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April 2018

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April 5, 2018

Hosted by WilmerHale

Featured speaker: Doug Benevento, Regional Administrator for U.S. EPA Region 8

Doug Benevento serves as the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8. His responsibilities include overseeing the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, and 27 Tribal Nations.

Mr. Benevento discussed policy and programmatic objectives for the region, followed by a brief Q&A session.

April 6, 2018

The Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR) is a special issue of the Environmental Law Reporter (ELR), published in collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, DC. Each year, Vanderbilt Law students work with an expert advisory committee and senior staff from ELI to identify the year’s best academic articles that present legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems. The result is a one issue, student-edited volume that includes condensed versions of the selected articles, along with commentaries from leading experts from the academy, law firms, business, government and non-governmental organizations.

In conjunction with the publication, ELI and Vanderbilt co-sponsored an annual conference at which the authors of the articles and comments present their ideas and views to an audience that includes business, government (federal, state, and local), think tank, and non-profit representatives.

The topics discussed at this year's DC conference were:

  • Using financial assurance mandates to reduce industrial disaster risks associated with climate change
  • Incorporating visual content, such as charts and infographics, into administrative rulemaking in order to promote transparency, accountability, and public participation
  • Developing new legal tools for "impact transactions" that facilitate collective impact agreements, in which multisectoral stakeholders collaborate to solve environmental and other social challenges

You may view the agenda for the event HERE.

View a video of the event

April 9, 2018

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.


SPECIAL NOTE: In April we are pleased to welcome Sally Fisk of Pfizer to our panel to address private-sector initiatives in the climate change area. She and Nikki Roy, who provides our legislative segment, will alternate on the monthly panels. Sally is lead counsel and a strategic advisor for Pfizer’s Environmental Sustainability program, including matters related to climate change. She also leads the Environmental Law Group’s business transactions program and legal support for environmental sustainability disclosures.

Topics to be addressed in this month's call:

  • SDNY decision dismissing Exxon's lawsuit against the AGs of NY and MA.
  • SD TX decision dismissing a class action brought against Exxon's employee stock ownership plan over failure to make climate disclosures.
  • NEPA decision from Montana requiring GHG analysis of a proposed BLM coal lease.
  • Discussion of the EPA determination that the Obama light-duty GHG emission standards for MY 22-25 are not justified and need to be relaxed.
  • A brief history of corporate engagement on climate change since the Trump administration’s announcement of its planned withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (i.e. increase in SBT commitments, We’re Still In It, flurry of ads and letters to Trump Administration), followed by a discussion of more recent events including Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs, and increased expectations for corporate transparency on climate change and supply chain and whether stakeholders think companies are hitting the mark.
  • Arizona enacted a law that will undermine any constitutional amendments that require an increase in the state RPS. Arizona law makers approved and the Governor signed a bill that caps the fee for violating any constitutional provision related to the type of generation sources a utility must use at $5,000.
  • Virginia Gov. Northam's office has said the governor plans to veto legislation passed last week that would prohibit the state from establishing a cap-and-trade program for carbon pollution from power plants or from joining RGGI.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state would commit $1.4 billion to 26 renewable projects, including 22 solar farms, three wind farms, and one hydroelectric project. All will be operational by 2022, and all were approved by NYSERDA after a public bidding process.
  • The California Ocean Protection Council adopted updated sea-level rise guidance, which is used by state agencies and local governments in assessing vulnerabilities and planning for infrastructure resilience.
  • A bipartisan group of over 250 governors, state legislators, mayors, and other local elected officials signed a Flood-Ready Infrastructure Statement of Principles, urging reforms to break the disaster-rebuild cycle and improve flood resilience.
  • The Louisiana Office of Community Development announced its plan for purchasing land to relocate community members from Isle de Jean Charles to higher ground; groundbreaking is expected at the new site in 2019.
  • Los Angeles released its comprehensive resilience strategy, developed with support through Rockefeller's 100 Resilient Cities Initiative.

Sally Fisk, Assistant General Counsel, Pfizer
Michael B. Gerrard, Professor, Columbia Law School; Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Jessica Grannis, Adaptation Program Manager, Georgetown University Climate Center
Robert Sussman, Principal, Sussman & Associates
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.

April 9, 2018

An ELI Public Webinar

“Distributed generation” describes electricity that is produced at or near the location where it is used, and can include renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels, which currently account for over 90% of U.S. distributed generation capacity. How to compensate “grid-tied” distributed generation systems—which sell electricity to the grid when more energy is produced than consumed at the use site—is currently the subject of vigorous debate.

Advocates of the prevalent net metering approach, in which distributed generators are compensated for electricity they sell to the grid at the same rate they would pay to receive energy from the grid, argue that it is a crucial incentive for investments in renewable energy, helping to avert health- and climate-related costs of fossil fuel consumption. Critics of this approach argue that it requires utility companies to provide grid maintenance and other services without revenue from distributed generators, and to pass those costs on to utility customers who lack the ability to invest in distributed generation.

