New Directions in Environmental Law 2011 Conference Report

Environmental law students and practitioners should focus their efforts on attacking the often hidden architecture of the polluting state, according to a report released yesterday by the Yale Environmental Law Association.

The report details insights from the Yale Environmental Law Association’s inaugural conference in its New Directions in Environmental Law, which took place on April 2nd, 2011. The theme of last year’s conference – A Climate of Possibility – represented the goals and spirit of the day. It drew over 200 practitioners, policymakers, students, and academics together to critically examine law’s confrontation with climactic environmental and social challenges.

The conference galvanized participants to see environmental law in new ways—reflecting a range of social justice and scientific concerns and replete with unexplored possibilities. It inaugurated an annual series of conversations intended to challenge the present and imagine the future of environmental law. The report, publically available through the website of the conference co-sponsor, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, provides fresh perspectives on environmental law that grew out of the day.

The conference addressed new possibilities emerging in environmental law from the challenges posed by complex environmental dilemmas like climate change. In his opening remarks, Yale Law School’s Dean Robert Post emphasized that continuous imagination is required to bring law, whose strength lies in isolation, to bear on all-encompassing environmental problems.

The report captures this spirit. It features a student manifesto on environmental law by the Yale Environmental Law Association, an overview of challenges and possibilities in environmental law raised by conference speakers and organizers, the keynote speech by Professor Lisa Heinzerling, summaries of panels and workshops, and an essay on environmental law and indigenous rights by two practitioners in the field.

This conference series continues this Saturday February 25th at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with the second conference: [Re]Claiming Accountability. Mary Nichols, YLS ’71, former Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, will give the keynote address. The conference is free for all Yale members and New Haven residents. Schedule and registration are available on the [Re]Claiming Accountability conference website.