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Schedule of Events

For further information on our speakers, please click here.

New Directions in Environmental Law: The Power of Voice
March 2, 2013
Yale Law School, New Haven, CT

8:15-9:00: Registration, Yale Law School Room 122

9:15-9:45: Opening Remarks, Yale Law School Room 127

  • Justin Elicker (New Haven Board of Aldermen, FES '10, SOM '10)

9:45-11:15: Panel I: Climate Change Responsibility and the International Court of Justice, Yale Law School Room 127

11:15-11:30: Break

11:30-12:30: Workshop Session I, Yale Law School

12:30-1:30: Lunch, Yale Law School Dining Hall

1:35-1:45: Keynote Introduction, Yale Law School Room 127

  • Halley Epstein (YLS '14)

1:45-2:45: Keynote Address, Yale Law School Room 127

  • Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone Contributing Editor and environmental author

2:45-3:00: Coffee Break

3:00-4:30: Panel II: Imperfect Solutions: What to Do When Environmental Values Conflict, Yale Law School Room 127

4:35-5:35: Workshop Session II, Yale Law School

5:35-6:30: Reception and Closing Remarks, Yale Law School Alumni Reading Room

  • Zachary Arnold (YLS '15), Devin Judge-Lord (FES '13), Viveca Morris (COL '15)

Event Descriptions

Panel I: Climate Change Responsibility & the International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has recognized that all States have an obligation "to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control respect the environment of other States." This principle prohibiting transboundary harm is well-known in international law and has been applied to a variety of contexts by many different legal bodies. Palau and other island nations have recently launched a campaign that seeks to apply the principle of transboundary harm to climate change. These nations, which are already experiencing the devastating effects of global climate change, seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ that will address the issue of whether States may be held responsible for their greenhouse gas emissions. Palau’s campaign represents a novel attempt to extend the principle of transboundary harms to what is arguably the greatest "tragedy of the commons" of them all: anthropogenic climate change.

Our panelists will explore the international legal and diplomatic dimensions of the campaign. Should States bear responsibility for transnational damages created by their greenhouse gas emissions? The panelists will question whether—and which—principles of international law hold States accountable for their individual and collective contributions to climate change. What are the symbolic and practical implications of an advisory opinion, and how will they impact climate negotiations as well as voluntary state actions to reduce carbon emissions? Our panelists will draw on their international law expertise and diplomatic acumen to explore whether the goals of Palau’s campaign are complementary to those of the UNFCCC negotiation process and to illuminate how the debates surrounding climate change play out on the world stage. For more information, please contact Halley Epstein (halley.epstein@yale.edu).


  • Lea Brilmayer (Yale Law School)
  • Aaron Korman (Permanent Mission of Palau to the United Nations)
  • Roy Lee (Asian African Legal Consultative Organization to the United Nations)

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Panel II: Imperfect Solutions: What to do When Environmental Values Conflict

The Appalachian Mountain Club and other groups have opposed wind farms in western Maine because of potential harm to alpine and subalpine ecosystems. Environmental justice activists sued to suspend California’s cap and trade system on the grounds that emissions markets may unfairly burden impoverished communities. Meanwhile, while some in the environmental movement support hydraulic fracturing for natural gas as a path to a lower-carbon energy supply, others point to poisoned drinking water, scarred landscapes, and leaked methane.

How should society, the environmental movement, and environmental law react when environmental values conflict? Our panelists will address these issues from both academic and professional angles, and explore what to do when efforts to stop climate change, protect local ecosystems, and serve local communities run into one another. For more information, contact Jamie Edwards (jamie.edwards@yale.edu).


