January 01, 2013

42nd Spring Conference: Beyond the Basics: Sustainable Use, Development, and Environmental Challenges

Wendy Bowden Crowther

Once again Salt Lake City will host the Section’s Spring Conference. Wait, Spring Conference? Yes, the Annual Conference on Environmental Law is now known as the Spring Conference. While the name may have changed, the conference remains the premier forum for environmental law practitioners to discuss the leading issues in environmental, energy, and resource law. The 42nd annual conference will take place on March 21–23, 2013. Building on last year’s emphasis on the basics—air, land, and water—this year’s conference will focus on sustainable resource use and development and the related environmental challenges and priorities.

Core environmental topics and cutting-edge issues will be addressed by leading environmental officials, practitioners, and academics. As the conference will take place only months after the election, our opening plenary session will examine the make-up of the administration and of Congress and will consider the election’s impact on environment, energy, and natural resource priorities. Our speakers will provide insight into what you may expect to see in terms of policy and practice over the next four years. To help you stay current in your practice, the conference will also include a plenary session highlighting recent Supreme Court and appellate court decisions.

The conference offers something for all environmental law professionals—from experienced lawyers to young lawyers and law students. Panels focusing on the practice basics will address the status of Superfund and trends in RCRA litigation, and update you regarding NAAQS standards and implementation. Looking forward, break-out sessions will address the cutting-edge issues that are likely to impact the practice of environmental, energy, and natural resource law in the near future. One panel will address the legal challenges and opportunities associated with coastal zone land use and energy development. Another panel will consider the hotbed of environmental, energy, and resource law that is the Arctic. A panel of corporate leaders and counsel will address the lawyer’s role in climate change adaptation—a topic brought to the forefront by Hurricane Sandy.

In other sessions, leading energy law professionals and practitioners will address how sustainability may be defining the future of energy law, the consequences of the explosion in natural gas development, and the legal implications of the developing bans and moratoria on hydraulic fracturing. Those interested in natural resources will want to attend panels addressing stormwater from regulation to resource and the impacts of modern agriculture on the environment. Finally, this year’s ethics panel will focus on the ethical issues raised by the evolving duty to disclose environmental risks.

In addition to expanding your working knowledge, the conference provides a great opportunity to network with your colleagues—both long-time friends and new contacts. Continuing the strong ABA tradition of community, the conference will provide opportunities to interact with Section leaders, speakers, and conference attendees during lunch and networking breaks and, of course, during the conference dinner Thursday evening. The conference will again provide an opportunity to meet with your colleagues while planting trees at Thursday morning’s public service project. Throughout the conference special networking opportunities will be available to young lawyers and law students to make sure they get the most from their conference experience.

An additional conference highlight will be Section’s recognition of its Distinguished Environmental Advocates award recipients on Thursday afternoon.

The Spring Conference will be returning to Salt Lake City’s five-diamond rated Grand America hotel. Salt Lake City is an ideal family vacation spot with several attractions located just minutes from the hotel. Check out Salt Lake Connect pass for more information and discounts. You may also want to consider staying for the weekend to take advantage of the beauty of Utah. Salt Lake City sits at the base of the majestic Wasatch Mountains and late season skiing on the “Greatest Snow on Earth” is available 30 minutes from the conference hotel. Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival, offers a unique historic mining town destination with world-class restaurants and shopping. If the mountains are not your choice, consider a trip to southern Utah to explore Zion National Park, Canyonlands, or Arches National Park. Whatever your interests, you will find Utah has something to offer.

Make your plans now to meet in March with the nation’s leading environmental professionals at the country’s premier environmental law conference. For more information, visit the Spring Conference webpage—and for updates, download the conference mobile app to your smart phone. I look forward to seeing you in Salt Lake City!

Wendy Bowden Crowther

Wendy Bowden Crowther is a shareholder and member of Parsons Behle & Latimer’s Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources practice group. She is the planning chair of the 42nd Spring Conference.