Who are you?
My name is Eric Waeckerlin. I am an attorney with Davis Graham & Stubbs, LLP in Denver, Colorado.
Describe your job and what makes your work exciting.
I practice environmental and natural resources law, with an emphasis on regulatory compliance, enforcement, and administrative litigation. Most of my work is air quality related under the Clean Air Act for oil and gas and other resource extraction clients; but I have a broad background in a variety of environmental and natural resources laws and issues. My job is complex, challenging, and ever changing. If the problem were easy, the client wouldn’t be calling. So every day, I get to help my clients find solutions to challenging problems so they can focus on running their businesses.
Who do you admire within the industry, and why?
Jim Hackett, Executive Chairman with Anadarko. Although I do not know Mr. Hackett personally, he said something during the COGA Rocky Mountain Energy Summit two years ago I will never forget. Paraphrasing, he said that no one should ever apologize for working hard every day to help produce the oil and gas that we all use to heat our homes, cook our food, and get our kids to school.
What do you wish people better understood about your job or our industry?
The world is a complex and nuanced place, and it is rare that any issue worth understanding is black and white; good or bad. This is true in spades for this industry. The technological revolutions developed and being used by this industry in this country has revolutionized the geopolitical landscape so dramatically, I’m not sure we fully understand the magnitude of the ongoing shifts. Directional drilling has helped usher in an unprecedented period in our modern history, with important energy and national security implications. We should never lose sight of these gains—they are jobs, food, heat, and soldiers’ lives. And at the same time, we all have a right to a clean air and water. The industry in Colorado has absolutely struck the right balance between creating jobs and bolstering communities while at the same time developing this resource that we all use and rely on in an environmentally responsible manner.
Tell us about an emerging technology or trend that you are excited about.
At Davis Graham, we are building on our strong history of work in the more traditional renewable and alternative energy space, to broaden our client base to companies in the Cleantech and Climate Law space. I help lead this charge, and it keeps me coming in every day. Colorado is seen as one of the leading states for emerging technology and Cleantech companies. Not only are these companies making cool new products with less environmental footprint, they are dedicated to improving the impact and footprint associated with traditional industries like oil and gas. Really smart engineers are hard at work every day figuring out how to reduce emissions, waste, water consumption, and increase productivity so that we can all continue to benefit from affordable energy. The incentive for continued innovation in this field is boundless, and I think there will continue to be game changing inventions and discoveries that will improve how this industry operates.
What do you see as one of the most important issues the industry is facing today? How do you see it evolving over the next five years?
Climate Change. In my world, the pace at which new rules, regulations, and policies are being developed to address climate change through Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation is staggering. Companies are increasingly pressured to, not only better control GHGs across their operations, but to commit to sustainable principles within their organizational structures to meet cultural pressure for operating in a carbon constrained world. I only see climate change pressures facing this industry increasing, forcing us all to think differently about our jobs.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting a career in the industry?
My advice for anyone is to work hard and be nice. It’s really that simple – whether you’re in this industry or any other.
What was the last book, publication, study, or journal you read? Would you recommend it?
I recently read The Quest by Daniel Yergin. This is a fascinating read on the geopolitical implications of the world’s energy production and consumption. I would absolutely recommend this read, as I believe it’s important to realize that what we do every day has ripple effects far beyond the four borders of Colorado.
When you aren’t at work what do you prioritize?
I have a little 8 year old daughter, Ava Dylan, and I spend as much time with her as I can. She never fails to give me a perspective shift when I most need it—like last night, after a particularly challenging day, she had a secret fashion show lined up for me to show off her trunk full of dress up clothes. And when I’m not with her, I ride my road bike all over the place.
If you woke up and the world was perfect, what would it look like?
There wouldn’t be any kids wondering whether they were going to eat this week.