Committee DescriptionsUpdated: November 9, 2010
The Agricultural Management Committee addresses legal and policy challenges worldwide, balancing food production needs with the environmental concerns of various stakeholders. The Committee educates Section members, international associates, laymen, scientists, and others to promote a helpful dialogue on the most pressing problems facing agriculture in the new millennium.
The Air Quality Committee provides a valuable forum and practical resources for lawyers interested in air-related issues to: 1) keep up to date on new developments, through extensive communications such as newsletters, satellite conferences and seminars; 2) exchange ideas and Best Practices with other practitioners around the country; and 3) stay involved with the environmental lawyer community by contributing to various Section publications and participating in Section events.
Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems
The unique scope of the Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee focuses on three interrelated topics of increasing importance at the international and domestic level. The Committee is long established as the leading forum for those engaged in the regulatory and legal aspects of climate change. Following the ABA’s participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Committee is leading the Section-wide effort to raise awareness of sustainability concepts and to integrate sustainability thinking across all environmental practice areas. The newest component of the Committee’s membership seeks to explore ecosystem-based approaches to environmental protection and regulation.
The Endangered Species Committee focuses on the law and policy related to endangered species issues. The Committee is devoted to alerting our members to important administrative, judicial and legislative Endangered Species Act (ESA) developments, providing in-depth analyses from those on the cutting edge of these developments, and giving members a forum to discuss the merit, weight and practical implications of these and other long-standing ESA issues. Our members are in the private and public sector, representing industries, state and federal governments, and non-governmental organizations, and tend to be most interested in the application of the ESA to public and private activities and in the regulatory requirements with which those activities must comply. The Committee has therefore given particular attention to the requirements under Sections 7 and 9 of the ESA, the development and use of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) to address ESA compliance issues, the integration of endangered species compliance with other environmental programs, and the effect of major listing decisions on species, habitat, and developments in the affected geographical areas.
The Environmental Disclosures Committee provides a forum for the discussion of corporate environmental disclosure in light of the requirements recently imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley and the increasing number of environmental “transparency” initiatives. The Committee focuses on legally mandated SEC and financial statement disclosure of environmental matters and the relationship between such disclosures and voluntary corporate sustainability and social responsibility disclosures of environmental matters to stakeholders. It also treats issues arising from product-related environmental disclosures in the commercial marketplace.
Environmental Enforcement and Crimes
The Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee monitor and communicate the trends and developments of interest to its members and their clients, focusing on practical issues arising in environmental civil and criminal enforcement. Current topics include the worker endangerment initiative by the United States Department of Justice, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and United States Environmental Protection Agency, the trend towards targeting individuals in environmental prosecutions, and emerging issues in sentencing and penalty assessment.
Environmental Litigation and Toxic Torts
The Environmental Litigation and Toxic Torts Committee covers one of the fastest growing areas of legal practice, with particular focus on litigation issues arising in environmental and toxic tort matters. The Committee's goal is to track trends and developing substantive and procedural law in environmental and toxic tort causes of action through programs, newsletters and quick teleconferences.
Environmental Transactions and Brownfields
The Environmental Transactions and Brownfields Committee deals with the role of environmental law in transactions of all kinds, with special attention to the redevelopment of brownfields, including assumption and apportionment of liability, voluntary clean-up laws, prospective purchaser agreements, insurance, institutional controls, environmental justice, parent and successor liability, underground storage tanks and audit privilege.
International Environmental Law
The International Environmental Law Committee brings together attorneys from across the United States and around the world to better understand the unique and dynamic field of international environmental law. Our members include lawyers in solo practice, small and large private law firms, corporations, government, and non-governmental organizations, as well as faculty from schools of law on several continents. The two primary objectives of the Committee are to provide members with the tools and resources to enhance their practice or research and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences relevant to the practice and study of international environmental law.
Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know
The Committee on Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-To-Know addresses a diversity of federal, state, and international regulatory matters with a distinct product focus. Products of interest include chemical and biological pesticides, industrial and consumer chemicals, and plant and microbial products of biotechnology.
Smart Growth and Green Buildings
The Smart Growth and Green Building Committee ("SGGB") addresses those aspects of environmental regulation that affect where activity does and does not occur. It specifically focuses on the law of "where things go" by examining the interaction between environmental regulatory policy and urban policy.
