Conference Schedule

Boston Skyline in summer afternoon

Boston Skyline in summer afternoon

Boston, MA

27th Fall Conference

September 11-14, 2019 | The Westin Copley Place | Boston, Massachusetts

See below for a full schedule of events; please check back frequently for updates.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Public Service Project
Support the Boston community by joining fellow conference attendees on our public service project. Volunteers will help The Charles River Conservancy with maintenance, horticulture, and conservation along the Charles River. To volunteer for the public service project, please sign up when registering.

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Welcome Reception
Welcome to Titletown! Our welcome reception pays homage to America’s favorite pastime, in honor of the 2018 World Series champions. Join us for small bites and drinks as we mix and mingle with friends old and new. You are encouraged to wear gear from your favorite team regardless of the sport. Yankees fans, be prepared for some good-natured rival banter. Meeting registration will be open for you to pick up your name badge and conference materials. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.

Sunrise Yoga with SEER
Awaken your mind and body with sunrise yoga. Be sure to sign-up when registering.  

8: 15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Keynote Presentation
Join our esteemed panelists as they discuss the Trump administration’s environmental and energy agenda, implementation of this agenda, and what’s instore for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.

Hon. Jeffrey B. Clark, Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC
Kelly Johnson
, Holland & Hart LLP, Washington, DC
Hon. Matthew Z. Leopold
, General Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Hon. Mary B. Neumayr, Chairwoman, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Washington, DC

9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

The Trump Administration and Regulatory Burdens: Past and Future
The Trump administration has undertaken an ambitious agenda to reduce regulatory burdens, particularly with respect to the environment and development of natural resources. This panel will update you on the latest developments regarding these efforts. Attendees will learn about the status of the Waters of the United States and Affordable Clean Energy Rules, the administration’s enforcement priorities, and how the administration is confronting climate change litigation.

Megan Ceronsky, Executive Director, Center for Applied Environmental Law and Policy, Boulder, CO
Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment, MDE, Baltimore, Maryland Area
Ronald J. Tenpas, Vinson & Elkins LLP, Washington, DC
Cathy S. Woollums, Senior Vice President, Chief of Sustainability Officer, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Davenport, IA

11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Ambient Error: Air Quality Regulation and Enforcement in a Brave New World
Now, more than ever, EPA is requiring stationary sources to generate data on fence line emissions as part of the agency’s enforcement or information-gathering authority. Non-governmental organizations are also deploying technologies that quantify and map methane emissions, and the public has access to low-cost portable air monitoring devices. Although emissions data from these technologies are publicly available, there are quality assurance and control concerns, including understanding the potential health effects from such emissions. Understanding the significance of ambient air monitoring networks and methods for criteria pollutants, air toxics, methane, and other emissions is necessary in today’s dynamic regulatory landscape. Through an interactive discussion, attendees will better understand how advancements in monitoring technologies and science are affecting air quality regulation and enforcement.

Cynthia Giles, Guest Fellow, Environmental and Energy Law Program, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
Adam M. Kushner, Hogan Lovells, Washington, DC
Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund, Boulder, CO
Timothy K. Webster, Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, DC

Creative Deals: How to Get Buyers Excited about the Redevelopment of Contaminated Properties
When the Phase I and Phase II reports reveal environmental conditions, such as soils impacted with petroleum and chemicals, vapor intrusion into existing buildings, or a plume of contaminated groundwater migrating off-site, how do buyers get comfortable moving forward with the purchase and protect their investment? This panel will focus on creative ways that buyers have taken contaminated sites that were once fenced off and left barren and transformed them into new commercial, residential, and industrial developments. The panelists will discuss achieving and protecting bona fide prospective purchaser status, the value of state voluntary cleanup programs, environmental insurance, contractual indemnities, EPA comfort letters, and the use of engineered and institutional controls. The panel will also discuss community engagement, including gaining acceptance of project plans for sites where there is a local stigma regarding the contaminated property being redeveloped. After experiencing stories from those who have successfully turned brownfields green, attendees will be equipped to advise clients on similar matters.

