Friday, October 8, 2010

ENRL Director Don C. Smith Attends Brussels Product Launch of "Manual of European Environmental Policy," the Authoritative EU Environmental Law Source

Recently I attended the on-line product launch of the Manual of European Environmental Policy (MEEP), the most highly-respected environmental publication of its kind in the 27-member state European Union. (Until now the publication has only been available in print.)

To say that EU policy makers have great respect for the MEEP is hardly an overstatement since two former chairs of the powerful European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety, Ken Collins and Caroline Jackson, have served on the the board of directors of the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), which produces the content for the MEEP. Ms. Jackson served as chair from 2005-2010.

The Institute, with offices in Brussels and London, is considered by many EU watchers to be the authoritative source when it comes to understanding the context, consequences and even to some degree the future of EU environmental policy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone -- irrespective of where in the world they are -- who wants to know about the "state of the art" in terms of environmental policy making is entirely missing the boat if they do not know about and consult the MEEP on a regular basis. Put simply, there is no substitute for the context-setting and careful analysis provided by the MEEP.

This summer I was asked to join the MEEP Editorial Advisory Board, an offer I was delighted to accept since I have been a North American observer of EU environmental policy for more than a decade now. Beginning with my role as an Associate Publisher in the Elsevier Science Environmental Science and Technology group in the late 1990s, I became interested in how the EU was trying to "decouple" economic growth and environmental degradation.

It was during this period that I completed a Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Leicester (England) Faculty of Law in European Union Law. (My thesis considered the impact of the EU's commitment to sustainable development in relation to its desire to build out a more coordinated transport system, a topic I found particularly fascinating in light of the fact that the U.S. has considered nothing of the sort.) Since 2005 I have taught about EU Environmental Law & Policy.

Consequently, the opportunity of playing a role, albeit a minor one, in what I consider the gold standard of EU environmental policy publications was one that thrilled me.

During the event (and afterwards at dinner) I was able to meet and enjoy the company of a veritable "who's who" of European Union environmental policy including (in alphabetical order):
  • Camilla Adelle, IEEP Associate and Managing Editor of MEEP
  • David Baldock, Director of IEEP
  • Andrew Farmer, Senior Fellow at the IEEP and Editor-in-Chief of MEEP
  • Nigel Haigh, Director of IEEP from 1980 to 1998 and the founder of the MEEP
  • Ralph Hallo, Director of Brussels Strategies, a European public affairs consultancy based in the Netherlands
  • Sir John Harman, Chairman of the U.K. Environment Agency from 2000-2008
  • Caroline Jackson, former member of the European Parliament from the UK
  • Hugo G. von Meijenfeldt, Deputy Director General, Ministry of the Environment in the Netherlands and special envoy for climate change
It was an enormously interesting experience for me to listen to these leaders consider the current issues facing the European Union. The "richness" of the dialogue between and among these leaders was as enjoyable as anything I have encountered in quite some time.

To be sure, the EU has its challenges and its obstacles. In particular, the EU can only wait and wonder whether its climate change policy will catch on in the rest of the world. Last December at the Copenhagen UN climate change conference, the EU found itself a bit wrong footed when other members of the international community could not figure out who was speaking on behalf of the EU. That was a loss for the EU and one that must be remedied for the EU to be taken more seriously on the global stage.

On the other hand, the 27 member state governmental entity seems -- at least for the time being -- committed to delivering on its climate change policy initiatives. Moreover, the EU is setting global environmental standards in any number of economic sectors (more on that in a few days).

In summary, while my meeting with the luminaries of EU environmental policy was relatively brief I hope it is the first of many such meetings in the future. And before anyone jumps to a conclusion and reports me to The Wall Street Journal editorial page as being "too pro European," let me say that the solutions that may work in the EU will not always work in the U.S. and vice versa. But gaining more understanding of how a different group approaches environmental issues -- many of which are the same as in the U.S. -- is not only beneficial for me, but also the students I teach and the readers of this blog.

I look forward to continuing to think and write about the EU, its environmental aspirations, and how those aspirations might inform those of us who while not living in the EU are very interested in how a different group approaches its environmental challenges.

(As a footnote, the MEEP is now published by London-based Earthscan, which has a wonderful reputation for publishing timely and important environmental, energy, and natural resources publications.)

--Don C. Smith

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Two New Special Reports: "Forrests, and How to Save Them" and "Sustainable Business" Provides Hints of the Road Ahead in Natural Resources Development

Two important new special reports have just been published. In "The World's Lungs: Forests, and How to Save Them," The Economist magazine (Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2010) provides a 14 page report on why forests are disappearing while making the argument that the real value of forests must be taken into account as societies determine how best to manage them.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times has published about "Sustainable Business" in its Oct. 4, 2010, edition. Among other things, the Times' reports that "[S]ome companies are demonstrating that they understand shrinking natural resources will damage the bottom line."

Anyone interested in the relationship between natural resources, the environment, and sustainability will want to read both of these provocative new special reports.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Environmental and Natural Resources Program Advising Sessions Set for Oct. 12 and Nov. 2; Professors Fred Cheever and Rock Pring Will Offer Advice

First year JD students as well as transfer and visiting students are invited to attend the Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law (ENRL) program advising sessions, which will be held from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Nov. 2.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Environmental Law Professor Fred Cheever and Environmental Law Professor Rock Pring will be discussing the breadth of the ENRL program, what courses students may want to consider, available career paths, and how to find jobs.

The first session, on Oct. 12, will focus on courses and other "don't miss opportunities" that students should be aware of while they study at the College of Law. The second session, on Nov. 2, will be directed towards jobs including short-term and summer time positions.

This is a great opportunity to hear two of the keenest minds in all of American environmental law speak about the field generally, the ENRL program in particular, and how to position yourself for success as you contemplate job opportunities.

Food will be served at both events. The room is still to be determined. If you are planning to attend the Oct. 12 event, please RSVP to McKenzie Gaby by clicking here so we know how much food to order. Please bring your own drinks.

Other members of the ENRL faculty will also be available at the sessions.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Annual Autumn Gathering of Environmental and Natural Resources Graduate Program Brings Together One of the Most Diverse Groups in Law School History

The recently held 4th annual autumn get together of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program was a big success.

The recent gathering brought together many of the students who make up the most diverse class ever in the history of the LLM and Masters of Resources Law Studies programs.

The event, held at my house in Denver, is an annual event that is planned by assistant program director Lucy Daberkow and me. This year we were also ably helped by student assistant (and LLM student) Payal Sathe of India.

The gathering allows all the students in the program to meet in a social setting aimed at helping everyone get to know each other better. Lucy and I know that not all of the learning that takes place in the program always happens in a classroom -- sometimes it happens at social events, too, and consequently we work hard to bring the students together in a range of various events across the school year.

At the event, voices from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and the United States could be heard as continuing students who began in January mingled with students who started in August. The geographic diversity of the students is not by accident -- Lucy and I and the entire Sturm College of Law are committed to assembling each year the most talented and diverse group of students possible.

All age groups were represented, too. The youngest attendee was Sora, the three year old son of MRLS student Masumi Takanashi, and the next youngest were Emma, four, and Amelie, six, daughters of Lucy and Eric Daberkow. (Saro is learning to speak Japanese and English; Emma and Amelie are already old hands at English and Spanish.) The oldest person at the event was ...well no need to go there.

Thanks to everyone for a great evening!

--Don C. Smith

Monday, October 4, 2010

Environmental Law Clinic Efforts Associated With Coal-Fired Power Plant Legal Action Featured in Denver Newspaper

The efforts of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in relation to a controversial coal-fired power plant in the southeast Colorado town of Lamar are featured in the latest issue of the Denver weekly newspaper Westword.

In "Black Out: Lamar Gets Steamed Over a Troubled Coal Plant -- Right in the Middle of Town," (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2010), Westword reports on the involvement of the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) and WildEarth Guardians along with several Lamar citizens in the filing of a lawsuit against the plant's operators under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

ELC Director and Professor Mike Harris said, "There's always a little bit of a disconnect between what the legal claims are in a case like this and what it's about from the perspective of people living in the shadow of a coal-fired power plant. But the case is still about building a coal-fired plant in the middle of Lamar, less than a mile from five schools."

The lead student ELC attorneys who handled the case last year were Allison Vetter and Ahson Wall. This year's lead student attorneys are Myra Gottl and Todd Likman, who are scheduled to file the last of the summary judgment briefs today. Professor Harris said that all of the student attorneys have done "a wonderful job" on the case.