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Each year, the Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of New Mexico (NREEL) grants two awards to accomplished practitioners in the fields of natural resources, energy, and environmental law. The first is the NREEL Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognizes a lawyer who has had a phenomenal year or few years of achievement in the practice of natural resources, energy or environmental law. The second is the NREEL Career Achievement Award, given to a lawyer who has made significant contributions to natural resources, energy, or environmental law over the course of a career.
An Award Committee comprised of members of the NREEL Board of Directors will solicit and review all written nominations for these awards to select the recipient. While the focus of the awards differs, recipients must be individuals who have promoted the stated purposes of the NREEL: to provide Section members, the State Bar, and the public with information and dialogue concerning issues affecting natural resources, energy and the environment, and who have shared ideas, legal research, and networking with the goal of providing the highest possible quality of legal services to New Mexicans in the areas of natural resources, energy, and environmental law. The successful nominee should have demonstrated:
1. Professionalism and integrity by:
a. Promoting the honor, dignity, and professionalism of lawyers;
b. Promoting ethical conduct and collegiality within the practice; and
c. Being held in high regard in the profession.
2. Superior legal service by, for example:
a. Demonstrating superior knowledge of the substantive legal area in which he or she practices; and/or
b. Providing excellent legal representation to clients.
3. Exemplary service by, for example:
a. Making significant contributions to natural resources, energy, or environmental law generally in the State of New Mexico;
b. Expanding the resources of natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers or law students or both by providing educational, networking, or mentoring opportunities;
c. Serving in leadership posts or on special projects and committees related to natural resources, energy, or environmental law;
d. Assisting natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers and law students by evaluating jurisprudence, legislation, and regulations;
e. Advancing the knowledge, skills, and interests of natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers and law students; and/or
f. Demonstrating innovative thinking or leadership skills related to natural resources, energy, or environmental law.
4. Service to the public in the areas of natural resources, energy, or environmental law by, for example:
a. Supporting the public interest in a fair and effective system of justice; and/or
b. Demonstrating outstanding community or pro bono contributions.
William F. Carr has practiced oil and gas law in Santa Fe since 1972. He has been attorney to the Legislative Finance Committee ofthe New Mexico Legislature, General Counsel to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission and in 1978 began working in private practice. Mr. Carr was a partner in the Santa Fe law offices ofCampbell, Carr, Berge & Sheridan, LLP. He became a senior partner in the Denver based law offices of Holland & Hart, LLP when the two law firms merged, working out ofthe Santa Fe offices. Over a period ofthree years he was Adjunct Professor, teaching oil and gas law at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Subsequently he became Senior Counsel to Concho Resources in their Santa Fe offices. His practice has concentrated on regulatory matters, lobbying and litigation, with a focus on issues before the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division/Commission. For over ten years he served as Co-Chairman ofthe Regulatory Practices Committee ofthe New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. Carr has represented industry clients in Oil Conservation Commission hearings where new rules have been adopted governing compliance, surface waste management, pits, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. As a former General Counsel to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission he authored the Statutory Unitization Act, the Geothermal Resources Act and the Enhanced Oil Recovery Act. Beginning in 1989 Mr. Carr was listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Natural Resources (Oil & Gas). In 2006 he was selected for inclusion in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. He was presented with the Jason W. Kellahin Award for recognition of outstanding contributions to the oil and gas industry in 2010.
Practice Areas: US Federal and State of New Mexico oil and gas regulation, with focus on development and environmental issues and the unitization ofreservoirs for primary and enhanced recovery operations. He has represented major and independent operators and oil and gas trade associations before the New Mexico legislature. Oil Conservation Division/Commission, New Mexico State Land Office and state and federal courts.
Prof Memberships: New Mexico State Bar, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He has served on the Governor’s Energy Policy Advisory Board and the State Land Office Advisory Board.
Career: Attorney to the Legislative Finance Committee, attorney to the Oil Conservation Division, Partner at Campbell, Carr, Berge & Sheridan, LLP, Partner Holland & Hart, LLP, Senior Counsel Concho Resources.
Publications: Author on oil and gas topics, including articles in the Natural Resources Journal, and Special Institutes and Annual Meetings ofthe Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. He has been a frequent speaker on topics related to the regulation of oil and gas development and the unitization of oil and gas fields.
Personal: University of New Mexico School of Law (JD, 1972); University of New Mexico (BA, 1986).
Patrick (“Pat”) Ortiz retired from Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP, December 31, 2021, and went on inactive status. He joined the firm on January 1, 2010, focusing his practice primarily in the areas of public utility and appellate law. He held an “AV” Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating possible based on a peer review.
