August 01, 2017

Chair’s Column

By Peter V. Lacouture

I want to acknowledge the efforts of my predecessor, John Beardsworth, as chair of the ABA Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section (IRIS), during the past year. John led the section to the threshold of its 100th anniversary year and provided a new focus during the year on infrastructure issues. He created and enlisted a chair and vice chairs of our new Transportation Infrastructure and Public–Private Partnerships (PPP) Committee, he reinvigorated our Infrastructure Security Committee, and he encouraged the latter committee to present a webinar on “Cyber Threats to Essential Infrastructure.” (Our webinars are offered without charge to our members and may be downloaded from the ABA website.) Thanks for your efforts for IRIS, John.

This issue of Infrastructure contains two more 100th Anniversary “Look Back and Look Forward” essays from the committees. We hope you enjoy these essays, Nuclear Energy and Communications, which are previewed in Casey Wren’s Editor’s Notes.

As I write this column during the week before Labor Day, we are all horrified by the damage suffered by the residents of Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and other communities in southeastern Texas as the result of the winds of Hurricane Harvey and the resultant “one in a thousand year” flooding. Each day brings new reports relevant to our section: the public water system has failed in Beaumont, the Corps of Engineers is concerned about the stability of dams in and near Houston, oil pipelines that supply fuel to the Midwest and Northeast have been shut down, and many superfund sites in the Houston area have been flooded with yet-to-be determined consequences. In the weeks and months to come, politicians, scientists, and other experts will debate whether and to what extent the storm and its consequences are a result of climate change and what, if anything, we should do about it. They will also debate whether our infrastructure is sufficiently robust to withstand the storms that we may experience in coming years. Both of these issues are questions that the Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section will discuss and debate in upcoming months.

On a brighter note, I am pleased to announce that this fall, the section will award the Samuel H. Porter Service Award to David R. Poe. The Porter Award was created in 2013 to honor our long-time member, leader and friend, Sam Porter, who passed away earlier that year. The award is intended to recognize a section member who has made a difference to the section by volunteering time, effort, and dedicated service, who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the law as a profession, and who has mentored young lawyers. Dave Poe, who is a partner at Bracewell in Washington, D.C., has served in many positions with our section. He has been a vice chair and chair of a number of section committees, served as section chair in 2003–2004, served as a section delegate to the ABA House of Delegates from 2006 to 2013, and most recently, served on the ABA Board of Governors from 2013 to 2016. The nomination of Dave for the Porter Award spoke of his “substantial contributions to the good of the ABA,” noted that “his counsel is always focused on how best to move the [section] forward,” and commented that he “thinks before he speaks and it is always worthwhile to listen to him.” On behalf of the section, I congratulate Dave for this well-deserved recognition.

Finally, I want to mention three initiatives that we will undertake this year to reach more lawyers who practice in the areas that our committees cover. We will be making a strong push to expand our membership and two of our council group members, Millie Ronnlund and Monica Sargent, have agreed to head up these efforts. We are also going to seek to coordinate and expand our delivery of “content” to all of our members. Cathy McCarthy and Brad Fewell will be responsible for these efforts. Our third effort is to reach out to the younger members of the section with a “Young Lawyers” team led by Courtney McCormick and Kathryn Sutton. I appreciate the enthusiasm that all six of these members bring to our initiatives. If you are interested in getting involved with the section, send an email to me or to Sue Koz, our section director, at infrastructure@americanbar.org.

I look forward to an exciting and productive year as your chair and encourage all of you to join me on the journey.

By Peter V. Lacouture