Fall 2020

Vol. 38, No. 1, Issue 108

Animal Law and the Environment

Wolf Print - Animal Law and the Environment

The above image of a casting of a wolf print taken in Michigan is a teaser for an article inside this issue of the MELJ—themed Animal Law and the Environment. Each article tackles a different legal topic where environmental and animal law practitioners may overlap.

Chair’s Report from James Enright

James EnrightI 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.

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Preview of a New Book that Provides Exploration of the Parallels between Animal & Environmental Law

Randall S. Abateby Randall S. Abate, Professor, Monmouth University

Published in July, the second edition of What Can Animal Law Learn From Environmental Law? (hereinafter the Book) (Environmental Law Institute Press, 2020) features significantly expanded coverage of what animal law can learn from environmental law in many contexts and how the two fields can work together to secure mutual gains. The book updates and builds on the existing coverage of topics from the 17 chapters in the first edition and adds 12 new chapters on cutting-edge topics including lab-grown meat, animal testing, “tag-gag” litigation, deceptive advertising, climate change, right of nature, impact assessments, enforcement, regulatory avoidance, and “animal socioequality.”

The U.S. has a long history of exploiting animals for human advancement and comfort in much the same way that natural resources have been exploited since the industrial revolution. The environmental movement in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s demanded that the use of natural resources be carefully managed to ensure a sustainable future for our nation and our planet. In the five decades during which it has been recognized as a specialty area in U.S. law, environmental law in the United States has been highly successful in promoting this sustainable management objective. Drawing support from both legal and social developments in the late 1960s and early 1970s, environmental law quickly moved within its first decade from a marginal niche to a fully institutionalized field in the American legal system.

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Recent Events

What Administrative Law Judges Wish Practitioners Knew: A Zoom Event with the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules

Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Time: Noon–1:00 p.m.

The Administrative and Regulatory Law Section and the Young Lawyers Section will be hosting a Zoom event with the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules. The purpose of the event is to provide practitioners the opportunity to hear insight from Administrative Law Judges from the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR) and gain insight from the ALJs about how to best present administrative cases. The event will also seek to address some of the particular aspects of presenting cases virtually during the COVID-19 season. MOAHR Director Suzanne Sonneborn will also give a few opening remarks. Contact: Dustin Kamerman at dustink1013@gmail.com.

The Hazardous Substance and Brownfield Committee’s Year-end Webinar

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Time: Noon–1:30 p.m.

The Hazardous Substance and Brownfield Committee of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan is planning a year-end webinar. The webinar will feature Ben Fruchey, a Partner at Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC; Nicholas J. Tatro, a Senior Associate at Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC; and Rick Welsh, Director at ASTI Environmental. They will focus on notable changes in 2020 to Michigan’s environmental regulations, rules and guidance, including with respect to air, waste, remediation and environmental due diligence. They also will take a brief look into what we can anticipate for 2021, including new ASTM standards for environmental due diligence.

Recap: The Joint Fall Conference

This year’s Annual Joint Fall Conference was held virtually with sessions beginning Nov. 5 and continuing through Nov. 19, 2020. The Conference kicked off with a welcome and updates from EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark as well as several EGLE Division Directors, including Mary Ann Dolehanty (Air Quality Division), Robert Jackson (Acting Assistant Materials Management Division), Mike Neller (Remediation and Redevelopment Division), and Teresa Seidel (Water Resources Division).

Panels tackled relevant topics such as “Environmental Challenges in 2020” and included notable speakers from Honigman Business Law Firm, Marathon Petroleum, and Consumers Energy, among others. Barr Engineering sponsored the opening panel on PFAS as emerging contaminants. Energized panels on “Michigan Nonattainment Areas” and “Dam Failures and High Water” were possible thanks to support from Fishbeck and GZA Environmental.

Howling at the Man: FOIA as a Tool for Truth in Managing a Controversial Species

Rebecca Millicanby Rebecca Millican, Partner, Olson, Bzdok, & Howard

I signed up for animal law as a 3L in my last quarter of law school without much thought as to what “animal law” meant or where its roots in the law lie. I chose the class out of personal interest and (if I am being honest), to balance out a slate of bar exam-driven selections like negotiable instruments. Animal law proved to be one of the most dynamic, thought-provoking courses of my law school career, however. What I quickly learned was that “animal law” borrows substance and tools from many areas of the law and repurposes them to advance the welfare of and strengthen protections for animals of all kinds and in all places.

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ELS is still here: Don’t forget about our webinar library

Environmental Law Section Online Library

Many of ELS’s webinars are available in the ELS online library under the webinar tab. They make for good viewing during quarantine at home.

Here’s a list of ELS’s currently available webinars.