Thomas Barrasso, Director of Energy and Environment, City of Amesbury, Amesbury, MA
Pamela K. Elkow
, Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP, Stamford, CT
Carl Garvey
, General Counsel, RACER Trust, Detroit, MI
Randall Jostes
, CEO, Environmental Liability Transfer, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Deborah J. Schmall
, Paul Hastings, San Francisco, CA

Highlights and Predictions: Recent Supreme Court Decisions on Environmental, Energy, and Resources Law
During its 2018–2019 term, the U.S. Supreme Court tackled questions of critical species habitat, property rights, uranium mining, public lands, and more. This panel of leading Supreme Court scholars and practitioners will discuss the key environmental, energy, and resources cases decided in the Court’s 2018–2019 session, and how these decisions may affect your practice. The panel will also forecast major cases likely to be decided in the beginning of the Court’s October 2019 term, and other cert-worthy issues on the horizon.

Eric A. Grant, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC
Peter Hsiao, King & Spalding LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Richard Lazarus, Professor, Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
Chuck McCutcheon, Editor, Bloomberg Environment, Washington, DC

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Expert Insight Panels
Take a deep dive into technical issues confronting environmental, energy, and natural resources lawyers today, with guidance from the nation’s top environmental consultants and service providers. 

Feds on First, States on Second…but Who is Really on Third?  Adjusting to the Shift
  - An increasing number of state environmental agencies are taking a closer look at sharpening their regulatory regimes, while Federal regulators continue to refine their own enforcement approaches. AlterEcho’s experts are in the bullpen, ready to sort through regulatory balls and strikes in order to help attorneys avoid agency curveballs.

Mark Heaney
, Vice President, Regulatory Expert, AlterEcho, New York, NY
Rob Young, PG , Vice President, Remediation Expert, AlterEcho, Chicago, IL

Geosyntec Consultants, Inc.
PFAS – Beyond Impacts to Water

To date, the vast majority of efforts to characterize PFAS exposure have focused on drinking water ingestion.  Methods are in development to help characterize the nature and extent of exposures via additional pathways (e.g., inhalation of ambient air, recreational exposures related to surface water contact and ingestion of recreationally caught fish, and ingestion of home-grown fruits and vegetables). As analytical methods develop, the limiting factors to inform effective characterization of current and potential future conditions become the lack of understanding regarding the driving pathways of concern and their significance based on the absence of applicable toxicity criteria.  This presentation will characterize the relative expected ranking of PFAS concern, based on complete exposure pathway, the options for development of provisional toxicity factors, and methods to focus investigation needs, reduce project expenditures and inform defensible site and risk management.

Travis Kline, MEM, Senior Principal Toxicologist, Geosyntec Consultants Inc., Washington, DC

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

A Foreseeable Future: Planning in an Era of a Changing Climate
Billions of dollars in public and private investment, property, and infrastructure are at risk due to the impacts of climate change. Severe flooding, droughts, extreme temperatures, wildfire, rising sea levels, and more intense storms are impacting businesses, industries, and communities globally. This panel will examine the role lawyers have in preparing their clients for the consequences of climate change and discuss key issues in prevention, response, and long-term resilience. Topics to be addressed include assessment of risk, decision-making, government and corporate obligations, and strategies to mitigate and protect businesses and communities from future impacts.

Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School, New York, NY
Alice C. Hill, Senior Fellow for Climate Change Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 
 Taylor Pullins, Managing Counsel, Noble Energy, Inc., Houston, Texas
Matthew Strickler
, Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond, VA

The State of CERCLA Following EPA Reform: More of the Same or Something Super?
New England and the Mid-Atlantic region are home to the largest concentration of Superfund sites in the country. Many of these sites are some of the nation’s most complex, involving the largest number of potentially responsible parties, with technically challenging and costly remedies taking decades to remediate. The Trump administration launched its “Superfund Task Force” in May 2017, and it was charged with restructuring, incentivizing, accelerating, and generally reinvigorating EPA’s Superfund Program. A culminating report is scheduled for release in July 2019. This panel, featuring leading perspectives from the current administration, private practice, and state government, will discuss progress made and opportunities missed by EPA’s reform efforts, key lessons from some of the region’s largest megasites, and challenges posed by emerging contaminants, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). By learning about the critical developments from the legal landscape known as Superfund, attendees will be prepared to handle these challenging sites.

