Episode for August 14, 2023
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NPR: “A Montana judge on Monday sided with young environmental activists who said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by permitting fossil fuel development without considering its effect on the climate.
The ruling following a first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change.
District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the policy the state uses in evaluating requests for fossil fuel permits — which does not allow agencies to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions — is unconstitutional.”
I reached out to the founder and faculty director of the groundbreaking Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and one of the foremost environmental lawyers in the nation, Michael Gerrard is an advocate, litigator, teacher, and scholar who has pioneered cutting-edge legal tools and strategies for addressing climate change. He writes and teaches courses on environmental law, climate change law, and energy regulation. He was the chair of the faculty of Columbia University’s renowned Earth Institute from 2015 to 2018.
For three decades, before joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 2009, Gerrard practiced law in New York, most recently as the partner in charge of the New York office of Arnold & Porter, where he remains senior counsel. As an environmental lawyer, he tried numerous cases and argued many appeals in federal and state courts and administrative tribunals. He also handled the environmental aspects of diverse transactions and development projects and provided regulatory compliance advice to an array of clients in the private and public sectors. Several publications rated him the leading environmental lawyer in New York and one of the leaders in the world.
A prolific author, he has written or edited 14 books, including Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, the first and leading work in its field (co-edited with Jody Freeman and Michael Burger), and Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (co-edited with John Dernbach). His 12-volume Environmental Law Practice Guide and four-volume Brownfields Law and Practice each received the Association of American Publishers’ Best Law Book of the Year award.
Gerrard is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s 10,000-member Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. He has also chaired the New York City Bar Association’s Executive Committee and the New York State Bar Association’s environmental law section. He has served on the executive committees of the boards of the Environmental Law Institute and the American College of Environmental Lawyers.
Gerrard also has taught courses at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and the University of Malta. He has lectured on environmental law in Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Great Britain, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malta, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vatican City, and throughout the United States. He has worked with the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on the legal issues caused by rising sea levels that threaten the island nation.