Special Institute on

Public Land Law, Regulation, and Management

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

Speakers & committee

Program Chair

ROBERT C. MATHES, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Denver, CO

Program Committee

ALEXANDER ARENSBERG, Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs, Denver, CO

DEANA M. BENNETT is a Shareholder with the law firm of Modrall Sperling, in Albuquerque. Deana's practice focuses on federal environmental law and federal Indian law. Deana's experience includes permitting and environmental compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other related federal statutes. Her experience also includes working with renewable resource developers with siting issues on public, tribal, state, and local land. It is not surprising that Deana's practice focuses primarily on public lands. Deana calls the West home, from New Mexico to Alaska. Her early childhood was spent travelling in a Volkswagen bus from Yellowstone National Park to Everglades National Park, where her father was a Park Ranger. After leaving the Park Service, her father worked for the Bureau of Land Management until he retired. Deana is a true coal miner's daughter; her mother worked in an underground coal mine in Wyoming for several years, while her father attended the University of Wyoming. Before attending law school, Deana retraced some of her childhood adventures—working in Yellowstone, working at a ski area in Utah, and working on a luxury passenger train in Alaska, where she bought her own 1979 Volkswagen bus. 

NADA WOLFF CULVER is Senior Counsel and Director of the BLM Action Center at The Wilderness Society, providing technical advice and support to citizens and conservation groups working to protect their public lands. The Wilderness Society’s mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. The BLM Action Center, located in Denver, Colorado, assists and encourages people to participate in land use planning processes and management decisions, including those addressing transmission, renewable energy, fossil fuel development and protection of wilderness. The BLM Action Center also seeks to influence national policy on management of our federal public lands. Before joining The Wilderness Society, she practiced law in the private sector for more than 10 years, working on a variety of environmental issues including energy development and environmental remediation, and was a partner with the law firm of Patton Boggs. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

PHIL LOWE is an attorney advisor with the Department of the Interior’s Rocky Mountain Regional Solicitor’s Office, in Lakewood, CO. Formerly a hydrogeologist and environmental scientist in the environmental management and licensing section of a major electrical utility, as an attorney he was part of the environmental practice groups of two large law firms in San Francisco and Denver. At the Regional Solicitor’s Office, he advises Interior agency clients on legal and policy matters related to conventional and renewable energy development on public lands and has extensive litigation experience before the Interior Board of Land Appeals and federal courts. Phil also advises Bureau of Land Management clients on NEPA and FLPMA issues associated with environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for a variety of land planning actions and project level records of decision. He has a 1981 B.S. with honors from Rutgers University (where he won several athletic and academic awards) and a 1989 J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. 

GREG NIBERT is a native of Roswell, New Mexico. He and his wife, Carolyn, have two sons, Gregory, an oil and gas lawyer in Denver, and Jeff, a farmer in Roswell.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in 1980 and received a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Pepperdine University in 1983.  He was Editor in Chief of the Pepperdine Law Review for 1982-83.  He is a partner in Hinkle Shanor LLP and his practice is focused on Oil and Gas Law.  He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1993, Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business since 2005.  He was selected as the Natural Resource Lawyer of the Year in 2015 by the New Mexico Bar Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law.  In 2016, Mr. Nibert was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, District 59 (Chaves and Lincoln Counties) where he continues to serve. He represents New Mexico on the Executive Board of the Energy Council.  The Rural Water Users Association selected Greg as the Legislator of the Year for 2018 and he received an award from the Association of Commerce and Industry for work on legislation promoting economic development in the State.  Greg was one of two New Mexico legislators invited to attend the Fourth China United States Governor’s Conference in the People’s Republic of China in 2018 to promote New Mexico business in China. Greg is a past president of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and continues to serve on its Board of Directors.  He was the Treasurer (2013-15) and a member of the Board of Directors (2011-15) of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.  He previously served as a Chaves County Commissioner from 2007 through 2014.  While Chairman of the Commission he successfully fought the US Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and the Lesser Prairie Chicken.   He has presented numerous papers and speeches to a number of organizations on oil and gas law topics, including the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, American Association of Professional Landmen, University of Texas, and Center for International and American Law Energy Law Institute.