Steven D. Cook, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Kathleen Kenney, Partner, Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Martin Suuberg, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Boston, MA
Robert Varney, President, Normandeau Associates, Bedford, NH

Pesticides: Do Litigation Pressures Effectively Supersede Government Safety Determinations and Threaten to Exterminate Important Products?
Pesticide products undergo considerable regulatory scrutiny before reaching the market. The federal government and states share oversight of pesticide licensing and use. Nevertheless, pesticides have become the focal point in scores of law suits. Litigation encompasses challenges based on the Endangered Species Act, toxic tort claims, and claims asserting property damage from exposures resulting from misuse. Claims that were once considered preempted are no longer barred. Plaintiffs and defendants, alike, include environmental groups, private parties, government agencies, and the producers and users of pesticides. Federal and state statutes and the common law are brought to bear in such cases. Scientific evidence can determine outcomes while faulty technical assessments are often alleged to be the foundation for litigants’ claims. Educate yourself by hearing firsthand accounts and interacting with a panel of litigants involved in groundbreaking cases in which pesticides were on trial.

Trenton H. Norris, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, San Francisco, CA
Stephanie Parent, Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity, Portland, OR
Robert Perlis (invited), Assistant General Counsel for Pesticides, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Sara Beth Watson, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, Washington, DC

4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Go Big or Go Home: Fast Lanes and Road Blocks for Major Infrastructure Projects
Before the first shovel of dirt is moved, major infrastructure projects must clear myriad legal hurdles and complete numerous procedural requirements. The environmental review process mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act serves as an umbrella for considering issues about tribal law and consultation requirements, permits requirements under the Clean Water Act, air pollution, noise reduction, environmental justice, endangered species, and cultural and historic resources. Navigating these separate but related legal processes can be a daunting task. Our panel of esteemed speakers will use regional megaprojects and lessons learned from recent litigation to identify best practices and pitfalls, aiding those handling their first big project as well as experienced practitioners.

James M. Auslander, Beveridge & Diamond P.C., Washington, DC
Angela Colamaria, Permitting Team Lead, White House Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC
Geraldine E. Edens, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Washington, DC
Marna McDermott, Deputy Director and Counsel, Conservation Litigation Project, Washington, DC

New Frontiers in Climate Litigation
Plaintiffs concerned about climate change have pioneered a host of innovative legal theories under federal and state law. This encompasses public trust, climate change nuisance, and new applications of federal statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and Clean Water Act. Even international and transnational legal theories are part of the arsenal. Litigants are citing new scientific evidence, including the Fourth National Climate Assessment, in support of these claims. Plaintiffs include not only individuals and nongovernmental organizations, but numerous states, tribes, and municipalities. Defendants include both private businesses and government at all levels. Cases increasingly focus not only on the defendant’s role in causing or preventing climate change, but also on an alleged failure to plan for, or adapt to, climate change effects.  This wave of new cases will have significant bearing on existing legal doctrines. Participants will assess these various theories, including other types of claims that may be on the horizon, their likely viability, and potential impacts on their clients' business.

Daniel D. Droog, Managing Counsel, Chevron U.S.A., Inc., Houston, TX
Kate Konschnik, Director, Climate and Energy Program, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, Durham, NC
Amanda Cohen Leiter, Professor and Director, Program on Environmental and Energy Law, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
Vic Sher, Sher Edling LLP, San Francisco, CA

Handcrafting Environmental Insurance: The Market Is Hot Again!
After a lull that roughly corresponded with the “Great Financial Downturn” and its long ensuing recovery, environmental insurance carriers are once again competing for business and taking risks that can tip the dynamics of transactions and critical brownfield redevelopments. Covering environmental risks with insurance does not come easily, as this is not the first rodeo for underwriters, who are specialists in managing their company’s exposure and charged with assessing these risks. In addition to presenting the most innovative uses for environmental insurance, this program will walk you along the tightrope of negotiating policy language, identify the most common mistakes that can make coverage worthless, and teach you how to wind up with a bound policy that makes a difference.

Catherine E. Bostock, Cole Schotz P.C., Hackensack, NJ
Jayne Cunningham, Environmental Focus Group Leader and Underwriter, Beazley Group, New York, NY
Gene Devine, Regional Director of Environmental, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Jericho, NY
Anne E. Viner, Corporate Law Partners, PLLC, Chicago, IL

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Cocktail Reception
Join us for a fun-filled evening under the stars in beautiful Boston.

9:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

After-Hours Mixer
The party is not over yet! Our after-hours mixer offers you a chance to kick back and catch up with your fellow attendees.

Friday, September 13, 2019

6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.

#SEERRunClub – Sponsored by Eimer Stahl LLP
Take in the fresh air and join us for a morning run/jog/walk. All participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Please sign-up when registering.

