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Russian Legal Scholars’ Visit to the USA

Vladimir S. Belykh, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honoured Worker of Science of the RF, Head of the Eurasian Scientifi c and Research Сentre for Comparative and International Entrepreneurial Law, Ural State Law Academy, Yekaterinburg, Russia

On 2 July 2013, the United States Department of Energy invited me to visit the United States of America. My visit lasted from 29 September until 10 October. I met scholars from a number of universities, specialists and managers of governmental and nongovernmental organizations and companies. During these meetings, we discussed possible ways of cooperation in the sphere of energy and environmental law. The visit was organized under the auspices of the Energy Working Group of the US-Russian Presidential Bilateral Commission.

I.M. Matskevich, Professor of Moscow Kutafin State Law Academy, and P.G. Lakhno, Associate Professor of the Business Law Department, Moscow State University, also visited the USA and took part in the events.

1. The first city on our way was Houston, Texas. We visited the University of Houston and its Law Center. The University of Houston is a public research university of the USA. It is the biggest central campus in the University of Houston System, and the third largest university in the state. 38 500 students study there. The University comprises 12 academic colleges and offers over 300 undergraduate and graduate programmes. It also has programmes in the field of law[1].

The Law Center is a professional high school of the University. It was established in 1947 and accredited by the American Bar Association and the American Association of Law Schools. The Law Center is located in the fifth largest segment of the US legal market. It has outstanding academic achievements and takes an investment approach to teaching law. The Center awards J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence) and LLM degrees.   

The Law Center hosted a meeting with Professor Jacqueline Lang Weaver, a prominent specialist in the sphere of energy and environmental law, and natural resources law. We became familiar with Energy Law teaching methodology at the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Center at the University of Houston Law Center.  First of all, we paid attention to the unique combination of academic subjects and specialized academic courses where the students get knowledge through interaction between the energy law and environmental law, and matters of natural resources on the whole. Academic programmes of the Center include such issues as the climate change, air pollution, clean and renewable energy sources, and education.

Besides, we met and spoke to Professor of Practice Tracy Hester who teaches environmental law at the Law Center. His research focuses on the innovative application of environmental laws to emerging technologies and risks, such as climate engineering, nanotechnologies, genetic modification, wind and other renewable power projects, and on novel compliance and liability issues. Prior to joining the University of Houston Law Center, Professor Hester worked as a partner at Bracewell and Giuliani LLP for sixteen years and led the Houston office's environmental group.

Professor Hester agreed to prepare an article for “Russian Law” journal on environmental law and to participate in the Law Congress in Yekaterinburg.

2.  On 2 - 5 October, we visited the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa is the second largest city of Oklahoma. Its population is 390 000 people. It is the center of Tulsa District, the most densely populated district in Oklahoma. Tulsa is the center of oil and gas region.

The University of Tulsa is a private American institution. In 2012, the University of Tulsa ranked 75th among American schools in U.S. News and World Report's. The university is historically affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and was founded as the Presbyterian School for Girls. In 1894, it was expanded to become Henry Kendall College. In 1907, the College moved to Tulsa, two months before Oklahoma became a state. In 1920, Henry Kendall College merged with the proposed McFarlin College to become the University of Tulsa[2].  

E.A. Evtushenko, a famous Soviet poet, prose and script writer, and publicist, concluded the contract with the University of Tulsa in 1991 and went with his family to teach in the USA, where he lives at present.

The United States Department of Energy organized our meeting with Professor Janet K. Levit, Dean of the University of Tulsa College of Law, as well as with the faculty of Tulsa College of Law.

I first met Professor Janet K. Levit on 25-26 October 2012 at the first Russian-American conference “Energy law in the 21 century: views from Russia and United States of America” (Moscow, the Legal Department of Moscow Lomonosov State University). There I presented a small report on the topic “Legal Fundamentals of Energy Security of Russia”. The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources planned to publish articles of Russian scholars on the official site as a  result of the conference.

Leading College faculty shared experience of teaching such educational subjects and courses as Energy Law, Medicine Law, Sport Law, and Transport Law. In choosing educational subjects, the Dean’s Office and the faculty proceed from the practical significance and importance of teaching. Preference is given to a complex approach that combines teaching law subjects, on the one hand, and special subjects (economy, technic, and technology), on the other hand.

My Russian colleagues and I delivered a lecture before the students of the College of Law on the topic “The Russian Legal System: Current State and Prospects of Development”. The students asked questions about specific features of teaching Energy Law in Russian high schools. The Business Law Department of Moscow State University and Kutafin Moscow State Law Academy have educational programmes in the sphere of energy law. There is the Institute of Energy Law and the Department of Energy Law in Moscow State Law Academy. The Ural State Law Academy (Yekaterinburg) makes its first steps in this direction. I want to initiate teaching Energy Law for the students of the Institute of Business and Law.

We also visited a big American company that deals with  transportation of petroleum products. The company transports gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, and jet oil from the Gulf Coast of Mexico to the West of the USA. The company is one of the leading transporters of fuel. It provides services for 70 cities of 16 states. Several leading managers of the company underwent training and skill enhancement at Russian “Gazprom” company. We had a meeting with Dave Ysebaert, President and Chief Executive Officer and Curtis Craig, VP and General Counsel of the company.

We went on an excursion to the lands of the Cherokee Nation, a Native American tribe. For example, in 1850 the Cherokee Nation numbered almost 22,000 Cherokees. Only 4,000 Cherokees  (male population) had the right to vote. Women and children, both white (about 1,000) and black (about 4,000) slaves did not have the right to vote.  However, at the beginning of the 1830s, the government of southern USA states supported by the federal government decided to liquidate the Indian enclaves and to remove the Indians to deserted lands to the West of the Mississippi River.  About 4000 Cherokees died as a result of the forced removal. The route they traversed and the journey itself became known as "The Trail of Tears"[3]. But at present, the Cherokee live as if under the communism. Following the example of the USA, the Cherokee drafted their Constitution, and the code of laws. They also elected their government and the President called the Principal Chief by tradition. The US Federal Budget spends more than $ 1 billion annually on health, education, culture, and social welfare of the Cherokee.

During our visit to the “Cherokee Nation”, we met with Principal Chief Bill John Baker. He told us about the history of the tribe and about the present life of the Indians. Most of them do not work anywhere.

So, the visit to the USA was very interesting and useful. I hope we can continue our cooperation with the American scholars and practitioners (advocates and judges) in various spheres of activities.

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