Community Service & Involvement

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08AdoptHighwayWidener ELC faculty are involved in environmental issues and communities at the local, regional/state, national, and international levels:

Regional/State/Local Community Involvement

Clinical Representation.

Widener’s nationally renowned Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic is one the few law school clinics that provide public interest representation in environmental matters. Working in joint representations with the Mid Atlantic Environmental Law Center or representing clients on its own, the Clinic has provided more than 35,000 hours of free legal help to individuals and non profit organizations since its founding in 1989 in federal, state, and local matters in numerous states, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, New Hampshire, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

State Government Advisory Councils/Task Forces

David Hodas is serving his second term as the chair of the Delaware Governor’s Energy Advisory Council, whose 15 appointed members are statutorily charged with drafting a 5 year energy plan for Delaware.   He oversaw the completion of the Council’s report, DELAWARE ENERGY PLAN, 2009 – 2014, released March 26, 2009.

Jim May served on the Delaware Coastal Zone Advisory Board, and the U.S. EPA Effluent Guidelines Task Force.

John Dernbach was on leave from June 2003 through December 2005 serving as policy director in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Inn of Court

David Hodas and Ken Kristl are both Masters in the Delaware Valley Environmental Inn of Court, the first Inn of Court in the nation focused on environmental law.  Jim May is a past Master of the Delaware Valley Inn.

Local Efforts

John Dernbach led the effort at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg to have the St. Stephen’s School building project receive a silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic participates in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway Program, having adopted a stretch of Smith Bridge Road from the Delaware state line to US 202 in Chadds Ford, PA.

National Community Involvement

U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Briefs and Work.

Professor Dernbach coauthored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 18 prominent climate scientists in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).  The brief argued that EPA had mischaracterized or misrepresented the relevant science in deciding not to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that EPA erred by not controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The majority opinion reflects the science described in the brief, and the dissenting opinions do not contradict it.

Professor May authored an amicus brief in Entergy et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency. The issue concerns the role of economics in lawmaking. His clients consist of environmental law professors from around the country. The case is based on issues Professor May has addressed in his scholarship.

Professor Kristl assisted the State of Delaware in preparation for its oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in New Jersey v. Delaware, a case in which the Court ultimately upheld Delaware’s right to exercise concurrent regulatory authority under Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act over a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal located on the shore of New Jersey but with a pier in the Delaware River that was located in Delaware territorial waters.

American Bar Association

Jim May is chair of the American Bar Association’s Annual Conference on Environmental Law, the nation’s leading conference in the field. He is a past Council Member to the ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER), the Section’s governing body to its 10,000 members. He founded and chaired the section’s Constitutional Law Task Force, and chaired its Ecosystem Services Task Force. He has presented or moderated more than two dozen panels on environmental topics for the ABA and state analogues.

John Dernbach is a Council Member to SEER, and is past chair (and currently a vice chair) of the Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems.  He is the primary drafter of two resolutions adopted by the ABA House of Delegates-expressing the ABA’s commitment to work on behalf of sustainable development (2003) and expressing the ABA’s support for comprehensive national climate change legislation (Feb. 2008).  With his support, encouragement, and leadership, the Committee held the nation’s first climate change conferences for lawyers and has pioneered a sustainable law practice initiative that many law firms have joined.

David Hodas is a member of the ABA’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, and he chaired and vice-chaired the Committee on Global Climate and Sustainable Development., and is on the Board of Editors of NATURAL RESOURCES and ENVIRONMENT, the section’s quarterly journal.  David Hodas was also an appointed member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Environmental Law; and he was the Planning Committee Chair, 34th American Bar Association National Spring Conference on the Environment, Ecosystems, Infrastructure and the Environment: Reconciling Law, Policy and Nature

Ken Kristl is an active member of the ABA’s Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources and was a Vice-Chair of the 2008 Eastern Water Law conference.

American Law Institute (ALI).

Jim May has delivered papers at more than a dozen environmental conferences sponsored by the ALI in conjunction with the ABA, addressing topics including climate change and energy, citizen suits, endangered species, water and air pollution, and constitutional law.

Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

John Dernbach leads a national project to review U.S. efforts concerning sustainable development and make recommendations for future efforts.  The contributing authors to this project-each distinguished experts in their fields–are from major universities and law schools, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.  The project has resulted, or will result, in two books published by the Environmental Law Institute Press.

Jim May researched environmental human rights as a Visiting Fellow at ELI.

American Association of Law Schools (AALS).

Jim May was a presenter at the 2008 Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education.

Consultants Working Group of the Climate Legacy Initiative.

Andrew Strauss is a member of this joint project of the University of Vermont and the University of  Iowa

Climate Justice Programme

Andrew Strauss has also worked closely with this organization.

American College of Environmental Lawyers

Jim May is a Fellow of the Board of Regents of the College.

International Community Involvement

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

David Hodas is a member of the inaugural Governing Council of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.  He has been a Credentialed Delegate for IUCN The World Conservation Union, at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Ad Hoc Open Ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development; and United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Sustainable Development.  He is also a member of the IUCN Environmental Law Commission and it Energy Specialist Working Group. International presentations at IUCN Academy of Environmental Colloquiums in Kenya, Australia, Brazil, China and Canada, and will do so in Mexico City in November 2008.

Jim May presented at the IUCN’s inaugural International Environmental Law Judicial Institute, concerning emerging issues in human rights and the environment.

John Dernbach is a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, and presented a paper at an IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Mexico City.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)

Jim May researched environmental human rights at UNEP, and as a Visiting Fellow at ELI.

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