Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Certificate
The Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR) Certificate will enable students to gain a solid foundation to practice in the areas of energy production, economic use of natural resources, and preservation.
North Dakota’s economic and scenic landscape lends itself to a variety of careers that require expertise in environmental law, energy law, and natural resources law across North Dakota. Completion of the program will signify that a new attorney has a fundamental understanding of the relevant law and emerging issues that impact residents of North Dakota and the companies in this industry who do business in the state.
The main objective of the EENR Certificate program is to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of the legal, policy, and transactional aspects of developing energy, oil, and natural gas resources in North Dakota, the United States, and relevant international contexts. The program is open to all University of North Dakota (UND) School of Law students who have completed the first-year curriculum and are in good academic standing. Law students currently enrolled and in good standing in other ABA-accredited law schools may complete the program as full-time visiting second or third-year students at the School of Law.
The program requires students to successfully¬ complete seventeen (17) credits of law courses * including the required courses, elective (primary) courses, and a two-credit special project approved by the Program Director. Although the secondary courses listed below are not required for the Certificate, they are optional courses exploring various relevant subjects in the process of developing energy and natural resources.
Successful completion of the JD program is also required for UND Law students.
The Certificate will be awarded to School of Law students simultaneously with the JD degree and will be reflected on the student’s law school transcript. The Certificate will be awarded at the end of the visiting year and reflected on the visiting student’s home School of Law transcript. For full-time visiting students at the School of Law, the certificate program requires successful completion of the required 17 credits during the visiting year and/or in combination with credits at the student’s home school prior to the visiting year. For any courses completed at the student’s home school, each course must be approved by the UND School of Law to fulfill the EENR Certificate program requirements before the course may be counted toward the required credits and coursework for the certificate program.
The program requires students to successfully complete a total of 17 credit hours of focused coursework, comprising: (1) three required courses; and (2) elective primary courses (which are courses relevant to practice in the energy, environment, and natural resource disciplines);** and (3) a two-credit approved special project. The requirements are as follows:
Required courses: 9 credits
Primary courses: 6 credits or more ***
Special Project: 2 credits
Total: 17 credits (minimum)
* Students completing Administrative Law for two (2) credits before Fall 2023 can receive
the EENR certificate with a total of sixteen (16) credits.
** A student may choose an additional elective course from the list of complementary ‘secondary courses’ below.
*** As approved by the Director, students interested in secondary courses such as International Business Transactions (3 credits) may apply the credits earned as a result as part of meeting the minimum six credits requirement for primary courses.
Students enrolled in the EENR Certificate Program are required to successfully complete: Administrative Law; Environmental Law; and one of the energy-related courses listed in the Primary Courses below.
Administrative Law - #210 - 3 credits
This course reviews the legal doctrines that empower and constrain the "fourth branch" of government-administrative agencies. Primary emphasis is placed on case law developed at the federal level; state law is covered where it differs substantially from its federal counterpart. Major topics include the creation of administrative agencies, agency use of power and limits on that power, public and individual participation in agency processes, and judicial review of agency action. Grades will be based on a final in-class exam.
Environmental Law - #263 - 3 credits
This course surveys the major federal statutory programs restricting private and governmental activities that may adversely affect human health and the environment. The course examines the common law origins of environmental law, current "regulatory" schemes designed to prevent activities from causing excessive environmental harm, and current "remedial" schemes designed to clean up or remedy environmental harms that do occur. Major topics include the structure of federal, state, and Indian tribal governmental power over the environment, air and water quality, and hazardous waste disposal and cleanup. Course grades are calculated on the basis of class participation and a reflective paper, not eligible for the School’s graduation writing requirement, on a topic assigned on the first day of class.
Energy course – 3 credits
Either Energy and Mining Law or Oil and Gas Law (as listed under “Primary Courses” below) or another substantial, energy-related course approved by the Director of the Certificate Program.
The primary courses are courses that explore more specific topics in energy, environmental and natural resources law. The courses in these categories take advantage of the interests and expertise of the faculty at the School of Law, while also providing many opportunities for certificate program students to delve more deeply into several of the specific subject areas that affect tribes and tribal peoples.
Certificate program students must take at least seven (7) credits of primary courses in addition to the required courses to fulfill the requirements of the certificate program.
Energy and Mining Law - #362 – 3 credits
The mining of natural resources for energy production and the supply systems developed as a result are integral to modern living standards. This course surveys the energy law and policy framework in the US, North Dakota, and relevant international contexts. It looks at how energy from primary sources such as coal, oil, gas, nuclear water, wind, and solar, are extracted, transported, and converted into secondary and useful energy. The course explores the physical, market, and legal structures governing each energy resource, including models of regulation and key statutory and judicial instruments governing their utilization. Law and policies designed to promote energy conservation, and the use of renewable forms of energy, are also studied.
International Business Transactions - # 252 - 3 Credits
This course surveys the legal regimes, rules, procedures, institutions, and issues regarding international business transactions and foreign investments. First, the class will learn about the transactional issues arising from the sale of goods across national borders by private actors. Such matters arise from agreements regarding the licensing and financing of agency and distributorship, import and export controls, extraterritorial application of domestic law, dispute resolution, etc. Second, the class will examine the legal and regulatory framework governing foreign direct investments, including bilateral and multilateral treaties, concessions, and international joint ventures, in the context of industries such as energy, agriculture, natural resources, and mining. Third, students will review project financing arrangements, local content and corporate social responsibility regulation, and risk management provisions as they impact international business transactions.
International Petroleum Transactions - #321 - 3 Credits
This course examines the legal issues and structure of international transactions relating to the exploration, production, and marketing of petroleum (oil and gas). Petroleum is a source of energy and feedstock for products used in essential economic and industrial processes worldwide, including manufacturing, agriculture, and domestic applications. Consequently, crude oil, in particular, has been a globally traded commodity for decades, while regional or local natural gas markets have become increasingly interconnected and international. In this class, students will learn how crude oil and gas are exploited and marketed worldwide. The course covers how countries establish sovereignty over petroleum resources and how host governments or national (state-owned) oil companies contract with private companies to explore and develop oil and gas resources. Students will review key provisions of model contracts between international oil and gas companies and agreements between such companies and service contractors that facilitate petroleum exploration, development, and marketing. Additionally, students will learn about the dynamics of public and private international law with oil and gas transactions as the context. The class will examine topics such as the extraterritoriality of US anti-bribery laws, managing political risks and the role of bilateral investment treaties, protecting indigenous and human rights, and regulating community impacts.
Natural Resources Law - #315 - 3 credits
This course surveys the major federal statutory programs and state law regimes governing property rights in natural resources on both public and private lands. Topics covered include Wildlife and Biodiversity, Rangelands, Protected Lands, Wetlands, Hard Rock Minerals and Forests. In particular, the course compares various approaches to federal resource management, including the cross-boundary regulation of endangered species and wetlands, the multiple-use mandates of Bureau of Land Management lands, and the notion that nature can be preserved by setting it aside in wilderness areas and national parks. The course also addresses state responsibilities for natural resources management (focusing on the public trust doctrine) and issues raised by regulation of natural resources on private lands (focusing on constitutional takings doctrine). A persistent theme is the question of development vs. preservation. Grading is based on class participation, and a paper on a topic assigned to all students. There is no exam.
Oil & Gas Law - #217 - 3 credits
This course takes a comprehensive approach to oil and gas law across the United States and North Dakota in particular. Oil and Gas law draws deeply on Property and Contract law principles relating to the determination of rights and obligations in oil and gas resources. Students will learn the law governing ownership, development, conservation, marketing, and transfer of interests in oil and gas. The class will explore various kinds of property interests typically created in oil and gas resources, including a landowner's interest, the creation of mineral leases, the rights, and duties between lessor and lessee, etc. Students will also be introduced to the contractual and legal issues for natural gas production and midstream supply considerations for upstream producers.
Secondary courses are courses that explore aspects of law that impact energy, environmental, and natural resources. These courses include both legal topics and practice ready skills courses.
Certificate program students are not required to take any secondary courses to fulfill the requirements for the certificate program. Recommended secondary courses include:
Alternative Dispute Resolution - #281 - 2 credits
This course provides an overview of the regional dispute resolution methods of mediation, negotiation, arbitration, custody investigation, early neutral evaluation, parenting time coordination, and collective bargaining. Students will learn how to use and effectively participate in dispute resolution processes as a neutral third party. This course includes practical, skill-building exercises and presentations in an experiential learning environment.
Oil & Gas Contracts and Regulation - # [TBD] - 3 credits
This course surveys contractual provisions and frameworks for upstream oil and gas production operations and midstream (processing, storage, and supply) activities in the US. The class will consider mineral rights, title issues, and interests that underpin oil and gas contracts in the US and North Dakota. This includes the review of Leases, Farmout Agreements, Drilling and Service Contracts, Joint Operating Agreements, Gas Purchases, and Supply Agreements. The class will include seminars on regulating gas pipelines, storage, and processing facilities, including an overview of health, safety, and environmental (HSE) regulations in oil and gas production. Essential HSE provisions in selected agreements, leases, and relevant policies will be examined. Course grades are calculated based on class participation and a final take-home examination.
Indian Country Environmental Law - #340 - 3 credits
This course examines how the confluence of federal environmental, administrative and Indian law creates, but may also solve, environmental injustice in Indian country. For Indigenous Peoples who seek to maintain connections with their ancient spiritual and religious cultural traditions, effective protection of the natural environment is critical to their cultural identity. The course examines the various Indian country approaches taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including treating Indian tribes “as states,” and the federal cases brought by states and non-Indians challenging EPA's and tribes' authority to make binding value judgments about Indian country environmental protection. This seminar fulfills the intensive writing requirement.
Transactional Drafting - #229 - 2 credits
This course focuses on the process and principles of drafting transactional (i.e., non-litigation) documents. Upper-level law students will learn about drafting and reviewing contracts that could be used in a variety of contexts. We will examine basic concepts of contract drafting and then expand on those concepts to draft, review, revise, and negotiate contracts. Students will learn the general components of drafting contracts and develop skills necessary for writing and organizing contracts.
Transactional Negotiations - #247 – 2 credits
A legal career – either transactional, corporate, or courtroom based -- often requires you to negotiate on behalf of your client. Excellent negotiators learn to forge long-term collaborations between both parties with an ability to create value for both sides. It is also important that you learn to identify potential risk within deal proposals to ensure that the deal structure doesn’t create additional future issues. This course will help you hone negotiation skills through hands-on simulations. Even if you are already a skilled negotiator, we will be able to add to your current skill set.
EENR Certificate Program students will be required to complete a two-credit special project. The special project is intended to allow the student to explore a topic in the energy, oil and gas, environmental, and natural resources subject areas of the student’s choice, independent of the student’s prior or current coursework. The student will explore a considerable EENR legal and policy issue through this special project while applying the legal and professional principles learned through the program coursework.
The special project can also be completed (a) by competing in national energy or environmental-related
moot court or negotiations competitions; or (b) through an externship in which the
student is engaged in a law firm, company, or institution within the energy, oil and
gas or natural resources sector. Before the externship can be counted as EENR Certificate
credit, the Program Director must approve the student’s learning plan, objectives,
The special project is designed to provide broad opportunities for exploring EENR legal issues and could take a variety of forms. The student is responsible for seeking and securing a faculty member willing to supervise the project and assist the student in designing an appropriate project. Once a student has designed the project, the student will submit a proposal, which must be signed and approved by both the supervising faculty member and the certificate program Director. The special project is deemed completed upon the approval and signature of the supervising faculty member. The special project cannot fulfill in whole or in part the requirements for any other credit-earning course.
This certificate program will provide an excellent opportunity for students to develop an incisive understanding of energy, oil, and gas law in North Dakota, the United States, and relevant international contexts. The program is designed to equip students interested in these exciting areas of law with the skills and know-how necessary for advancing their professional careers and serving as effective leaders in North Dakota and its surrounding regions, as well as the United States or their respective international communities.Tade Oyewunmi, Assistant Professor of Law