The Utton Transboundary Resources Center addresses natural resources and environmental problems, in conjunction with the law school's faculty and students.

Utton Center Hosts Conference at the UNM School of Law “Water Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty—How Can Our Water Laws and Policies Better Support Water Resilience”

During Fall Break, the Utton Center convened 42 water policy decision-makers, water experts, practitioners, and academicians from New Mexico and across the West to develop new thinking about water management, analyze outcomes of previous ideas and proposals, and develop water law and policy recommendations for the State Legislature.

The discussions were framed around the concept of “water resilience,” meaning New Mexico’s legal and institutional ability to adapt and cope with changing water supplies and demands. This concept of resilience, as defined by Melinda Harm Benson and Robin K. Craig is “a new way of addressing the challenges ahead…acknowledging disequilibrium and nonlinear, continual change.”

Topics covered were:

  • A Framework for Resilience—Marilyn O’Leary, Visiting Research Professor, Utton Center, and Melinda Harm Benson, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of New Mexico
  • The Pressures on Water Supply—Dagmar Llewellyn, Hydrologist, Bureau of Reclamation, and Peggy Johnson, Principal Hydrogeologist, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  • The Characteristics of a Resilient System—David Feldman, Chair, Department of Planning, Policy and Design, and Professor, Department of Planning, Policy U& Design and Political Science, University of California Irvine
  • New Sources of Water—Michael Hightower, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Current Resilience Factors in New Mexico—Adrian Oglesby, Director, Utton Center
  • Effective Strategies for Resilience—Elizabeth Kistin Keller, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy, Sandia National Laboratories, and Stephen McCaffrey, Distinguished Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Resilience and the Law—Dan Tarlock, Distinguished Professor of Law; Director, Environmental and Energy Law Program, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Reed Benson, Keleher & McLeod Professor of Law, and Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program Director, UNM School of Law
  • Collaboration, conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy in adapting policy to address the impact of altered water supply—Aaron T. Wolf, Professor of Geography, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University

In the final session, participants worked together to develop ideas that will help make New Mexico water law and policy better support water resilience. Law students played a critical role in the planning and execution of the conference. David Ketai, Zachary Ogaz, Anne Minard, Elizabeth Reitzel, and Diego Urbina conducted the pre-conference research and made important contributions throughout the conference.

John Fleck, science writer for the Albuquerque Journal, delivered a dinner presentation on “Sharing Water: What an environmental experiment in Mexico can teach us about social capital, institutional arrangements, and the future of the Colorado River.”

PowerPoint presentations by the speakers will be posted at: http://uttoncenter.unm.edu/conferences/index.php

Blogs about the conference have been posted: http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/2014/10/change-stasis-and-or-resilience-in-new-mexico-water-policy/#comments and http://westernriverlaw.com/


“Aboriginal Indian Title Land Claims—Pueblo of Jemez v. United States.

Attorneys Yepa and Luebben; Professors Wolfley and LaVelle

Attorneys Yepa and Luebben; Professors Wolfley and LaVelle

On November 6, the UNM School of Law welcomed attorneys, David Yepa and Tom Luebben to deliver a lecture on “Aboriginal Indian Title Land Claims—Pueblo of Jemez v. United States.

David Yepa, is General Counsel for the Pueblo of Jemez, and primarily works in the area of Federal Indian law including water litigation and natural resource matters. He outlined the extent and use of the area now incorporated into the Valles Caldera National Preserve by the Jemez people since 1400 A.D and showed slides of the ruins left after many hundreds of years.

Tom Luebben, whose practice includes a wide variety of experience in aboriginal land claims throughout the United States, gave a history of the litigation and background of aboriginal land claim disputes and the background of treaties, pertinent legislation, and previous litigation.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera National Preserve

The doctrine of aboriginal Indian title continues to be a fundamental part of federal Indian law and the Anglo-American common law of property. Indian title claims have continuing importance to Indian tribes, and Supreme Court case law continues to recognize that such claims persist until clearly extinguished. The lecture reviewed the law of Indian title and discussed the current case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Pueblo of Jemez v. United States (oral argument presented at the law school on November 13, 2014), which utilizes the federal Quiet Title Act to assert Jemez Pueblo's Indian title to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Valles Caldera and Wavema (Redondo Peak) are Jemez Pueblo's most important sacred sites, analogous to Taos Pueblo's Blue Lake.

