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Chair’s Report from James Enright


Environmental Law Section Chair James EnrightPublished in Michigan Environmental Law Journal, Fall 2020, Vol. 38, No. 1, Issue 108 [view full issue].
Cite: 38 Mich Env Law J 1 (2020)

I hope you and your families are all healthy and coping well with the coronavirus pandemic and all of the other uncertainties and difficulties we confront. This is the outgoing Chair’s report — normally delivered during the annual meeting — but, due to the pandemic . . .

State of the Section

  • Membership and budget: The number of Environmental Law Section members increased over the previous year. The Section’s account at SBM is in excellent condition and a reform of our budget categories should make running the Section easier, more transparent, and more efficient.
  • Section activities: Since September 2019, the Section published two issues of the Michigan Environmental Law Journal and participated in the annual fall conferences in 2019 (in-person) and 2020 (online) with the East Michigan and West Michigan chapters of the Air & Waste Management Association. Some of the committees met, including subject matter committees, standing committees, and the Section’s governing council. No webinars were held. The Section’s website was reorganized and expanded.
  • Breadth: The new council elected in 2019 represented a greater range of practice settings, locations, and gender balance than its predecessors.
  • Younger Lawyers Ad Hoc Committee: The Section’s committee, intended to build relationships with and among younger practitioners, is chaired by Lydia Barbash-Riley. This committee had set a half-day conference for mid-spring but that event was postponed by the onset of the pandemic. This committee is expected to continue its work.

What’s New and Coming Up

  • More collaboration: The Section already collaborates with the AWMA chapters and the Michigan Manufacturers Association on the fall and spring conferences, respectively. This MELJ issue is prepared in collaboration with the Animal Law Section, and we are promoting an online presentation of the Administrative Law Section titled "What Administrative Law Judges wish practitioners knew: Zoom Event with the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.” Expect more of this — and if you have more ideas on collaboration with other potentially-allied groups, please bring those to the council.
  • Adaptation: In order to better serve you, this Section pioneered use of webinars and shifted to producing an excellent online publication of MELJ. Expect more; indeed, ask for more by contacting officers or council members.
  • New officers and council members: Tammy Helminski will be Chair by the time you read this. Sue Sadler will be Chair-Elect (and Chair during the 2021-22 year), and Scott Sinkwitts will be Secretary-Treasurer. Andrea Hayden will be a new member of the council, and Ross Hammersley and Margrethe Kearney will be elected as returning members of the council.

A Song for the Unsung - Thank You

  • Mary Anne Parks: As Section Administrator, Mary Anne Parks basically does all the work. She’s also a fountain of ideas for presentations and collaborations, including those drawn from her experience as administrator of another SBM section.
  • Kurt Kissling: Kurt Kissling has, for years, made an enormous contribution to planning and organizing the fall joint conference and the spring air conference, mostly behind the scenes, all without even close to adequate recognition.
  • Amanda Urban: What you see in a recent MELJ is there because Amanda Urban created it, organized it, directed the production, and fostered the content, building on Chris Dunsky’s years of prior work. And she’s a consistent and enthusiastic contributor to the work of the council.

Best wishes to you all. I look forward to chatting and lifting a glass with you after an in-person meeting as soon as circumstances allow.