Visiting Scholar Biographies
The Institute hosts environmental lawyers, practitioners, and scholars working on policy research projects aimed at domestic American environmental policy — national, regional or state — and at the international level and national level in other countries. Individual scholars are typically in residence at the Institute for periods of one to three months, with some staying for a year or more. The exchanges — many of which take place under the auspices of the ELI International Visiting Scholar Program — help to strengthen institutions help to strengthen institutions and stimulate intellectual activity across disciplines and borders. The program helps to build and sustain a growing network of environmental lawyers and related professionals dedicated to advancing environmental protection.
The Institute is pleased to introduce the current ELI Visiting Scholars. They are:
Ruth Greenspan Bell
Ruth Greenspan Bell joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in June 2013. Bell is a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, and the co-leader (with Elke Weber of Columbia University) of a program to harvest insights from behavioral social science research to motivate a variety of behavior changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and impact climate challenge. Her previous positions include Senior Fellow and Director of the US Climate Policy Objective at World Resources Institute (WRI); directing International Institutional Development and Environmental Assistance (IIDEA) at Resources for the Future (a program to build more effective systems of environmental protection globally, producing, for example, a highly acclaimed study of the policy process and changes — including the switch of all commercial vehicles from petrol and diesel to CNG — that led to improvements in air quality in Delhi); Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; and before that, various domestic management positions in U.S. EPA’s Office of General Counsel. Bell publishes extensively about climate change and other environmental issues, addressing a wide range of policy and environmental audiences (Foreign Affairs, Issues in Science and Technology, Environmental Forum, Environmental Law Reporter, Environment, and Harvard International Review among them). Bell is a graduate of UCLA and the School of Law of the University of California at Berkeley; serves on several boards (currently the International Senior Lawyers Project and The Mountain Institute) and is a long-standing member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Michael Curley is a lawyer who has spent the majority of his career in finance and the last 25 years in environmental finance. He is the author of The Handbook of Project Finance for Water and Wastewater Systems, published by Times/Mirror and Finance Policy for Renewable Energy and a Sustainable Environment, which will be published by Taylor & Francis in April, 2014.
In 1990, he was appointed to the Environmental Financial Advisory Board at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he served for 21 years under four Presidents. He has taught environmental finance and law at the Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities as well as Vermont Law School over the last 20 years. He founded the Environmental Finance Centers at the University of Maryland, Syracuse University and Cleveland State University.
In New York in the early ‘80s, he raised the venture capital for, founded, and served as president and CEO of the third financial guaranty insurance company in the world and the first to insure economic development projects. He sold the company to the Hongkong Shanghai Bank. He was also a partner at the New York City law firm of Shea & Gould.
Mr. Curley served in several roles in government. First as, Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel of the New York State Department of Economic Development; and then as President and CEO of the New York Job Development Authority (JDA), the State’s bank for economic development. He was also the General Counsel of the JDA and General Counsel of the New York State Science & Technology Foundation, the State’s venture capital agency. Prior to that, he served as Parliamentarian of the New York State Assembly and Associate Counsel to the Speaker. He was also an Assistant to Congressman Richard D. McCarthy (D-NY) in Washington, D.C.
While in New York, he served as Adjunct Professor of Banking & Finance at New York University teaching Venture Capital and Capital Markets and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation by New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
As he moved into environmental finance, he completed a ten-year, $3 million, assignment for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he developed national municipal bond banks for water, wastewater, district heating and other municipal infrastructure for both the Russian Federation and for Ukraine, designed a revolving fund for safe drinking water for the Ministry of the Environment in the Republic of Georgia and built fifteen rural water systems and developed the national model for rural water finance in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Scott Fulton has over three decades of high level government experience, in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, in the environmental protection arena. Most recently, he served as General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, having been appointed to that position by the President in 2009. Other appointments and designations of note include Acting EPA Deputy Administrator, head of EPA’s international program, Environmental Appeals Board Judge, EPA Deputy General Counsel, Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Monitoring, and Assistant Chief in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the United States Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Scott has extensive domestic experience, but also has for over 20 years been actively involved in the United States’ international engagements relating to the environment, working closely with multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Program, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Conservation Union, as well as bilaterally with individual countries, including most significantly, China.
Scott left his post as General Counsel in January 2013 to join the Environmental Law Institute in his current role a Visiting Scholar and to teach law at George Washington University School of Law. In March 2013, he joined the Beveridge and Diamond, PC as a Principal, where he provides counseling and strategic advice on a wide range of topics, including domestic regulatory matters, international environmental developments, and sustainability.
Renee Martin-Nagle joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in April 2011 after a 25-year career in aviation. From 1990 through January 2011 she served as Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Airbus Americas, where she managed all legal, compliance and environmental affairs, and from 1986 to 1990 she served as General Counsel of both Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation (now American Eurocopter) and Aerospatiale General Aviation (SOCATA). During her career in aviation, Renee was active in industry and women's organizations, speaking frequently at conferences and serving on the boards of directors of Women in Aviation, the International Aviation Women's Association, the Aero Club of Washington and the American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law, which she also chaired from 2009 to 2011. The birth of her first grandson in April 2007 inspired her to dedicate the rest of her life to environmental causes, and that year she enrolled in the LL.M. program at George Washington University Law School, graduating in May 2010 with highest honors. Her thesis, which proposes that water in fossil aquifers be viewed as the common heritage of mankind, received the 2010 Jamie Grodsky Prize for Environmental Scholarship and was published by the Journal of Energy and Environmental Law. Currently Renee serves on the Council of Partners of ELI and on the boards of directors of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance and Omega Institute of Holistic Studies.
