Symposium on Reconceptualizing the Future of Environmental Law

Reconceptualizing the Future of Environmental Law
March 20, 2015

New York State Judicial Institute at Pace Law School
78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603

On March 20, the Pace Environmental Law Review invited environmental law professors, practitioners, and students for a crucial conversation on redefining the field of environmental law. The Symposium focused on the continued expansion of environmental law into distinct areas of the law, requiring an increasingly multidisciplinary approach beyond that of traditional federal regulation. For information on the Symposium, please see the video and agenda below.

          >> View lecture video

8:30–9:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast for Speakers, private roundtable participants, and invited guests
9:00–10:00 Private Roundtable Discussions

General Registration and Check-in

10:00–10:20 Welcoming Remarks


Daniel Farber (Sho Sato Professor of Law and Co-director of the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, Berkeley Law School)

From Sources to Systems
EPA's proposed section 111(d) rules marks a transition in environmental regulation of energy sources.  The traditional approach focused on individual sources, but regulations have increasingly focused on the system level.  Notably, although the statute is addressed to individual sources, the Court moved away from that approach in EME Homer.  At the same time, efforts to reduce transportation-based emissions also increasingly focus on the transport and fuel supply systems rather than individual sources.  We can expect to see more use of the systems approach in the years to come.

Commentary by:

Michael Pappas (Assistant Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law)

Karl Rábago (Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Energy and Climate Center, Pace Law School)



Carmen Gonzalez (Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law)

The unprecedented degradation of the planet’s vital ecosystems is among the most pressing issues confronting the international community. Despite the proliferation of legal instruments to combat environmental problems, conflicts between rich and poor nations (the North-South divide) have compromised international environmental law, leading to deadlocks in environmental treaty negotiations and noncompliance with existing agreements. This presentation will discuss the historic origins of the North-South divide, several contemporary manifestations, and potential ways of bridging the divide.

Commentary by:

James Salzman (Samuel F. Mordecai Professor of Law and Environmental Policy, Duke Law School)

Ann Powers (Professor of Law, Pace Law School)

12:30–1:30  Lunch sponsored by ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER)


Scott Schang (President, Environmental Law Institute)

Environmental Law Institute's Findings on the Future of Environmental Law


Roundtable Discussion


Nicholas A. Robinson (Pace University Professor for the Environment)


Todd Aagaard (Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law)

David Cassuto (Professor of Law, Pace Law School)

Jason Czarnezki (Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, Pace Law School)

Alexandra Dapolito Dunn (Executive Director and General Counsel, Environmental Council of the States)

Daniel Farber (Sho Sato Professor of Law, Berkeley Law School)

Carmen Gonzalez (Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law)

Michael Pappas (Assistant Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law)

Margot Pollans (Professor of Law, Pace Law School)

James Salzman (Professor of Law and Environmental Policy, Duke Law School)

Michael Vandenbergh (Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School)

3:15-3:30 Coffee and tea break

Keynote Speech


Michael Vandenbergh (David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law and Director of the Climate Change Research Network, Vanderbilt Law School)

The environmental issues, policy plasticity, and regulatory instruments that shaped the early decades of environmental law are no longer dominant. Climate change has the potential to dwarf the issues that sparked the environmental movement, the worldviews and coalitions that enabled enactment of more than a dozen major environmental statutes are long gone, and the standard tools of the trade – government regulation, cap-and-trade systems, and taxes – are often not politically viable. Although the ground has shifted under environmental law, new approaches to environmental governance have emerged that can bypass barriers to government action on climate change and other important environmental problems. Recent executive branch regulations will reduce carbon emissions, as will efforts by state and local governments. The international process also may yield additional reductions. But these public governance measures will fall far short of the reductions necessary to reduce the risk of serious climate disruption. The remarkable growth of private climate governance in the last decade demonstrates how private initiatives that target households, corporations, and other organizations can complement public measures and generate major reductions at low cost and without government action. The actors driving these emissions reductions are private institutions rather than government, and the actions are private initiatives, not statutes, regulations or international agreements. These private initiatives do not rely simply on support for climate mitigation, which is often thin, but also harness efficiency incentives that are unexploited because of widespread market and behavioral failures. Private governance is not a substitute for government action, but it can reduce climate risks, complement a government response, and provide a window into the future of environmental law.

4:30–5:30  Reception