Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Petition to Create AALS Section Community Economic Development

My friend and colleague, Priya Baskaran, asked me to post the following, which I am happy to do: 

Over the past year, a critical mass of law school faculty and staff have expressed interest in establishing an AALS Section on Community Economic Development (CED). The proposed section will provide a dynamic, collaborative environment to enhance the scholarship, activism, and direct legal work of CED-focused faculty and professional staff. Notably, the section will help bridge existing gaps between various actors in the CED universe by increasing opportunities for networking and enabling greater synergy and collaboration between scholars and experts in various substantive subjects and disciplines related to CED. Interested faculty and professional staff are invited to read the full petition.

I think this is a great idea, and I will be signing the petition (here).  I have been working with an interdisciplinary group on my campus, WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization (CIGRU). We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers who are experts in science, engineering, environmental, policy, law, and finance. The CIGRU conducts research and services relevant to gas, oil, and chemicals. Our experimental research includes broad areas covering catalysis, reaction engineering, material science, power generation, and gas turbine. The CIGRU undertakes U.S. government- and industry-funded research projects developing clean and renewable energy technologies. Our services include air emission control, regulatory and policy, law and finance relevant to shale gas.

I have been leading CIGRU's Economic and Community Development Group for the past few years.  About 18 months ago, CIGRU earned a five-year seed grant awarded by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, under its Research Challenge Grant program. The WVU gas utilization team includes eight CIGRU researchers, working in partnership with Marshall University, the WVU Energy Institute, the WVU Bureau for Business and Economic Research, the West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone, Morgantown’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center. So, this idea resonates with me. I think this is a great idea, and it has my support. If you agree, I hope you'll sign on, too.  

For anyone interested, CIRGUs grant announcement and a description of the program are available after the jump. 

Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization Grant Announcement

The five-year, $2.2 million effort, includes $940,000 in WVU resources, rounding out CIGRU’s expanding research program. CIGRU is also currently performing more than $3 million in research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Manufacturing Institute of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers recently funded a CIGRU-led team as one of its inaugural public-private partnerships.

The Research Challenge Grant effort will focus on advancing technologies currently being developed by WVU to promote local, up-the-value chain, downstream utilization of natural gas in West Virginia’s residential, commercial and industrial sectors, thus generating economic development within the state. This is the next step in regionally leveraging the industry-changing results in upstream production over the last two decades.

“The RCG funding will help us develop a cost-effective, modular catalytic natural gas-to-chemical process utilizing microwave excitation at low temperatures and pressures,” said Hu, the project’s principal investigator. “This will include both developing technologies for the conversion of wellhead natural gas to chemicals and an advanced combustion engine technology that targets transportation and distributed power generation.”

“As West Virginia’s experience with coal taught us, extraction is not enough,” said Joshua Fershee, associate dean at WVU’s College of Law and co-investigator on the project. “Our law and policy research will work to maximize benefits and minimize potential harms from shale gas development.  We must coordinate our efforts to develop the right legal and regulatory framework so that WVU’s continuing advances in gas utilization science can help attract and retain the sustainable downstream and up-the-value chain industries that will boost the economic infrastructure vital to the future of West Virginia, while protecting the environment and supporting the jobs our state desperately needs.”


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