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April 2021

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April 1, 2021

An ELI & DC Bar Association, Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Community Co-Sponsored Public Webinar

While there has been speculation surrounding the scope of the 2020 McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, this case largely affirmed the status quo in Oklahoma. McGirt may have broader implications in future decisions, but, importantly, it did not address one of the most pressing issues facing Native Americans: restoring tribal land illegally seized by the United States government. Between 1887 and 1934, federal policies resulted in Indigenous peoples in the continental U.S. being dispossessed of 90 million acres of their lands. Tribal land and sovereignty are conjoined, with the extent of tribal jurisdiction authority defined by trust status. Moreover, many federal programs designed to benefit tribes are only available to tribes on trust or reservation lands.

The Trump administration made significant revisions to the process in which tribes acquire trust land. Most notably, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued the Memorandum “Delegated Authority for Off-Reservation Fee to Trust Decisions,” which resulted in significantly slower reviews of off-reservation trust applications. Ultimately, this led to merely 18,000 acres of land being put into trust per year, considerably less than the nearly 70,000 acres per year during the Obama administration. Additionally, DOI froze the process of fee-to-trust acquisition in Alaska, which has one of the largest Indigenous populations in the U.S. Finally, DOI took unprecedented action in ordering the disestablishment of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation, despite DOI’s prior commitment to take no actions until the resolution of litigation.

Under the Biden administration, experts anticipate a reversal of this Memoranda, as well as a renewed commitment to the Mashpee’s reservation. Ultimately, addressing the ongoing challenges of restoring tribal lands will require significant further action. Join the Environmental Law Institute and leading panelists to explore the opportunities and challenges of restoring tribal lands by the new administration.

Cynthia R. Harris, Director, Tribal Programs; Deputy Director, Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programming; and Staff Attorney, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Melody McCoy, Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
James T. Meggesto, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
Richard Peterson, President, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
Sharlene Round Face, Chief, Division of Real Estate Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior
Martha Saenz, Senior Policy Specialist, Institute for State Tribal Relations, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
David Weeden, Tribal Councilman, and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

ELI members have subsequent access to any materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). 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 6, 2021

An ELI Public Webinar

The dual crises of racism - including environmental racism and environmental injustice - and the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the country to reckon with the compounded and intersecting forms of oppression faced by black people, indigenous people, and other people of color. In seeking to overcome these crises, it is imperative to center the perspectives and needs of the country’s marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionality provide a vital means by which people from a variety of professions, including those in private practice, corporations, government, NGOs, and academia, can center such perspectives in the pursuit of a truly just and equitable future.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a framework that challenges the ways that the law, with a history of preserving white supremacy, has subtly cemented practices of exclusion and perpetuated disadvantages. CRT views the persistent and structural nature of environmental racism as a product of neutral, “colorblind” law reform, advocating instead for laws and policies that explicitly redress racially disparate environmental outcomes. Intersectionality, on the other hand, is the idea that people’s identities condition the ways they are excluded from and/or disadvantaged by existing social structures. It calls on the law to consider how an individual’s race, class, gender, disability, and/or sexual orientation, for example, can exacerbate their experience of environmental racism.

How can these two concepts shift perceptions of and responses to the historical causes and present impacts of environmental racism? How well do current environmental laws – at the local, state, and federal levels – recognize and disrupt existing power relations and social hierarchies? Similarly, how can environmental laws and policies center the perspectives of marginalized people who are uniquely subjected to intersecting and compounded oppressive forces? Join the Environmental Law Institute and expert panelists to explore opportunities for using CRT and intersectionality to help dismantle environmental racism and achieve environmental justice.

Chandra Taylor
, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center, Moderator
Bineshi Albert, Movement Building Coordinator, Indigenous Environment Network
Marisela Martinez-Cola, J.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Utah State University
David Padgett, Associate Professor, Tennessee State University
Jacqueline Patterson, Director, Environmental and Climate Justice Program, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

ELI members have subsequent access to any materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). 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 8, 2021

An ELI, BioCycle, and American Biogas Council Co-Sponsored Public Webinar

An estimated 35% of food that is produced is uneaten, with losses occurring along the supply chain from farms to consumers. When food waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) with at least 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Many municipalities and organizations are beginning to prioritize diverting food waste from landfills by either preventing waste, rerouting edible food to the nearly 14 million food insecure households, or recycling waste through composting, animal feeding operations, or anaerobic digestion.

Of these recycling methods, anaerobic digestion (AD) – a process in which microorganisms break down organic material and create biogas and digestate that can be turned into valuable renewable energy or soil amendment and nutrient products – has substantial potential, but is still in the early stages of development and implementation in the United States.

What is the current status of AD as a recycling option for food scraps? What are the opportunities and challenges in diverting food waste from landfills to AD facilities? What policies and programs would support further development of AD facilities for food scraps? Join the Environmental Law Institute, BioCycle, American Biogas Council and leading experts as they explore these questions and seek solutions to diverting food waste from landfills and recycling to create valuable products through AD.

