The 20th annual Stegner Center Symposium, held March 5-6, was only one of the highlights of an exciting year for the College of Law’s environmental law and natural resources program. The symposium, Air Quality; Health, Energy, and Economics, held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, attracted 300 attendees, who listened to 24 speakers from around the country, including representatives from the sciences and social sciences, academia, government, industry, and the legal profession. “The speakers at the symposium presented the multi-faceted aspects of the air pollution problem,” said Professor Lincoln Davies, who helped organize the symposium. “From the health and economic implications of air pollution, to the science behind air quality dilemmas, to the longstanding and emerging legal and policy responses to this enduring issue, it was truly a pleasure to learn from these world-renowned experts, who not only educated us but were eminently engaging as well.”
The symposium unofficially began on March 4, with the Wallace Stegner Lecture. In his presentation, “Against all Odds: Why America’s Century-Old Quest for Clean Air May Usher in a New Era of Global Environmental Cooperation,” Robert V. Percival, the Robert F. Stanton Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental Law Program at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, argued that America’s approach to addressing air quality issues might provide a model for other countries.
On Thursday, the symposium officially opened with three presentations on “The Clean Air Act—Origins and Directions.” Other topics addressed throughout the day included air quality and public health, the economic and ethical tensions at the heart of the air quality crisis, and air quality and climate change. C. Arden Pope III, the Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University and one of the country’s leading experts on the health effects of air pollution, closed the day with his keynote address on “Air Pollution and Human Health—Science, Public Policy, and Controversy.”
The following day the symposium focused on regional and local issues. The opening panel on air quality in the West looked at energy extraction, population, and transportation, with the second panel of the day focused on the Wasatch Front. Jody Freeman, the Archibald Cox Professor of Law and the founding director of the Harvard Law School Environmental Law and Policy Program, provided the keynote address. A leading scholar of both administrative law and environmental law, her discussion was entitled “Old Statutes: New Problems — EPA’s Creative Adaptation of the Clean Air Act to Address Climate Change.”
The Stegner Symposium was only one highlight of an eventful year. The year began with the Wilderness Act at 50 and the Mountain West conference held on September 26, 2014. The conference brought together 12 speakers from around the country, including the noted historian and author Douglas Brinkley who delivered the keynote address on “U.S. Presidents and the Wilderness Act.” On November 21, the Stegner Center held a seminar on “The High Cost of Non-Compliance: Risk Management and Environmental Protection Duties from the Industry Perspective.” The seminar opened with a presentation by keynote speaker Carol Dinkins, Partner, Vinson & Elkins, on “What Can Happen to a Company When Things Go Wrong: Balancing Duties to Shareholders, Customers and Public.” Her presentation set the stage for the day’s discussion on responding to catastrophic industrial accidents, appropriate regulatory responses to industrial non-compliance, environmental health and safety management systems, and the interaction of regulators, the regulated community, and community leaders.
Emily Hammond, a Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, joined the Stegner Center in March as the Stegner Center’s 10th annual young scholar. Young Scholars are selected based on their accomplishments, the quality of their academic work, and their promise in the field of environmental and natural resources law so Professor Hammond joined an elite group. Professor Hammond delivered a Downtown CLE on “Risk Perception and Stakeholder Engagement in Energy and Environmental Law” and a Young Scholar lecture on “Risk and Retroactivity in Energy and Environmental Law.”
Other guest speakers who were part of the Stegner Center’s lecture series and green bag series included acclaimed filmmaker Toby McLeod who premiered films from his Standing on Sacred Ground series; Mary Christina Wood, the Philip H. Knight Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon, who discussed her book Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age; and Jim Steenburgh, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah, who discussed his new book about Utah, Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth.