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New Director of the EENR Center Prepares to Boost UH as National Leader in Environment and Energy

06/21/2017 | By Claire Andersen

With climate and environmental issues taking center stage again, one of the nation’s leading environmental lawyers has returned to the UH Law Center with determination to merge the energy and law industries. Victor Flatt was recently hired as the Dwight Olda Chair in law and the Faculty Director of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EENR) Center, which he helped to found in 2007. In effort to promote UH as the merging point of law and energy, he is determined to create and train a force of experts not only on energy, but environmental and climate issues as well.

“I really hope to make sure that the rest of legal academia, law people generally and people involved in energy and the environment know that we are the premier center to analyze the intersection of environmental issues, energy issues and resource and climate issues,” Flatt said.

Flatt’s interest in environmental issues and studies originated in grade school, when he and his classmates started a “solution to pollution” club. This childhood interest translated into a lifelong career for Flatt; after receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from Vanderbilt University, he earned his law degree from Northwestern University. Now, his expertise in environmental law is helping the University of Houston become a leader in various arenas.  

“I’m reminding everyone that the energy capital and the energy university has to be the energy, environment and climate capital and university,” he said. “Those things are so interconnected. To be the top energy program, you have to be the program that is best integrated with environment and climate issues.” 

Flatt first came to UH in 2002 as a professor of environmental law, leaving in 2009 for the University of North Carolina. In addition to his roles at the Law Center, he holds an appointment as Distinguished Scholar of Carbon Markets at the Gutierrez Energy Management Institute at the UH Bauer College of Business. 

With environmental topics an issue of heated debate, Flatt is convinced that UH and the EENR Center will only become more valuable in the years to come.  

“For the law school, there is no doubt that it increases our relevancy,” Flatt said. “As the rest of the world interacts with Houston and the state of Texas as an energy hub, it is going to need leadership by attorneys that are here in Texas. So I think it means that we have even more to offer.”