WELLS S. PARKER is a partner in Dorsey & Whitney LLP’s Salt Lake City, Utah office, where he practices in the firm’s Mining and Natural Resources Practice Group, focusing on natural resources development, energy, and environmental law. His practice includes transactions involving the purchase and sale of public and private mining companies and mining assets, and he represents mining companies in capital-raising projects, mine finance, and royalty and mineral streaming transactions. He represents clients on mining and mineral leases, joint venture agreements, surface use agreements, state and federal permitting, and regulatory approvals. Wells is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. Wells has served as an instructor for several of the Foundation’s Mining Law Short Courses, and presented and published papers at Foundation Special Institutes on Public Land Law, Regulation and Management in 2014, on Horizontal Oil & Gas Development in 2012, and on Due Diligence in Mining and Oil & Gas Transactions in 2010. Wells earned his  JD from Brigham Young University and a BA from the University of Utah.

HADASSAH (DESSA) M. REIMER is an attorney in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming office of Holland & Hart LLP. Her practice focuses on federal environmental regulation and litigation before the Interior Board of Land Appeals and the federal courts, including environmental impact assessment, endangered species, and public land permitting requirements. Dessa also has an active Indian law practice. Dessa represents a variety of clients including conventional and renewable energy developers, mining companies, and water resource providers, as well as Indian tribes. Dessa has co-authored three papers for past RMMLF Annual Institutes, served as chair of the Public Lands section for the 2013 Annual Institute, and currently serves as a Trustee for the Foundation.

SANDRA B. ZELLMER is a Professor and Director of Natural Resources Clinics at the University of Montana School of Law. Previously, she was the Robert B. Daugherty Professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law. She teaches public lands, wildlife, water law, torts, and related courses. Zellmer has recently served as a board member of the Society for Wilderness Stewardship and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, and is a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform.  She is a vice-chair of the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources--Committee on Public Lands.  Zellmer has published dozens of law review articles as well as several books, including Legal Control of Water Resources (2018) (with Thompson, Leshy, and Abrams), Natural Resources Hornbook (2015) (with Laitos), A Century of Unnatural Disasters: Mississippi River Stories (NYU 2014) (with Klein), and Comparative Environmental and Natural Resources Law (2013). Before teaching, Zellmer was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, representing the National Park Service, Forest Service, and other federal agencies. She also practiced law at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and clerked for the Honorable William W. Justice, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas.

Speakers

MARK BARRON is the head of energy litigation for BakerHostetler’s Denver office and serves as the office’s business development partner. Mark is a Chambers Tier 1-ranked energy lawyer who has guided some of the country’s largest producers of oil and gas through high-profile litigation, establishing himself as a “go to” counselor for energy companies and trade associations developing advocacy responses to regulatory initiatives. Mark routinely assists clients to meet their day-to-day operational objectives by interacting with government decision makers, developing strategic policy initiatives, crafting optimal business agreements, and litigating disputes. A prolific author and speaker on topics affecting energy producers, Mark has testified before Congress and been featured or quoted in dozens of industry and mainstream media outlets on topics related to energy policy, hydraulic fracturing, and commercial development on public lands.

DEANA M. BENNETT is a Shareholder with the law firm of Modrall Sperling, in Albuquerque. Deana's practice focuses on federal environmental law and federal Indian law. Deana's experience includes permitting and environmental compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other related federal statutes. Her experience also includes working with renewable resource developers with siting issues on public, tribal, state, and local land. It is not surprising that Deana's practice focuses primarily on public lands. Deana calls the West home, from New Mexico to Alaska. Her early childhood was spent travelling in a Volkswagen bus from Yellowstone National Park to Everglades National Park, where her father was a Park Ranger. After leaving the Park Service, her father worked for the Bureau of Land Management until he retired. Deana is a true coal miner's daughter; her mother worked in an underground coal mine in Wyoming for several years, while her father attended the University of Wyoming. Before attending law school, Deana retraced some of her childhood adventures—working in Yellowstone, working at a ski area in Utah, and working on a luxury passenger train in Alaska, where she bought her own 1979 Volkswagen bus. 

