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


April 7 CLE Lecture: THE HON. IGNACIA S. MORENO to Discuss "Environmental and Natural Resources Issues in Indian County."

The Utton Center and the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program will host 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 will be "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 also served with distinction in the Environment Division from 1994 to 2001 in the Administration of President Bill Clinton. In addition to her public service, Ms. Moreno has practiced law at two prominent Washington, D.C. law firms, and also was Counsel for the Northeast/Midwest Regions, Corporate Environmental Programs, at the General Electric Company. She received her law degree from the New York University School of Law in 1990.

Ms. Moreno looks forward to her discussion of environmental and natural resources issues in Indian Country, including progress made to date and an agenda for the next two years to continue 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.

Please join us for what we expect to be a dynamic discussion.

There is no pre-registration required, and no admission fee. This program has been approved by the NM MCLE Board for 1.0 hours of general credit for New Mexico Bar members signing in with their New Mexico Bar number.

The lecture will be held on Monday, April 7, at 5:15 p.m. in Room #2402, Bratton Hall, at The University of New Mexico School of Law and in cooperation with the Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section of the New Mexico Bar Association.

If questions, please contact Laura Burns at 277-3253 or burns@law.unm.edu.


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.