is limited to no more than 20 students, so that participation and skills development is facilitated.


pointer    Enrollment is limited: 18 

pointer    Elective Course

pointer    Meets Base Menu Requirement

pointer    Meets Skills Menu Requirement

pointer    May Fulfill Legal Writing Requirement

pointer    Meets Experiential Learning Requirement

pointer    Final Paper Required


<<Course Updated: April 06, 2016>>