Spring 2023 Gavel | Page 10

Highlights from the UND Law Review 2023 Energy Law Symposium

By Tade Oyewunmi
This year ’ s University of North Dakota ( UND ) Law Review Symposium was held on Thursday , March 23 , in Bismarck , N . D . The symposium featured presentations examining contemporary energy law and policy issues , such as the role of law and regulation in driving technological innovation and investment in carbon , capture , utilization , and storage ( CCUS ) developing carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) infrastructure ; a review of oil and gas royalties and pooling issues ; and the status of the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea mineral issues .
The opening remarks by UND School of Law Dean Brian Pappas were followed by an overview of the technical aspects of the legal and regulatory frameworks for geologic storage of CO2 by Kevin Connors , a geologist and assistant director for Regulatory Compliance and Energy Policy at the UND Energy and Environmental Research Center ( EERC ). North Dakota is one of two states that currently has state-level primacy to review and permit Class VI wells for geologic storage ; and the EERC has extensive research and development experience in this regard , including the Plains CO2 Reduction ( PCOR ) Partnership program .
UND School of Law ’ s Energy Law Professor Tade Oyewunmi spoke about the emerging legal and regulatory developments in the commercialization and use of underground pore spaces for energy decarbonization operations . Professor Oyewunmi outlined the underlying property law principles governing the use of such subsurface areas for CCUS operations and options for developing an integrated approach to commercializing CO2 .
Globally , there are growing interests and experiences about how such CO2 can be captured from various industrial and energy production sources and permanently stored or used in enhanced oil recovery operations , food processing , as raw material for producing synthetic fuels and chemicals , building materials , etc . The right to use and possess the subsurface pore spaces largely depends on whether such formations or voids are within land ( s ) owned by private individuals such as a farmer or owned by the federal government or other public agencies .
Professor Oyewunmi surveyed how the applicable legal framework in jurisdictions like Alberta , Canada , and Norway influences the growing investments in CCUS projects , while also considering some of the relevant judicial decisions in Texas and North Dakota regarding the ownership and rights to use underground pore spaces between a typical landowner and owner of a mineral estate . The North Dakota Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in the case of Northwest Landowners Association v . State ( 2022 ). 1
The next speaker , James Curry of Babst Colland Attorneys , Washington , D . C ., surveyed the legal and policy considerations for developing carbon dioxide infrastructure , especially pipelines for transporting CO2 . He highlighted the challenges associated with investing and scaling up such projects , including potential practical and policy solutions . Curry noted to achieve the various goals of reducing carbon emissions and maintaining the reliability of energy systems , while keeping energy costs low for Americans , an all-of-the above approach is needed .
Afterward , Senior Policy Advisor to the U . S . Bureau of Land Management Juan Palma discussed the possible pathways and practical approaches to finding common ground in energy policy in divided times , including the potential options for achieving energy and environmental justice and properly engaging all stakeholders involved in the various phases of project development .
Craig Smith , an attorney and partner at Crowley Fleck PLLP
Tade Oyewunmi , assistant professor of law and director of the Energy , Environment , and Natural Resources Certificate Program at UND School of Law , spoke about legal and regulatory developments related to underground pore space .
Many UND Law students and alumni attended the symposium and the reception that followed .