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James M. (Jamie) Van Nostrand
Former Charles M. Love, Jr. Endowed Professor West Virginia University College of Law


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James M. (Jamie) Van Nostrand is the former Charles M. Love, Jr. Endowed Professor and Director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the West Virginia University College of Law. Before transitioning into law school teaching, Van Nostrand spent three years as Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center in White Plains, NY, and previously had a successful career in private law practice as a partner in the energy and environmental practice groups of two large law firms based in the Pacific Northwest (Perkins Coie LLP and Stoel Rives LLP). In March 2023, Governor Maura Healey appointed Van Nostrand to be Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, effective as of May 1, 2023. Mr. Van Nostrand received his LL.M. in Environmental Law from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, his master’s degree in economics from SUNY at Albany, and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Northern Iowa.


My talk will focus on the energy and environmental issues discussed in my book, THE COAL TRAP: HOW WEST VIRGINIA WAS LEFT BEHIND IN THE CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION (Cambridge University Press, 2022). The book examines in particular the years between 2009 and 2019, when West Virginian politicians aligned themselves with the interests of the coal industry to the substantial detriment of the citizens and economy of the state. Despite the undeniable low-carbon transformation that was occurring in the energy industry in the US during this period, state political leaders doubled down on coal. Rather than provide the leadership necessary to manage the transition of the state’s economic drivers away from fossil fuels, they largely blamed the demise of the coal industry on the federal government. At every turn, the interests of the coal industry were placed above the economic and environmental health of West Virginians. The Mountain State now faces overwhelming obstacles to competing in the economic marketplace of the twenty-first century. The book serves as a warning of how a fair energy transition can be derailed by political failure.

Note: This talk will be presented remotely via Zoom Webinar and on the Energy Institute's YouTube channel. If using Zoom, viewers must register for an account with Zoom and log in to Zoom using that registration to use the meeting link and participate. Faculty, students, and staff of UT, please use your personal UT Zoom account. 

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Date and Time
Jan. 30, 2024, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Live Stream Online (Zoom and YouTube)
Event tags
UT Energy Symposium