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Energy Students Visit Industry Operations in Southwest Wyoming

May 22, 2018

In the days leading up to the end of the semester, the energy leaders at the College of Law were in full force to bring first-hand exposure to students in law school and the Professional Land Management Program. Led by Professor Tara Righetti, and in collaboration with College of Law alumni and Land Analyst for Anadarko, Caley Faulkner (J.D. ’17), students were able to tour the Jim Bridger Coal Mine and the Western Gas Resources Granger Plant.

Hosted by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, the visit and tour offered a truncated version of the Natural Resources Field Course that has historically run at the College of Law, allowing students to see industry operations on the ground floor.

Students were guided through the open surface Jim Bridger Coal Mine to experience the sheer scale of operations, as well as the ongoing reclamation efforts in areas where coal mining has been completed.

“The Jim Bridger coal mine tour was especially enlightening as my great-grandfather and grandfather were coal miners of the Powder River Basin,” says law student Mick Bondi.  “Having viewed the northern Wyoming coal mines and the Jim Bridger Coal Mine it’s easy to understand how Wyoming is the largest coal producer in the world. The magnitude of the operation was jaw-dropping.”

Students then toured the Western Gas Resources Granger Plant where they were able to see the new innovative technology of the On-Line Process Optimization initiative at work in the natural gas plant.

Through the site visits and discussions with accompanying alumni in the field, students were able to come away with a deeper understand of issues in the industry and how those translate back to their legal research and studies.

“There are some things that must be experienced to be understood,” says Professor Righetti. “The opportunities for applied learning in Wyoming are phenomenal. We talk about split estate ownership and gas balancing agreements in the classroom, but when students see how that translates to field operations and get to talk to the operators of energy assets, the importance and relevance of those topics becomes real.”

In addition to gaining valuable knowledge, students were able to engage with alumni that have pursued natural resource avenues in their legal careers. Accompanying the tour was College of Law graduate Joe Evers (J.D. ’13) who serves as Corporate Counsel and Manager of External Affairs for Westmoreland Coal Company in Colorado.

“I enjoy working with the College of Law and mentoring the current students that are interested in energy and natural resources,” says Evers. “It is a really valuable way to give back and offer students opportunities to make connections in the industry that didn’t exist during my law school career.”

For Bondi, the experience was all that and more. He comments, “I’m grateful to Anadarko for facilitating the tour as it deepened my appreciation for traditional energy production and furthered my interest in practicing in the energy industry.”

Bridger Plant Visit(picture left to right) Joe Evers (J.D. ’13); law student Mick Bondi; Professor Tara Righetti; Caley Faulkner (J.D. ’17); energy resource management student Chandler Meebower


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