In a 2017 article appearing in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, Dr. Burcin Unel and Professor Richard L. Revesz (New York University School of Law) argue that an “Avoided Cost Plus Social Benefit” policy should be adopted for valuing distributed energy generation, whereby distributed clean energy is rewarded for its environmental and health benefits and utilities are compensated for the services they provide–until a more comprehensive retail rate reform can be achieved that ensures the efficient integration of all types of distributed energy resources into the grid.

ELI, co-author Burcin Unel, and commenters from the private sector, government, and advocacy groups discussed this proposal.

Linda K. Breggin, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute

Burcin Unel, Ph.D, Energy Policy Director, The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, Co-Author
Ellen Anderson, former Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Bradley Campbell, President, Conservation Law Foundation
Adam Benshoff, Deputy General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Edison Electric Institute

Video of event

Event presentation slides

April 10, 2018

Hosted by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Sylvia Quast is the EPA's Regional Counsel in San Francisco, where she leads a 72-member office responsible for the enforcement of the federal environmental laws in California, Arizona, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands.  Before that, she was the Executive Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office.  From 2005-2008, Ms. Quast was an attorney in private practice in Sacramento, where she served as finance coordinator for a $5.4 billion conservation bond campaign and helped develop the long-term restoration plan for the San Francisco Bay Salt Pond project. Prior to 2005, Ms. Quast was with the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C., where she litigated cases in the Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeal, and the district courts. She also prepared Department officials for Congressional hearings, press conferences, and other public presentations and appearances.

Ms. Quast discussed recent office accomplishments, updates on agency priorities and her office’s goals for the upcoming months.

April 16, 2018

This program was co-sponsored by ELI, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Georgetown Law, and D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Community

The environmental justice movement is at a pivotal moment.  Media coverage of issues such as lead poisoning and extreme weather events are capturing national attention. Emerging opportunities, including the Environment Justice Act of 2017 introduced by Senator Cory Booker and Representative Raul Ruiz, are working to promulgate environmental justice in the law. This event ighlighted both the threats and opportunities facing environmental justice in communities and in the law.

This panel discussion continued pivotal discussions from Part 1 of this series, held on November 28th, 2017. This panel of dynamic environmental justice leaders brought expertise from a spectrum of legal professions and backgrounds and included keynote speaker Representative Ruiz, co-author of the recently proposed Environmental Justice Act of 2017. Speakers explored climate justice, toxic-siting, ramifications of extreme weather events on marginalized communities, and ways in which practitioners can empower and support environmental justice communities through their own work. Following the conclusion of the panel, a networking reception was held to further spark conversation and discussion of key topics at the forefront of environmental justice.

Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA)

Sheila Foster,
Professor of Law and Public Policy, Georgetown University, Moderator
Dr. Adrienne Hollis
, Director of Federal Policy, WE-ACT Environmental Justice
Leslie Fields, Director, Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program, Sierra Club
Lucia Silecchia, Professor of Law at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America

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.

April 20, 2018

Co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, A Call To The Bar, and George Washington University Law School


12:00 pm


12:30 pm

Welcome and Keynote: Filling the Federal Climate Action Gap

12:50 pm

The Economic Risk and Rewards of Climate Action

  • Jennifer Huang, International Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), Moderator
  • Kenneth L. Adams, Partner, Adams Holcomb LLP and US Coordinating Counsel, Center for Climate Integrity
  • Bob Litterman, Chairman, Risk Committee & Founding Partner, Kepos Capital

1:40 pm

Companies and NGOs Taking Action on Climate Change

2:30 pm

Networking Break

3:00 pm

State and Local Climate Action Strategies

  • C. Baird Brown, Principal, eco(n)law LLC, Moderator
  • Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director, Georgetown Climate Center, Assistant Dean of Centers and Institutes, and Professor from Practice, Georgetown University Law Center
  • John Byrne, Director & Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, University of Delaware and Chairman & President, Foundation for Renewable Energy & Environment
  • Mike Grainey, Principal, Michael W. Grainey, Consulting LLC

3:50 pm

Climate Litigation Now

  • William J. Snape, III, Fellow, Practitioner-In-Residence, and Assistant Dean of Adjunct Faculty Affairs, American University Washington College of Law, and Senior Counsel, Center for Biological Diversity, Moderator
  • Dena Adler, Climate Law Fellow, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
  • Tom Lorenzen, Partner, Environment & Natural Resources and Government Affairs groups, Crowell Moring
  • Ed McTiernan, Partner, Arnold & Porter
4:40 pm

How Can You Take Action on the Climate Crisis?

  • John Dernbach, Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability and Director, Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, Widener University Commonwealth School of Law
  • Steve Harvey, President, A Call to the Bar
  • Yolanda Pagano, Treasurer, A Call to the Bar
5:30 pm Reception


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.

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