  • 2020
    • Coming soon! The Hazardous Substance and Brownfield Committee Year Review
  • 2019
    • Duck! Insiders Review the Late 2018 Legislation
    • The Challenging Effects of Dynamic Great Lakes Shorelines on Zoning & Planning in Coastal Communities

ELS still has the capability of hosting webinars, and in fact, this might be a very good time to do so. If you'd like to do put on a webinar, please contact Mary Anne Parks directly at parks.maryanne@gmail.com for assistance.

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The Animal Law Section Turns 25: An Interview with Two of the Section’s Founding Members

Margaret M. Sadoff

by Margaret M. Sadoff, Animal Law Section Council (2019-2021), Co-Editor of the Animal Law Section’s Newsletter, Treasurer for Help4Wildlife

The year 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the pandemic. But this year also marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 25th anniversary of the Michigan Animal Law Section. As a member of both the Environmental and Animal Law sections, I often think about the overlap of issues important to both sections. A few examples are the devastating impact of climate change on wildlife and ecosystems, expansion of logging and oil and gas drilling into pristine wildlife habitat, and the effects of factory farming on animal welfare as well as air and water pollution.

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Current Court and other Legal Procedures related to COVID-19

SBM has provided a list of informational resources related to legal practice during shelter in place and state of emergency orders:

Other news and information of relevance includes:

  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new order effective Nov. 18, 2020, putting limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings for three weeks. The order has been challenged by restaurant groups in federal court (the Western District of Michigan).
  • FAQ regarding the CDC’s Order Halting Evictions.
  • The Board of Law Examiners plans to administer the February 2021 Bar Exam on Feb. 23 & 24, 2021 with both in-person and remote siting options.
  • The Michigan Supreme Court has issued several orders and guidance in light of COVID-19. Most can be found on the Court’s website.
  • The Court continues to hear oral arguments for pending cases virtually on its YouTube channel.
  • The COVID-19 Guidelines for Michigan’s Judiciary- provides the phases for return to full capacity for Michigan’s trial courts. Transitions between phases are dependent upon the gating criteria listed in the guide. Since being published in July 2020, the guide was updated by memorandum in November 2020.

Viewpoint: Rules by Another Name

Zachary C. LarsenMichael J. Pattwellby Michael J. Pattwell & Zachary C. Larsen, Clark Hill PLC

Few areas of environmental law apply a more comprehensive set of regulations on relatively small businesses than those imposed on livestock farms that produce beef, milk, pork, poultry, eggs, and other staple foodstuffs—known in regulatory vernacular as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”). Under the auspices of preventing discharges of excess nutrients or bacteria derived from farms applying manure to crop fields or from water that might come into contact with the animals stabled on site, the State of Michigan governs nearly everything happening on (and off) the farm in excruciating detail. The State’s standards range from when and how animal manure can be applied to crops to how much storage space farms must keep for manure and animal bedding to how animal remains are disposed of and to whom manure can be transferred. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (“EGLE”) applies these to farms by compiling the labyrinth of state and federal rules into a mandatory 35-page (recently grown to 44-page), single-spaced “general permit” issued every five years.

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Contribute to the MELJ

  • The next issue is in Summer 2021. Write on a difficulty you have encountered in your practice to help fellow practitioners or write about a topical environmental event or issue that interests you.
  • Email submissions or inquiries to Amanda Urban at ajurban@umich.edu
    • 2-10 pages, 12pt Times New Roman, Michigan Appellate Manual footnotes

Let us Know What you Want to See in the MELJ

  • The MELJ is a publication intended to serve the members of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Do you have an event upcoming? Please let us know the details and we will be happy to feature it.

Section Information

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Tammy Helminski

Editor, Michigan Env. Law Journal
Amanda Urban

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Mary Anne Parks

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Environmental Law Section dues are only $30 and FREE for law students and new members to the bar. To join, please complete a section membership application or attorneys can join online by logging into the Bar's member area and selecting Section Membership.

MELJ Editorial Committee

  • Amanda Urban
  • Allison Collins
  • Nicholas Leonard
  • Joni Roach
  • Lydia Barbash-Riley

Join: The MELJ is a team effort and would not be possible without the hard work of its contributing and associate editors, as well as the State Bar administrative staff. Consider joining the MELJ Editorial Committee. Contact Amanda Urban if interested.

The Michigan Environmental Law Journal is a publication of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and exists to provide the Section’s membership a forum for sharing information and discussing environmental topics relevant to the legal community in the State. To that end, the MELJ encourages the open exchange of legal discourse on a variety of environmental topics, but does not endorse particular viewpoints or positions unless otherwise recognized by the Section. Any opinions espoused by the articles contained within are attributable to solely their respective authors and are not representative of the SBM, the Section, or its members generally. Publication is neither an endorsement nor a rejection of a particular position by the Environmental Law Section.