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WVU law school competition to focus on hydraulic fracturing

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Law students from across the country will tackle a hydraulic fracturing case at the annual National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition, hosted March 14-16 by the West Virginia University College of Law.

Commonly referred to as "fracking," hydraulic fracturing is the freeing of natural gas by injecting large volumes of liquids into shale rock formations.

The first of its kind in the nation, the energy moot court competition was established in 2011 by the WVU College of Law's Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. It is sponsored by Chesapeake Energy and hosted by the WVU College of Law Moot Court Board.

Law students participating in the energy moot court competition sharpen their legal skills and network with industry professionals and government regulators. The students also gain an awareness of important business and environmental issues facing the energy sector, according to Joyce E. McConnell, William J. Maier Jr. Dean and Thomas R. Goodwin Professor of Law.

"West Virginia is at the center of energy production," McConnell said. "As a result, the College of Law is able to play a significant role in the national dialogue on energy, the environment and sustainability. The moot court competition is one way that we do that."

The energy moot court case this year is between a fictitious natural gas company and the Environmental Protection Agency. The gas company is involved in hydraulic fracturing throughout several mid-Atlantic states and is accused of violating the Clean Air Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The case problem was written by James Van Nostrand, associate professor of law and director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. He was assisted by WVU law students Matthew Chase and Andrew Kirkner.

Two exhibition teams from the WVU College of Law will compete against teams from 13 universities: American, Campbell, Florida State, Pace, Texas Tech, Colorado, Dayton, Houston, Maryland, North Dakota, Richmond, Utah and Wyoming.

Preliminary rounds of the competition will be held at WVU's Erickson Alumni Center on Thursday, March 14, and Friday, March 15. The semifinal and final rounds will take place on Saturday, March 16, at the WVU College of Law. The semifinals start at 9 a.m. and the final round begins at 2:30 p.m. The semifinal and final rounds are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development and the National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition, visit energy.law.wvu.edu.