State and Regional Environmental Cooperation
The State and Regional Environmental Cooperation Committee is a forum for the exchange of ideas, rather than focusing on a substantive area of environmental law. This gives the committee a unique advantage in being able to communicate across the spectrum of the Section's constituencies not only about a variety of substantive issues but also how to manage the solution of conflicts. Through Regional Councils the Committee helps to coordinate activities of the ABA with that of EPA regions and State and Local Bar Associations.
Superfund and Natural Resource Damages Litigation
The Superfund and Natural Resource Damages Litigation Committee focuses on developments in federal and state laws, cases and policy related to Superfund remediation and natural resource damages (NRD), including enforcement activities under CERCLA and state equivalents, assessments under DOI, NOAA and state programs, as well as keeping informed of developments in related areas such as environmental insurance for CERCLA sites, legal aspects of new treatment technologies, and NRD assessment methods and valuation methodologies. The Committee will also offer information and updates on NRD settlement issues and options, litigation techniques and evidence issues of particular interest to environmental practitioners.
Waste and Resource Recovery
The Waste and Resource Recovery Committee (formerly Waste Management Committee) is broadening its focus from the traditional “cradle to grave” management of solid and hazardous waste to encompass a more sustainable view of waste as a resource through recycling, beneficial use, reduction, and conservation. The W&RR Committee will track and communicate statutory, regulatory, and judicial developments in emerging areas such as new definitions of solid and hazardous waste, recycling, permitting, flow control, waste bans, waste conversion technologies, and environmental justice. We will encourage member-to-member dialogue through the use of traditional and innovative means to exchange ideas, share success stories, and identify opportunities for meaningful contributions to the field. Our members include a rich mixture of lawyers in private practice, in-house counsel, trade association counsel, non-profit lawyers, and government attorneys.
Water Quality and Wetlands
The Water Quality and Wetlands Committee's goal is to keep water quality and wetlands issues in focus for our members as they move into the next century. This will be accomplished by identifying emerging issues such as recent cases on federal jurisdiction, Water Quality and TMCL Regulations and Citizen Suit litigation among others.
Energy and Resources Committees
Energy and Environmental Markets and Finance (formerly known as the Carbon Trading and Energy Finance)
Historically, the worlds of lawyers working in environmental compliance/litigation, energy transactions, energy trading and project finance have existed separately – each within its own field of operation and expertise. With the emergence of climate change concerns, carbon regulation, and the drive for energy independence, the separation no longer holds. The fields of energy transactions and trading, finance and environmental compliance are converging at a rapid pace. This committee seeks to provide services to the members of the American Bar Association at the critical intersection of these disciplines.
Energy and Natural Resources Litigation
The Energy and Natural Resources Litigation Committee delivers practitioners with up-to-date information on areas such as electricity litigation with an emphasis on energy law of electric and natural gas conveyance, natural resource litigation with a focus on emerging natural resources damage issues, oil and natural gas litigation and overarching litigation issues.
Energy and Natural Resources Market Regulation
This Committee strives to provide its members with timely information concerning federal and state legislation and regulation relating to the structure of the electric and natural gas industries, the development of competitive markets for electricity and natural gas, and the infrastructure necessary to meet the nation's demand for electricity and natural gas. The Committee will also focus on new issues confronting electricity and natural gas marketing including the impact of carbon regulation, demand-side management and energy efficiency initiatives (including state grant funds for energy efficiency projects, “decoupling” of service rates from amounts sold, and efforts to allow demand-side resources to participate in wholesale markets), and “re-regulation” of electric utilities.
Energy Infrastructure and Siting
The primary goal is to foster development of practical resources relating to the challenges of modernizing and expanding the nation’s energy infrastructure for both traditional and renewable energy sources and of balancing competing interests in the siting process. The issues include: providing adequate, affordable and reliable supplies of energy; sequestering carbon; protecting environmental quality; ensuring meaningful public participation; addressing environmental justice concerns, Native American cultural and economic issues; siting and construction of new energy infrastructure, including transmission lines and renewable energy resources; the build out of a smart grid; national security; resolution of differences among national, regional, state, and local energy policies and planning; deregulation, streamlining the siting process through consolidation of licensing and improving agency coordination; and incorporating comprehensive approaches to analyzing cumulative impacts and land-use planning.
The Forest Resources committee addresses virtually every issue that touches both private and public forest lands. We focus on all legal, policy and practical issues of interest to owners, lenders, trade associations, managers, users and others who are interested in forest lands. Through various programs, we provide information to our committee members that is not available from any other organization.
Hydroelectric projects use the flow of water, a renewable resource, to provide an important source of electric power in the United States. They also serve multiple additional purposes, including flood control, navigation, storage of water for irrigation and municipal and industrial purposes, fish and wildlife, and recreation. These projects also have effects the environment, including fish and wildlife, habitat, and water quality. Through participation at conferences and written and electronic publications, the Hydro Power Committee intends to keep its members apprised of developments and issues relevant to hydroelectric projects.
The Marine Resources Committee deals with the many diverse issues associated with the largest ecosystem on Earth, including marine transportation, from cruise ships to lightering vessels, exploration and production of marine natural resources, weather and climate change, fish and aquaculture and legal issues resulting from the use of coastal and ocean areas. Recently, this Committee has focused on the Pew Oceans Commission report, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report, and the revitalization of national ocean policy and national ocean legislation to better address all of these issues.
The Mining Committee is devoted to study and discussion of the entire range of environmental, energy and resource issues attendant to the hardrock and coal mining industries, including regulatory developments, civil and criminal actions, and other aspects of these industries which involve legal counseling and representation.
Native American Resources
Since the 1980s, the Committee has been recognized as a national forum for lawyers representing federally recognized tribes (“Tribes”), tribal entities, indigenous peoples, and businesses engaged in development or other commercial activities within or near Indian country, Alaska Native villages, and other lands of indigenous peoples (collectively “Tribal Lands”). The Committee focuses on broad ranging current and emerging environmental, energy, and resource issues affecting Tribal Lands, including but not limited to regulation of reservation activities, resources, and the environment; traditional, renewable, and alternative energy development; land use, land rights, leasing, and permitting; climate change impacts and legislative initiatives and policies; financing and economic considerations; collaborative efforts between tribes and states or developers; treaty and subsistence rights; Indian water rights; environmental justice; cultural and sacred site protection; and cross boundary and international initiatives, agreements, and processes affecting the rights of tribes and indigenous peoples. The Committee seeks to open dialogue among its members and others to promote the exchange of ideas and to raise awareness of not only the unique issues related to Tribal Lands, but also the unique challenges confronting Tribes and indigenous peoples and third parties seeking to do business on Tribal Lands. The Committee also fosters education on new developments, laws, and policies affecting Tribes, tribal entities, and indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. Finally, the Committee strives to encourage and increase participation in the Committee and Section, particularly by Native American attorneys and newly admitted attorneys interested in the field of Indian and tribal law.
Nuclear Power, Special Committee on
The Special Committee on Nuclear Power is new to the Section this year. The creation of this new committee parallels the renewed interest in nuclear power that has arisen with the world’s focus on climate change and with the development of new nuclear generating technologies. It is an exciting opportunity to help create a new committee within the Section’s already vibrant structure, and the vice-chairs and I look forward to providing information to the Section membership that can enliven the never-dull discussion around this topic.
Oil and Gas
The Oil and Gas Committee is a new committee that combines the work of the former Global Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Committee and International Energy and Resources Transactions Committees to create a broader-based committee dealing with oil and gas issues. It provides a venue for energy law practitioners who wish to monitor, discuss and explore legal trends and developments that impact the practice of law within the oil and gas industry. The Committee provides a unique opportunity to establish a strong global network of lawyers and legal associations worldwide to promote professional development in oil and gas transactional areas through exchange of ideas, experiences, and access to the latest best practices. This Committee focuses upon many topics of interest to energy law practitioners including, among others: (1) legal issues pertinent to the business of exploring for and producing oil and natural gas, (2) new trends and developments in the oil and gas industry that have an impact on the rendition of legal services within that industry, (3) regulatory, statutory and case law developments pertinent to the exploration and production business, (4) the future of the domestic oil and gas exploration and production industry, and (5) global trends and risks affecting oil and gas project developments that are most complementary to members' practices and interests.
The Petroleum Marketing Committee’s goal is to provide attorneys whose practice includes petroleum marketing matters with an opportunity to exchange ideas, obtain timely information concerning cases, statutes and regulations in the industry, address issues that affect their current and future practices and to provide opportunities to develop interpersonal relationships.
Public Land and Resources
The Public Land and Resources Committee focuses on a broad array of federal land issues, as well as private, local, state and international public land and resource issues. In the federal context, the Committee will consider federal land matters pertaining to the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, Wildlife Refuge Management system, military installations and other federal land holdings. The Committee also will focus on land use issues on land use opportunities created by private, local, state and international land holdings. For instance, recreation (developed and underdeveloped), wilderness, wildlife, open space, grazing, species conservation and regulatory takings law will be considered a mission critical issue areas for the Committee. The Committee will consider these issues for both land and water based resources.
Renewable, Alternative, and Distributed Energy Resources (formerly known as the Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources)
The Renewable, Alternative, and Distributed Energy Resources Committee will examine and disseminate information on those legal policy and practical implementation issues which affect expansion of markets for renewable and distributed energy resources. The Committee will have five primary areas of focus: (1) innovative approaches to stimulating renewable and distributed energy resource development; (2) measures for commoditization and value maximization of fuel, environment and tax-related legal attributes of renewable energy and distributed generation production; (3) constraints on fitting renewable resources and distributed generation (whether or not powered by renewable fuels) into the framework of national and states’ energy policy; (4) relating renewable energy resource and distributed generation development to environmental legal requirements; and (5) issues related to structuring finance for renewable energy and distributed generation.
The Water Resources Committee focuses primarily on substantive and practice developments that impact water allocation and availability. These fall into a broad spectrum of subject areas, including state water law; federal and tribal water law; issues arising under the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act; interstate allocation of water; the Public Trust Doctrine; reserved water rights; state, local and municipal planning of water supplies; and federal reclamation law.
Cross Practice Committees
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee involves itself with all aspects of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as the field affects environmental, energy and resource issues. Our primary goal is the development and dissemination of information on practical applications for ADR techniques in the environmental, energy and resource fields.
The Constitutional Law Committee will cover topics such as takings, federalism, separation of powers, and other constitutional issues; U.S. Supreme Court practice.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The Environmental Impact Assessment Committee will cover practice under the National Environmental Policy Act and its state and international counterparts; drafting and litigating environmental impact statements, assessments and reports.
The Ethics Committee fosters an involvement in the field of professional ethics by all Section members. One focus of the committee is to review and submit any necessary and appropriate comments on proposed changes to the ABA Model Rules. Another primary focus of the committee is to keep section members updated on relevant and timely ethical concerns. The committee provides accredited ethics CLE for the section.
This Committee will address the relatively new practice area of federal, state and local strategies for addressing homeland security as directed by the recently established United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Following the organization of DHS, the Committee will focus on four general areas: Emergencies and Disasters; Travel and Transportation; Research and Technology; and Threats and Protection.
The In-House Counsel Committee was established to facilitate communication and networking among in-house counsel who practice in the environmental, energy and/or natural resources field in a variety of settings -- corporations, associations, and non-profits. The committee serves as a conduit for the rapid distribution of news and information of particular interest to in-house lawyers. The Committee focuses on emerging trends in the substantive areas of energy, environmental, and resource practice and on the lawyer’s role in environmental management and corporate/ organizational decision making.
Innovation, Management Systems and Trading
As its name suggests, the Committee on Innovation, Management Systems and Trading focuses on three main topics: (1) innovation programs, which provide greater flexibility while requiring better environmental performance and stakeholder involvement; (2) policies that encourage businesses to shift from a reactive, compliance-oriented approach to a more active "environmental management" approach to environmental performance; and (3) programs that use market-based, trading arrangements to achieve better environmental results. All three of these approaches depart from traditional regulatory methods. The Committee examines the implications of these regulatory alternatives for law, policy and environmental law practice
Science and Technology
The Science and Technology Committee evaluates scientific and technological issues and trends in litigation, federal and state regulatory regimes and legislative developments in practice areas across the spectrum of environmental, energy and resources law.