“Happy [50th] Earth Day—Something More to Crow About”

Posted on April 20, 2020 by Jeff Civins

In May of last year, I posted a blog about Earth Day’s upcoming 50th anniversary, highlighting one planned celebration of that landmark event, EarthX, which last year drew a crowd of 175,000 visitors in Dallas and which this year was anticipating over 200,000 attendees.  But the world is a different place today than it was a year ago and EarthX organizers, under the leadership of the environmentalist Trammell S. Crow, developed a Plan B, transforming the event into a virtual, online experience, featuring a series of high profile thought leaders, sharing the objective of EarthX and its founder—to inspire people and organizations to take action towards a more sustainable future worldwide.  Among this year’s virtual programs is its Law and Policy Symposium.

The Symposium had been planned to be a full-day event with sessions on water, public and private lands, the challenges of climate change, and the future of environmental law--with speakers representing a diverse range of perspectives.  Fingers crossed, EarthX is planning to hold that same event on October 22, “Half Earth Day.”  But to celebrate Earth Day on its true birthday, EarthX will be presenting instead a 90-minute virtual program on April 22 at 12 PM Central time/1 PM Eastern Time.

This condensed program includes an EPA Update, from EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator Ken McQueen, and a series of conversations:

  • Between Seth Seigel, NY Times bestselling author of “Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What we Drink,” and Brent Fewell, Founder, Earth and Water Law Group, on the topic of our water;
  • Between Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Pam Giblin of the Climate Leadership Council, on the challenges of climate change; and
  • Between Yale Professor Dan Esty, editor of  A Better Planet: Forty Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future, and John C. Cruden, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond and former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice. 

There will be a special chat room for virtual attendees to ask questions during the presentations and perhaps provision for ongoing online discussions after the Symposium is over. 

To register and to see the complete agenda, go to https://earthx.org/earthxlaw/

The Symposium organizers hope that this year’s virtual program—and the full program in October-- will foster a dialog among diverse perspectives that results in the identification of points on which there might be consensus, and identification of a range of paths forward to inspire people and organizations to take action towards a more sustainable future worldwide.  In these times particularly, a dialog among diverse perspectives seeking a common objective would be something to crow about.

“Happy [50th] Earth Day—Something to Crow About”

Posted on May 23, 2019 by Jeff Civins

In April of next year, the world will be celebrating Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. According to the ultimate source—Wikipedia—Earth Day is now celebrated in more than 193 countries. Among those celebrations is one held annually in Dallas, which this year drew a record crowd of 175,000 visitors. This particular celebration, formerly known as Earth Day Texas and rebranded as EarthX, was adopted by environmentalist Trammell S. Crow in 2011 and turned into the world’s “largest annual environmental exposition and programming initiative.” 

In describing its founder, EarthX’s website notes “[w]ith a focus on inspiring environmental leadership across sectors and party lines, Trammell has succeeded in bringing together people and organizations from all walks of life to explore and collaborate on solutions for some of today’s most pressing environmental [concerns].” For example, at one of EarthX’s events this year, Susan Eisenhower moderated a discussion on climate change by Senators Lindsey Graham (R. SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D. RI), and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry spoke about how innovation is revolutionizing the country’s energy production and consumption. Another of this year’s EarthX events was a Law and Policy Symposium, which, consistent with EarthX’s theme of water, was entitled “Water, Water Everywhere…” The Symposium brought together prominent thought leaders, including ACOEL fellows, representing diverse perspectives to discuss legal and policy implications of a range of pertinent topics.

The Symposium included discussions of: water issues facing Texas (“Don’t mess with Texas”); federal water quality issues (“A River Runs Through It”); coastal issues (“Surf’s Up”); water issues facing cities (“Going with the Flow”); and the water energy interface (Thirst for Power”). A luncheon presentation (“Making Waves”) included the showing of an excerpt from the Emmy-award winning  documentary—“The Sonic Sea”--on the threat oceanic man-made noise poses to marine life, presented by Stephen Honigman, a former general counsel of the U.S.  Navy who is one of the filmmakers.

The federal water quality panel was representative of the dialog the Symposium tried to foster and resulted in a lively discussion of “water of the U.S.” involving Matt Leopold, EPA’s General Counsel, and representatives from the National Wildlife Federation, the American Farm Bureau, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and a moderator and a panelist from private practice. Other prominent speakers at the Symposium included Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, on the topic of water energy interface, former DOJ official John Cruden, on water issues facing cities, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, on cooperative federalism (“Keeping Both Oars in the Water”).

Last year’s Symposium entitled “Back to the Future,” also included a diverse array of prominent environmental thought leaders, and focused on the future of: environmental regulation; sustainable and ethical corporate decision-making; disaster response; and domestic energy production. Reflective of the diversity of speakers, the energy session included representatives from the Edison Electric Institute, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and the Climate Leadership Council, as well as a private practitioner.

The Symposium the year before dealt with fundamental environmental issues that included: integrating science into regulatory decision-making; reconciling energy and economic development with protection of the public health and environment; facilitating resolution of environmental disputes associated development; and integrating sustainability into corporate decision-making.

Next year’s Law and Policy Symposium will focus on environmental developments over the past 50 years since the first Earth Day and on where we are, or should be, headed. The Symposium organizers hope that next year’s program will result in a dialog among diverse perspectives that results in the identification of points on which there might be consensus and of a range of paths forward to realize the objective of EarthX--and its patron and founder, Trammell S. Crow--“to inspire people and organizations to take action towards a more sustainable future worldwide.”