David Rejeski directs the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a non-partisan policy research institute in Washington, DC. The program’s mission is to explore the scientific and technological frontier, stimulating discovery and bringing new tools to bear on public policy challenges that emerge as science advances.
He joined ELI as a Visiting Scholar in September 2010 and his work with ELI focuses on the implications of emerging technology and social change for environmental protection and policy. He has authored numerous articles in ELI’s The Environmental Forum on topics ranging from e-commerce to nanotechnology and the rise of the service economy. Recent work for the Environmental Law Reporter examines environmental policy challenges arising from new production modes in non-institutional settings such as the biohacking community. He is the co-editor of the book: Environmentalism and the Technologies of Tomorrow: Shaping the Next Industrial Revolution.
He has been a Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Between 1994 and 2000, he served as an agency representative (from EPA) to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Before moving to CEQ, he worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) on a variety of technology and R&D issues, including the development and implementation of the National Environmental Technology Strategy. Prior to working at OSTP, he was head of the Future Studies Unit at the Environmental Protection Agency.
He sits on the advisory boards of a number of organizations, including the Board on Global Science and Technology of the National Academy of Sciences, DARPA’s “Living Foundries’ Program, the NSF-funded Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC); the Center for Environmental Policy at American University; and the Journal of Industrial Ecology. He has also been a member of NSF’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education; EPA’s Science Advisory Board, and EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. He has graduate degrees in public administration and environmental design from Harvard University and Yale University and a degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Bruce Rich is an attorney and author who has published extensively on the environment in developing countries and development in general. He is the author of a major critique and history of the World Bank (Mortgaging the Earth: The World Bank, Environmental Impoverishment, and the Crisis of Development, Beacon Press, 1994,1995) and was awarded the United Nations Global 500 Award for environmental achievement for his research and advocacy concerning international financial institutions. He worked for two and a half decades as an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, and has testified in numerous Congressional hearings on U.S. participation in international financial institutions. He has written numerous articles and opeds in publications such as The Nation, The Financial T imes, The Ecologist, and The Environmental Forum, the policy journal of the Environmental Law Institute in Washington. His book “To Uphold the World: A Call for a New Global Ethic from Ancient India,” with a Forward by Amartya Sen and an Afterword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was published by Beacon Press in 2010. His professional focus on finance and ethics, as well as numerous visits to South Asia, helped inspire the writing of To Uphold the World. His current professional interests include climate finance and addressing corruption in international lending. Rich is an honors graduate of Yale College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Kirk Talbott is a Visiting Scholar at ELI working on the Post Conflict Peacebuilding and Natural Resources Management initiative. He comes to ELI after more than twenty-five years of experience in international law and development in Asia and Africa in particular. After graduating from Yale college, working in a steel mill for six months and traveling around the world for a year, Mr. Talbott embarked on a career linking law, international development and natural resources management. He earned his J.D. and M.S.F.S. from Georgetown University Law Center and the Foreign Service School. He first worked at the International Law Institute on training programs in contract negotiation for developing country officials and then briefly practiced international human rights law. Talbott then spent almost ten years at the World Resources Institute working with USAID, the World Bank, and many other organizations on African Environmental Action Plans, community based property rights in Asia and other collaborative policy initiatives. He later worked with conservation organizations on biodiversity programs in Asia before heading a humanitarian organization, First Voice International. It provided satellite radio services to millions of remote people. He has advised several governments and international organizations in resource management, good governance, and results monitoring and evaluation. Kirk has served on several non-profit boards and published and taught widely in the fields of environmental security, international law and development and human rights.
Merideth Wright joined ELI as the first Distinguished Judicial Scholar in 2012, working with the International and Judicial Education Programs. She served from 1990 through 2011 as an environmental judge for the State of Vermont; she presided over the Vermont Environmental Court from its creation in 1990. The Environmental Court is a judicial branch civil trial court with statewide jurisdiction; it holds its non-jury trials as necessary in courthouses throughout the state. It has jurisdiction over litigation arising under the Uniform Environmental Enforcement Act, over appeals from all decisions of local zoning, planning, and development review boards (almost all of which are heard de novo), over municipal zoning enforcement cases, over permit appeals under the large farm operation and “heavy-cut” logging statutes, and, since February of 2005, over de novo appeals from all state environmental permit decisions, including those under Vermont’s state land use law (Act 250). The Court, now denominated the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court, handles approximately 300 cases per year.
Judge Wright has participated as a panelist, lecturer and presenter on environmental law topics and judicial practices for judges, lawyers and non-law professionals throughout her professional career, including participating in and hosting workshops for and discussions with visiting international judges and environmental and planning professionals, and making presentations at symposia on environmental judicial and enforcement issues. Judge Wright served as an honorary visiting Distinguished Judicial Scholar at Pace Law School from mid-2010 through 2011; and taught a course in Comparative Environmental Adjudication as a visiting professor in the spring term of 2012. In the summer of 2012 she developed the curriculum for and taught a two-week course, held in Vermont, for eighteen Chinese judges and professors on environmental and judicial topics, including case management and remedies.
Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Wright worked extensively in environmental law, including for eight years in the environmental division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. She taught courses in environmental enforcement, risk assessment, and other topics at the Vermont Law School and taught courses in land use and historic preservation law at the University of Vermont. Before coming to Vermont in 1978, she worked in the U.S. E.P.A.’s Office of General Counsel on air, solid waste and hazardous waste issues; in a small Washington, D.C. law firm; and for the Dade County (Florida) State Attorney’s Office.Â She earned her J.D. degree in 1974 from the University of Chicago Law School, where she held a Ford Foundation internship in state government; and her B.A. degree, magna cum laude, in 1971 from Yale University, in interdisciplinary environmental studies.