The lecture was hosted by UNM School of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program and The Utton Center in cooperation with the New Mexico Bar Association Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section.


Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s “Water Innovation Summit”

Congresswoman Lujan Grisham hosted a “Water Innovation Summit” at the University of New Mexico on October 14. The all-day summit brought together experts from government entities, businesses, universities, and research centers to discuss strategies for tackling the state’s water resources challenges through cutting-edge technologies, innovative management, and policy solutions.

Representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation, the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Nature Conservancy, and other entities held a series of discussions about the implications of New Mexico’s water resource issues.

Link: http://lujangrisham.house.gov/constituent-services/water-innovation-summit-2014.htm

Utton Center Director Adrian Oglesby presented remarks on “Supporting New Mexico Water Resilience with Law and Policy.”


NM Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn Delivers CLE Lecture “An Overview of EPA’s Proposed Rules for Existing Power Plants

Ryan FlynnOn October 22, the UNM School of Law welcomed Cabinet Secretary Ryan Flynn, New Mexico Environment Department for a Continuing Legal Education lecture. Secretary Flynn spoke on the rules proposed by the EPA in June 2014, which are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from existing and modified fossil fuel power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

EPA’s proposal has broad implications for the economy and the environment and will generate a significant amount of litigation over the next few years. This discussion will provide an overview of the 111(d) rule-making process and discuss some of the legal issues surrounding the proposed rules.

On October 21, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the U.S. EPA’s approval of New Mexico’s State Implementation Plan addressing regional haze.

Prior to becoming Secretary, Flynn served as the Environment Department’s General Counsel and Legislative Coordinator. Before joining the Environment Department, Flynn practiced law at the Modrall Sperling law firm in the Commercial Litigation and Renewable Energy groups.

The lecture was hosted by UNM School of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program and The Utton Center in cooperation with the New Mexico Bar Association Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section.


"Endangered Wolves" Lunch & Learn Lecture

Judy Calman

Judy Calman, Staff Attorney, NMWA

Attorney Judy Calman with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance visited the UNM School of Law on October 8 and lectured on “Endangered Wolves.”

The endangered Mexican gray wolf is an emblem of the Southwest and the UNM mascot. The wolf was nearly wiped out in the early 1970s, prompting efforts to rebuild the population. Fewer than 85 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild.

WolvesJudy Calman moved to New Mexico in 2001, inspired by a life-long fascination with the West. After completing degrees in Biology and Philosophy, she has dedicated her career to environmental policy. She completed her law degree at the University of New Mexico, as well as a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy at the Vermont Law School.


UNM Community and Regional Planning Class - Water & Energy in NM: Conversations on Our Common Future

Darcy Bushnell, Director of the Joe M Ombudsman Program at Utton Center lectured on “Adjudication, Water Rights, and Appropriation” on September 24th for this seminar series that presents a wide range of research, issues, insights, and perspectives related to water and energy in New Mexico.


Utton Center Announces New Director Adrian Oglesby

Adrian Oglesby The Utton Transboundary Resources Center at the University of New Mexico School of Law is pleased to announce that Adrian Oglesby will assume the position of director as of July 1.

Prior to joining the Utton Center staff in June 2013, Oglesby served as an outside advisor, editor, and grant writer for the Center. As Senior Staff Attorney, he worked to identify and develop meaningful legal and policy solutions to the real and immediate natural resource challenges facing New Mexico.

Oglesby graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2000. Before earning his JD degree, he managed environmental cleanup projects. He has since run a successful law firm that provided legal counsel to tribes, farmers, and NGOs on water and environmental issues; represented the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission on the Pecos River; and established and managed the Living Rivers Program for The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico.

