October 22, 2019

The ELI 2019 award winners: Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Rose Marcario, Patagonia's president and CEO.

The 2019 Award Dinner took place on Tuesday, October 22, 2019
The Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC
Please contact Melodie DeMulling at 202-939-3808 or demulling@eli.org
if you would like to become a Star Sponsor of the 2019 Award Dinner!

The Environmental Law Institute presented its 2019 Environmental Achievement Award to Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s president and CEO, in recognition of their visionary leadership and outstanding environmental stewardship at Patagonia.

“Patagonia has become a manifestation of the vision of business as a vehicle for not just making excellent products and achieving financial success, but also for doing good in terms of protecting nature, avoiding harm, and advancing sustainability,” observed ELI President Scott Fulton. “Private environmental governance is a new and important focus of our work, based on the emerging and increasingly important leadership of the business community in advancing high standards of environmental sustainability. With ELI fast approaching its 50th anniversary, we’re honored to recognize Ms. Marcario and Mr. Chouinard for envisioning and leading a business model that advances environmental protection and sustainability with such extraordinary ambition and success.”

From Patagonia’s early beginnings, Mr. Chouinard, as Patagonia’s visionary founder, ensured the company’s dedication to producing sustainable, long-lasting products and supporting grassroots environmental efforts. That support was amplified when Mr. Chouinard co-founded 1% for the Planet, reflecting the company’s commitment to donate 1% of its sales to grassroots environmental groups around the world that are working on solutions to the environmental crisis.  

Ms. Marcario’s work as CEO and formerly CFO has served to expand on Mr. Chouinard’s vision of private-sector leadership and success. Since she joined the company in 2008, Patagonia has dramatically improved its supply chain management efforts and drastically reduced the company’s environmental footprint, while at the same time quadrupling the company’s bottom line, setting an example for and challenge to other corporations aspiring to be environmentally and socially responsible.

“Patagonia is clearly committed to seeking innovative ways to improve sustainability practices and raise the standard for others, and the company exemplifies how environmental responsibility, activism and business success go hand-in-hand,” noted Ben Wilson, Chair of ELI’s Board.

“Patagonia has used its voice to raise awareness of urgent issues facing our environment and has availed itself of the tools of law to preserve and protect our environment. For all of this, ELI would like to offer our sincere thanks and congratulations,” added Mr. Fulton.

ELI presented the Environmental Achievement Award, Founders Award, and Environmental Futures Award at its Annual Award Dinner on October 22. By honoring individuals and organizations for demonstrating outstanding commitment to environmental protection, ELI helps set the standards for the environmental profession. The dinner is a signal opportunity for environmental professionals to forge new bonds of cooperation, while supporting the agenda-setting research, education, and training programs of the Institute. The event now attracts attention year-round, making it a unique gathering of the nation’s environmental leaders, with approximately 800 professionals attending from across the country.

October 22, 2019

The 2019 ELI-Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum

Historic accidents such as Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl have led to nuclear energy’s reputation as a significant environmental worry, mainly due to fears of potential contamination from a nuclear incident or improper disposal of radioactive waste. However, today the European Union depends on nuclear power for more than 25% of its electricity, and in the United States, nuclear-generated electricity protects the atmosphere from more than 528 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

As climate concerns increase, many countries and businesses are reassessing the role of nuclear power in a climate sensitive future.  Questions are emerging around scheduling retirement of nuclear plants, even as barriers remain, including compliance with state and federal law, mitigating public concerns surrounding risks, and steep financial burdens such as building and operational costs. Some favor financial incentives for new nuclear capacity or perpetuating existing plants, while others note the risks, including infrastructure integrity of reactors, storage and disposal capacity, and potential environmental and health contamination risks.

What does the future of nuclear energy look like in this evolving landscape? How do the environmental challenges of nuclear energy stack up against the possible advantages from the vantage point of climate change, whether those be decommissioning reactors, disposing of nuclear waste, storage issues or others? Should nuclear energy be seen as a bridge fuel while other renewables scale up to meet energy demands, or even as a fixed piece in a U.S. lower carbon energy mix? Panelists discussed these questions and tackled the complex history, the multifaceted regulations, and the future of nuclear energy development.

Opening Remarks: Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute

John C. Dernbach
, Director, Environmental Law and Sustainability Center and Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability, Widener University Commonwealth Law School and Author and Editor, Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
W. Mason Emnett, Vice President, Competitive Market Policy, Exelon Corporation
Sandra Levine, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)
Granta Nakayama, S.B., S.M, Partner, King & Spalding LLP

NOTE: ELI members will 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.

October 22, 2019

ELI 2019 Corporate Forum

In the absence of a national government mandate to intensify use of renewable energy, many corporations are increasing their own reliance on renewable energy forces. Numerous utilities are likewise transitioning towards more renewable energy, including wind, thermal, and solar power in their energy mix. Despite these shifts, renewable energy continues to face challenges including those of battery storage, grid expansion and incorporation of renewables into the grid, energy transmission, initial project costs, and regulatory barriers.

How are utilities and energy-consuming companies’ intending on increasing their renewables portfolios while navigating this terrain? What role are renewable energy credits playing in the progression that many companies seek? What are the barriers to greater reliance on renewable energy and how might they be overcome? The 2019 Annual Corporate Forum explored these questions and discussed the obstacles and opportunities for corporations and renewable energy.

Sofia O'Connor
, Staff Attorney, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Wayne Balta
, Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM Corporation
Janice Dean, Deputy Counsel, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
Beth Deane, Chief Counsel, Project Development, First Solar

ELI members will have access to a recording and any materials from this session. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have routine access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

October 22, 2019

Co-sponsored by Vanderbilt Energy and Environmental Law Program, Environmental Law Institute, Vanderbilt Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, and Vanderbilt Energy and Environmental Law Society

The Implications of the Universal Owner for Climate Mitigation

This workshop explored the implications of the universal owner concept for climate mitigation. An emerging literature suggests that because many large institutional investors have diversified portfolios that mirror the market, they do not benefit from any one company profiting through negative externalities that harm other companies. If this concept survives critical scrutiny, it may explain why institutional investors are increasingly pushing for decarbonization across many sectors and may predict that this pressure will continue in the future. Climate change is a systemic investment risk that cannot be diversified away, so the universal owner concept also may become the focus of shareholder activism from institutional investors that have typically been passive overseers of corporate behavior. Drawing on insights from experts in environmental and securities law, economics, and other fields, this workshop explored the viability of the universal owner concept and the implications for climate mitigation and other environmental, social and governance issues.

Moderator: Mike Vandenbergh (Vanderbilt)

Madison Condon
(NYU Law School)
Rick Alexander (Shareholder Commons)
Margaret Blair (Vanderbilt Law School)
Yesha Yadav (Vanderbilt Law School)
Mark Cohen (Owen Graduate School of Management)

This event was not recorded.