  • Eileen Gauna (University of New Mexico)
  • Jeff Thaler (University of Maine)
  • Oswald Schmitz (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science)

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Workshop: Factory Farming and the Law (Session I)

Animal agriculture is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the world’s most serious environmental problems at every level, from local to global, and includes a wide range of challenges from drinking water pollution, to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to climate change. Livestock production accounts for nearly half of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (more than the share contributed by the entire transportation sector), according to a report by two World Bank environmental specialists. In addition to environmental challenges, factory farming as it exists today is widely considered to be the most systematic and profound abuse of animals in history. This workshop's panelists, two highly respected experts on environmental and animal law, will describe the impacts of animal agriculture and factory farming as it is practiced today, the history and current state of factory farming laws, and an overview and analysis of the legal efforts begin taken to address this critical issue. For more information, please contact Viveca Morris (viveca.morris@yale.edu).


  • Martha Noble (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)
  • David Wolfson (Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP)

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Workshop: Human Rights and Indigeneity: Struggles Against Development-Induced Displacement and for Self-Determination in Guam and Israel (Session I)

Human rights struggles are closely tied to environmental issues around the world. Join two activist-attorneys in exploring the ways in which lawyers and advocates can help vulnerable populations as they raise their voices and fight for control of their rights and resources. Indigenous groups around the world have been linked in their struggles for self-determination and cultural continuity against a backdrop of development-induced displacement and the undermining of traditional relationships to land and natural resources. This session will focus on human and indigenous rights through the case studies of the Arab Bedouin in Israel's Naqab/Negev Desert and the Chamoru of Guam. We will compare struggles in both geographies for dignity, equality, and autonomy in the context of colonization, militarization, and state-sponsored development programs. We will also explore new directions in the use of international legal frameworks for protecting indigenous rights and resources and limiting development-induced displacement. Attorneys Julian Aguon and Hassan Jabareen promote their causes through teaching, writing, and advocacy before national courts and the United Nations, and will search for common ground in this cross-cultural discussion about the challenges, tensions, and possibilities in human rights lawyering. For more information, please contact Halley Epstein (halley.epstein@yale.edu) or Steph Safdi (stephanie.safdi@yale.edu).


  • Julian Aguon
  • Hassan Jabareen (Adalah)

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Workshop: Climate Change and Corporate Practice: To Disclose or Not to Disclose? (Session I)

Pressure is growing for the private sector to build long-term sustainability and resilience into their business. Global economies have already been impacted by the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Last year, Intel lost $1 billion in revenue and the Japanese automotive industry lost $450 million of profits as a result of the business interruption floods caused to their Thailand-business suppliers. (See Paul Simpson, “Accelerating progress toward a lower-carbon future,” Carbon Disclosure Project (2012), 7, available at http://www.cdproject.net) Investing in those companies that are very vulnerable to climate change will lead to investors thinking twice about putting their resources into risky investments. Climate change presents both risks and opportunities in the context of in-house corporate practice. This discussion will evaluate both mandatory disclosure under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and also voluntary disclosure through programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project. The SEC issued formal interpretive guidance for companies on climate-related information for disclosure to investors in their 10-Ks or 20-Fs, as well as quarterly filings. The goal of disclosure usually led by investors and state law officials is meant to boost corporate attention to the quality of their climate-related disclosure and develop a management strategy to deal with those identified risks that are disclosed. While many more companies are disclosing climate-related information in voluntary reports - such as annual reports, sustainability reports and Carbon Disclosure Project responses - the quality of overall disclosure still needs improvement. This discussion will focus on the issues presented to major global companies and businesses as a result of the physical, legal, reputation, and business implications of climate change. By the end of the workshop, participants should be knowledgeable about both mandatory and voluntary disclosure of climate risks and how it will transform corporate management in the future. For more information, contact Jackie Calcagno (jaclyn.calcagno@yale.edu).


