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Environmental Law Symposium

Friday, April 1

King Hall, rm 1008
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

The Aftermath of the BP Oil Spill: A Reassessment Drilling and Energy Policies

Environmental Law Society Symposium

UC Davis, King Hall School of Law

Date: Friday April 1, 2011

•I.     Symposium Description

The April 2010 BP Oil Spill and its aftermath highlighted the environmental and social hazards associated with offshore oil drilling and production. One year later this Symposium explores the political and legal implications of the BP Oil Spill, the largest oil spill in the United States' history.


•II.    Panel Descriptions

Morning Session:  Legal Developments Following the BP Oil Spill

Panel 1: Litigation arising from the BP Oil Spill

Litigation following the BP Oil Spill has been plentiful.  This panel will provide an overview of the litigation arising from the BP Oil Spill to demonstrate how federal and state law can be used to compensate those injured by the oil spill.  Additionally, this panel will present issues that may face California litigants should an oil spill occur of our coastline.

Questions addressed by this panel could include:  What type of litigation has followed the BP Oil Spill?  What strategies are effective claimants employing?  What defenses is the oil industry employing?  Does the creation of a compensation fund facilitate efficient resolution of claims?  What is the focus of the National Oil Commission Investigation?  What are likely findings of this Investigation?


  • 1. Jackie Lopez (Center for Biological Diversity)
  • 2. James Pierce (Department of Conservation)
  • 3. Denny Takahashi-Kelso (Ocean Conservancy)
  • 4. Albert Lin (UC Davis)

Afternoon Session: Political Impacts Resulting from the BP Oil Spill

Panel 2: Federal and State Political Adjustments to Assess Oil Drilling Disasters

The BP Oil Spill forced government agencies to reassess their procedures and preparation for oil drilling disasters.  Federal and state agencies have reevaluated their permitting processes as well as created agencies specially prepared to respond to offshore oil disasters.  This panel will discuss the reorganization of federal agencies to prevent future disasters and how California agencies are prepared to respond to an offshore oil disaster should one occur off its shoreline.

Questions addressed by this panel could include:  How will the BP Disaster affect drilling policy on both the federal and state level?  Will the permitting/licensing process become more stringent for offshore drilling?  How will this Oil Spill affect Contingency Plans, emergency preparedness, enforcement of drilling policy?  What is the interplay between federal statues (e.g., CWA), state statutes (e.g., CEQA) and drilling policy?


  • 1. Curtis Fossum (State Lands Commission)
  • 2. Michael Mills (Stoel Rives LLP)
  • 3. Steve Sawyer (Department of Fish and Game)
  • 4. Leila Monroe (Natural Resources Defense Council)
  • 5. Bradley R. O'Brien (United States Department of Justice)

Panel 3: The Future of Energy Policy

The BP Oil Spill can be partially attributed to United States' reliance on fossil fuels.  Given the dangers associated with such drilling, there is some urgency to adopt cleaner and safer energy production.  This panel will assess the implications and viability of future California and the United States' energy policies reliant on fossil fuels.

Questions addressed by this panel could include:  Is the BP disaster and others pushing federal and state policymakers toward a reevaluation of energy policy?  If so, in what ways?  Is a federal climate bill on the horizon?  Will A.B. 32 receive greater support in light of these disasters?  How will renewable energy interests benefit from this disaster? 


  • 1. John McKinsey (Stoel Rives LLP)
  • 2. Rick Frank (UC Davis)
  • 3. David Smyser (Western States Petroleum Association)
  • 4. Tim Olson (California Energy Commission)

Reception immediately following the symposium at 5pm in the King Hall Courtyard (weather permitting).  Light appetizers and refreshments will be served.  The event will be open to all attending the symposium, King Hall alumni, and students.

Please RSVP for this reception by clicking on the link below (it should take only a few seconds)

For more information, please contact Drew Saruwatari at