May 01, 2016

Views from the Chair

Pamela E. Barker

I write this shortly after our co-located Water Law and Spring Conferences in Austin, Texas. This is the first time we have held these two conferences in the same week and at the same location. We were thrilled to have great attendance at both with many Water Law attendees staying on for the Spring Conference. These conferences will be co-located again next March in Los Angeles, so plan on being with us!

Here are a few highlights from the Water Law and Spring Conferences that demonstrate the all-star line-up of speakers that the Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources can bring to its members:

  • John Cruden, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division, shared his “in-box” and “out-box” issues as he summarized what the Department of Justice has accomplished and what it plans to accomplish in the next year. He also provided his insight regarding the unprecedented number of interstate disputes before the U.S. Supreme Court addressing surface and groundwater issues.
  • Mathy Stanislaus, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management, presented the case that an economic perspective in environmental regulation can also bring about justice, transformation, and progress—particularly for those most at risk for experiencing injustice.
  • The general counsels of the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a lively and informative discussion about what the Obama administration has achieved to date and hopes to achieve before the end of the president’s second term.
  • Bruce Gelber, DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Cynthia Giles, EPA, had an honest discussion about compliance, enforcement, and initiatives on the horizon.
  • A luncheon address that included comments from Ron Curry, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 6; Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, State of Oklahoma; and Ali Zaidi, Associate Director, Natural Resources, Energy, and Science Office of Management and Budget Executive Office of the President.
  • Professors Robert Abrams and Dan Tarlock had an in-depth discussion regarding changes in water resource allocation under both prior appropriation doctrine and riparian law.

We are proud of our conferences and other program offerings and are always considering new ways to bring more new members into the Section to enjoy such events.

Over the past few years, the ABA has been providing opportunities for non-members to learn about the ABA by offering free partial-year memberships. So how do we bring in new members and get them to stay? Research suggests that engaging new members in ABA activities is an important part of member retention. I’m sure that many attendees at the recent conferences in Austin are already planning to attend the 24th Fall Conference in Denver or one of the spring conferences next year. And if you have written for a Section publication, you are likely looking forward to proposing a future article.

I would therefore like to challenge you to engage with new members and get them involved in our Section. Once they understand the wide range of member benefits, they will want to remain Section members. To kick off this initiative, I am asking each of you to reach out to someone who has not yet attended one of our Fall Conferences—either a non-member or a new member—and encourage him or her to attend our Fall Conference in October. What’s in it for you? You will receive a discount of $100 on your conference registration fee per new registrant—up to a maximum of $300 for three new attendees. Each new recruit will receive a registration fee discount of $100.

Alf Brandt and his 24th Fall Conference planning committee are developing a fabulous conference in a wonderful location. While CLE is a core part of these programs, other elements including networking opportunities and technical roundtables enhance the value of participating. First-time attendees will experience the wonderful camaraderie of our Section, as they meet colleagues from throughout the country and have opportunities to make new contacts and expand their professional networks. I am hopeful that after the great conference experience each first-time attendee will become active in one or more of our committees and become an integral part of our outstanding organization.

Please accept my challenge. In most of my “Views from the Chair” columns, I have written about outreach, which I think is so important. There is no question that personal outreach is the most effective means of recruiting new, active members. Your experience and enthusiasm for our Section and its benefits are often the only inducement needed to get others involved. This is an opportunity for you to have a direct impact on making the Section stronger, which will be good for you, good for the new member, and good for the Section. We all benefit from a diverse and robust membership.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Denver!

Pamela E. Barker

Pamela E. Barker is a member of the firm Lewis Rice LLC. She is chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.