  • Carol Casazza Herman (Casazza Herman LLC)
  • Pam Lilak (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

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Workshop: What if Plans Were the Law? (Session I)

Many areas of environmental law that regulate land-use are linked to increasingly well-defined landscape and watershed plans. Imagine that congress passes a law that says that in one well-planned watershed all other federal, state, and local environmental, natural resource, energy, and land-use statutes be viewed not as requirements but simply as guidelines and the plan itself is given the force of law. Assuming such legislation could be passed, is it desirable? Is planning a natural extension and integration of traditional regulatory schemes or should it be seen as a replacement? This workshop aims to spark broad critical discussion about the role of landscape and watershed planning in environmental policy. We hope participants will actively contribute to a discussion about the tensions and tradeoffs involved in governing through plans so that we might come to better understanding of the place for planning in environmental law. For more information, contact Devin Judge-Lord (devin.jl@gmail.com).


  • Ann Powers (Pace Law School)
  • Christopher Serkin (Brooklyn Law School)
  • Tom Lindley (Perkins Coie)

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Workshop: Interrupting the Intruders: Strategies for Creating Effective Policy to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species (Session I)

What do white nose syndrome, emerald ash borer, lionfish, and cogongrass all have in common? These are all invasive species that have arrived at the US doorstep in the past 3 decades, bringing ecological and economic harms. Though the scientific field of invasion biology is burgeoning, policymakers are slow to respond to the spread of threatening new species. Where policy exists it is underfunded and inconsistent. Yet, increased global transportation and changing climate will only promote the movement of new invaders to the US and the further the spread of invaders already present.

The voices of scientists researching invasive species are loud, but policymakers have not yet heard the call to action. This workshop will bring together leading voices in invasive species policy to discuss the current trends on how policy can be more effective in curtailing ecological invasions. We will discuss who is missing from the conversation on better invasion policy, how scientists can better improve policy, and who are the most important voices for effecting change. For more information, please contact Sara Kuebbing (sara.e.kuebbing@gmail.com).


  • Read Porter (Environmental Law Institute)
  • David Sutherland (The Nature Conservancy)

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Workshop: Legal Fracking: The Law and Policy of Shale Gas Development (Session II)

Debate exists amongst policymakers and scientists as to whether shale gas, a form of natural gas, can be considered a 'cleaner' energy source than other fossil fuels such as oil and coal. The controversial ‘twin technologies’ which allow the extraction of natural gas from shale include horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The regulation and legalities associated with hydraulic fracturing are varied; current legislation from the Energy Act of 2005 exempts the practice from the Safe Drinking Water Act. This workshop will explore the regulation of the industry, potential best practices, and varied scope and agreement. For instance, how do current regulatory gaps impact local communities? What role can industry play to assure best practices among themselves? What, generally, is the appropriate level of government for regulating shale gas development? Furthermore, if shale gas becomes an export fuel, as is currently under review, should this or will this change the regulator framework? For more information, contact Vanessa Lamers (vanessa.lamers@yale.edu).


  • Joe Osborne (Group Against Smog and Pollution)
  • Monika Ehrman (University of Oklahoma College of Law [Fall 2013])

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Workshop: Sustainable International Investment & Arbitration (Session II)

For many countries – developed and developing – Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in extractive and other industries is a double-edged sword: FDI can contribute significantly to sustainable development, through the transfer of capital and technology, job creation, linkages with local industries, infrastructure development and capacity building. However, the extent to which these benefits actually accrue to host countries depends heavily on the policies of the host country and the investor, and the institutions available to find mutually satisfactory outcomes for both. Nowhere are the stakes higher than with extractive industries, where exploration and exploitation of natural resources has sometimes been a springboard to development and at other times a source of corruption, social degradation, and environmental catastrophe.

Over the past two decades, in an effort to attract and reap the benefits of FDI, states have engaged in a flurry of treaty-making, with many countries agreeing to treaty provisions subjecting them to the jurisdiction of international arbitral tribunals for resolution of disputes regarding investment by foreign investors. FDI flows have increased substantially, but so have investor-state disputes going to arbitration. Now, faced with rising claims and potential or actual liabilities, many states (NGOs, and other stakeholders) are questioning the treaty regime states have established and are considering policies to rebalance the system in favor of states.