8: 15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Keynote Presentation
Join our esteemed panelists as they discuss the role of government in promoting an equitable transition to renewable energy, the growth of renewable energy, and the use of renewable energy to mitigate climate change.

Alicia Barton, President and Chief Executive Officer, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Albany, NY
Hon. Maura Healey
, Massachusetts Attorney General, Boston, MA
Marisa Ann Martin Lewandowski, Baker & McKenzie LLP, Chicago, IL
Alexandria McBride
, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Oakland, California

9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

A Jury of Your Peers
Our all-star team of litigators will present live opening arguments in a case asserting property and personal injury claims from an alleged chemical release. In addition to the attendees, a mock jury will listen to and evaluate the arguments. What trial themes will come out on top? You may be surprised! Sharpen your trial prep skills with practice pointers from our litigators and jury consultant, and benefit from the valuable feedback that only a live jury can provide.  

Nadira Clarke, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Washington, DC
John D. Gilleland, Vice President, DecisionQuest, Chicago, IL
Jessica L. Grant, Venable LLP, San Francisco, CA
Lois J. Schiffer, Environmental Attorney, formerly Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, US Department of Justice; and General Counsel, NOAA, Washington, DC

11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

The Price of Power: Promoting Power Production and Progress
Federal, state, tribal, and local governments often seek to promote specific forms of power production (such as renewable energy) and progressive innovations (such as electric vehicles). In recent years, states have become even more active in requiring stringent energy efficiency standards, by setting renewable fuels requirements, subsidizing zero-emissions energy production, promoting electric vehicles, and working to meet international climate goals. Our panel will examine recent legal and policy developments and court decisions involving power production and discuss whether these types of state actions will survive Commerce Clause and preemption challenges. Attendees will improve their understanding of states’ authority to implement energy initiatives.

Sarah Hofmann, Commissioner, Vermont Public Utility Commission, Montpelier, VT
Travis Kavulla, Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, NRG Energy Inc., Princeton, NJ
Clare Kindall, Solicitor General, Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, New Britain, CT
Harvey L. Reiter, Stinson Leonard Street LLP, Washington, DC

The Clean Water Act: What Are We Fighting About?
Today’s unprecedented controversy surrounding the Clean Water Act will shape your practice for decades. Stakeholders are fiercely litigating competing administrative efforts to define the scope of federal jurisdiction, to address groundwater conduit arguments, to define point sources, to clarify 401 Water Quality Certifications, to ease or limit inter-basin water transfers, and more.  Further, as President Trump’s federal government attempts to shrink its jurisdiction, states and citizen plaintiffs fill the void. Our panel will both explain the latest developments in practical terms and answer your questions about how these developments should impact your real-world legal advice.

Robin Craig, James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Salt Lake City, UT
Deidre G. Duncan, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Washington, DC
Craig Johnston, Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, OR
Karen M. McGaffey, Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA

Corporate Environmental Leadership and Innovation
American companies are preparing for a world where there will be ever-increasing, consumer-driven, environmental accountability. Corporations are not limiting themselves to maintaining compliance with environmental laws, they are voluntarily setting new benchmarks in environmental stewardship, energy efficiency, and sustainability. Potential exposure to climate change, product liability, and environmental litigation are forcing American companies to rethink the manufacturing, packaging, and transportation of goods and services. Attendees will gain insight into corporate environmental decision-making today and moving forward.

Sonya H. Bishop, Managing Counsel, Phillips 66, Houston, TX
Marisa Blackshire, Senior General Attorney, BNSF Railway, Los Angeles, CA
Roger R. Martella, Director and General Counsel, Global Environment, Health and Safety Operations, General Electric, Boston, MA
Yesenia Villaseñor, Managing Environmental, Health and Safety Counsel, Tesla, Palo Alto, CA

2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Navigating the Wind and Waves of Changing Offshore Resources Regulation
While oil extraction from offshore resources has been ongoing for decades, there is a significant evolution as policies and markets converge around the potential role renewable offshore resources may play in serving our energy needs. The number of stakeholders is staggering, from federal, state, and local regulators, to the conservation and preservation communities, to tribal interests, to commercial users of marine resources. There is great potential for clashes between these interests, and equal potential for cooperation towards renewable generation of sufficient capacity to serve the load centers along coasts. This panel will focus on such conflicts and how they are being addressed both in the United States and on the international level. You will learn the key players and the landscape of both the obstacles and solutions, as well as the legal tools you can use to resolve conflicts for your commercial, environmental, energy, or resources clients.

