chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.


March/April 2023

Views from the Chair

Jonathan W Kahn


  • At the halfway point in the ABA year, the Section Chair sheds light on what the Section has accomplished.
  • Explores how members of SEER are continuing to drive the conversation on matters of environmental policy.
Views from the Chair
Jacky Parker Photography via Getty Images

Jump to:

Here we are, halfway through the ABA year. I have no idea where the time has gone. But it has been a fabulous year so far. It's hard to believe all that our talented ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) colleagues have accomplished!


In-person programming has returned with a bang. Our first in-person Fall Conference since 2019 took place this past September in Nashville planned by program chair Kyle Landis-Marinello and his planning committee. The wonderful conference reminded us that a lot of what makes this Section special is the people.

In November, we took our one-day Energy Transition conference to a hybrid format—in-person at Howard University and online. Our 192 participants were evidence of the appeal that a well-executed hybrid conference can have.

By the time you read this, we will have completed our third Environmental Summit of the Americas in New York City. The summit connected colleagues from around the world (12 countries will be represented) to have roundtable conversations on international environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Do not miss the 52nd Spring Conference on Environmental Law, April 26–28 in Denver. Program chair Manisha Patel and her planning committee have developed an outstanding slate of topics and speakers. Denver is a very easy place to get to from all over the United States. If you have never been to one of our conferences, come and see what all the hype is about!

Finally, on June 16 we are planning a one-day program titled Environmental Transactions Masterclass: Hot Topics and Emerging Issues for 2023 and Beyond, to be held in Chicago. More on that to come.

Our programming is not limited to in-person events. So far this bar year, we have provided 7 online CLE webinars, hosted more than 20 Community Conversations (non-CLE online event sponsored by our substantive committees), and released 10 podcast episodes. You can learn more about our online offerings here.


SEER’s book publishing board has been on fire! We have published Sustainability Essentials: A Leadership Guide for Lawyers co­authored by John Dernbach, Matthew Bogoshian, and Irma Russell(November 2022); Clean Water Act Essentials coauthored by Allison Rumsey, Joel Gross, Ethan Shenkman, and Edward McTiernan (December 2022); and Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, 3rd edition, edited by Michael Gerrard, Jody Freeman, and Michael Burger (January 2023). In a few weeks a fourth book, Bankruptcy for Environmental Lawyers, should “hit the shelves.”

NR&E and Trends continue to produce excellent articles. These publications are available online and, for NR&E, in print format as well. NR&E’s fall issue was entitled “Fire and Water,” and its recent winter issue focused on the future of the energy grid. If you missed them, they can be found online here.

Trends continues its excellent work—the January/February 2023 issue had two articles on the recent Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA and three articles focused on environmental justice issues.

The Year in Review 2022 is in the works and, as always, will be a fabulous resource with input from 25 substantive practice areas, when it is released later this spring.

Membership and diversity

Our membership and diversity-focused committees continue to lead in many important areas. We have updated our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Action Plan, which can be seen here. Building a qualified, talented, diverse, and enthusiastic pipeline of section leaders is a priority and our Leadership Development Program and our Membership Diversity Enhancement Program play a big part in that.

SEER’s Environmental Law Society Network brings environmental law students from schools across the United States together to exchange ideas, succeed professionally, and positively impact their communities. More than 90 schools are already involved—check to see if your alma mater is participating here. This initiative, combined with our SEER Bridge Law Student Mentorship Program, will ensure that SEER serves a new generation of environmental lawyers.


Our committees are doing tremendous work, holding law student writing competitions, seeking nominations for the 2023 Section awards program, spreading the word about pro bono opportunities, developing public service projects, and more. So far this bar year, we published close to 30 committee articles, and more content is available on our Communities platform. As a SEER member, you can join an unlimited number of these committees at no additional cost. There is so much activity in our committees, I can’t possibly do it all justice here.

Driving the conversation

Members of SEER continue to drive the conversation on matters of environmental policy. SEER members led the ABA Delegation to COP27, at which ABA, led by its SEER members, co-hosted a half day program on “The Role of Lawyers, Bars and Law Societies in the Climate Crisis.” In addition, we organized a separate “Blue Zone” event on the same topic, which was live-streamed and recorded on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change YouTube channel.

Our members also lead the ABA’s Environmental Justice Task force, advocating for environmental justice laws reflecting the right to dignity and a clean and healthy environment. The task force is developing a blueprint for policies, programs, and practices to implement the recently adopted ABA resolution to advance the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Closer to home, our Water Resources Committee and our Native American Resources Committee have been working hard on an ABA-level resolution to support the settlement of tribal water rights claims.

Working to enhance your experience

We have created a task force that is hard at work looking at ways to optimize our post-pandemic programming. You might have seen a programs and publications-related survey in your email inbox a few months ago; we value any further input you have. Our Governance Committee is also hard at work tweaking our substantive committee structure to ensure that the way we deliver your benefits is intuitive, relevant, and effective.

If there are any ways in which we can enhance our service to better meet your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your input will help us ensure a continuously productive ABA year and beyond.