This workshop will examine the current system of investor-state arbitration, proposals for reform, and current controversies. In particular, the workshop will focus on Renco v. Peru and arbitration concerning natural gas fracking that appear to put the state in a position of tension between obligations to its citizens and the requirements of international investment treaties. For more information, contact Halley Epstein (halley.epstein@yale.edu).


  • Lise Johnson

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Workshop: Working the Inside with the Outside Game (Session II)

KC Golden will lead a conversation on when and how environmental advocates should work "the inside game" - from lobbying to litigating - versus the "outside game" of building popular movements. First, KC will share wisdom from decades of convening diverse constituencies to build practical and profitable solutions to climate change in the Pacific Northwest. Then he’ll lead a conversation to draw out lessons for all of us from participants’ own experience – from advocating through official institutions to walking picket lines. For more information, contact Bonnie Frye Hemphill (bonniefrye@gmail.com).


  • KC Golden

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Workshop: Empowering Women’s Voices During Climate Change Negotiations (Session II)

The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP-18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Doha, Qatar, between 26 November-8 December 2012 finally took recognition of the importance of women’s voices in climate change negotiations, a goal first established over ten years ago at COP-7 in Marrakech. The Parties adopted the decision entitled “Promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in the UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol” to help ensure that women’s voices are heard in the advancement of gender-sensitive climate change policy.

According to Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Lakshmi Puri, women carry a disproportionate climate change burden due to “structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination.” In many developing countries, women’s livelihoods and the livelihoods of their children and communities depend upon the availability and accessibility of natural resources for food production, water, health care, and energy supplies. Women are the primary caregivers responsible for providing shelter, clean water, food, and safety for their families, which often limits their time and access to education and political participation. Climatic changes and environmental degradation make women’s roles as caregivers and first responders even more challenging and exacerbate existing inequalities. Effective policies from the local to the international level aimed at mitigation and adaptation to climatic and other environmental changes thus depend upon the knowledge, leadership, participation, and voices of women.

The COP-18 decision adopts a goal of gender balance to ensure the needs of men and women are met equally in the establishment of bodies and informal negotiating groups under the Convention and Kyoto Protocol. The decision also calls for gender balance in the selection of facilitators, chairs, and delegations that participate in meetings related to the Convention and Protocol. This workshop will focus broadly on how climate change impacts women around the globe and specifically on the vital role they play in shaping and implementing policies and programs to address these impacts. For more information, contact Marissa Knodel (marissa.knodel@yale.edu).


  • Ambassador Dessima Williams
  • Bridget Burns (Women's Environment & Development Organization)

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Workshop: Navigating Complex Trade-offs in Environmental Decision-Making: Valuation, Process, and Power (Session II)

In this workshop, we are interested in developing and exploring questions that come logically prior to, and shape the possibilities for, the engagement of diverse voices in navigating the hard choices that arise when values conflict. Our starting point is the insight that how problems are framed and formulated shapes both the analytical and the deliberative landscape – and thus, the possibilities for voice - and that problem formulation is in turn a function of who holds the power to simplify complexity. We propose that explicitly framing environmental decision problems in terms of ‘complex trade-offs’ opens up possibilities for voice that are simplified out of the picture when problems are framed as ‘win-wins’ or merely as ‘trade-offs,’ and that are mired in complexity to the point of impotence when problems are framed merely as ‘complex’ or even as ‘wicked.’

The workshop will propose a set of questions organized around the concepts of ‘valuation’, ‘process’, and ‘power’ whose answers (unique to each case) can provide an orientation for 1) substantive, 2) procedural, or, even, 3) a critical approach to navigating complex tradeoffs. The goal of the effort is to develop a pragmatic and ‘integrative’ framework that makes space for a plurality of voices and values without imposing the stultifying assumption that a unified picture will emerge. For more information, contact Jeff Stoike (jeffstoike@gmail.com).


  • Dr. Asim Zia (University of Vermont)
  • Dr. Paul Hirsch (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry)

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