NRS Program Hosts Ninth Annual Energy Symposium

March 23, 2018

Energy Symposium 9 Gabriel Eckstein Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Natural Resources Systems Program Director, kicks off the ninth annual Energy Symposium

Energy experts gathered at Texas A&M University School of Law to kick off the ninth annual energy symposium hosted by the law school’s Natural Resources Systems (NRS) ​Program on March 1-2, 2018.

The symposium, titled “Texas Energy Today and Tomorrow: Its Impact in the U.S., Mexico and Beyond,” was organized by NRS Program ​Director, Professor Gabriel Eckstein.

EnergySymp9-Hildago_8914 Enrique Hidalgo, President, ExxonMobil Ventures Mexico, opening keynote speaker at Texas A&M Law's Energy Symposium

The symposium ​opened with a ​presentation by Enrique Hidalgo, President of ExxonMobil Exploración y Producción México S.R.L. de C.V. Hidalgo described the changes in the energy sector and particularly the impact that the Mexican energy reforms had in the North America region.

The keynote speech was followed by a panel of experts on U.S.-Mexico energy relations, including Matthew Rooney, the Director of Economic Growth at the George W. Bush Institute; Mexico's former Deputy Secretary of Energy for Hydrocarbons, Lourdes Melgar; and two commissioners from energy-related agencies in Mexico: Sergio Pimentel, Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) and Guillermo Zuñiga, Comisión Reguladora de Energía (CRE).

EnergySymp9-US-Mexico_8962"Regional Energy Integration, U.S.-Mexico" panelists (L-R) Matthew Rooney, George W. Bush Institute; Lourdes Melgar, Research Affiliate, Center for Collective Intelligence, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Deputy Secretary of Energy for Hydrocarbons, Mexico; Sergio Pimentel, Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos; Guillermo Zuñiga, Comisión Reguladora de Energía; and Guillermo Garcia Sanchez, Texas A&M University School of Law Associate Professor

The panel was moderated by Texas A&M School of Law Professor Guillermo J. Garcia Sanchez and discussed the deep ties that Texas, the U.S. and Mexico have in the development of the energy sector in the North America. 

“Listening to the panel was a fantastic opportunity for students, practitioners and energy lawyers to understand the potential of analyzing Mexico and the U.S. as a region. The future of energy in these two nations is highly interdependent. We can no longer talk about the U.S. and Mexico as having two different markets, we now see a regional energy market that flows from Alberta’s tar sands all the way down to Oaxaca’s windmill farms, and Texas is right at the center of this energy regional integration,” ​Garcia said.

Energy Symposium 9 LNG panel"U.S. and Texas LNG Setting the Bar Worldwide for Winners and Losers" panelists (L-R) Nick Fulford, Global Head of Gas and LNG, Gaffney Cline & Associates; Christopher Smith, Senior Vice President, Cheniere Energy, Energy Studies Fellow, Baker Institute, former Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Obama Administration; and John G. Mauel, Head of U.S. Energy Transactions, Norton Rose Fulbright

During this two-day symposium, experts employed in the energy sector shared information and looked to others for ways to improve the direction of energy as it relates to current legal parameters and consumer usage. One of the many attending experts and panelists, Professor Joel Eisen of University of Richmond School of Law, believes energy symposiums like this one are imperative.

Energy Symposium 9 policy panel"Energy Policy Polarization" panelists (L-R) Joel Eisen, University of Richmond; James Coleman, SMU Dedman School of Law; and Felix Mormann, Texas A&M University School of Law

“There are many reasons why a law school should host an energy law symposium,” Eisen said. “It enables the students and other attendees to learn about recent important developments in the field; it enables the students and professors to meet and get to know practitioners, regulators and others who are active in the field; and it enables students to network with attorneys and others to search for professional positions in the field.”

The width and breadth of topics covered by the symposium allowed acknowledged energy experts to gain additional knowledge about the field. “It’s always a pleasure to exchange ideas with other scholars, and by visiting Texas I learned more about the unique regulatory structures that govern energy development in the state, which are different from those of other states,” he said.

EnergySymp9-nuclear-9102"The Future of Nuclear Power and the Expanding Regulatory Basis for Disposal of Radioactive Waste" panelists (L-R) Charles Maguire, Director, Radioactive Materials Division, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; David Perkins, Senior Program Manager, Fuels-Chemistry, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); Mark R. Shaffer, Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-Region IV

Texas A&M Law second-year student Matt Koronczok said he was enriched by the energy symposium.

“The panel on nuclear energy production and waste disposal was most interesting because I had never realized how closely the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality work with each other to complete projects,” Koronczok said.

The symposium also included “Young Scholars” presentations. Eisen believes this event is important because it engages students.

Energy Symposium 9 Henrik StrandHenrik Strand, Texas A&M Law third-year student, presented "Breaking Barriers to Renewable Energy Production in the North American Arctic"

“Students can volunteer to assist with the development of symposia such as this. Also, as was well-demonstrated at the symposium, students can research and write papers in the field and then present them for comments. This feedback can strengthen the papers and make them more worthy of eventual publication. Finally, students can work with individual professors to gain more knowledge of the field,” Eisen said.

Symposiums like this aid students interested in energy law who are working towards a legal career in agriculture, environmental, energy law, oil and gas law or water law.

PINRS logo stackTexas A&M University School of Law Program in Natural Resources Systems ( faculty members include Professors Gabriel Eckstein, Stephen Alton, Vanessa Casado Pérez, Guillermo Garcia, Thomas W. Mitchell, Felix Mormann, Andrew Morriss, Timothy Mulvaney, Aric Short, Harry W. Sullivan, Jr., and Elizabeth Trujillo; and ​Adjunct Professors Jim Bradbury, Donald Feare, Howard Slobodin, and Michael Goldman. 

The annual energy symposium is organized with the generous support of XTO Energy, while the NRS Program is supported, in part, through the generosity of Freeman Mills PC.

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- Article by Tyra Kelly, Texas A&M University School of Law; photos by Doug Thurman, Texas A&M University School of Law