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Schedule of Events

The following schedule is tentative, with times and locations subject to change. For further information on our speakers, please click here.

Arriving early for the conference? Join NDEL organizers and attendees for drinks and snacks on Friday, February 28, from 5 PM to 8 PM at the School of Forestry's TGIF social, located in Bowers Auditorium, Sage Hall. See you there!

New Directions in Environmental Law: Breaking the Stalemate
March 1, 2014
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), New Haven, CT

8:15-9:00: Registration, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Third Floor

9:05-9:15: Conference Introduction, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

  • Noah Kazis (YLS '15)

9:15-9:45: Opening Remarks, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

  • Roger Reynolds, Legal Director, Connecticut Fund for the Environment

9:45-11:15: Panel I: Moving Forward in a Time of Gridlock and Austerity, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

11:15-11:30: Break

11:30-12:30: Workshop Session I, Yale FES

12:30-1:30: Lunch, Yale FES, Kroon Hall

1:35-1:45: Keynote Introduction, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

  • Lauren Sanchez (FES '15)

1:45-2:45: Keynote Address, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

2:45-3:00: Coffee Break

3:00-4:30: Panel II: Frontiers of Energy Regulation: the California Example, Yale FES, Kroon Hall, Burke Auditorium

4:35-5:35: Workshop Session II, Yale FES

5:35-6:30: Reception and Closing Remarks, Yale FES, Kroon Hall

  • Whitney Leonard (YLS '15)

Event Descriptions

Panel I: Moving Forward in a Time of Gridlock and Austerity

This panel will explore various strategies practitioners are adopting to overcome obstacles presented by Congressional inaction and budgetary constraints. Presenting a diverse array of perspectives, the panelists will describe innovative initiatives designed to stimulate action in the face of structural barriers.


  • Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, Riverkeeper
  • Daniel Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy and former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • Brandi Colander, Director of Market Development & Regulatory Affairs, Opower
  • Celeste Connors, Associate Practitioner in Residence, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
  • Josh Silver, CEO, United Republic

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Panel II: Frontiers of Energy Regulation: the California Example

This panel will discuss the extent to which the United States should promote renewable energy or rely on more controversial energy sources such as natural gas and nuclear, and how to regulate a range of energy sources in a safe, effective manner. The panelists plan to have an engaging discussion on energy regulation, highlighting California in particular.


  • Tom Bottorff, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Mark Nechodom, Director, California Department of Conservation
  • Noah Long, Legal Director, Western Energy Project, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Joseph MacDougald, Professor-in-Residence and Executive Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Law

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Workshop (Session I): Breaking New Ground in Environmental Justice: Mental Health for Families as the New Standard

As the Executive Order on Environmental Justice is celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014, this panel will connect the importance of the history of environmental justice with the vital future of advancing healthy, sustainable, equitable and resilient communities. Toward this goal, the New Haven MOMS partnership is partnering with the EPA to redevelop petroleum brownfields, underground storage tanks and brownfields into vibrant community spaces and infrastructures that will provide centralized supports in the community to address mental health, economic health and basic needs for overburden populations.


  • Roderick L. Bremby, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Social Services
  • Megan Smith, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, and Principal Investigator, New Haven Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership
  • Kia Levey, Project Director, New Haven Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership
  • B. Suzi Ruhl, Senior Attorney Advisor, US EPA Office of Environmental Justice

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Workshop (Session I): Conflict Mining: Political, Economic and Environmental Effects of U.S. Interests in the DRC

Holly Dranginis and JD Stier work on policy and campaigns related to peace building in the Democratic Republic of Congo at The Enough Project, a nonprofit dedicated to ending genocide and crimes against humanity. A core focus of Enough's work on Congo addresses the economic drivers of armed conflict, including minerals and elephant ivory. They will discuss how natural resources fuel mass atrocities in Congo today and significant progress in conservation and transparency efforts made by local grassroots activists, high-level regional officials, and international stakeholders, including corporate actors. They will also touch on the impacts of extractive industries on local populations, accountability efforts aimed at punishing perpetrators of natural resource pillage, and the ways in which a US consumer activist movement has begun to impact policy on the issue.


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Workshop (Session I): Environmental Law in Indian Country

The past decade has seen a surge of interest in environmental law in Indian country, from tribal leaders asserting their authority to regulate environmental pollution on their reservations, to a Montana tribe recently negotiating a deal that will make them the first tribe to own and operate a hydroelectric dam. And it is becoming increasingly clear that tribal environmental policy can have far-reaching regional impacts. This workshop will explore tribal capacity building in the context of environmental law, as more and more tribal governments assert control over their natural resources and develop the capacity to implement environmental regulations under federal statutes like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Our panel will feature tribal energy and environmental experts to discuss the mechanisms for tribal capacity building and the importance of these developments, as well as a law professor to discuss the jurisdictional questions that arise in the context of tribal regulation, on- and off-reservation.


