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YELA Conference Feb. 25 – “New Directions in Environmental Law: [Re]Claiming Accountability;” Conference and Keynote Speaker Mary Nichols ’71 Featured on Dan Rather Reports

Conference keynote speaker Mary Nichols ’71, director of the California Air Resources Board, will be featured in “Dan Rather Reports: The Queen of Green,” premiering Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at 8 p.m. on HDNet. The segment, which includes footage from the NDEL conference, re-airs that same night at 11 p.m. and on Saturday, April 14, at 12 noon. View the trailer here.

The Yale Environmental Law Association (YELA) hosted its second annual conference on February 25, 2012 titled New Directions in Environmental Law: [Re]Claiming Accountability. Co-sponsored with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP), the conference brought students from across the region together with top leaders in environmental law and policy, from government, practice, NGOs, and academia, to challenge the present and imagine the future of environmental law and scholarship.

The one-day conference took place on Saturday, February 25, 2012, at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, Conn. Mary Nichols ’71, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and former Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, gave the keynote address. She was introduced by YLS Clinical Professor Daniel Esty ’86, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, currently on leave from Yale University.

Nichols, a Yale Law School graduate, has been a path-breaker in envisioning state-level solutions for clean air and climate. Recently, she led CARB in implementing California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, through which California will take aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gases and fight global climate change.

The YELA student organizers put together a program that questioned the meanings and mechanisms behind common conceptions of environmental accountability—from the local to the global, from litigation to regulation to market-based opportunities and norm-shifting movements. They are focused on making the conference an annual space where attendees can seek out new tools for advancing environmental stewardship while carefully considering the values and visions implicated in modes of democratic and regulatory decision-making.

This year’s conference was the second environmental law conference to be co-hosted by Yale Law School in over two decades. Building on the success of last year’s conference—which drew over 200 participants from across the United States—the New Directions in Environmental Law Conference Series has been endowed as 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 Mary Nichols’ keynote speech, the conference featured a dynamic issues-based panel:

Nature in Brief: Creative Legal Approaches to Accountability, with John Cruden (Env. Law Institute; formerly DOJ ENRD), Mary Wood (Oregon), and Michael Wara (Stanford). This centerpiece panel questioned how practitioners can—and whether they should—stretch the bounds of standard canons, the common law, or constitutional claims to hold actors accountable for environmental harms through creative legal approaches, and in particular, litigation.

Attendees also had the opportunity to join law practitioners and government representatives in round-table workshops to discuss a variety of issues, including environmental courts, hydraulic fracturing, alternative dispute resolution as a tool for environmental justice, ocean acidification, corporate accountability in environmental law, and more.

For the full conference schedule, please visit the conference website.

The conference twitter feed is available at https://twitter.com/#!/YaleEnvLawConf.  

For more information, contact Sarah Langberg (Yale Law School/Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies '13) at 239-565-0848, or Susanne Stahl (Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy) at 203-432-5594, susanne.stahl@yale.edu.