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May 2017

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May 8, 2017

Staying on top of the legal and policy developments in the climate change arena is no small task. As a special service to our members, the Environmental Law Institute provides a series of monthly conference calls with national experts on climate law and policy to keep you up to date and to answer your questions.


Topics addressed in this month's call:

  • Discussion of the debate within the administration over remaining in or pulling out of the Paris Agreement
  • California appellate court rejection of  challenge to cap and trade
  • DC Circuit action on Clean Power Plan case
  • SDNY action on Exxon case against AGs
  • Request for 9th Circuit interlocutory review in Juliana v. US
  • 12 governors urge Trump to stay in Paris Agreement

Michael B. Gerrard, Professor, Columbia Law School; Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Robert Sussman, Principal, Sussman & Associates
Kate Zyla, Deputy Director, Climate Center, Georgetown University

If you are an ELI member and are logged onto the Members site, you will see links below to available materials/recordings from this session. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

ELI Monthly Climate Briefings are made possible by the
generous support of our institutional members.

NOTE: This call/recording is for ELI members only. No comments may be quoted
or used without the express written permission of ELI and the panelist.

May 11, 2017

An ELI Public Seminar

As global political will to mitigate climate change grows, thought leaders are examining big questions about how societies can drastically reduce dependence on energy generation and other processes that emit greenhouse gases. This type of “deep decarbonization” is seen by some as the only path to achieving the Paris Agreement’s call to limit warming to “well below 2° Celsius.” To achieve this goal in the United States, the law and the economy will need to adapt.

This seminar presented the results of two recent studies of pathways to long-term deep decarbonization for the United States, and the legal framework they operate within. The United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization report was released in November 2016 by the Obama Administration, and From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy, was released in December 2016 by the Risky Business Project. The Mid-Century Strategy report was submitted to UNFCCC as part of the follow-up to the Paris climate agreement. From Risk to Return is the latest report by the project co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Tom Steyer. Both studies explore pathways to 80% reductions in GHG emissions by 2050.

Michael Burger, Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Karl Hausker, Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute
Noah Kaufman, Climate Economist, World Resource Institute

If you are an ELI member and are logged onto the Members site, you will see links below to available materials/recordings from this session. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

May 11, 2017

This program is sponsored by the Water Quality and Water Resources Committee of the D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section. Cosponsored by the DC Bar Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section, ABA SEER, and the Environmental Law Institute.

A discussion on what the future has in store for the revised “waters of the United States” (WOTUS Rule), along with a Rapanos “refresher” in light of the plan to consider adopting Justice Scalia’s proposed test for determining jurisdictional waters in the Rapanos case.

On February 28, 2017, in response to an executive order from President Trump, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a notice of intent to review and rescind or revise the rule defining “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS Rule”). Consistent with the executive order, the notice states that EPA and the Corps will consider whether to interpret the term "navigable waters" according to Justice Scalia’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006). In anticipation of the new rulemaking action, the panel discussed what the future has in store for the WOTUS rule and revisited Rapanos to glean insight into the development of a replacement rule.

Stephen Samuels, Former Assistant Section Chief, Environment & Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice (Retired) (moderator)
Professor William W. Buzbee, Georgetown
Jon Devine, Senior Attorney, Water Program, NRDC
Kerry McGrath, Partner, Hunton & Williams

May 17, 2017

An ELI Public Seminar & Book Launch

Conservation easements are a property law innovation between a landowner and an eligible organization to protect natural and cultural resources. These instruments are increasingly being used both for traditional conservation purposes and as a critical climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy.  Because land use decisions are generally made at the local level, environmental and conservation stakeholders should consider using conservation easements as a hedge against threats posed by inactive or regressive federal climate and environmental policy under President Trump’s Administration as well as a hedge against the on-going stressors from our warming climate. This seminar provided valuable information and strategies for how proponents can maintain the integrity of conservation easements in perpetuity while creating flexibility to address the dynamic threats of climate change.  This seminar was an essential conversation for environment and conservation advocates who seek to protect the American landscape for future generations.

