Associated Press: Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks in NC, helps rivers group raise money

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Pace affiliation is mentioned in an Associated Press (AP) brief for his speaking engagements in North Carolina, picked up by close to 20 outlets including the Washington Examiner and the Winston-Salem Journal.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Pace affiliation is mentioned in an Associated Press (AP) brief for his speaking engagements  in North Carolina, picked up by close to 20 outlets including  the Washington Examiner and the Winston-Salem Journal.

From the AP:

Winston-Salem, N.C. — Environmental lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is in North Carolina to talk about the economic impact of energy and environmental issues.

Kennedy is speaking Thursday evening at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel and at the university’s law school Friday morning.

Kennedy has numerous environmentalist credentials, including as a professor and supervising attorney at Pace University’s Environmental litigation clinic. Kennedy also is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an organization that seeks to protect watersheds worldwide.

A group dedicated to preserving the Yadkin River is using Kennedy’s visit to hold a fundraising reception.

White Plains Patch: “Brazilian Attorneys Learning Environmental Law at Pace”

A lengthy Patch article features Brazilian students who are taking part in Pace’s summer environmental law classes. Many of these students are already acclaimed lawyers back home in Brazil.

A lengthy Patch article features Brazilian students who are taking part in Pace’s summer environmental law classes. Many of these students  are already acclaimed lawyers back home in Brazil. From the article:

Baggio, 32, from Recife, is already an attorney back home, as are many of the students enrolled in the program. A number of the students are state attorneys.

“Those types of jobs are very prestigious in Brazil,” said Pace Law School Professor David Cassuto, director of BAILE and a former Fulbright scholar in Brazil. “These are some of the best and brightest of the Brazilian legal profession.”

Read the full article here.

MidHudsonNews.com: “Cronin awarded Jefferson Gold Medal”

John Cronin has been a part of the Hudson River environmental movement since 1973 when he started with the Clearwater organization. He reflects how Clearwater founder Pete Seeger recruited him as a volunteer.

John Cronin is a senior fellow at Pace University and executive director of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

He can also add another title to his resume, a recipient of the Jefferson Award, named for Thomas Jefferson and founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a “Noble Prize for public service.”

Cronin was described by the Jefferson Awards Board of Selectors as “Hero for the Planet [and] equal parts detective, scientist and public advocate.” The board said his efforts “have inspired a legacy of programs across the globe, fighting pollution on six continents.”

The MidHudsonNews reports Pace University President Stephen Friedman nominated Cronin for the award, for which Cronin said he was both humbled and honored.

Poughkeepsie Journal: “Hudson River steward receives Jefferson Award”

Steward of the Hudson River and water quality, John Cronin, received a 2011 Jefferson Award for his decades of public service.

John Cronin, a resident of Cold Spring, is known for his 17 years at environmental group Riverkeeper, and is the director and CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. He is also a Pace University senior fellow.

At the Beacon Institute, Cronin directs a program that monitors rivers and estuaries using a network of sensors and robotics.

He lectures on the environment, co-authored “The Riverkeepers” with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and wrote and co-produced the film “The Last Rivermen.”

Cronin told the Poughkeepsie Journal that he credited folksinger Pete Seeger and Pace University as his sources of inspiration.

The Journal News: “Ex-Riverkeeper John Cronin receives Jefferson Award”

Former Riverkeeper John Cronin joined a select group this week that included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and actress Marlo Thomas.

They all received what has been dubbed the “Nobel Prize” for public service — the Jefferson Award.

John Cronin, 60, has worked on environmental issues facing the Hudson River for nearly four decades and was one of 18 people honored with  The Jefferson Award in a ceremony in Washington, DC, Tuesday night.

“It was quite a surprise,” Cronin said Friday to The Journal News. “Some of the awards are known ahead of time, others are kept under wraps. I was just going there to represent Pace University. I still haven’t figured out who knew and who didn’t.”

“The big theme of the two days was that everyday people can change the world,” Cronin said. “It reminded me what a special place the Hudson River Valley is, that we started an environmental movement before there was an Earth Day, when environmentalism wasn’t very popular at all.”

Representing Pace, Cronin was given a Champion award, presented to two “exceptional individuals whose volunteer work reflects the deep and abiding commitment of their employers to making a different in the communities where their employees live and work.”

The award cited his work as an environmental advocate for nearly four decades, serving “on the front lines of water-quality issues as a legislative aide, riverkeeper, and as the co-founder of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, a nationally acclaimed training program for law students and educators.”

Cronin is director and CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, and a Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University.

The Associated Press: “Jefferson Prizes For Public Service Awarded To 18” – including Pace’s John Cronin, an internationally renowned environmentalist

Recipients of the 2011 Jefferson Awards – dubbed a “Nobel Prize” for public service – include John Cronin (pictured), Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, Pace University.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Marlo Thomas, Chicago sports team owner Jerry M. Reinsdorf and environmental advocate John Cronin (Pace Academy’s Senior Fellow in Environmental Affairs) are among the people and institutions honored with a national prize for public service on Tuesday evening, June 21 in Washington, DC reports The Associated Press.

