May 01, 2017

“Look Back and Look Forward”  —Introduction to IRIS 100th Anniversary Essays

By Peter V. Lacouture

In 1917, the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants in the World Series, Marie Curie celebrated her 50th birthday, Buffalo Bill Cody died, John F. Kennedy was born, and Walter Anderson, who would go on to start White Castle, invented the hamburger bun.

In news more relevant to the Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section (IRIS), the first Boeing aircraft flew (only 14 years after the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight in 1903), only 8% of the homes in America had landline telephones, and the toggle electric light switch was invented. And in September 1917, at its annual meeting in Saratoga Springs, New York, the American Bar Association established the Section of Public Utility Law, now known as the Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section.

In considering our Centennial celebration, the initial sentiment among Section leadership was to look back and honor the past accomplishments of the Section. We will do this at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York City in August and by recognizing past chairs at our Fall Council Group Meeting in October. However, one past chair observed that an important anniversary should not merely be a look back at the past, but should be seen as an opportunity to look ahead to and plan for the future. Following this counsel, the theme for IRIS’s 100th Anniversary year (2017–18) will be “Look Back and Look Forward.”

We plan to celebrate this milestone throughout the year in a number of ways, including publishing a series of essays from our committees about the history and evolution of their respective industries or practice areas since 1917. In asking the committees to prepare these essays, we said they could be scholarly or anecdotal. We also asked the committees to peer into their crystal balls and predict where their industries or practice areas would be 25, 50, or 100 years in the future.

The first couple of essays we received have been informative and, in a departure from the typical Infrastructure articles or Recent Developments reports, entertaining. In the essay which we publish in this issue of Infrastructure, former IRIS chair and Steptoe & Johnson partner, Steven Brose, and his colleague Shaun Boedicker, review oil pipeline operation and regulation as it has developed over the past century. Although there have been major technological changes in the design, construction, and operation of oil pipelines and a transfer of regulatory authority from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Messrs. Brose and Boedicker suggest that an observer from 1917 would recognize the system and much of the regulatory scheme.

We hope you enjoy these essays throughout our centennial year.

By Peter V. Lacouture

Peter V. Lacouture ( placouture@rc.com ) is Chair-Elect of the Section of Infrastructure and Regulated Industries, editor of the Section’s 100th Anniversary Essays , and a partner in the Providence office of Robinson & Cole LLP. He also was editor-in-chief of Recent Developments in Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Industries for twelve years.