Currently Oglesby is the Vice Chairman of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board of Directors, President of the New Mexico Riparian Council, Chair-Elect of the Natural Resource Section of the State Bar, Chairman of the Mid-Region Council of Government’s Water Resource Board, and a member of the Tamarisk Coalition’s Board of Directors.

As the Utton Center addresses the critical water issues of New Mexico and the arid Southwest, Oglesby brings a wealth of background and experience to the Center’s efforts. He is already engaged in planning and facilitating water and natural resources projects that will expand the education of the students at the UNM School of Law and serve the state legislature, agencies, local governmental entities, and the communities of our state.


THE HON. IGNACIA S. MORENO Delivers CLE Lecture on "Environmental and Natural Resources Issues in Indian County."

The Utton Center and the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program hosted an evening CLE lecture featuring The Honorable Ignacia S. Moreno, former Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

Her topic was "Environmental and Natural Resources Issues in Indian Country."

Ms. Moreno was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in 2009 and, after her confirmation by the U. S. Senate in a 93 to 0 vote, served until June 2013.

The Environment and Natural Resources Division is a 650-person litigating component of the United States Department of Justice. As head of the Environment Division, former Assistant Attorney General Moreno was considered the nation’s top environmental lawyer. She was the first Latina to lead the Division in its nearly 104-year history.

Ms. Moreno led a dynamic discussion of environmental and natural resources issues in Indian Country. She reviewed the progress made to date and an agenda for the next two years. This agenda includes continuing to address water adjudications, pollution in Indian country, climate change, sacred sites, tribal trust litigation settlements, and the safe and responsible development of a domestic source of energy.

Continuing legal education lectures are offered by the University of New Mexico School of Law in cooperation with the Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section of the New Mexico Bar Association.


February 26 CLE Lecture: Stephen Farris and Steve Hernandez to Discuss U.S. Supreme Court Case Texas v. New Mexico.

On February 26, the Utton Center and the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program hosted a CLE lecture featuring Stephen R. Farris, Assistant Attorney General of New Mexico and Director, Water, Environment and Utilities Division, and Steven L. Hernandez, Esq. of the Law Offices of Steven L. Hernandez in Las Cruces, discussing the Supreme Court case of Texas v. New Mexico and other ongoing Rio Grande water cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken: Texas can sue New Mexico for allegedly violating the Rio Grande Compact, but New Mexico will get its chance to end the litigation quickly. Texas v. New Mexico is not the only ongoing, high-stakes case over Rio Grande water, however. The outcome of these cases will be important for the entire state, but especially for water users in southern New Mexico along the Lower Rio Grande. This program featured two experienced New Mexico attorneys who offered very different views of Rio Grande water disputes.

This presentation can be viewed online at: https://lawmedia.unm.edu/public/special_events/2012_Natural_Resources_Speaker_Series/index.php


Correlative Rights Doctrine in Oil and Gas Jurisprudence

Professor David Pierce On November 13 Professor David Pierce discussed correlative rights doctrine in oil and gas jurisprudence at an hour-long CLE presentation hosted by the UNM School of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program in cooperation with the New Mexico Bar Association Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section.

Director of the Washburn University School of Law Oil & Gas Center and the Norman R. Pozez Chair in Business and Transactional Law, Professor Pierce explored the history of the largely ignored private property aspects of correlative rights, offered insights into why this part of the doctrine has been stunted, and why we can expect the doctrine to play a much greater role in oil and gas jurisprudence in the coming decades. Most often correlative rights principles are applied as a limitation on state oil and gas conservation commissions to ensure any restriction on the rule of capture is administered in a fair manner.

Professor Pierce pointed out that hydraulic fracturing and the immense area where this technology can be applied will affect correlative rights jurisprudence going forward.

For more information, a video of this lecture may be viewed here.


A Water Rights Manual for Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Associations

The Utton Center is pleased to announce the publication of the Water Rights Manual for Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Associations. Written by law students Zackary Carpenter & Gregory Chakalian, class of 2011, the manual has been updated and edited by Darcy S. Bushnell, Stell Water Ombudsman of the Utton Center, UNM School of Law. The manual provides information and procedural guidance to MDWCAs in the acquisition and care of water rights in New Mexico. It has undergone extensive review by the Office of the State Engineer, organizations which provide services to Mutual Domestics and water attorneys. The manual was made possible by a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation.


