September 11, 2015

Past Award Recipients

Environment, Energy, and Resources Dedication to Diversity and Justice Award - Past Award Recipients


Stephen J. Humes, Pamela E. Barker, and William Donohue (accepting)
Stephen J. Humes, Pamela E. Barker, and William Donohue (accepting)

Dedication to Diversity and Justice (for Diversity)—Exelon Legal

Exelon is one of the largest competitive U.S. power generators, with more than 32,000 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets. Exelon is the country’s 11th largest wind producer, with approximately 1,390 megawatts of wind generation in 12 states. Exelon has made significant investments in solar energy as well. It has built and owns the nation’s largest urban solar project on Chicago’s South Side, which can power the equivalent of up to 1,500 homes per year, and its Constellation subsidiary has 200 megawatts of retail customer solar installations installed or under contract nationwide. In addition, its Exelon Power division currently has over 3,200 megawatts of hydroelectric, landfill gas, wind, and solar capacity.

Exelon Legal has undertaken a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind program to increase diversity and inclusion – not only among its staff, but among the law firms it hires and the legal field at large. Its commitment to justice and diversity extends beyond these initiatives directly into the local communities Exelon serves, through the extensive volunteer and pro bono work of its employees on behalf of underserved citizens.

Exelon Legal is a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity dedicated to helping a new and more diverse generation of attorneys ascend to positions of leadership. Exelon Legal demonstrates its commitment to diversity by consistently holding its outside firms accountable for the inclusion of women and diverse lawyers on their matters. Exelon Legal mentors minority high school students to encourage them to pursue a career in law. In addition to practicing complex environmental, energy and business law, the attorneys of Exelon’s legal department prioritize the advancement of diversity in the legal profession. Exelon Legal actively works to increase diversity and inclusion among its own staff and, through its work with law firms, more broadly in the legal profession. The department formalized its efforts by creating a Legal Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which designs and implements strategies for growing the number of diverse lawyers and creating an inclusive work environment, both internally at Exelon and externally at firms with which the company works. Exelon Legal is also dedicated to advancing diversity and promoting an inclusive environment in its industry. It has established a program, in partnership with outside counsel, to encourage lawyers of gender, racial, and ethnic diversity to pursue legal careers in the environmental, energy, or natural resources field.

William W. Kinsey, Michael Dworkin (accepting), and Pamela E. Barker
William W. Kinsey, Michael Dworkin (accepting), and Pamela E. Barker

Dedication to Diversity and Justice (for Environment and Energy Justice)—Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool, Vermont Law School

With a PhD in Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, Benjamin Sovacool is Associate Professor of Law and Senior Researcher for Energy Security and Justice, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, Vermont.

Prof. Sovacool started the "Energy Security and Justice Program" in 2011 as part of Vermont Law's Institute for Energy and the Environment. His contributions, extraordinary in both quality and quantity, are already having a material impact on energy planning in the United States and around the world. They show every sign of having a deeply needed positive influence on energy and climate policy for decades to come.

In the Energy Security and Justice Program, he investigates how to provide ethical access to energy services and minimize the injustice of current patterns of energy production and use. One track of the program focuses on lack of access to electricity and reliance on traditional biomass fuels for cooking in the developing world. Another track analyzes the moral implications of existing energy policies and proposals, with an emphasis on the production and distribution of negative energy externalities and the impacts of energy use on the environment and social welfare. A third track looks at the need for social science concepts and tools- especially those from ethics, philosophy, and justice theory- and how they can help society make better-informed energy decisions.

Furthermore, Prof. Sovacool has conducted revolutionary research in the evaluation and prioritization of the mechanisms rural communities and impoverished countries should utilize to better adapt to the corning consequences of climate change. This research has included assessments of how local villagers in Bangladesh can effectively promote coastal afforestation, how government planners in Bhutan can prevent glacial lake outburst floods, how farmers in Cambodia can improve food security, and how nongovernmental organizations in the Maldives can assist climate refugees.

More than 70 of his peer-reviewed articles and three books, with Ashgate, Edward Elgar, and Roucledge, have been written with students—at their request, not his. He actively collaborates, with roughly one-third of his articles involving partnerships with scholars at other institutions. In the past three years he has taken the time to advise almost 50 students on their dissertations, master's theses, and advanced writing projects, even though he receives no formal credit to do so. He has volunteered his free time to serve on panels and review boards of the World Bank, Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Energy Agency, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among others.


In 2014 the ABA Environment, Energy, and Resources Dedication to Diversity and Justice Award was not bestowed.


Individual Award Recipients:

Quentin Pair, Nicholas W. Targ, and Benjamin F. Wilson

In 2003, Quentin Pair (Department of Justice), Nicholas Targ (Holland & Knight) and Ben Wilson (Beverage & Diamond), brought to Dean Carl Smokes of Howard University School of Law the concept that "Environmental Justice is the Civil Rights of the 21st Century," and that, given the rich history and leadership of Howard Law in the Civil Rights Movement, Howard needed to develop an environmental law curriculum that promoted environmental justice and future leaders, with training in environmental justice, in the environmental bar. These committed attorneys have been responsible for organizing an environmental law program at the Howard University Law School.  Conceived by Targ with the assistance of a small ABA grant, this trio has taught over the past decade (as adjunct professors) a survey course on environmental law and/or Environmental Justice and have worked with over 300 students during this time period, many of who have gone on to pursue careers in environmental law. They have also persuaded their friends and colleagues in both the public and private sectors to serve as adjunct professors at Howard.

>> View their press release here <<

Organization Award Recipient:

Golden Gate University School of Law Environmental Law and Justice Clinic

The Clinic has achieved significant reductions in pollution in numerous communities living amidst manufacturing and power plants. The Clinic has also given under-represented communities a voice in the legal system. Most recent examples of the Clinic’s leadership in ensuring participatory justice come from the Clinic’s energy work. The Clinic’s recent successes before the California Public Utilities Commission in proceedings that determine the “energyscape” of California for the next decade are making a substantial contribution. The Clinic’s leadership and expertise have allowed communities most impacted by energy generation and climate change to meaningfully participate in proceedings that had traditionally been left to the energy sector and ratepayer advocates. One of those cases has even resulted in advancing the Hopi and Navajo Tribes to access responsibly developed energy.

Notable case accomplishments include: Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino, in which the Clinic defended its superior court victory on behalf of a community demanding information under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) regarding a large sewage composting facility.

>> View press release here for the Golden Gate University School of Law Environmental Law and Justice Clinic <<

The ABA Fund for Justice and Education

Below are the past award recipients for the Dedication to Diversity and Justice Award.