Law Professor Receives Sloan Foundation Grant

January 21, 2022

Dallas Texas – The University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law professor Monika Ehrman is principal investigator of a multi-institutional team recently awarded over $450,000 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study the effects of a clean energy transition on certain petroleum-producing Native American communities and community members. The Sloan Foundation is a not-for-profit, mission-driven grantmaking institution dedicated to improving the welfare of all through the advancement of scientific knowledge.

The three-year grant will support direct engagement with partner tribes to understand their concerns and challenges, quantitative modeling, and geospatial analyses using various policy scenarios and legal analysis to determine how a lack of sovereignty affects tribal energy decision-making and the provision of environmental justice.

The grant research focuses on historically-marginalized Native American tribes, which are currently addressing important issues such as climate change and energy poverty. “But our project is particularly unique because it’s centered on smaller oil and gas producing tribes, which must measure the revenue generation benefit of petroleum production against the need to move to renewable sources for climate and community benefits,” said Ehrman. “Our whole team is very grateful to the Sloan Foundation for supporting this research—it has the potential to provide Native American tribes, governments and other stakeholders with much-needed insight into energy and environmental policymaking.”

Ehrman recently joined the UNT Dallas College of Law as associate professor of law, in August 2021. Prior to that she was professor of law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where she was also faculty director of the Oil & Gas, Natural Resources, and Energy Center.

The interdisciplinary research team includes co-principal investigators, Daniel Raimi, fellow & director of Equity in the Energy Transition at Resources for the Future, and Andrew Curley, assistant professor at University of Arizona’s School of Geography, Development & Environment. Team members also include Brian Prest, Alexandra Thompson and Margaret Walls at Resources for the Future, associate professor Catherine Hausman at University of Michigan, professor Monte Mills at University of Montana and faculty associate Pilar Thomas at Arizona State University.

“Understanding how the transition to a cleaner energy system will affect North American tribal nations is extremely important, so it is critical that these communities are engaged as contributors and partners,” says Evan Michelson, program director at the Sloan Foundation. “We are so pleased to be supporting this research initiative and a talented team centering the voices of these communities to make sure the benefits of a low carbon economy are equitably shared.”