Carol A. Jones
, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
John Hanselman, CEO, Vanguard Renewables
Julia Levin, Executive Director, Bioenergy Association of California
Mark McDannel, Manager, Energy Recovery Engineering, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts
Melissa Pennington, Sustainability Coordinator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

ELI members have subsequent access to any materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). 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 9, 2021

Co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, DC EENR, WCEE, and Vanderbilt University Law School

Each year, Vanderbilt Law School and the Environmental Law Institute identify innovative environmental law and policy proposals in the academic literature. Please join leading professors, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss the proposals selected this year.

Topics include:

  • Climate change litigation
  • Corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG)
  • Environmental justice
  • Energy regulation

The conference will feature the following speakers:


The Law and Science of Climate Change Attribution
9:50 - 11:05 am ET

Michael Burger (author), Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; Senior Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law, Colombia Law School
Jessica Wentz (author), Senior Fellow, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Radley Horton (author), Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute

Steve Goldstein, Special Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of Maryland
Joanne Spalding, Chief Climate Counsel, Environmental Law Program, Sierra Club
Stacey VanBelleghem, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP


Externalities and the Common Owner
11:15 am - 12:30 pm ET

Madison Condon (author), Associate Professor, Boston University School of Law

Frederick Alexander, CEO, The Shareholder Commons
Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner, Director of Equity Research & Shareholder Engagement, Arjuna Capital
Anne Simpson, Managing Investment Director, Board Governance & Sustainability, CalPERS


A Game Changer in the Making? Lessons from States Advancing Environmental Justice through Mapping and Cumulative Impact Strategies
12:45 - 2:00 pm ET

Charles Lee (author), Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Carol Monahan Cummings, Chief Counsel, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Benjamin Wilson, Chairman, Beveridge & Diamond PC
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE


Zombie Energy Laws
2:10 - 3:25 pm ET

Joshua Macey (author), Assistant Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Jessica Bell, Deputy Director, State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, NYU School of Law
Margaret Claybour, Founding Partner, Rock Creek Energy Group, LLP
Miles Farmer, Legal Advisor, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Hampden Macbeth, Staff Attorney, State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, NYU School of Law


Materials will be posted as they are available. For questions about the conference, please contact Heather Luedke at luedke@eli.org.

For more information about ELPAR, please visit: https://www.eli.org/environmental-law-and-policy-annual-review

April 12, 2021

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:

  • The climate components of the Biden infrastructure proposal.
  • Second Circuit decision affirming the dismissal of the City of New York's lawsuit against several oil companies for damages caused by climate change.
  • US Supreme Court's ruling in water dispute between Florida and Georgia, concerning the reasons for the collapse of Florida's oyster fisheries and harms to Florida's river ecosystem.
  • Motion by the plaintiffs in Juliana v. US to amend their complaint to seek only declaratory and not injunctive relief.
  • Granting by DC Circuit of several motions from EPA for voluntary vacatur of rules that were issued by the Trump administration and under litigation.
  • Decision by federal district court in Utah that Bureau of Land Management failed to adequately consider GHG and climate change impacts of proposed coal lease.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed that he will use $1 billion of the $1.9 trillion in COVID relief funds (American Rescue Plan) to go towards the Resilient Florida grants program.
  • Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has signed Senate Bill 9 – An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy – into law.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed H.B. 1965 – The Clean Cars Bill – which will require that the state implement CA’s more stringent tailpipe emissions standards.
  • Maine is slated to receive nearly $8 million in federal loans to go towards developing three new solar projects within the state as part of a $598 million loan package from the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Rhode Island lawmakers have passed a wide-ranging bill to address climate change that would require the state to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and Gov. Daniel McKee (D) has indicated he will sign it.

Edan Dionne, Vice President, Environmental, Energy & Chemical Management Programs, IBM
Michael Gerrard, Founder and Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School
Matthew Goetz, Senior Associate and Program Manager, Georgetown Climate Center, Georgetown University Law Center
Robert Sussman, Principal, Sussman & Associates

ELI members logged on to the Members site will have access to a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). 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 13, 2021


This event is co-sponsored by the D.C. Bar and the Environmental Law Institute.

On August 13, 1946, Congress enacted the Indian Claims Commission Act, which aimed "to dispose of the Indian claims problem with finality." Over the next sixty years, Indian Tribes litigated hundreds of legal, equitable, and moral claims against the United States under the Act. Nonetheless, seventy-five years after the Commission's creation, difficult legal and moral questions remain regarding the United States' ongoing trust and treaty obligations to Native Nations, and the legacy of colonialism in the United States. This panel event will explore the legacy of the Indian Claims Commission, with the goal of tracing that legacy from the Act's passage through its impact on current sovereign-to-sovereign relationships.

Kenneth Dalton, Administrative Judge, Interior Board of Indian Appeals, Moderator
Melody L. McCoy, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
Reid Chambers, Partner, Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry LLP
Sam Hirsch, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP
Hilary Tompkins, Partner, Hogan, Lovells

Information & Registration: Please visit the event page to view the latest information or to register for this event.

