ABA Environmental Law Conference

At the ABA Environmental Law Conference in Denver, the two main themes are:

  • Energy extraction (mostly oil and gas) law and regulation
  • Brownfield development, litigation, and real-estate sales

The attendees seem to be mostly big-firm lawyers who represent corporate clients, and, secondarily, regulators. This mix is very different from the mix at the Yosemite Environmental Law Conference, where NGO and petitioners-side environmental lawyers are dominant. As far as I’ve noticed, the Nature Conservancy and my NGO, Advocates for the Environment, are the only environmental organizations at this conference.

This morning’s session focused on the Clean Power Plan. The industry lawyer complained “how can coal plants survive when they have to aggregate their emissions with renewable sources to pass muster?” Has he considered that part of the point of the CPP is that coal plants are not supposed to survive? We need to put them out of existence as quickly as possible. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal program, pushing this agenda, is one of the most successful environmental campaigns in history, and probably the most important campaign occurring now.