Clarke Bruno, President and Lead Partner for Transmission, Anbaric Development Partners, Wakefield, MA
Annie Hawkins, Executive Director, Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, Washington, DC
Katherine A. Joyce, Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson, Portland, ME
Noah C. Shaw Hodgson Russ LLP, Buffalo, New York

Constitutional Frontier: Federalism, Separation of Powers, and How Federal, State, and Tribal Governments Are Reshaping Environmental Law
The U.S. Constitution recognizes three separate and distinct sources of domestic sovereign authority:  the federal government, states, and Indian tribes. The interplay among these sovereigns is reshaping the constitutional frontiers of environmental, energy, and resources law. Recent federal rulemaking may diminish the geographical authority of federal agencies while broadening states’ regulatory powers. Reinterpretation of the president’s power under the Antiquities Act has federalism implications while recent U. S. Supreme Court cases (U.S. v. Washington; Herrera v. Wyoming) pit states’ interests with tribes’ assertions of federally based treaty obligations. Panelists will take deep-dives into whether the Court’s treatment of Chevron deference may affect the federal regulatory authority vís á vís states, tribes, or both, and how executive branch initiatives to promote economic development may affect the separation of powers between the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and other procedural statutes. This session will allow attendees to navigate the constitutional give-and-take within the federal government, and among the three domestic sovereigns.

Robert Anderson, Charles I. Stone Professor of Law; Director, Native American Law Center, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, WA; Oneida Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
Rachel Heron, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC
Monte Mills, Assistant Professor and Co-Director, Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic, University of Montana - Alexander Blewett III School of Law, Missoula, MT
Joel Williams, Senior Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund, Washington, DC

Living in Interesting Times: China’s Impact on Environmental and Energy Law
China’s importance on the global stage is indisputable. It is already the world’s second largest economy and may soon become the largest. But what about the immediate importance of China to your practice? As the world’s largest trading nation, China is likely a source of your client’s inputs, a destination for your client’s products, or both. Thus, environmental and energy decisions made in Beijing can radically impact your client’s business model. They can also shift, create, or destroy markets for environmental products such as solar panels, electric vehicles, recycled electronics, and energy technologies. Beijing’s decisions can also have important impacts on international environmental issues ranging from climate change to wildlife trafficking. Moreover, tensions between China and the United States can erupt in ways that disrupt your clients’ business. This panel will explore such issues while providing a solid understanding of China’s legal and regulatory framework governing environmental and energy issues.

Barbara Finamore, Senior Strategic Director, Asia, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC
 R. Juge Gregg, Attorney, Washington, DC
Siu Tip Lam, Director, U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, Vermont Law School
Steve Wolfson, Senior Attorney, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

4:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

ETHICS: Working with Scientists and Other Non-Lawyer Professionals: Ethical Challenges for Environmental and Energy Lawyers
Environmental and energy lawyers routinely work with environmental scientists, engineers, and other non-lawyer professionals. An interactive panel comprised of environmental lawyers and an engineer will discuss the ethical challenges that relate to a lawyer's interactions with professional consultants. The panelists will discuss ethical issues that may arise in both litigation and transactional settings. Topics will include the retention process, communications with non-lawyer professionals, and report preparation. Attendees will learn tips on how to avoid making mistakes when working with non-lawyers. Model Rules 1.6, 1.7, 3.3, 4.1 and 5.3 will be discussed.

Russell Abell, Vice President, Sanborn Head, Concord, NH
Meaghan Boyd, Alston & Bird LLP, Atlanta, GA
Colin Van Dyke, Anderson Kreiger LLP, Boston, MA
Katherine Kenney, Partner, Peabody & Arnold LLP, Boston, MA

6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Taste of SEER (Dine-Arounds)
Sign up to participate in Dutch-treat dinners (each person pays for their own meal). Dinner reservations have been made at several restaurants in Boston near the conference hotel. Each dinner will be organized by a Section leader and will have a conversation theme. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, eat great food, and have lively discussions. Information about how to sign-up will be sent to conference registrants by email.

*additional speakers to be confirmed, speakers subject to change

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Leadership Day

Whether you hold a Section leadership position or not, everyone is welcome to attend Leadership Day events. Leadership Day is the best way to learn about the Section, its committees, and opportunities for involvement. Visit here for more information.