April 21, 2021

An ELI Master Class

Renewable energy usage – including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric energy production – has skyrocketed in the United States over the last decade. Since 2010, renewable energy usage has nearly quadrupled to 11% of all energy consumed - nearly equivalent to the energy produced by coal. Moreover, experts project renewable energy usage to double by 2030. Despite this optimism, these projects face unique legal, regulatory, and practical hurdles.

While renewable energy projects have substantially lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than traditional energy production sources, these projects may still pose significant environmental impacts, especially in regards to habitat degradation and land use. For instance, while traditional energy production facilities, such as natural gas, require approximately one-third of an acre per megawatt (MW) produced, solar and wind energy projects require between 10-60 acres per MW. This difference in the amount of land needed poses additional challenges in siting and environmental review for new renewable energy projects.

Despite these obstacles, renewable energy development is critical to mitigating GHG emissions and new projects are expected to boom under the Biden administration. Join ELI and leading experts for an in-depth exploration of the legal and policy challenges facing new renewable energy projects and best practices to mitigate these challenges, as well as the opportunities and obstacles facing the future of renewable energy project developments.

12:00 - 12:15 PM

Opening Remarks
Natalie Lee
, Deputy Director, Renewable Energy Division, California Energy Commission

12:15 - 1:30 PM

Panel 1: Siting, Environmental Reviews & Renewable Energy will dive into the legal and policy challenges associated with project development siting, key considerations for environmental reviews, as well as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act requirements for project development and best practices for new projects. Expert panelists will also explore the financial and practical challenges facing new renewable energy projects.

Romany Webb
, Senior Fellow, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, Moderator
Gene Grace, General Counsel, American Clean Power Association (ACP)
Cullen Howe, Senior Renewable Energy Advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Jill Yung, Partner, Paul Hastings LLP

1:30 - 1:45 PM


1:45 - 3:00 PM

Panel 2: Energy 2035: Opportunities and Challenges will weigh the policy and practical opportunities and obstacles facing the Biden administration’s goal to generate carbon-free electricity by 2035. Expert panelists will explore the challenges including the key role played by domestic manufacturing and constraints in the U.S., limitations to energy storage and transportation especially with regards to battery storage capacity, and the equitable distribution of renewable energy especially in under-resourced communities. Leading panelists will also highlight opportunities for industry and stakeholders stemming from the recently issued Executive Order “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.”

Emily Leslie
, Consultant, Energy Reflections, Moderator
James Critchfield
, Director, Green Power Partnership Program, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
John Hall, Director, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund
Anne Hoskins, Chief Policy Officer, Sunrun Inc.
Destenie Nock, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

ELI members have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). 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.


Webinar CLE Attendees (you must have selected CLE info when you registered):

  • When watching the webinar you will need to have the webinar at the forefront of your computer screen as GoTo webinar software will be tracking attentiveness and creating an attentiveness report.
  • You will need to be watching the webinar for a majority of the time to receive CLE Credit.
  • We will email you the CLE information and certification within one week of the event.


April 22, 2021


This conference is co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute and the Environmental Law Institute.

Cross Country Perspectives Addressing Environmental Contamination Liability Risks

The Polluter Pays for a contaminated site is not always the doctrine being upheld in the courts. Recent caselaw has seen the current landowners, from municipalities to private enterprises, being held responsible for historic property damages, damages to neighbouring properties and remediation. A contaminated land claim can arise at any time, either during a property transaction, an environmental assessment, or at the time of the contamination. What is your obligation to report and what actions can make you liable?

The Canadian Institute’s advanced conference on Contaminated Sites Liability & Litigation Risk takes a deep dive into the most critical challenges affecting land developers, real estate and legal professionals, and environmental management officials. Join this one-day national event April 22, 2021 on our dynamic virtual platform, to delve into the law, regulation and enforcement.

Schedule, Faculty, & More: Please visit the event page for the latest information.

April 28, 2021


This conference is co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute and the Environmental Law Institute.

Environmental standards are becoming increasingly complicated for Canada’s natural resources sector. Multiple pieces of incoming legislation are creating greater scrutiny. With the implementation of Bill C69 – Impact Assessment Act, comes the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and the Navigation Protection Act into force. As well, in November 2020, the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, with an optimistic a course for Canada to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. How will the new legislation be adopted? How will they effect natural resource projects and assess cumulative effects?

Join CI Energy Group’s 9th Annual National Symposium on Cumulative Effects Assessment and Environmental Management, taking place on our dynamic virtual platform on April 28, 2021 (MDT), as we delve into practical solutions and gain insight from scientific experts, government, Indigenous leaders and industry representatives to address the social, economic and environmental effects of cumulative effects in the natural resource sector.

Schedule, Faculty, & More: Please visit the event page for the latest information.

April 28, 2021


This conference is co-sponsored by Sidley Austin LLP, DC Bar, and the Environmental Law Institute.

Join enforcement thought leaders from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and Georgetown University Law Center to discuss the latest on emissions enforcement targeting the transportation and mobility sectors, including the recent policies, cases, and other developments.


Registration, Panelists, & More: Please visit the event page for the latest information.

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