Tulane Law School in the spring launched the Tulane Center for Energy Law, under the direction of the inaugural McCulloch Chair in Energy Law, Prof. Kim Talus.
Talus, considered one of the most prominent energy lawyers in Europe, is spearheading the major new investment in energy law studies at Tulane.
Talus comes to Tulane from Finland, where he held faculty appointments at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland and co-directed a center on energy law. Talus said his move to Tulane was a natural fit, combining his work in energy alongside a strong environmental law program with deep international ties. Plus, it was in Louisiana, he said.
“Almost everything related to energy is happening here,” Talus said.
The creation of the center puts Tulane Law at the forefront of a global industry that is crucial not only to Louisiana, but to the nation.
“Every major challenge facing the global community today – from economic inequality and development to climate change, international security and terrorism – relates to energy policy,” said Tulane Law School Dean David Meyer. “Tulane Law School already leads in maritime, environmental, and international law,” he said. “The energy law center plays to those strengths and fills in a vital missing piece.”
The James McCulloch Chair in Energy Law was funded through a $2-million gift by James McCulloch (A&S ’74, L ’77), executive vice president and general counsel for Houston-based Forum Energy Technologies, and his wife, Susan.
A major drive is now underway to raise support for the new Tulane Center for Energy Law. Meyer said the new energy law center is being built in the model of Tulane’s Maritime Law Center and Eason-Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law, which have driven Tulane’s leadership in those fields.
Talus said Tulane’s energy law center will be comprehensive in terms of energy sources and policy and will leverage Tulane’s distinctive reputation and expertise in international and comparative law.
“This center incorporates the legal study of not just oil and gas and not just renewables, but all forms of energy,” Talus said. “We have a great opportunity here to build a program that will combine all aspects of energy and energy research, and that is very exciting.”
Talus already is making an impact. He is teaching Introduction to International and Comparative Energy Law, a course he calls the foundation to a deeper curriculum in all aspects of energy law. Talus will be teaching both semesters in various areas of energy law. Additionally, he is working on a future curriculum to expand courses and include a research component. Through the center, Talus plans to host visiting researchers to collaborate with Tulane faculty and work with students.
Already, the center is co-hosting its first major conference Nov. 2: The 3rd Annual U.S. Energy Law Forum will gather global experts from industry, government and the legal and business academies to discuss some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in the industry. The event will highlight US-China trade tensions, how trade impacts China as a nuclear power, topics in international trade law, LNG market impacts on the U.S. and the role of lawyers in the future of the markets. Tulane's Center for Energy Law and the Tulane Energy Institute of the A.B. Freeman School of Business are jointly hosting.
Talus said he has big plans in the coming years: Add courses that have a strong research component, a website to publish that research, to host national conferences that will bring the international energy community here, and make Tulane Law a crossroads for key players from academia, government, industry and elsewhere to engage on emerging issues relating to energy law and policy.
Talus is joined by Sirja-Leena Penttinen, a frequent academic collaborator, who will serve as Assistant Director of the new center. Penttinen, an expert on renewable energy sources and EU law and policy, played an integral role at UEF’s Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law. She has been a researcher in Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and Malta and has presented her work at colloquia and conferences in London, Madrid, Berlin, Brisbane, Houston and elsewhere.