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September/October 2023

On SEER publications, scholarly prognosticators, and [insert your next article here]

Sean Thomas Dixon


  • A recognition of outgoing publications officer, Norm Dupont.
  • Over the years, countless pages of Section content have contributed to our shared national jurisprudence and our attempt to take the law and put it into practice.
  • Successful publications depend on the dedication of the volunteers working to fill our pages with excellent content and on members reading, downloading, sharing, and discussing it.
On SEER publications, scholarly prognosticators, and [insert your next article here]
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As incoming Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) publications officer, instead of looking forward, I’d like to start the year looking back. Specifically, to offer a resounding thank-you to the outgoing publications officer, Norm Dupont. Norm’s exuberance, leadership, and dedication to discourse is irreplaceable, and I wish him well as he moves into his new role as constitutional law advisor.

Over the past few years, Norm has worked alongside our publication boards, authors, editors, Section staff, and marketing teams to keep up momentum for the written word through some of the most trying times our nation has recently faced. From me, from the Section membership, and on behalf of the practice of environment, energy, and resources law, thank you, Norm, for your time spent at the helm of SEER Publications!

As Section members, we don’t often see the work that goes into any given publication—from the annual The Year In Review updates to bimonthly Trends editions, there are teams working diligently to develop an idea, find authors, ensure these pages are filled with nothing less than the highest quality content (this article notwithstanding!), and provide for the timely delivery of literally reams of content to the 10,000 SEER members around the world.

In 2006, Norm Dupont wrote an article for Natural Resources & Environment (NR&E) on how to reconcile the meaning of words with the intricacies of the practice of law. In part, Norm made this observation:

“While it is black letter law that a statute must be interpreted according to its ‘plain meaning,’ finding that ‘plain meaning’ has been often proved elusive.” —Norm Dupont, NR&E, Fall 2006

Taking some liberties with thesis behind the quote above, this space between words shows us the value inherent in SEER’s publications, and in the conversations, questions, and legal theories tested and tried in the pages of Trends, NR&E, Year in Review, and SEER books. Over the years, countless pages of content have contributed to our shared national jurisprudence and our attempt to take the law and put it into practice.

As Norm noted in his 2006 article (in a moment that proved to be a quite accurate reading of the tea leaves), even the word “water” has proved to be, and likely will continue to be, an ongoing source of everything from ample billable hours to divisive rallies, circuit splits, and more twists and turns than some of the very rivers the Supreme Court might now not consider rivers.

“Whatever the intellectual merits of turning to a 1954 edition of the dictionary to determine the literal meaning of a particular word, there can be no doubt that scholarly reliance upon any dictionary simply ignores the blunt realities of the legislative process.” —Norm Dupont, NR&E, Fall 2006

Countless attorneys have written about the meaning of water in the pages of SEER—helping to chart the pathway between the legislative process and the literal meaning of one particular word.

SEER Publications will continue to operate at the level Norm challenged us to achieve—thanks to the leadership of all our publications teams, the attorneys, experts, and students working across all our platforms. Ultimately, successful publications depend on the voracious appetite of SEER members to read, download, share, and discuss and on the dedication of the volunteers working to fill these pages with excellent content. 

If you’re interested in helping shepherd the next generation of written content, give us a call (metaphorically of course—emails and text messages of course are the norm).

And if you’re working on something about to be discussed in the Supreme Court (another newly discovered way to define water, perhaps), or an issue in your local community that may shake up the foundations of justice, or even have an idea for a book that might make it easier for attorneys to put your area of law into practice, similarly reach out to SEER’s publications teams.

In sum, I’ll paraphrase and adapt Norm Dupont’s key takeaway from his 2006 article on the plain meaning of words as it intersects with the practice of environmental, energy, and resources law. In a way, this is a challenge for you to open the next Trends to hit your inbox, sit with the next NR&E to arrive at your office, and give your newest associate attorneys a few SEER books to read this fall at the start of a new Supreme Court session.

“In the meantime, close reading of the statutory phrases at issue in these cases, with the various [SEER Publications] close at hand, would seem prudent for the potential prognosticator.” —Norm Dupont, NR&E, Fall 2006