Skills Learned:

  • Understanding of the legal framework guiding the creation, implementation, and termination of conservation easements
  • Identify challenges with and alternatives to perpetual conservation easements, including the need for adaptation to climate change
  • Current valuation of tax benefits and potential reforms
  • Strategies for resource planning
  • New applications for easements in an international context to protect resources and combat the effects of climate change

This event drew upon lessons gathered in “A Changing Landscape: The Conservation Easement Reader,” by Laurie A. Ristino and Jessica E. Jay, who provided an overview of current regulatory frameworks and practices, while suggesting new avenues for their application. The panel reviewed the above skills and discussed how conservation easements can be used to achieve strategic conservation and climate mitigation goals.

Jessica E. Jay, Founder and Principal Attorney, Conservation Law, P.C.
Erik Meyers, Vice President, The Conservation Fund
Adena Rissman, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin
Laurie A. Ristino, Director for the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems & Associate Professor of Law, Vermont Law School

If you are an ELI member and are logged onto the Members site, you will see links below to available materials/recordings from this session. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

May 18, 2017

The National Wetlands Awards are presented annually to individuals who have excelled in wetlands protection, restoration, and education. Through coordinated media outreach and an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill, awardees receive national recognition and attention for their outstanding efforts. The program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Federal Highway Administration. ELI coordinates the awards program, while our federal agency supporters provide financial support, serve on the selection committee, and/or participate in the ceremony.

The awardees are selected by a widely representative committee composed of 12-18 wetlands experts from around the country, including representatives from each federal supporting agency, members of the conservation and business communities, and representatives from state and local governments. Selection Committee members are carefully selected to represent a diversity of geographic areas and wetland expertise. ELI facilitates the Selection Committee meeting, but does not participate in selecting the winners. The awardees are determined by a majority vote of the Selection Committee.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2017 National Wetlands Awards:

Conservation & Restoration
Gregory Kearns
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Education & Outreach
Dana Pounds
Bradenton, Florida

Science Research
Dr. Robert R. Twilley
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

State, Tribal, and Local Program Development
Collis G. Adams
Concord, New Hampshire

Wetlands Community Leader
Alicia M. Mozian
Westport, Connecticut

May 18, 2017

An ELI Public Seminar held in conjunction with the 2017 National Wetlands Awards

Compensatory mitigation has been a rapidly growing industry among states, nonprofits, and the private sector ever since EPA and the Corps released the 2008 Mitigation Rule, providing clarification to aid agencies, states, permittees, consultants, and other involved in mitigation process. Since then, further efforts have been made to provide guidance through various rules and memorandum, however, with the Trump Administration’s plans for change, some of which have already occurred and others on the horizon, what can the many facets of the mitigation industry expect moving forward? From state in lieu fee programs to private and nonprofit mitigation banks, panelists discussed the future prospects and challenges that face the many aspects of this industry and what it means for wetlands protection.

Kathryn Campbell
, Staff Attorney, Environmental Law Institute (moderator)
Collis G. Adams
(2017 National Wetlands Awardee), Administrator, NH Dept. of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau
Karen Bennett,
Partner, Clark Hill PLC
Donna Collier, Chair, National Environmental Banking Association & Manager, Valencia Wetlands Trust
Vince Messerly, President, Stream and Wetlands Foundation

Collis Adams presentation
Karen Bennett presentation
Donna Collier presentation

Vince Messerly presentation

May 24, 2017

This program was sponsored by the Energy Committee of the D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section. Cosponsored by ABA SEER and the Environmental Law Institute.

President Trump recently issued Executive Order 13792, which directs the Department of Interior to review national monument designations and make recommendations on whether the designation should be withdrawn or the boundaries adjusted. Though the Antiquities Act provides the President broad authority to establish national monuments, there are significant questions regarding the President's ability to amend or revoke previous designations. This panel discussed executive authority to revisit national monument designations from previous administrations.

Peter Schaumberg
, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond (Moderator)
Allen Freemyer, President, Freemyer & Associates PC
Matt Haynie, Senior Counsel, American Petroleum Institute
Hilary Tompkins, Former Solicitor, Department of Interior
Douglas Wheeler, Member, Board of Directors, Conservation Lands Foundation


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