  • Bethany Berger, Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor of Real Property Law, UConn School of Law
  • Jordan Thompson, Associate General Counsel, Energy Keepers Inc. (A Corporation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)

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Workshop (Session I): Climate Change: The Legal Question, Internationally

Meredith Wilensky is an associate director and fellow at the Columbia Center for Climate Change Law. In this workshop, she will discuss current projects being conducted at the Center with a focus on her current research. Meredith is currently researching potential impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on environmental policy and the trends in climate change litigation around the world. She has recently authored a white paper that examines the authority of Pacific island states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. Given the significant potential to reduce international shipping emissions and the lack of effective international action, this paper assesses the capacity of states to supplement international standards with national regulation to control emissions from the sector. This informal session will be largely guided by the interests of the participants and may include a discussion on pursuing a career in public interest environmental law from the perspective of a recent graduate.


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Workshop (Session I): Fueling International Debate: Who Will Pay to Clean Up Chevron's Mess?

For almost two decades, Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, operated in Lago Agrio, a biologically diverse region of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Throughout their operation, 18 billion gallons of toxic waste were spilled across the region. During eight years of litigation in an Ecuadorian court, Chevron strategically removed all of its assets from Ecuador, rendering the eventual $18.2 billion judgment against it unenforceable. In an attempt to hold Chevron liable for the damage it caused, other countries, in which Chevron's assets still remain, have undertaken litigation efforts as well. Through a discussion of the case and its potential outcomes, the workshop will focus on ways international law impacts corporate liability for environmental damages. 


  • Stephen Kass, Partner and Co-Director of the Environmental Practice Group, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP

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Workshop (Session II): Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment: Creating the Moral Ground for Meaningful Climate Agreements

Over the past two years the fossil fuel divestment movement has had a dramatic effect on the climate change debate. Because of the powerful message divestment sends, it creates political room for conversation about necessary policy solutions.This past June Obama said, "Invest, Divest" in a speech to the country, Bloomberg released a "Carbon Risk Evaluator" tool, Morgan Stanley named divestment a top trend to watch in 2014 and Rabobank, 9 colleges, over 25 city Pension funds have divested various fossil fuel stocks. At Yale, 83% of undergrads supported divestment of Yale's endowment. The proposal being considered asks the top 200 carbon-holding companies to disclose their emissions, those that don't are divested. Of those disclosing, the dirtiest quartile in terms of emissions per energy unit produced are divested if they remain in the bottom quartile after 2 years. The proposal aims to both stigmatize the dirtiest fossil fuel companies and reduce any increase in risk to Yale's endowment through divestment. Divestment at Yale would have a substantial impact since Yale's endowment is widely viewed as a pioneer in investment management.Come learn more about the divestment campaign at Yale and nationally, why it is having such an impact and what the future success of the campaign may mean for the climate change debate.


  • Jamie Henn, Co-Founder and Communications Director, 350.org
  • Fossil Free Yale organizers

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Workshop (Session II): Continental Wildways: Conservation Corridors for Wildlife and People

John Davis will show slides from his continental wildways treks - along the Appalachians and the Rockies - to make the case for reconnecting wild Nature across North America. Basic lessons he'll share will include the importance of restoring apex predator populations, linking protected areas, and providing strong incentives for good private lands stewardship. He'll highlight conservation easements, public lands preservation, and the Endangered Species Act as critical to securing North America's great natural heritage. Background on John's treks can be found at wildlandsnetwork.org and in the Island Press e-book series, Big, Wild, and Connected. He will invite questions during his talk and urge broader discussion on how conservation and outdoor recreation can be complementary forces for securing our country's green infrastructure.


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Workshop (Session II): South Bronx Unite! vs. Fresh Direct, the Mayor, and the Governor: A Community's Fight for Environmental Justice

Gavin Kearney and Christina Giorgio, from the Environmental Justice group at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, along with other members of the South Bronx Unite! coalition, will speak about their ongoing battle to prevent the relocation of a diesel truck-intensive on-line grocer to the South Bronx, a community where asthma rates are already eight times the national average. The proposed relocation, heavily subsidized and announced as a fait accompli by the Mayor of New York City and the Governor of New York State before any public hearings occurred, would add 1,500 diesel truck trips every day to the Mott Haven and Port Morris communities of the South Bronx in order to deliver high-priced groceries to wealthier New York City communities. Panelists will discuss a multi-faceted campaign that combines litigation, community organizing, coalition building, administrative advocacy, and extensive use of the media. In so doing, larger issues of economic development, environmental justice, and government accountability will be explored.


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Workshop (Session II): Fracking and Communities

Most natural gas extraction today involves hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an extraction technique requiring a mix of toxic chemicals and linked to a range of air and water pollution issues across the country.  NRDC partnered with various grassroots organizations to launch the Community Fracking Defense Project in 2012, which helps local residents and town boards effectively exercise their democratic voice to protect their communities from the harms of industrial tracking activities.  The project launched in five states—New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina.   Dan will elucidate the success of this project thus far and how NRDC plans to move forward as fracking expands in the United States.  


  • Dan Raichel, Project Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

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Workshop (Session II): The Big Picture Made Small: Perspectives on Local Foods

Food is an environmental issue, a health issue, a labor issue, and so much more. This workshop looks at the legal tools that might lead to reform in food production and distribution. This workshop will also highlight on the ground realities from ideologically diverse local leaders in the food movement.


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