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.

Natural Resources Faculty & Staff

Justice Elizabeth McClanahan HeadshotJustice Elizabeth A. McClanahan (ret’d)

Elizabeth A. McClanahan was appointed to serve on the Virginia Supreme Court on July 29, 2011. She retired from her position on September 1, 2019, and returned to her home in Southwest Virginia to become Dean of the Appalachian School of Law (ASL). While on the Virginia Supreme Court she also served as ASL’s Academic Chair and the Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law. She was the 1994 El Paso Fellow at the University of Colorado Natural Resources Law Center. She has served as Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general, as a judge on the Virginia Court of Appeals for eight years, and has served on the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation.

Justice McClanahan was named one of Virginia Lawyer’s Media “Influential Women of Virginia” in 2011. She has served as Vice-Rector of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and chairman of the Task Force on Governance Issues for the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. She has also received community service awards, including the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s William Skelton Extension Leadership Award, Virginia Oil & Gas Association’s David M. Young Award, YWCA Tribute to Women Award for Volunteer Community Service, Radford University Heritage Award, Bridgewater College Outstanding Service Award, Virginia 4-H Foundation Alumni Award and the Appalachian School of Law’s 2004 Appalachian Service Award.

Mark Belleville

Professor Mark Buzz Belleville

Mark “Buzz” Belleville
Director of the Natural Resources Law Center, Assistant Professor of Law

Professor Belleville has played a central role in the development of ASL’s natural resources law emphasis. He coaches moot court teams at major competitions in environmental law and energy law, and has served as faculty advisor for ASL’s Natural Resources Law Journal, the Environmental Law Society, and the Energy and Mineral Law Society. Professor Belleville represented ASL in a successful Solar Pathways grant application made by a consortium of Virginia colleges to the Department of Energy seeking to facilitate the deployment of solar installations at non-profit entities. He developed and supervised a live client clinic focused on legal and regulatory work associated with solar energy deployment for colleges, communities and non-profit organizations. Professor Belleville represents ASL with the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, serving on EMLF’s scholarship and law school committees, and regularly presenting at EMLF’s annual conferences.

Professor Belleville spent the 2015-2016 academic year as the Energy Law and Policy Teaching Fellow at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, teaching Energy Law and Policy and the Law of Renewables. He has also taught Natural Resources Law and Policy at Virginia Tech University as part of its Masters in Natural Resources program.

Before coming to ASL, Professor Belleville practiced for 10 years as a business litigator and counselor with Woods Rogers PLC in Blacksburg, Va., and Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP in Cleveland and Columbus. His litigation practice focused on commercial contract disputes, environmental litigation, business torts, labor litigation, and premises liability. On behalf of a utility client, Professor Belleville obtained the first summary judgment in Ohio in defense of a premises liability asbestos claim, and helped draft significant asbestos reform legislation. He has also successfully defended multi-million dollar enforcement actions under both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act on behalf of municipal and industrial clients. He is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia.

Professor Belleville has written and given significant presentations on topics that include renewable energy law, the science of climate change for lawyers, fracking regulations, state solar energy regulation, wind energy, carbon regulation, incentives for renewable energy and efficiencies, careers in energy and mineral law, the law of climate change, protecting agribusinesses from liability, and liability issues associated with hiking trails.

Mason Heidt

Associate Dean Mason Heidt

Mason Heidt
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor of Law

Professor Heidt received his B.S. from Emory and Henry College in Emory, VA and his J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law. Professor Heidt has also received a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. As a Master’s student, Professor Heidt’s studies focused on air pollution propagation and coastal estuarine ecology.

After graduating from law school, Professor Heidt practiced energy, mineral, and corporate law with the firm of Thomas L. Pruitt in Grundy, Virginia. His private practice experience has focused on mineral title, coalbed methane, and other property issues endemic to Southwest Virginia.

W. Taylor Corbett

W. Taylor Corbett

W. Taylor Corbett
Natural Resources Law Fellow

Taylor Corbett is a partner at Galumbeck & Kegley, Attorneys at Law, in Tazewell, Virginia. He joined ASL in October of 2019 to serve as the new Natural Resources Law Fellow. Taylor has focused most of his professional legal career on issues in mineral and property law. Prior to law school, he had his own title abstracting business and also served as a mineral title abstractor for Steptoe and Johnson, PLLC.

After graduating from ASL in 2013, he began practicing law in Southwest Virginia and joined Galumbeck & Kegley, Attorneys at Law, in June of 2015. Since that time he has focused on general civil litigation, including commercial law, consumer protection, contracts, property law, and bankruptcy. During his legal career he has negotiated multi-million dollar asset and stock purchase agreements, represented corporate clients in environmental compliance matters with the Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality, represented landowners in hearings at the Division of Gas and Oil, and litigated numerous property issues in state court.

Current and Former Employers of ASL Graduates

Alpha Coal Sales
Babst Calland
British Petroleum
Contura Energy Services, LLC
CowanPerry, PC
CNX Land Resources
Environmental Protection Agency
EQT Corporation
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Frontier Energy Group
Jackson Kelly, PLLC
Lenington, Gratton, & Associates, LLP
The Mountain Institute
Porter, Banks, Baldwin & Shaw, PLLC
Range Resources
Shell Oil
Street Law Firm
Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC
Teco Coal Corporation
Tucker Arensberg
Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality
Western Land Services
WV Dept. of Environmental Protection
Wyatt, Terrant and Combs

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

Contact Information:
Phone: (276) 244-1240