REED D. BENSON holds the Don L. & Mabel F. Dickason Endowed Chair in Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where he teaches natural resources classes and serves as Faculty Editor-in-Chief of the Natural Resources Journal. Prior to coming to UNM, he spent six years on the faculty of the University of Wyoming College of Law, where he taught courses in environmental law, legislation, water law, and administrative law, and served as faculty adviser to the Wyoming Law Review. He previously worked as executive director of WaterWatch of Oregon, a staff attorney for the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an associate at the Colorado law firm of Hutchinson, Black & Cook. Benson’s writing focuses on water law and environmental issues facing the West. His most recent publications examine such topics as the application of the Endangered Species Act to federal water projects, the efforts of western cities to ensure adequate water supplies for recreation, and the scope of federal deference to state laws governing water allocation and management. He is co-author of the 7th edition of the Water Resource Management casebook published by Foundation Press.

BRET C. BIRDSONG, Professor, University of Nevada William S. Boyd School of Law, Las Vegas, NV

BAILEY BRENNAN serves as the Wyoming County Commissioners Association's Natural Resource Counsel, supporting the State’s county commissioners on public land matters, including federal resource and land management planning, mineral development, oil and gas leasing, grazing, recreation and other issues. Prior to joining WCCA, Bailey was an associate with Holland & Hart where she practiced natural resource, environment and energy law in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain region as well as land use law in Teton County.  Bailey received her Juris Doctor and Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming. In her free time, she helps her husband and three cow dogs run Second Street Farm in Lander, Wyoming.

TAWNY BRIDGEFORD is the Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the National Mining Association (NMA) in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Bridgeford has represented the mining industry for over 15 years on legal, regulatory and policy issues under the Clean Air Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.  Prior to joining NMA, Ms. Bridgeford was a law clerk at the EPA’s Office of General Counsel. Ms. Bridgeford is a 2004 graduate of the American University’s Washington College of Law. Ms. Bridgeford obtained her Bachelor of Sciences at Cornell University in 1999, where she majored in Natural Resources.

MURRAY FELDMAN is a partner with Holland & Hart LLP in Boise.  He represents project developers, state and local governments, landowners, and others in NEPA, Endangered Species Act, public lands, and general environmental litigation and administrative matters.  He also represents parents under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  Murray co-edited of the 2016 Idaho Book of the Year, Idaho Wilderness Considered.   He co-authored “NEPA’s Scientific and Information Standards—Taking the Harder Look” in the 2018 RMMLF Journal, and was the Public Lands program chair for the 65th Annual Institute.  Murray received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and his M.S. degree from the University of Idaho’s then College of Forestry, Wildlife & Range Sciences (now Natural Resources), and a B.S. from the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, where he attended the Forestry Summer Program in Plumas County and worked on a timber cruising crew on the Plumas National Forest.  He’s written and worked on national forest issues for over 30 years, an interest that began in his teens when he first visited the San Gorgonio Wilderness on the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California with his Scout troop.

PETER C. FORBES, Member, Carver Schwarz McNab Kamper & Forbes LLC, Denver, CO

STAN N. HARRIS practices primarily in the area of public lands, natural resources, and commercial litigation. For more than 15 years, he has advised clients at the judicial, administrative, and legislative levels on federal, state, and local issues. Stan has extensive experience in the representation of parties in their disputes involving cultural property, public lands, Indian lands, oil and gas industry, environmental infrastructure matters, and mining transactions. He also represents clients in the area of general commercial litigation. Prior to joining Modrall Sperling, Stan served as Environmental Counsel to United States Senator Pete V. Domenici in Washington, D.C. and as Law Clerk to the Honorable Lynn Pickard, New Mexico Court of Appeals. Stan is a member of the Natural Resources and Environment practice group, and serves as Chair of the firm’s Public Lands group and the Recruiting Committee. He has been recognized by Southwest Super Lawyers® in Energy and Natural Resources.

RANDY HUBBARD is a mining lawyer at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP in Denver.  Randy’s practice is concentrated primarily in domestic mining law, representing clients in the business of exploring for and developing hard-rock minerals, as well as industrial minerals, coal, uranium, and other energy minerals, primarily on federal lands in the United States. His practice also extends to assisting North American clients seeking mining opportunities outside the United States. Mr. Hubbard represents mining clients in both mining asset and stock purchase transactions, the formation of joint ventures, drafting and negotiating mining agreements, and in conducting day-to-day exploration, development, and mining activities. He also represents clients in obtaining financing for mining operations. In addition, his practice involves mineral title examination.

Mr. Hubbard has authored or co-authored seven papers presented at Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institutes or Special Institutes, has written several other articles on various aspects of the General Mining Law of 1872, and is a frequent speaker on mining law topics.  He is a contributing author to The American Law of Mining. Mr. Hubbard was the chairperson of the committee that prepared the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Form 5 LLC Agreement, published in 2015.  He has also chaired and made presentations at three Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation workshops, one on the BLM’s 3809 regulations in January of 2001, and the others on the Form 5 LLC Agreement in October of 2015, in Denver, and in March of 2016, in Toronto. 

From 2000-2005, Mr. Hubbard was an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, teaching a mining law course.  He is active with the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, having served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and also as a member of the Special Institutes Committee and on the editorial board of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Journal. He was the program chair for the 54th Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute.  In 2009 and 2010, he was on the faculty for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s Mining Law Short Course, and in 2014 he was the chairperson of that week-long short course.

Randy had been recognized by Best Lawyers in America® (since 2007), Colorado Super Lawyers (2010-2016) and The International Who’s Who of Mining Lawyers (since 2003). Randy was acknowledged by International Who’s Who Legal as “among the most highly regarded” mining lawyers in the world in 2005, 2008, and 2010. He was also named by Best Lawyers as the 2011, 2016 and 2018 “Lawyer of the Year” for Mining Law in Denver, and has earned an AV® PreeminentTM Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.

BRUCE R. HUBER is Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School where he has taught natural resources law and related areas since 2011. Before arriving at Notre Dame, Professor Huber taught for several years in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. He earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford and his JD and PhD (in Political Science) from UC Berkeley. He conducts research in the areas of environmental, natural resources, water, property, and energy law. His particular areas of expertise include energy regulation, public land and resource management, and the interaction between law and politics. His scholarship in these fields has been published in such journals as the California Law Review, the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and The Georgetown Law Journal. He has presented his research at lectures and conferences around the world. He is an editor of the journal Transnational Environmental Law (Cambridge) and has won a number of teaching awards.

ALISON C. HUNTER, Associate, Holland & Hart LLP, Boise, ID

LAIRD J. LUCAS is Executive Director of Advocates for the West, a public interest environmental law firm based in Boise, Idaho, that provides free legal services to conservation groups in Idaho and other western states on environmental and natural resource issues.  Laird is a 1986 graduate of Yale Law School, and clerked for a federal judge and worked in private practice in San Francisco before moving to Boise in 1993 to become a public interest environmental lawyer. Since then, Laird has won dozens of cutting-edge cases to protect public lands, clean water, fish and wildlife, and other environmental values. Many of his recent cases involve protecting greater sage-grouse on public lands.

MARK BENJAMIN MACHLIS is a Partner at Dorsey & Whitney. He helps clients navigate the complexity of state and federal environmental requirements to achieve their business objectives. He represents clients throughout the life cycle of their projects, from acquisition and permitting to operational compliance, enforcement defense, remediation, closure, and divestiture. He has extensive experience in matters involving state and federal regulations regarding solid and hazardous waste (RCRA), hazardous materials transportation (HMR), toxic chemicals (TSCA), water quality (CWA), community right-to-know laws (EPCRA), and remediation of contaminated property (CERCLA). Ben has been recognized by Mountain States Super Lawyers® as a “Rising Star” in Environmental practice in 2014 through 2017 and by Utah Business Magazine as a Utah Legal Elite, Up and Coming lawyer in 2017. He has served as Young Professionals Committee Chairman (2016-2017) of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, as a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Open Lands, and as an adjunct faculty member at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

TOM SANSONETTI joined Holland & Hart in 1993 and built a nationally recognized practice in natural resources and environmental law. Considered an expert in natural resources and environmental matters, Tom served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice and also as the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and in six Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, and served as a federal prosecutor in environmental crimes cases. Tom’s appellate experience highlights his ability to argue cases at all levels of the federal court system. Active in politics, Mr. Sansonetti was the Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Wyoming Congressman Craig Thomas during the 101st Congress and was appointed Associate Solicitor for Energy and Resources by Interior Secretary Don Hodel during the last two years of the Reagan administration. He also served as Wyoming's Republican National Committeeman (1996-2001) and as General Counsel for the Republican National Committee (2001). He was the Chairman of the Republican Party in Wyoming from 1983-1987.

