November 01, 2014

Views from the Chair: Confirming our value to our members

Steven T. Miano

The Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources is here to serve our members. We serve in many ways. Our periodicals and our peer-reviewed books are first-rate. Our membership services include mentoring and programming for young lawyers and law students as they begin their legal careers. Initiatives to attract and retain a diverse membership help provide a range of viewpoints. And leadership development training supports the Section’s future leaders. Last but not least, our educational activities—from our major conferences to our remote learning programs—offer cutting-edge information and insights.

The 22nd Fall Conference, which took place in Miami in early October, was a prime example of how we continue to confirm our value to our members by providing the best in environmental, energy, and resources programming. John Jacus, our Fall Conference planning chair, and his planning committee worked tirelessly to bring together the best speakers, panels, and opportunities to network. Their efforts were reflected in the quality of the program and they are to be thanked and heartily congratulated.

While many of our members have always understood the value in our programs, I believe that our recent Fall Conference proved beyond a doubt to everyone in the environmental, energy, and resources bar that the Section’s programs are must-attend events. The diversity of our members’ interests was reflected in the plenary and break-out sessions. The panels addressed the gamut of issues our members care about, including enforcement, climate change, brownfields and Superfund, Clean Water Act jurisdiction, endangered species, energy project siting, electric power, and fracking. In addition, to further our outreach efforts, we worked with colleagues from several countries to present a panel on international issues. A sequel to our popular and instructive “Titans” litigation panel was also part of the program. Finally, five of our sponsors led roundtable discussions of significant technical issues.

What was particularly gratifying, and telling, is that the highest levels of government also recognized the value of our programs and the sophistication of our attendees. For example, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s staff requested the opportunity for her to address our members at the Fall Conference. Solicitor Hilary Tompkins of the Department of the Interior did the same! In addition, John Cruden, president of the Environmental Law Institute and President Obama’s nominee for assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, and Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, both spoke to this year’s Fall Conference attendees. The participation of such high-level government representatives and nominees highlights our programs’ breadth, reach, and importance. 

Beyond the substance of the conference, we held a very productive Leadership Day, where senior Section leaders provided training and opportunities for collaboration to substantive committee chairs and vice chairs. And as always, there were numerous opportunities for networking and collegiality, including receptions, area-of-interest dinners, and the conference social event.

The Section’s mission statement reads as follows:

The Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (“SEER” or the “Section”) strives to be the premier forum for environmental, energy, and resources lawyers; a meeting place where they can find the most current and sophisticated analyses of the complicated environmental, energy and resource problems facing the United States and the world and where they can learn, teach and contribute to solving those problems while serving the public interest.

This year’s Fall Conference encompassed every aspect of our mission statement. In short, we confirmed through this program that the Section is indeed the “premier forum.” In case you were unable to attend, there will be many more opportunities to take advantage of your valuable Section benefits. Please be sure to check our Section website regularly for details.

Steven T. Miano

Steven T. Miano is chair of the Environmental Practice Group at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller in Philadelphia and is chair of the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.