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Two UW College of Law Teams Reach Elite Eight in National Energy Competition

April 2, 2013
Group of students
These University of Wyoming College of Law students reached the elite eight at the National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition. From left are Tim Sowecke, Huron, Ohio; Kelianne Chamberlain, Afton; Cash Freeman, Laramie; Joe Evers, Sheridan; Alex Obrecht, Cheyenne; and Jared Larsen, Lander.

Two University of Wyoming College of Law teams finished among the top eight teams during the recent third annual National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition at the West Virginia University College of Law.

The competition highlighted emerging trends in energy law as well as recent developments in sustainable energy production. UW’s third-year team of Joe Evers from Sheridan, Jared Larsen from Lander and Alex Obrecht from Cheyenne won the recent inaugural Davis & Cannon Natural Resources Competition at UW. Their brief at the nationals was ranked the sixth-best overall.

A second-year team of Kelianne Chamberlain from Afton; Cash Freeman, Laramie; and Tim Sowecke of Huron, Ohio, also advanced to the eight finalists among the 24 teams from 15 universities. Sowecke was selected as the competition’s sixth-best oralist.

“Placing not just one, but two teams in the ‘elite eight’ of this competition is a great result, especially since this was our first entry into this competition,” says UW College of Law Dean Steve Easton. “This strong showing reflects our law school’s strength in energy and natural resources law.”

Texas Tech won the three-day competition, and Florida State was the runner-up.

“The competition is geared toward law students desiring to work in the energy and sustainability law field,” says Temple Stoellinger of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, who coaches and advises the teams with UW Law Professor Dennis Stickley. “The competition tests their skills and provides them with a practical experience in energy and sustainability law.”

Students were required to write and submit an appellate brief and then participate in an oral argument in front of a panel of judges, simulating an oral argument in front of a federal court of appeals. The students had to be prepared to argue both sides of the case: the industry side and the U.S. government side.

The arguments involved the fictitious Franklin Gas Company, an owner/operator of hydraulic fracturing natural gas wells, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Franklin was charged with being a major source of air pollution under the Clean Air Act and with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the unintentional death of birds in an impoundment pond.

UW law professors who helped the teams prepare for the competition were Diane Courselle, Deb Donahue, Easton, Sam Kalen and Larry MacDonnell. U.S District Judge Nancy Freudenthal opened her court and presided over a practice round between the two teams the Monday before the national competition.

“We are very grateful to the Davis & Cannon firm for providing the financial backing that made it possible for us to enter this competition,” Easton says. “Because of our law school’s emphasis on energy and natural resources law, we have hoped to participate in this competition for some time. Their financial support turned that hope into a reality.”

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