KATIE SCHRODER is a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP in Denver, where her practice focuses on all aspects of energy development on federal lands. Ms. Schroder counsels clients on oil and gas leasing and development on federal lands and agency compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. She has extensive experience with the Endangered Species Act and advises on federal royalty issues.  Ms. Schroder regularly represents oil and gas operators in administrative appeals before the Bureau of Land Management, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, and Interior Board of Land Appeals.  She has defended and challenged agency decisions and rulemakings in federal courts across the country. Ms. Schroder is active with the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and recently chaired its 65th Annual Institute.  Previously, she has served as a trustee to this organization, chaired its Publications Committee, and authored several papers. She sits on the board of directors of Western Energy Alliance and is a former chair of the Public Land and Resources Committee within the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Ms. Schroder began her career as an attorney-advisor in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor as part of the Solicitor’s Honors Program. She then spent 10 years with a boutique law firm in Denver. She holds a B.A. from Rice University and a J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law. After law school, she clerked for Justice Alex J. Martinez of the Colorado Supreme Court.

 

COURTNEY SHEPHARD is an associate in the Natural Resources Department of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, where her practice encompasses public lands, energy, and water resources. Ms. Shephard advises energy clients operating on federal lands on a variety of matters, including leasing, royalty appeals, and compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Ms. Shephard also works with clients seeking to acquire, develop, and protect water supplies and water-related infrastructure in Colorado. She regularly represents clients in Colorado water court proceedings and in administrative appeals within the Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, as well as before the Interior Board of Land Appeals.  In addition to practicing law, she has co-taught interdisciplinary climate change economics and policy courses and guest lectured on Colorado water law and policy at Colorado College. Ms. Shephard received her J.D. from the University of Colorado in 2014 and her Master of Environmental Management, with an emphasis in environmental economics and policy, from Duke University in 2011. She served as editor-in-chief of Volume 85 of the Colorado Law Review and as an executive editor for the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy from Colorado College. 

TEMPLE STOELLINGER is an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming Haub School of ENR and College of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies. She has a dual appointment with the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Law. Professor Stoellinger is the faculty supervisor of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Law Clinic and coordinates the Haub School’s JD/MA program in Environment and Natural Resources. She also teaches environmental and natural resources law and policy, wildlife law, and approaches to environmental problem solving. Before joining the University of Wyoming, Professor Stoellinger worked for Shell International B.V. and served as a natural resource advisor to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal.

KENNON L. WOOTEN is a Partner with Scott Douglass McConnico in Austin, TX. Kennon joined the firm in May 2011, after serving as the rules attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas. Kennon joined Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP in 2011, after serving as the Rules Attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, working at Baker Botts LLP, and clerking for former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court.  As Rules Attorney, she handled inquiries relating to rules and assisted the Court with promulgating and amending rules.  At Scott Douglass & McConnico, her docket includes a broad range of civil litigation and appeals involving, among other things, allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, business tort, personal injury, Medicaid fraud, and professional malpractice.  Her education includes the University of Texas at Austin (BA with highest honors, 1999) and the University of Texas School of Law (JD with honors, 2004).  She served as the Head Teaching Quizmaster in law school.  Kennon also has served as a member of the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services, a member of the Texas Supreme Court Task Force for Rules in Expedited Actions, the President of the Austin Young Lawyers Association, and the Chair of the State Bar of Texas Court Rules Committee.  She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Austin Lawyer, Secretary of the Texas Legal Service Center, and Secretary of the Austin Bar Association.  She is also a member of the American Law Institute, Supreme Court Advisory Committee, Editorial Board for The Advocate, and the State Bar of Texas Court Rules Committee.  She is a frequent CLE speaker and has published a book and law-review articles on discovery practices.  She received the Travis County Women Lawyers Association Litigation/Appellate Attorney Award in 2018, a “Standing Ovation” State Bar Volunteer Award in 2017, and a Special Commendation of the Texas Supreme Court and State Bar in 2011.   She was named as a Texas Rising Star in 2008, 2009, and 2013-2017.