Natural Resource Law

Natural Resources Law Program

The Appalachian School of Law is continuing to bolster its offerings in Natural Resources and Energy Law. ASL’s location in southwestern Virginia, the heart of the Appalachian oil and gas and coal-producing region, makes an emphasis on the topic a natural fit.

A Word from Our Director (Video)

The ASL Natural Resources Law Program’s mission is to train attorneys to navigate the increasingly complex world of natural resources law in terms of energy production, conservation, and improving sustainability. At the center of this mission is ASL’s commitment to offer a place for rational discussion, intelligent debate, and collaboration to foster cutting-edge programs and innovative scholarship with the ultimate goal to make students more effective and scientifically grounded policymakers and advocates.
Current events and announcements

ASL partners with Virginia Tech for another exciting class offering

ASL strives for academic excellence by offering experiential learning opportunities and fostering innovative problem solving. Our newest course offering in Natural Resources Law is a prime example. For the Spring 2020 semester, ASL has partnered with Virginia Tech’s Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering to offer an exciting new course – Natural Resources: Why Lawyers and Engineers Need Each Other.

This class, which is taught by Professor Mark “Buzz” Belleville, Director of ASL’s Natural Resources Law Program, and Dr. Kray Luxbacher, Charles T. Holland Professor and Associate Head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, analyzes the legal and engineering components of projects, programs and permits involving our natural resources. For instance, an attorney applying for a SMCRA permit for new mining project will need an engineer to create a reclamation plan upon mine closure. An engineer designing a pipeline crossing under a scenic trail will need a lawyer to explain what standards the design must meet under the National Trails System Act. Designing underground mines to comply with MSHA, soil erosion plans to comply with NEPA, and coal ash impoundments to comply with the Clean Water Act and local zoning laws are among the many other instances where lawyers and engineers need to work collaboratively.

We look forward to working with Virginia Tech to offer more cutting-edge classes in the future!

Natural Resources Law Center hosts industry career panel.

This November 1st, in the Appellate Courtroom from 12:10 PM to 1:30 PM, the Natural Resources Law Center will host members of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation for a ‘Careers in Energy Program.’ All panel members are practicing attorneys in the field of energy law and will provide students with invaluable insights into practicing energy law.

Natural Resources Law Center hires new teaching fellow.

The ASL Natural Resources Law Center is pleased to announce the hiring of John Beamer (ASL Class of 2018) as the ASL Natural Resources Law Teaching Fellow. Mr. Beamer is a U.S. Army veteran who served three years active duty in Germany and one combat deployment to Afghanistan. After his honorable discharge in 2015, Mr. Beamer began his law career here at ASL. During his tenure as a student, Mr. Beamer was active in the Natural Resources program competing in both the National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court competition at WVU and the Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition at PACE Law School in New York. Mr. Beamer earned his Natural Resources Law Certificate along with his Juris Doctor this past spring. As the NR Teaching Fellow Mr. Beamer will assist in the design and implementation of natural resources courses, coordinate speakers, events, off-campus experiential learning seminars, and participate in the strategic planning efforts of the Natural Resources Law Center.

For more information on the ASL Natural Resources Law Center, please contact us at: (276) 244-1240, or

Natural Resources student completes FERC internship.

This past summer, ASL Natural Resources student Will Holden was selected as one of the two externs at the Office of Enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. FERC also regulates natural gas and hydropower projects. While an extern, Mr. Holden provided important research helping the Office achieve its overall mission including valuable research regarding the downstream effects of natural gas pipelines. Further, Mr. Holden wrote memos, participated in depositions, and preliminary investigations. Mr. Holden is an exemplary member of the ASL student body and currently serves as the Vice President of the Environmental Law Society, Treasurer of the Energy and Mineral Law Society, President of the ASL Softball Club, and member of the legal honor society Phi Delta Phi.

Distinguished Professorship in Real Estate Law
Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan became ASL’s first Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law. McClanahan, an expert in natural gas, coal and oil issues, grew up in Buchanan County. She practiced law with the Law Offices of PennStuart in Abingdon and was a recognized expert in real estate law, regularly lecturing, writing, and publishing on various related topics. She was the 1994 El Paso fellow at the University of Colorado Natural Resources Law Center. She served as Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general prior to the Virginia General Assembly appointing her to the bench and served eight years on the Virginia Court of Appeals. The General Assembly elevated her to the Virginia Supreme Court, making her only the fourth female justice to serve on the Court.
Current and Former Employers of ASL Graduates

Alpha Coal Sales
Alpha Natural Resources
British Petroleum
CNX Land Resources Creekmore Law Firm
Environmental Protection Agency Equitable Resources
EQT Production Company
Frontier Energy Group
Jackson Kelly
Jones & Associates
Street Law Firm
Mountain Institute
Noble Energy
Penn Stuart & Eskridge
Rhino Energy
Shell Oil
Steptoe & Johnson
Teco Coal Corporation
VA Dept of Environmental Quality
Western Land Services
Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs
York Professional Land Services

Natural Resources Links

Energy and Mineral Law Foundation

Va. Dept. of Mines, Minerals, and Energy

Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality

U.S Department of Energy

Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission