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Friday, March 4, 2011

Future of Environmental Law to be Examined at April 2 Conference—A Climate of Possibility

On Saturday, April 2, the Yale Environmental Law Association (YELA) will host its first environmental conference in two decades. Entitled “New Directions in Environmental Law: A Climate of Possibility” and co-sponsored with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP), the conference will bring students from across the region together with top leaders in environmental law from government, practice, NGOs, and academia to challenge the present and imagine the future of environmental law and scholarship. The conference will take place at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, and is open to the public. It is free for members of Yale and Quinnipiac Universities and New Haven residents.

Yale Law School Dean Robert Post '77 will deliver the opening remarks, and Lisa Heinzerling, former Associate Administrator of the EPA Office of Policy and Senior Policy Counsel on Climate Change, will give the keynote address.

Heinzerling, a Georgetown Law professor and author of the winning brief for petitioners in the momentous Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court case, also will be recognized for her path-breaking contributions to the field based on a values-driven approach to environmental law.

The YELA student organizers have put together a program focused on galvanizing their generation of law students to see environmental law in new ways, reflecting a range of social justice and human rights concerns while carefully considering the values and visions implicated in modes of regulatory decision-making. They aim to make the conference an annual event.

“At the heart of the first modern environmental law movement were students,” said YELA faculty adviser and YLS Professor Douglas Kysar. “They combined knowledge and values with action and they changed the world. There is no reason why the second movement can't start now.”

In addition to the keynote speech by Heinzerling, the conference will include two panels:

Environmental Law Waitlisted, with Professors Bruce Ackerman (Yale), Alejandro Camacho (UC-Irvine), and Jedediah Purdy (Duke), and

Clearing the Air, with Professors Michael Gerrard (Columbia), Catherine O'Neill (Seattle), and Robert Verchick (EPA; Loyola).

The conference will also feature roundtable workshops on areas including litigation strategies, labor and environmental coalitions, state-level solutions on energy and the environment, international farmland investment and the right to food, environmental justice and indigenous group rights, small island nations and climate change, environmental advocacy and cultural cognition, and student collaboration and network-building.

Environmental Law Societies and student interest groups from schools around the region are co-sponsoring workshops and sending groups of students to the event. They have begun work to build a regional environmental law student network and intend to produce a statement of student visions and values drawing on insights from the conference. The conference will be preceded Friday by talks at Yale Law School for students, as well as an evening party and networking events.