NREL Program & Utton Center Lunch & Learn on Hydraulic Fracturing

On October 16, Patrick V. Brady, Senior Scientist in the Geoscience Research & Applications Group at Sandia Laboratories, talked on the hydraulic fracturing boom in the United States to a full house at the Natural Resources & Environmental Law Lunch & Learn series. Attendees included students and faculty from the School of Law and the UNM Water Resources program, as well as Albuquerque attorneys.

Lunch and Learn

Photo: Ostroff Law, Commons Wikimedia

In his lecture, entitled What U.S. hydrofracking means for the World, Dr. Brady explained, in layman’s terms, the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing and the geologic features relevant to the process and its risks. He pointed out that scientists as yet do not have any long-term data on the environmental effects of the activity.

The lecture also covered water: the risks of disturbing geologic strata containing extremely salty water and the technologic options for dealing with toxic liquids generated by hydrofracking.

Dr. Brady pointed out that, though major shale formations exist around the world, the greatest extraction activity is occurring in the U.S., and he explained marketplace and social factors driving that imbalance.

He concluded by encouraging audience members to inform themselves of the facts surrounding hydrofracking and to apply that knowledge to "triangulate" to the truth amidst the controversy surrounding the practice.


Nawrs Is Live

The Utton Center and Joe M Stell Ombudsman Program are pleased to announce that the Native American Water Rights Settlement e-repository or NAWRS has gone live! This project has created a collection of settlement documents which represent the formalization of Native American water rights in the United States. Today, 30 settlements have been executed for a fraction of the 566 federally recognized tribes. The e-repository resides in UNM’s LoboVault and may be accessed at http://repository.nawrs.net

The repository currently includes executed settlement agreements and federal legislation relating to the settlements. The Collection continues to grow as state legislation, Tribal claims, court scheduling and procedural orders and Tribal water codes are added. UNM School of Law Prof. Jeanette Wolfley’s Indian Water Law class will be preparing water code abstracts in the fall semester of 2013.

The e-repository allows searches by settlement. The project has also developed a web search tool which may be accessed at http://NAWRS.net The tool facilitates searches by reservation, state, watershed or document type.

The NAWRS partners include Francine Jaramillo, Senior Policy Analyst - American Indian Law Center, Albuquerque NM; Darcy Bushnell, Water Ombudsman & Senior Staff Attorney, Utton Center, UNM – School of Law; Barbara Cosens, Professor of Law, University of Idaho College of Law & Waters of the West Program; and Karl Benedict, Ph.D., Director – Earth Data Analysis Center, UNM.

Darcy Bushnell of the Utton Center and Prof. Barb Cosens of University of Idaho introduced the repository and map on August 13 at the opening Luncheon of the 2013 Symposium on the Settlement of Indian Reserved Water Rights Claims at Buffalo Thunder, the Hilton of Santa Fe. The project is supported by the Native American Rights Fund, the National Congress of American Indians and the Western States Water Council.

Funding partners include the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Foundation.


Fall 2013 Dialogue newsletter available at Resource Links.

Dialogue is published by the New Mexico Water Dialogue, with the aim to promote the wise stewardship and ensure the availability of water resources for future generations of New Mexicans through support of community-based planning and creation of inclusive forums for education, communication, and development of common ground.


NREEL Newsletter link available at Resource Links.

The State Bar of New Mexico Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section ("NREEL") is an organization of lawyers who practice in or are interested in law relating to natural resources, energy and the environment. Our purpose is to provide our members, the State Bar and the public with information and dialogue concerning issues affecting natural resources, energy and the environment. We also seek to provide practicing lawyers with an opportunity to share ideas, legal research and networking with the goal of providing the highest possible quality of legal services to New Mexicans in the areas of natural resources, energy and environment. Membership in SONREEL is open to any lawyer who is interested in these issues.  The NREEL newsletter covers a wide range of Natural Resource and Environmental issues from fresh aquifer prospecting to wildfires impact on endangered species.