Pat joined the firm upon his retirement as Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of PNM Resources, Inc., an energy holding company which owns Public Service Company of New Mexico (New Mexico’s largest electric utility) and Texas-New Mexico Power Company (a Texas electric transmission and distribution utility). He continued to represent PNM as outside counsel until April 2018, providing advice and counsel on regulatory and legislative matters. As PNM’s General Counsel, Pat was responsible for the provision of all legal services to the PNM Resources corporate system, corporate governance and ethics and compliance, gaining experience in a wide variety of legal issues affecting business and the energy industry. At various points during his career with PNM he also had responsibility for Regulatory Policy, Governmental Affairs, Public Affairs, Document Control Center, Claims and Audit Services. He became PNM’s first in-house General Counsel in October 1991. During his tenure at PNM, PNM’s Law Department was awarded the Employer of Choice Award in 2003 by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. PNM consistently received high grades for its corporate governance from two major governance rating agencies, including a 10 point global rating on a 10 point scale from Governance Metrics, Inc. for every review period since June 2006. He was named to the Hispanic Business 100 Influential Hispanics in 2003 and was awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility Award by MALDEF in 2006. He was profiled in Latino Leaders magazine and Diversity & the Bar magazine in 2008.
Prior to joining PNM, Pat was employed by U S WEST Communications as Chief Counsel-New Mexico. He has also served as a Commissioner on the former New Mexico Public Service Commission (appointed by Governor Toney Anaya), Chief Commission Counsel and Staff Counsel to the NMPSC, General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel to the former New Mexico State Corporation Commission (including the Department of Insurance, State Fire Marshal, Patients Compensation Fund, Workers Compensation Fund, Pipeline Safety Bureau, Telecommunications, Transportation and Corporations departments), and Assistant Attorney General in the Energy & Utilities Unit of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office under then-Attorney General Jeff Bingaman. In those positions he represented utilities, telecommunications companies, commissions and their staffs, and residential and governmental customers in regulatory proceedings and appeals to the New Mexico Supreme Court. In addition to utility matters, during his career he has been involved in merger and acquisition activities, complex commercial transactions and litigation, employment litigation and other human resources matters and legislative activities.
Pat graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1976. He graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1972. Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Pat is a 1968 graduate of St. Michael’s High School.
Pat is a member of the New Mexico Judicial Compensation Commission, appointed by then-Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court Michael Vigil. He has served on the Edison Electric Institute Legal Committee, the American Gas Association Legal Committee, and has been a member of the General Counsel Roundtable of the Corporate Executive Board. He is on the Board of the Karen Ortiz Snowball Cotillion, a non-profit agency he formed to provide special programs and activities for the disabled and special needs community in northern New Mexico. He has previously served on the boards of the PNM Resources Foundation, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic Foundation, United Way of Santa Fe County (president), the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Santa Fe Partners in Education (president), the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center, State Bar Business Law Section, State Bar Public Law Section (president), and the State Bar Task Force on Minorities in the Profession. He also served as Executive Sponsor of LLAVE, a Hispanic employees association promoting diversity and was a member of the American Law Institute.
Pat has been married to his wife, Judy, for over 50 years. They have two daughters: Amy Lloyd (who is Director of Special Programs for the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Karen Ortiz (who passed away in 2010 and is the inspiration for Amy and the Snowball Cotillion). They have two wonderful grandchildren: Adam Lloyd (age 15) and Faith Lloyd (age 13).
SAMPLING OF REPORTED CASES:
2021 NREEL Career Achievement Award Recipient AJ Olsen
During the past almost-40 years of practice in these areas, Mr. Olsen has promoted NREEL’s purposes by providing those with whom he works with information and dialogue concerning issues affecting natural resources, energy, and the environment; as well as sharing ideas, legal research, and networking (in attempts to expeditiously and beneficially resolve cases and find the best experts and third party support to aid in his presentation of his clients’ claims and defenses) in the course of providing the highest possible quality of legal services to his clients. Mr. Olsen has also provided education mostly in the area of water law, but also many other areas of litigation and transactions, to numerous attorneys and staff members and local, regional, and State officials with and against whom he has worked. By doing so, Mr. Olsen has advanced the knowledge, skills and interests of all.
2021 NREEL Inaugural Career Achievement Award Recipient Steven Hernandez
Steve received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona where he studied water law under Professor Robert Emmet Clark who was the author of the widely recognized Treatise on Waters and Water Rights. He worked for the National Park Service in the Western Regional Office in Santa Fe quantifying the water rights for the national monuments and parks in the region. He returned to Tucson to become a water attorney for the City of Tucson. He dealt with Central Arizona Project issues, the implementation of the new Arizona Groundwater Management Act, and the purchase of ground water rights for the city utility. In the early 1980’s he served in the Solicitor's Office, Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. and then transferred to Sacramento CA. He moved to New Mexico to help coordinate the defense of the first case to deal with the export of ground water from New Mexico to Texas on behalf of Elephant Butte Irrigation District. He also played a major role in the adjudication and settlement on the Pecos River involving the Carlsbad Project. Steve is also a member of the Arizona bar and was involved in the first state adjudication of water rights in Arizona representing ranchers in the San Pedro reach of the Gila River. He has testified extensively before the New Mexico and Arizona legislatures on water issues. He has authored, testified and had passed federal legislation involving low head hydro as well as the Title Transfer of Project facilities back for the two major reclamation projects in NM. He has served as President twice since his appointment to the NREEL board in 1988. He has been recognized as a Best Lawyer since 2007 and also as a Southwest Super Lawyer. He was selected to be included in the inaugural class of the Best of the Bar in New Mexico. Steve is a board member and former chair of the litigation review committee for the National Water Resource Association. He lives in Mesilla and in his spare time tends to his small pecan orchard.