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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
1/22/2013 5:11:22 PM

Book Review: Shale Gas: A Practitioner’s Guide to Shale Gas and Other Unconventional Resources

Shale Gas: A Practitioner’s Guide to Shale Gas and Other Unconventional Resources (Vivek Bakshi ed. 2012). Globe Business Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-905783-80-9; Hardcover $215.65, 172 pages.

One of the most contentious issues on the environmental legal scene today is the development and exploitation of unconventional shale deposits for the extraction of natural gas.  Here, an old technology, hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) combined with horizontal well drilling, has been reinvented to allow access to the otherwise unobtainable but vast deposits of hydrocarbon-rich shale located all over the world.  For the uninitiated, although the specific logistics of hydrofracking vary depending on the composition and environmental conditions of a given shale deposit, hydrofracking generally involves the injection of fluids into drilled or fractured wells which are pumped underground at high pressures in order to force out natural gas.  However, as hydrofracking has exploded onto the public stage, few if any resources have been available to guide practitioners through the basics of the regulatory, environmental, and litigious aspects of shale gas development—until now.  Despite some shortcomings, Shale Gas: A Practitioner’s Guide to Shale Gas and Other Unconventional Resources, ably fills this gap and should be considered an important purchase for any law library as it represents one of the first practitioner-oriented treatises on the subject.

As an environmental law librarian in a hydrofracking hot spot, I have had to develop an intimate knowledge of this issue the hard way.  In that respect, Shale Gas presents an excellent starting point for both the novice and the experienced practitioner as focused on the United States (U.S.), Canada, Australia, and to a lesser extent Europe.  This handbook, authored almost exclusively by practicing lawyers, is organized into chapters that generally follow the different stages of attorney involvement including: the drafting of gas sales agreements, an explanation of the physical process, a review of potential disputes and causes of action, water and air pollution concerns, joint ventures, and finally a discussion of the impact and role of public opinion. Chapters on unconventional shale gas development in Australia, world natural gas price trends, and liquid natural gas extraction in North America are also provided.  

On the negative side, the work suffers from its dearth of footnotes and lack of bibliography and index.  In addition, despite its global focus, little mention is made of such important emerging shale gas markets as China, Brazil, and South Africa.  Furthermore, the article on public opinion employs the European Union as a case study, where a U.S. example might have been more illustrative based on the diametric nature of the current debate.  Finally, the biggest glaring oversight may be the lack of a chapter dedicated to state and local shale gas issues—lacking an overarching federal mandate, shale gas law (at least in the U.S.) is emerging as a hodgepodge patchwork of mixed regulatory regimes. In this respect, a second edition of the work is already eagerly anticipated.

Taryn L. Rucinski is an Environmental Law Librarian and Adjunct Professor at Pace Law School.

Posted By Taryn Rucinski at 1/22/2013 5:11:22 PM  0 Comments
1/10/2013 2:31:47 PM

An Idea, Some Books, and a Desk

In 2010, Perkins Coie LLP began the process of remodeling our Seattle office. I knew that the library would lose its fantastic corner reading room on the 42nd floor and about 30% of our square footage. Though we would discard some print products, we also planned to expand our electronic collection, which would increase access beyond Seattle into our other offices. And though we often speak of the library as a service rather than a place, I felt strongly about keeping our physical space and creating a comfortable environment that attorneys could use in lieu of their offices. Early in the design process, a photo of a library reference desk built from books was circulating through various library blogs. As I oversaw the disposal of thousands of linear feet of books, I wondered if we could do something similar. The library committee supported the project, and the proposal moved its way through the approval process. At each point, the project met with overwhelming excitement.

The firm invited several artists to submit proposals for the project. From those, we commissioned the artist team SuttonBeresCuller to create a reference desk for the main library that used recycled materials from the library’s collection. The inventive design relies on law books as structural and conceptual building blocks and incorporates light to suggest the illuminating power of the law and the changing way we obtain information. The glass top is etched with pages from landmark American court cases as well as important cases from Perkins Coie’s own history.

As is often the case, the creative process was more difficult than anticipated. We started with a standard office desk, and the artist team created a “book skin” to wrap around it. The books had to be placed together to fit within the shape and dimensions of the desk. The corners were especially difficult. Once completed, the pieces were then moved from the studio and installed in the library. Since the desk is front-heavy, we bolted it to the floor. The addition of a black steel support for the glass top further ensures its stability. The final result is simply stunning and demonstrates the firm’s commitment to art and knowledge. The vibrant book binding colors in conjunction with the brightly colored lights provide a beautiful contrast to our dark winter days.

Artists John Sutton, Ben Beres and Zac Culler have worked collaboratively since 1999. Their work has been exhibited extensively in gallery and performance spaces throughout the Northwest and often takes the art experience beyond the confines of the gallery via public works, street actions, and site-specific temporary installations. View a series of time-lapse photos of the desk construction here.

Amy Eaton
Seattle Library Manager
Perkins Coie LLP

Posted By Amy Eaton at 1/10/2013 2:31:47 PM  0 Comments
1/4/2013 4:17:22 PM

Highlights from the Fall Issue of the ALL-SIS Newsletter

If you missed sessions this summer during the AALL meeting and haven't yet found the time to listen to the recordings on AALL2go, the Fall 2012 issue of the ALL-SIS newsletter has reviews of programs including

  • A4 E-Stats Collection for Your Non-Stacks Collection
  • Walking the Tightrope: Licensed Data Access and Restrictions
  • Technology and Law Librarianship
  • The New FDLP: A Collaborative Future for Government Information
  • Law Library Research Assistant Programs: Two Different Models
  • Piercing the Veil of Sovereignty: The Sources of International Human Rights Law
  • Helping Others Learn, Connect, and Grow Through Times of Stress
  • Making Sense of Canadian Legislation
  • Asking Hard Questions: Teaching Through Questions and Controversy
  • CONELL
  • The Law of the Salem Witch Trials

The newsletter also contains member news and a list of the 2012-2013 committee members. 

Posted By Sara Sampson at 1/4/2013 4:17:22 PM  0 Comments