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2012 New Directions in Environmental Law Conference

[Re]Claiming Accountability  

A Conference by the Yale Environmental Law Association  

February 25, 2012

Featured Keynote Speaker Mary Nichols
Chairman of the California Air Resources Board


Panel Conversations, Workshops, Reception, and Social Events
Environmental Law Society Programming, and More 



Contact us at: YaleEnvLawConference@gmail.com



2011 New Directions in Environmental Law Conference Report (PDF)

Videos of the full conference keynote address, the full panel dialogue, and highlights of the entire conference--including workshops--are available on "Conference Videos" portion of this website, on your left.


This conference began and expanded a number of integral conversations to help [re]claim environmental accountability in our legal system and beyond.  It was the second annual conference in our New Directions in Environmental Law Conference Series, hosted by the Yale Environmental Law Association. It aimed to challenge the meanings and mechanisms behind environmental accountability—from the local to the global, from litigation to regulation to market-based opportunities and norm-shifting movements. Speakers and participants throughout the conference questioned environmental accountability in the modern era and amongst evolving legal strategies. 

Our foundational conference last spring, A Climate of Possibility, drew over 200 practitioners, regulators, academics, and students from around the country to inquire into the problems, challenges, and potential new directions in environmental law and policy. Last year's Conference was defined by inclusive and provocative conversations, which we were proud to expand upon this February with an attendance of over 250 individuals throughout the environmental community.

 Highlights of the 2012 Conference Included:  

Keynote Speaker Mary Nichols: Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and former Assistant Administrator of the U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Chairman Nichols has ensured pollution reduction accountability through California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, and as a bold advocate for environmental and public health throughout her career.

Chairman Nichols's impactful keynote was recorded in full and is and available in the "Conference Videos" portion of the website, accessible through the "Conference Videos" tab on your left.

Panel Conversations
Nature in Brief—Creative Legal Approaches to Accountability 
Nature in Brief was a dynamic panel conversation that 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.  The panel brought together divergent voices—individuals who are looking at existing laws through a new lens and individuals who must ground their approaches within established institutional frameworks—to advance this evolving conversation.

The spirited and poignant dialogue of which conference attendees were fortunate to be a part was recorded in full and is available in the "Conference Videos" portion of the website, accessible through the "Conference Videos" tab on your left.

: Twelve diverse, timely, and intellectually challenging workshops engaged participants in conversations about the contours of environmental accountability. They were led by experts in their fields and were designed to be round-table discussions that allowed conference attendees to be part of an evolving environmental discourse—bridging communities of inquiry and practice amongst students, professors, and practitioners. Topics  included:

  • Environmental Enforcement: Using Civil & Criminal Laws to Address Env. Misdeeds
  • pH, Phytoplankton, and Policy: Drivers of Ocean Acidification & Potential Solutions
  • Corporate Accountability in Env. Law: Strategies in Litigation & Market Innovation
  • Conservation or Renewable Energy? Conflicting Interests in the Land Use Arena
  • Shale Gas Development & Hydraulic Fracturing: An Env. Justice Issue?
  • Old Laws, New Problems: Evolving Strategies for Water Quality
  • The Case of Specialized Environmental Courts & Tribunals 
  • Accountability to Future Generations
  • Food: Sustainability & Access
  • Righteous Minds & Black Swans:
    Strategies for Adapting to Public Morality & Chance in Env. Enforcement 
  • Practical Difficulties Posed by Suing the Government, and
    Why Suing the Government Still Makes Sense (Sometimes)
  • Ensuring Healthy & Sustainable Communities for All:
    Federal, State, & Local Approaches to Advancing Env. Justice
A short video with that includes highlights from some of the workshops is available in the "Conference Videos" portion of this website, on your left.


See Schedule & Speakers Pages at Left for
Full Workshop & Panel Information,
Including Speaker Biographies