Environmental Justice in Practice Conference
Wayne State Law School, Jan. 26, 2018, Detroit
Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu (right), executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights opened the conference with remarks on environmental justice in the current era. The conference included expert panels on Energy and Climate Justice, Water Access and Affordability, and Urban Air Quality. Be sure to read Mark Fancher’s article in this issue of the MELJ regarding the topics he addressed as a member of the Water Access and Affordability panel. In addition to the four panel discussions, there were two keynote addresses—one by Mustafa Santiago Ali of the Hip Hop Caucus and another by Charles Lee, the senior policy advisor of the EPA Office of Environmental Justice. The conference concluded with a discussion of careers in environmental justice.
Environmental Regulation in the Trump Administration
Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Feb. 10, 2018, Ann Arbor
The Changing Winds: Environmental Regulation in the Trump Administration Conference was hosted by the University of Michigan Law School Journal of Law Reform. It featured panels on Environmental Federalism, Environmental Regulation & Real Business Cycles, and Climate Change in the Trump Age. The keynote lunch address was given by Robert Bilott of Taft Stettinius & Hollister. He discussed his involvement in litigation against DuPont Chemical Company for its alleged liability for environmental contamination in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Rights of Nature Forum
March 9, 2018, Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan Law School Environmental Law Society hosted an educational forum concerning the actual and theoretical basis for securing legal rights for natural systems. Laura Rubin (right), executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council, opened the forum with an overview of the history, current status, and challenges facing the Huron River watershed. Current challenges include a migrating pollutant plume that threatens the river. Oday Salim, executive director and managing attorney at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, followed with a comparative discussion of the legal basis for protective mechanisms. One such mechanism would be to grant personhood rights, including standing to sue, to natural systems. Among the attendees was second-year Michigan law student Olivia Cares who was kind enough to provide this summary and the accompanying photos to the MELJ. Olivia hopes to practice environmental litigation in Michigan after graduation.
March 12, 2018, Troy
The Section Council held an organizational meeting in March to discuss its current activities. Each of the Section’s five subject matter committees provided a status report—Air; Environmental Litigation & Administrative Practice; Hazardous Substances & Brownfields; Natural Resources, Energy, & Sustainability; and Great Lakes & Inland Waters. The next Council meeting will be in June and coincide with the Section’s Summer Program.
Updated—Lender’s Perspective on Environmental Law Issues Webinar
March 13, 2018, Statewide
The Hazardous Substances and Brownfields Committee welcomed back presenter Jeff Furton, LEED AP and vice president & assistant group manager of environmental risk management for Comerica Bank. Furton presented a webinar in 2013 regarding a lender's view on what banks want their environmental lawyers to know and do, and how environmental lawyers can best counsel their clients in dealing with banks. His March presentation covered the same general topics, but reflected the many developments in the industry over the last five years. You can view a video recording of the webinar on the Section’s website.
Clearing the Air in 2018
Air Committee of the Environmental Law Section, April 11, 2018, Lansing
The Section’s spring conference was hosted by the Michigan Manufacturers Association and featured an overview of federal, regional, and state air quality issues. The agenda included presentations by Mary Ann Dolehanty on her new role as acting director of the Air Quality Division at MDEQ and by Partner Lee Johnson of Honigman on the most influential DOJ and EPA changes to policy and guidance. A regulatory reform panel discussed proposed changes to Michigan’s regulations, including the pending “not stricter than federal” legislation, as well as the proposed senate bills creating new regulatory and permitting review panels.