December 27, 2018

Views from the Chair

Amy L. Edwards

In my last Views from the Chair column, I concluded that “the times, they are a-changing,” and we need to be changing with them. That is particularly true as we begin 2019, with the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and possible personnel changes within the Trump administration.

It is still too early to tell what the midterm elections may mean for environmental, energy, and resources practitioners, but it is anticipated that the next two years will be compelling. The House is likely to initiate some investigations and to bring renewed attention to issues such as climate change and infrastructure. We also know that the courts have reversed some Trump administration rulemakings on the grounds of failure to follow the Administrative Procedure Act. So, the next two years promise to be as turbulent as the past two.

As a Section member, your membership keeps you on top of these fast-paced developments with information provided by our publications, website, and committee and Section-level programming.

In early 2019, watch for the Winter 2019 issue of Natural Resources & Environment on the theme of “Forests” as well as new substantive articles being published on our committee webpages.

Also, the Section will be launching a “SEER Essentials” CLE webinar series geared toward younger lawyers or general practitioners who want or need to know more about fundamental areas of environmental, energy, or resources law such as the Clean Water Act, environmental due diligence, TSCA, pesticides regulation, enforcement, and NPDES permitting. Keep an eye out for notices about these webinars.

And mark your calendar for the 2019 Water Law (March 25–27, 2019) and Spring Conferences (March 27–29, 2019) in Denver. Both conferences will feature thought leaders and decision-makers at the federal, state, and local levels as well as excellent networking opportunities. Plan to attend!

In addition to the Section activities described above, I would like to update you on other important Section and ABA endeavors.

SEER Connect

After a number of hiccups, the new ABA website is now up and running, as is SEER Connect, which will be the communications vehicle for our Section going forward. We trust that you have had an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the new website and with SEER Connect. Please let Norm Dupont or Zoya Ali know if you are experiencing any difficulties using these new platforms, because they would be happy to offer additional training or support. We are beginning to see committees use SEER Connect, which is fantastic.

Outreach

We continue our Section membership outreach efforts and hope you will help us! Have you spoken with young lawyers and colleagues about the substantially reduced rates and increased membership benefits that will be available to them starting September 2019 under the ABA’s New Membership Model? Now is the time to begin spreading the word. You are our best salesperson! Let Jeff Dennis, our membership officer, and his team of regional captains know how they can help you spread the word about the enhanced benefits and reduced rates available under the New Membership Model. Let them know about individuals you know who should become members of our Section. With your help, we can grow the Section’s membership significantly over the next several months. The New Membership Model truly offers substantial benefits, particularly for younger lawyers, lawyers in small firms, government lawyers, academics, foreign lawyers, and nonprofit lawyers.

We also continue our outreach to outside organizations. This past October at the Section’s 26th Fall Conference in San Diego, Alexandria Pike, chair of National Environmental, Energy, and Resources Law Section (NEERLS) of the Canadian Bar Association, gave an insightful presentation on the status of pipeline projects in Canada, while in November, SEER chair-elect Karen Mignone spoke about the Trump administration’s environmental policies at NEERLS’ Department of Justice (DOJ) Day Conference in Ottawa, Canada. These efforts are examples of a well-established relationship between the environmental bar sections of both countries.

Alf Brandt has been reinvigorating the Outreach Committee and is encouraging Section members who would be interested in being a subject matter resource to our Congressional Relations Committee to contact that committee’s co-chairs Martha Marrapese and Emily Fisher.

Guidelines on Section Public Positions

At our Fall 2018 Council meeting, the Council approved “Guidelines on Section Public Positions” (Guidelines). These Guidelines attempt to clarify the process that our Section must follow if it would like to be more vocal on a given issue as a Section. In most instances, there must be a House of Delegates (HOD)-adopted resolution on the issue. After HOD adoption, a Resolution becomes ABA policy.

Currently, there are several HOD resolutions being drafted by ABA entities. For example, our Section intends to propose an update of the ABA policy on climate change (08M 109) that was adopted by the HOD in 2008. We hope to have a resolution adopted at the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The ABA Section of Administrative Law is working on a resolution for HOD consideration that addresses the role of science in environmental decision-making. Our Section has expressed interest in supporting this effort. There may be other potential issues for resolutions as we enter the second 50 years of modern environmental law. Section members interested in knowing more about the Guidelines or with an interest in specific issues should contact Roger Martella or Lee Paddock.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns regarding the Section. Best wishes for 2019!

Amy L. Edwards became the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources’ 92nd chair during the Section’s annual business meeting in August 2018. A long-time Section member, Edwards has previously served as education officer, Council member, 21st Fall Conference planning chair, and chair of the Environmental Transactions and Brownfields Committee. She is a partner with Holland & Knight LLP in Washington, D.C.