The Jefferson Awards, now in their 39th year, were co-founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and are named for founding father Thomas Jefferson.

NEWS RELEASE: Institute to Support Increasing Numbers of Environmental Courts Launches at the Law School

Hosted in conjunction with the New York State Judicial Institute, the International Symposium on Environmental Courts Tribunals will take place from 9 a.m. 5:30 p.m. April 1 at the Judicial Institute on the Pace Law School campus, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY.

Pace Law School launches institute to strengthen fast-growing environmental courts and tribunals, now numbering 380 worldwide

Comprehensive view of the movement’s successes and challenges to emerge from April 1 Symposium bringing together international environmental judges and academics

WHITE PLAINS, NY, March 24, 2011–Despite the enactment of environmental statutes and negotiation of treaties since the 1970s, the global environment has degraded since that time rather than improved. But a recent grass roots movement is giving hope to environmentalists: More than 50 nations have created specialized environmental courts and tribunals to give priority attention to enforcing these laws.

While the strength of these courts may be largely untested, Pace Law School—ranked third in environmental law and sponsor of numerous judicial training workshops, symposia and conferences—believes fervently in their prospects. So much so that it is nurturing this “grassroots movement” by convening a landmark meeting of key international judges and scholars on Friday, April 1 to discuss their successes and challenges.

World Map of Countries with Environmental Courts and Tribunals

There are 380 such courts in operation today—nearly half of them created in the past five years alone. In the US, there is presently only one environmental court, in Vermont.

  • In China, where extraordinarily rapid economic growth has produced extreme air and water pollution, the government has authorized its citizens to bring lawsuits against polluting industries (many of them government enterprises) and 14 provinces have set up new environmental courts.
  • In India, the legislature has set up a nationwide system of “Green Tribunals” to hear citizen complaints on an expedited basis and see how best to apply the Supreme Court’s environmental law decisions, the most advanced set developed in any nation
  • In Kenya, plagued by dishonest practices in government and the courts, the Environment Court over the past two years has established a new standard for honest and open adjudication.
Nicholas Robinson

“These specialized courts are crucial to enforcing environmental laws that seek to curb greenhouse gas emissions, cope with sea level rise, abate pollution, safeguard biodiversity and protect threatened areas,” said Professor Nicholas Robinson, Pace’s University Professor on the Environment, founder of the Pace Law School’s environmental law programs, and a key player over the past 15 years in the movement to strengthen environmental courts worldwide. “In contrast to traditional courts, judges and administrators at these environmental courts become well-versed in environmental science and develop a sound understanding of environmental law. This enables the courts to make decisions more promptly, foster consistent rulings across time and show professionalism and independence.”

A briefing paper by Robinson outlining the history of environmental courts, ideas for educational modules, and a vision of a worldwide support system for such courts, is available online here.

Hosted in conjunction with the New York State Judicial Institute, the International Symposium on Environmental Courts & Tribunals will take place from 9 a.m. 5:30 p.m. April 1 at the Judicial Institute on the Pace Law School campus, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY. Media are welcome, with advance notice to Lauren Rubenstein.

Attendees at the symposium include Justice Antonio H. Benjamin of the High Court of Brazil; Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia; Judge Donald Kaniaru of the Environment Court of Kenya; Judge Meredith Wright of the Vermont Environmental Court; and Scott Fulton, General Counsel of the US EPA.

One of the attendees, Justice Antonio H. Benjamin of Brazil, said, “There is remarkable similarity among courts across most nations regarding environmental protection. The health of people and welfare of nature are essential for sustainable development, as the United Nations has often stated. Courts are only now delineating the environmental dimensions to justice. Aspirations for good governance and eco-sustainability depend on how courts enforce environmental legislation and treaties. It is nothing short of remarkable that so many nations recently have decided to establish environmental courts to do so.”

Photo Credit: WRI.org

The symposium will discuss the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource’s proposal to establish an International Judicial Institute for Environmental Adjudication, to be presented to the United Nations Summit planned for June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, “Rio+20.”

The Institute—a collaboration between Pace Law School, the IUCN’s Commission on Environmental Law and the Washington, DC-based Environmental Law Institute—would develop a cohesive international community of environmental judges, scholars and court administrators to promote the highest standards of environmental justice, protection and conservation.

“The rapid emergence of these environmental courts necessitates an autonomous judicial institute to facilitate the exchange of experience, build capacity for best judicial practices and lend collective support for realizing the rule of law in environmental case adjudication,” said Professor Robinson.

