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January 13, 2021 Chair's Column

Chair’s Column

By Catherine P. McCarthy

A silver lining during the pandemic has been our ability to participate in events virtually. Like other ABA sections, our Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section (IRIS) has even seen increased interest and participation in its programs and other virtual events. Below is an update on some of the Section’s work, highlighting opportunities for Section-member participation.

First, though, allow me to mention that Section members are particularly interested in reaching out to those of you who are law-student and early-career members. We would love to co-author articles with you, present with you on podcasts or webinars, or simply catch up with you to discuss our areas of practice and career paths if you are interested in learning more. Please drop me a note at [email protected] or contact IRIS Director Susan Koz at [email protected], and Sue and I will connect you with other IRIS members to help get you more involved!

With respect to the work of the Section, let’s start with Infrastructure. The Editor’s Column of this issue provides a great summary of its articles and related podcasts. I encourage you to take a look at all our podcasts and browse other issues of Infrastructure on our website at https://www.american​

Our website can also take you to recent IRIS webinars—free for Section members—including, for example, those on electric vehicles and utilities, M&A in regulated industries, and energy storage. See

In particular, I wanted to bring our two October 2020 webinars to your attention. They cover challenging issues at the forefront of national, state, and local law and policy debates and are likely of interest whether or not your practice touches on these issues. The IRIS October 22 panel focused on Climate Change and the Changing Generation Mix: Environmental Effects, Technological Advances, and Policy Options for 2021 and Beyond. Eric Gallon, a partner at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, moderated, and we heard from Victoria Sullivan, Duke Energy’s Climate Change Policy Director; Raya Salter, a member of New York State’s Climate Action Council; Columbia University Law Professor Michael Gerrard; and Scott Segal, partner at Bracewell LLP and head of Bracewell’s Policy Resolution Group. These speakers and their organizations have delved deep into these issues and the discussion is remarkable. I recommend it to you.

On October 21, we heard from another substantive panel on Natural Gas Faces the Future: More, Less, Green or None at All? Moderated by Charles Read of Latham & Watkins LLP, speakers included Commissioner Daniel Conway of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission; Dena Wiggins, President and Chief Executive Officer at Natural Gas Supply Association; and Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. The panel reflected varying viewpoints on some very difficult and challenging issues related to a crucially important energy resource. The speakers shared their many years of experience and deep knowledge in a very accessible way, and I encourage you to access the program on the IRIS website at no charge.

Our website also includes the IRIS 2020 Recent Developments publication (earlier editions are available, too). This year, Recent Developments provides substantive, summary analysis in the following areas: alternative dispute resolution; antitrust; communications; environment; finance, mergers, and acquisitions; gas; labor; maritime; nuclear energy; water; and electricity. The editors of Recent Developments, IRIS Publications Committee Co-Chairs Millicent Ronnlund and Daniel Poyner, and those who drafted the reports put in many hours. Please consider adding Recent Developments to your reading list if it is not there already.

As mentioned above, reaching out to law students is a core focus of our Section. We visited a number of law schools in November 2020. I thank Darani Reddick, Chair of the IRIS Membership Committee, for working to make that possible. IRIS is also coordinating with our Law Student Division liaison Brittney Martinez on other kinds of outreach to current law students. We were happy to see Ms. Martinez spend Summer 2020 as a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission law clerk. I also wanted to mention that Erica Rancilio, Chair of the IRIS Writing Competition Committee, is working with a team reviewing law student submissions for our Section’s annual K. William Kolbe writing competition for law students, which awards the winning author a $2,500 cash prize and a free Section membership. I am happy to report that the 2019 winner of the K. William Kolbe writing competition, Mark Widerschein, is now working at the Environment and Natural Resources Division at U.S. Department of Justice.

Finally, our Section’s Twitter account posts timely links to legal developments of interest and importance to Section members. If you are not already following the Section’s Twitter feed, please follow us @AmericanBarIRIS.

Please let me or Sue Koz know if you have ideas for possible IRIS projects. We would love to hear from you.

Best wishes for good health as we head into 2021.

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By Catherine P. McCarthy