January 01, 2012

41st Conference On Environmental Law: Back To The Basics—Air, Land, And Water

Roger R. Martella, Jr.

The 41st Annual Conference on Environmental Law to be held March 22–24, 2012 in Salt Lake City will highlight how the core areas of environmental law—air, land, and water—are rapidly evolving along with our legal practices. This year’s conference will delve into how environmental law and its practice are responding to shifting environmental priorities and challenges. Highly substantive discussions of cutting edge environmental topics will provide opportunities for both newer and experienced lawyers. Session topics will interest litigators, and regulatory and transactional lawyers, alike.

Four plenary sessions will provide context for how environmental law is rapidly evolving. The first will focus on one of the most significant trends in recent years: the rise of nongovernmental organizations in driving environmental laws before regulatory agencies and the courts. That discussion will lead into the second plenary session, addressing how ongoing budget constraints and disputes threaten to place environmental protection on the chopping block, with ramifications for both the environment and environmental law. The third plenary session will present a forum for advocates on both sides of the national debate on hydraulic fracturing to argue their case before a panel of experts serving as judges. Finally, the fourth plenary session will reflect on the increasingly blurring lines between environmental and energy law by discussing developments under the Clean Air Act that are impacting energy use, efficiency, and reliability in the United States.

Beyond the plenary sessions, twelve breakout session panels will address topics in the core environmental practice areas. Regarding air, panels will discuss EPA’s ongoing agenda for the Clean Air Act, including the upcoming agenda for the next phase of greenhouse gas regulations. As to land, experts will discuss how history, science, and money all play a role in identifying and negotiating cost allocations among potentially responsible parties. And for water, the focus will be on laws and decisions related to water resources that are impacting urban growth throughout the nation.

Litigation-related topics will include trends in environmental enforcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states, and how core constitutional principles are increasingly shaping environmental law. Transactional topics will include trends confronting transactional environmental lawyers, and how in the face of aging infrastructure and financial challenges, ecosystem services are emerging as a key way to mitigate pollution.

Finally, cross-cutting topics include the emerging issues that agencies and the courts are grappling with under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, the role and responsibilities of in-house counsel in responding to governmental inquiries, the role of tribal consultation in pursuing projects impacting tribal resources beyond reservation lands, and the increasing interaction between environmental regulatory issues in the United States and the European Union. The conference will also offer a substantive ethics session that will cover the recent technology related proposals of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20.

We are pleased to return to our spectacular venue at The Grand America. This five-diamond hotel provides elegance and convenience to both the airport and ski slopes, as a backdrop to the country’s premiere environmental law forum. We look forward to seeing you in March 2012 in picturesque Salt Lake City. For further details about the conference visit our program page.

An Invitation to Young Lawyers and Law Students

The Annual Conference on Environmental Law, known for providing sophisticated discussions on the hottest topics in environmental law, will this year reach out specifically to you. Breakout session panels will be identified for those who may not have prior experience with a certain topic. Also, on Friday night, we will host a speed networking event followed by a special reception held in honor of all young lawyers and law students in attendance. So please consider a spring break to Salt Lake City, for the learning opportunities, networking, and skiing!

Roger R. Martella, Jr.

Roger R. Martella, Jr. is an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, DC, and program chair of the 41st Annual Conference on Environmental Law.