Environment, Energy and Natural Resources

Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section Annual Report 2013

November 2013
Since our last report in November 2012, the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EENR) Section has sponsored a number of successful programs, engaged in community outreach and pro bono activities as detailed below and conducted its first ever membership survey. The EENR Section strives to hold, on average, at least eight events throughout the year. In addition, the EENR Section again supplemented and prepared revisions to select parts of the D.C. Practice Manual chapter on environmental law. 

Over the past year, the EENR Section has organized several well-attended, substantive programs. We also co-sponsored a number of programs with other organizations including the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Federal Bar Association. Many EENR Section members belong to these groups and our involvement helps strengthen the relationships between our complementary organizations. Examples of substantive programs conducted over the past year include

Implications of the 2012 Election for Federal Environmental and Energy Law
On January 15, 2013, we arranged for two distinguished D.C.-based journalists -- from Politico and the National Journal -- to address the outcome of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections and what it means for federal energy and environmental policy. Although clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and "green" jobs played a minor role in the election, they were largely overshadowed by economic and fiscal issues. Our panel discussed how this might change in the 113th Congress, what environmental and energy legislation might be enacted and the potential impact of budget issues. Of note, this was the first ever program that the EENR Section arranged to have videotaped and made available for subsequent download and viewing.

Environmental & Energy Law: Recent Developments in the Supreme Court
On January 24, 2013, we sponsored a distinguished panel of attorneys, including

  • Aaron Colangelo of the Natural Resources Defense Council;
  • Professor Amanda Cohen Leiter of American University's Washington College of Law;
  • Ethan Shenkman of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD); 
  • Jessica Ellsworth of HoganLovells.

Our panel addressed the environmental and energy cases before the Supreme Court in the current term as well as key recent developments and trends in Supreme Court jurisprudence in these fields.

Hydraulic Fracking Regulation & Issues
On May 23, 2013, we convened a panel of attorneys from the government, non-profit world and private sector to discuss issues related to upcoming federal hydraulic-fracturing regulations.

Moving Beyond Compliance: Using Ecosystem Services to Meet Legal Obligations
On May 29, 2013, we sponsored a panel discussion on how ecosystem services are increasingly being used by state and local governments to meet environmental goals and compliance obligations.

President Obama's Use of the Antiquities Act
On July 23, 2013,we sponsored a panel program that confronted the question of whether the Antiquities Act of 1906 is the president's antidote to congressional gridlock on conservation legislation or a unilateral preservation tool. Speakers included representatives of the National Park Service, the private sector and the Department of the Interior's Office of the Solicitor. The panel debate was lively and informative.

In 2013, the EENR Section launched a Legends of Environmental Law speaker series to afford the most preeminent scholars and practitioners in the environmental, energy and natural resources community an opportunity to share their wisdom, perspective and advice. We have secured co-sponsorship of the series by ELI and the ABA's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER).

Legends of Environmental Law: A Conversation with Henry Diamond
On September 25, 2013, Henry L. Diamond, a Principal of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., shared insights and lessons learned from his practice in environmental law, starting with his role as the first Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Legends of Environmental Law: A Conversation with Lois Schiffer
On October 15, 2013, Lois J. Schiffer, General Counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)and former Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice's ENRD shared insights and lessons learned during her career with the federal government, in private practice and with non-profit organizations. 

The EENR Section also co-sponsored a number of programs of interest to our members that were initiated by other sections. These included 

  • Time! Manage Yours Well to Have an Effective Practice & Reduce Stress (November 15, 2012)
  • Understanding the D.C. Zoning Regulations Rewrite (November 29, 2012)
  • How to Network: Tips and Techniques (December 5, 2012)
  • Perspectives on Pre-enforcement Review Post-Sackett (December 12, 2012)
  • Administrative Law - Annual Review (January 10, 2013)
  • Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum: What is the Future of the Alien Tort Statute (June 11, 2013)
  • The Supreme Court: The View from the Press Gallery (July 2, 2013)

Community Outreach and Pro Bono
The EENR Section's community outreach efforts continue to focus on law students and young lawyers with an interest in environment, energy and natural resources law. On October 23, 2012, we sponsored a well-attended career panel with the George Washington University Law School's Environmental Law Association. On April 16, 2013, we co-sponsored an after-work networking event with ELI. We held our traditional annual reception with summer associates and interns on July 11, 2013.This informal event is our most popular section activity and includes not only aspiring environmental lawyers but also environmental, energy and natural resource practitioners from academia, government agencies, private firms and non-profits. We also continued to co-sponsor with ELI a summer school composed of a complimentary seminar series that serves as an introduction to the legal and policy foundations of environmental protection in the United States.

To mark Earth Day, we linked up with the Anacostia Watershed Society on April 20, 2013, to provide a volunteer opportunity to clean up the Anacostia Watershed at nearly 20 locations throughout D.C. and Maryland. On November 10, 2012, and May 11, 2013, we sponsored "painless" pro bono volunteer opportunities at the D.C. Bar's Advice and Referral Clinic. And we contributed to the D.C. Superior Court's Youth Law Fair, which took place on March 9, 2013.