Jake Byl JD/PhD ’15 and Neil Issar JD ’16 win first prizes in ABA’s 2015 Energy Law and Endangered Species student writing competitions

Jun 24, 2015

Jake Byl J.D./Ph.D. '15 and Neil Issar '16Jake Byl, who earned his J.D./Ph.D. in law and economics in 2015, and Neil Issar, a member of the J.D. Class of 2016, both won first place in student writing competitions sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER).

Both prizes include a $1,000 cash award.

Byl’s paper, “Easements with Ecosystems: A Conservation Tool for Endangered Species,” won first place in the student writing competition sponsored by SEER’s Endangered Species Committee and will be published in the committee’s newsletter.

In the paper, Byl argues that one of the challenges of regulation under the Endangered Species Act is that the statute approaches conservation on a species-by-species basis while many scientists and land managers would prefer to use ecosystem-based conservation. Conservation easements—legal tools that separate development rights from property—can include ecosystem-based principles and serve as useful legal tools for conservation of endangered species on private lands.

Byl was also a finalist in the Institute for Energy Law’s Hartrick Scholar Writing Competition in 2013.

Issar’s essay, “Going Toe-to-Toe with Hydro: Conflicts Between Hydropower and Other Sources of Renewable Power,” placed first in SEER’s 2015 Energy Law writing competition. Issar’s paper was written in spring 2015 for Professor Jim Rossi’s Energy Law class.

“Neil’s paper discusses how the dispatch of power supply resources by grid operators can pit low-carbon sources of energy against each other, and challenges regulators to think carefully about the value of each new energy resource for the power delivery system,” Rossi said.

Issar’s paper addresses conflicts that have arisen in recent years between conventional hydropower and other sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. For example, some wind generators have asked regional transmission organizations and power marketing agencies to reduce dispatch of hydropower in favor of wind energy, prompting dam owners to dispute what they view as violations of the terms of their federal licenses. In his paper, Issar notes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s responses to various disputes have thus far favored variable power generation, creating significant debate and disagreement.

“I’m genuinely proud that Jake and Neil were honored for their scholarly work as Vanderbilt Law students,” said J.B. Ruhl, who co-directs Vanderbilt’s Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. “It’s a remarkable achievement, and they join several other recent Vanderbilt Law graduates who papers were recognized in national competitions.”

Byl will serve as a law clerk for Judge Robert J. Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan during 2015-16 and for Judge Jane B. Stranch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2016-17.

During summer 2015, Issar is working as an associate for Haynes and Boone in Dallas and for Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner in Nashville.


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