Contact:

Lauren Rubenstein
Manager, Media Relations
(914) 422-4389
cell (914) 329-8680
lrubenstein@law.pace.edu

Nicholas Robinson
Pace Law School
(914) 422-4244
nrobinson@law.pace.edu

Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. It offers full- and part-time JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus and offers the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in environmental law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu http://www.pace.edu/environment/

Gotham Gazette: Cuomo Gets Settlement From ExxonMobil for Greenpoint

Law students and professors from Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic, acting as lawyers for Riverkeeper, achieved a landmark settlement of federal litigation against ExxonMobil for oil contamination of a large section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Law students and professors from Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic have been representing Riverkeeper, which recently  joined New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and residents of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint community to announce a landmark settlement of federal litigation against ExxonMobil for oil contamination of a large section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

From the article:

Riverkeeper has been represented since the lawsuit’s inception by dedicated law students, supervised by law professors, at Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic in White Plains. “We are thrilled for Greenpoint, and for everyone who will ultimately use and enjoy Newtown Creek, that our litigation has concluded, and that the cleanup of the contamination will now move forward in earnest,” said Professor Daniel Estrin, one of the Supervising Attorneys at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic. “After decades of inaction by prior administrations to hold Exxon legally accountable, and to responsibly address one of the worst petroleum-contaminated sites in the history of this country, we now have a binding settlement in which Exxon acknowledges its legal responsibility to remediate all of the contaminated media on, and emanating from, the site. We applaud Attorney General Cuomo and the DEC for ultimately filing their own lawsuit, which helped to finally bring this unfortunate chapter for Greenpoint and Newtown Creek to conclusion.”
“Now that our lawsuit has been resolved, the next phase of restoring the community and the Creek begins” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “Riverkeeper is fully committed to supporting the community throughout this process; we will continue to monitor the cleanup to make sure that it goes according to plan and on schedule.”

Read the full article here.

NEWS RELEASE: The Pace Energy and Climate Center Received Award for Work on Clean Energy and Sustainability

For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.

Receives Outstanding Outreach Partner Award at ACE NY Annual Meeting

WHITE PLAINS, NY, October 28, 2010 – For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.  Presented by ACE NY’s Executive Director, Carol Murphy, this award recognizes exemplary leadership and outstanding work done on behalf of clean energy and sustainability in New York State. She praised Pace’s “dedicated efforts at the Legislature, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), and other state agencies and regulatory bodies, which help further positive policy developments for clean energy technologies.”

The Outstanding Outreach Partner Award is given to the individual, company or organization deemed most helpful in promoting the goals of ACE NY and sustainable energy through activities such as membership outreach, participation in public affairs and advocacy efforts, and government affairs.

“We are very pleased to receive this award, and to be recognized for our work in Albany promoting a clean energy agenda in New York State,” said Jamie Van Nostrand, executive director of the Energy and Climate Center. 

The Center’s work for alternative energy solutions in New York State includes:

  • Ensuring that the State meets its “15 by 15” energy efficiency target (achieving a 15 percent reduction in projected energy usage by 2015) through involvement in proceedings at the Public Service Commission;
  • Promoting solar energy in New York by proposing enactment of a target of 5000 MW of solar power capacity by 2025;
  • Representing environmental interests on the various stakeholder committees at the NYISO; and
  • Promoting demand response and energy efficiency as a means of avoiding investments in additional generating capacity.

 “These are critical times for laying the foundation of New York’s energy future, and we have made a significant investment in our Albany presence to advance a clean energy agenda focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Van Nostrand, adding, “It is gratifying to have these efforts recognized by ACE NY.”

The Center opened a full-time office in Albany in January 2010, and hired Jackson Morris as its senior policy advisor to work on legislative issues and to interact with key state agencies and other organizations involved in energy issues. These include the Public Service Commission, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the NYISO.  According to Van Nostrand, “this award is due largely to Jackson’s tireless efforts in Albany,” with assistance from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which provided valuable support for the opening of the Albany office.  Van Nostrand also noted the contributions of Dr. Laurence DeWitt and Sam Swanson in providing assistance to Jackson’s efforts in Albany.

Van Nostrand indicated that Pace will continue to collaborate with ACE NY in the future in order to further our collective goals.  “As we welcome a new administration in Albany in 2011, it will be essential that we continue building on our important relationship with ACE NY and other key players in the energy and environmental community,” Van Nostrand stated.

ACE NY is a nonprofit organization coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, a healthy environment, and a strong economy for New York State.  Its mission is to promote the use of clean, renewable electricity technologies and energy efficiency in New York State, in order to increase energy diversity and security, boost economic development, improve public health, and reduce air pollution.

The Pace Energy and Climate Center is an integral part of Pace Law School’s Environmental Law Program, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law.  For over 20 years, the Energy and Climate Center has been a leading multi-disciplinary organization in the areas of environmental research and advocacy on energy issues in New York and throughout the Northeast, while training law students in these areas.

Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Communications, (914) 422-4128                                                              cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

NEWS RELEASE: Pace Environmental Law Students Take on Big Coal

Student interns at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, under the supervision of law professors Karl S. Coplan, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Daniel Estrin, took the first step today in bringing a lawsuit against three mining companies in Kentucky for violations of the Clean Water Act.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Communications, (914) 422-4128, cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

Karl Coplan Co-Director, Environmental Litigation Clinic (914) 422- 4332 kcoplan@law.pace.edu

PACE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW STUDENTS TAKE ON BIG COAL

Kentucky Coal Companies Cited for Falsified Monitoring Data in Violation of Federal Law

White Plains, N.Y., October 7, 2010 – Student interns at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, under the supervision of law professors Karl S. Coplan, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Daniel Estrin, took the first step today in bringing a lawsuit against three mining companies in Kentucky for violations of the Clean Water Act.  Representing a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations and private citizens, including Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, and Waterkeeper Alliance, they filed a sixty-day notice letter alleging that the companies ICG Knott County, ICG Hazard, and Frasure Creek Mining, a subsidiary of Trinity Coal, exceeded pollution discharge limits in their permits, consistently failed to conduct the required monitoring of their discharges and, in many cases, submitted false monitoring data to the state agencies charged with protecting the public. Joining in the lawsuit were several local residents impacted by the dumping of mining waste into Kentucky’s waterways.

The coal companies cited in the notice letter are all operating in eastern Kentucky under state-issued permits that allow them to discharge limited amounts of pollutants into nearby streams and rivers.  Those same permits also require industries to carefully monitor and report their pollution discharges to state officials. These monitoring reports are public documents that can be reviewed by anyone who asks for them.

Among the allegations cited in the notice letter are exceedances and misreporting of discharges of manganese, iron, total suspended solids and pH.  The groups and local residents bringing these claims cite a total of over 20,000 incidences of these three companies, either exceeding permit pollution limits, failing to submit reports, or falsifying the required monitoring data.  These violations could result in fines that may exceed 740 million dollars.  Speaking at a press conference call this morning, Professor Coplan said, “No one should make money by violating the Clean Water Act.”

Under the Clean Water Act, the companies have sixty days to respond to the allegations made in the notice letter. If, at the end of that period, all violations have not been corrected, the groups and individuals plan on filing a complaint in federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The claims brought today may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to irresponsible mining reporting practices and a failure in the state’s monitoring program.  A recent trip to Kentucky’s Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement regional offices by Appalachian Voices’ Waterkeeper found stack after stack of discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) from more than 60 coal mines and processing facilities covered in dust on the desks of mine inspectors’ secretaries.  They did not appear to have been evaluated for compliance by the regulators for more than three years.  A sampling of the reports showed hundreds of repeated violations by coal mine operators in the state.  Commenting during the press briefing, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. added, “Regular, systematic open fraud that anyone could have uncovered shows the contempt that the coal industry has, not just for the law but for the state agency supposed to enforce it.”

“Our state officials have closed their eyes to an obviously serious problem,” said Ted Withrow, the retired Big Sandy Basin Management Coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Water and a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “These are not small exceedances – some are over 40 times the daily maximum. This should have been a red flag.”

The allegations of falsification of monitoring reports are another blow in a long list of recent black eyes for the coal industry, which is under widespread pressure to clean up its destructive practices and take responsibility for its enormous and devastating ecological footprint.  “The coal industry has proven time and again that it can’t be trusted.  It continually downplays its severe environmental impacts, places profit over worker safety and offers false economic analysis to try to keep its inherently destructive practices alive,” said Scott Edwards, Director of Advocacy for Waterkeeper Alliance.  “And now, we know they’re not honest in reporting on matters that impact the health of communities where they operate.”

“The Clean Water Act’s ‘citizen suit’ provision empowers citizens to be ‘private attorneys general,’ and to bring polluters into court when government doesn’t do its job,” said Professor Estrin.  The organizations bringing this legal action are taking it upon themselves to enforce the law and put an end to the illegal practices.

The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, which represents public interest environmental advocacy groups, has been working on this matter since April.  When he first reviewed the coal companies’ monitoring reports, Professor Coplan knew it would be a good project for the students.  Clinic Legal Interns drafted the notice letters and worked with the clients to assemble the appendices to the letters identifying the specific permit violations.

Peter Harrison, one of the Clinic law students who has been working on the case since June, came to Pace from Appalachia, where he was involved in grassroots environmental initiatives.  “It’s gratifying to come to law school in New York and get to work on a lawsuit that we hope will make a difference in the lives of people in the South,” said Harrison.  “Working at the Clinic has given me an opportunity to practice law before I even pass the bar, and has really crystallized the whole reason I came to law school.”

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Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu