Trump Executive Order seeking to undo Obama climate actions issued today

It’s a sweeping Executive Order that requires review of the Obama era Clean Power Plan regulations and then likely rescission of those rules, as well as rescinds federal government guidance documents providing for better accounting of the social cost of carbon pollution and climate change.  Pretty sad day not only for environment but everybody, though action was long anticipated.  Especially sad is President Trump’s hoax that coal mining jobs will come back because of this action.  Those jobs are never coming back.  The coal mining industry is in bad shape because of competition from cheap natural gas, not because environmental regulations.

Position: Earthjustice, Vice President of Litigation (Deadline: rolling, Washington, DC)

The Vice President for Litigation, Washington DC, is a member of the organization’s leadership team and oversees the direction and effectiveness of select strategic initiatives. As currently conceived, these initiatives include the following, and may include others as assigned:

  • Litigation and advocacy strategy on access to courts and regulatory reform
  • National litigation and advocacy on clean air.
  • National litigation and advocacy on toxic chemicals and pesticides.
  • Litigation and advocacy under Title VI.
  • Client and partnership development associated with these areas of responsibility.

The VP reports to the President of Earthjustice and collaborates closely with the other program VP colleagues, as well as managing attorneys, dedicated program staff, and members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) which includes the President, the litigation VPs, and department VPs (Communications, Policy & Legislation, Development, Operations, Diversity and Inclusion) to ensure that Earthjustice pursues the most important environmental goals and the most effective strategies.  In partnership with the other program VPs, this position integrates efforts across offices and departments, and requires collaboration with staff across all departments. The VP is well-grounded in the work of the organization both factually and legally, and seeks to maximize funding opportunities and efficiently manage the program. In practice, this means significant time and attention to fundraising and donor relations, client relations and networking, keeping current on external developments legally, politically, and environmentally, engaging with the Board including with frequent reporting, being an Earthjustice “ambassador” or media spokesperson as needed, and basic program and personnel management.

Each Litigation VP is also responsible for working with the other litigation VPs for maintaining litigation excellence and overseeing the litigation department as a whole, with substantial time devoted to both substantive legal practice and administrative needs.  Each litigation VP is routinely involved in resolving institutional issues as they arise, whether or not they relate directly to the VP’s program.  Finally, as a member of SLT, the VP is responsible for contributing to overall institutional direction and SLT-level decision-making.


Strategic Direction and Vision for Select Initiatives and High-Quality, Effective Litigation

  • Provides strategic leadership to ensure the development and effective prosecution of far-reaching, high impact litigation.
  • Collaborates with managing attorneys and other relevant staff, to ensure that Earthjustice advocacy achieves strategic program goals.
  • In conjunction with managing attorneys, other relevant staff, and the organization’s program leadership team, ensures that associated communications and policy/legislative advocacy strategies are in place (managed internally or by clients or allies) to move toward achieving identified goals and outcomes.
  • Helps identify gaps, weaknesses, and lessons learned as the program grows and changes.
  • Oversees the direction and management of the Washington, DC, regional office to ensure effective, high-quality litigation and advocacy with the highest ethical standards.
  • Effectively manages and develops staff, creates a productive and rewarding work environment, and in collaboration with managing attorneys, effectively recruits and retains the highest quality legal staff.
  • Pursues opportunities to diversify program and staff with a focus on (a) fostering an inclusive work environment that is hospitable to, respectful of, and conducive to success of staff from all backgrounds; and, (b) identifying and pursuing opportunities to diversify our client base to include communities of color and/or economically disadvantaged communities that experience disproportionate environmental impact.

Integration, Coordination, and Intra-Organization Communication

  • Works closely and collaboratively with the other program VPs in leading the litigation program and ensuring a well-integrated litigation program for the entire organization; to achieve this goal, the VP must also be generally knowledgeable about the objectives and work of the entire litigation program.
  • Facilitates collaboration among regional offices and between litigation staff and Communications, Policy and Legislation, and Development staff on relevant program issues.
  • Works closely with the VPs of Policy and Legislation and Communications in aligning vision and prioritizing allocation of cross-departmental resources to advance program objectives.

Effective Member of Leadership Team

  • Reports to, supports and is an effective partner for the President.
  • Keeps organizational leadership informed about relevant program.
  • Maintains the trust and confidence of the President and colleagues.
  • Participates effectively in organizational decision-making, including priority-setting, planning and budget.

Board Relations, Education, and Inspiration

  • Participates in the board litigation approval process issues.
  • Provides updates to the board.
  • Inspires and earns the confidence of the board.
  • Educates and keeps the board apprised about developments of the program and our unique mission.

External Presence and Voice for Select Program Initiatives

  • Helps Earthjustice articulate its vision for the program and serves as a leading spokesperson for Earthjustice to the outside world (e.g., funders, supporters, media and policy makers), working with PAL and the Communications Advocacy team.
  • Ensures that he/she or other staff are recognized experts and visionaries in spheres that matter for our work.
  • May include participation in high level policy discussions at a national level.
  • Works with fundraising staff to identify and capitalize on funding opportunities; builds positive relationships with major donors and foundations via effective communications; provides program leadership for Development department.
  • Works with litigation staff and others to provides program information to the other departments so that they can be as effective as possible.
  • Identifies and capitalizes on media opportunities.
  • Engages in direct advocacy work on select issues.

Supervisory Responsibilities

Managing Attorneys of designated regional offices and dedicated program staff.


  • JD degree.
  • Attorney with 12 or more years’ experience in environmental litigation and/or legal advocacy.
  • Experience with a diverse range of environmental issues; significant experience with federal policy issues.
  • Excellent litigation skills.
  • Experience leading, designing and participating in regional and/or national environmental campaigns.
  • Proven leadership skills.
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills.
  • Excellent people management skills; experience managing lawyers.
  • Demonstrated success in managing and working with teams.
  • Formal and informal advocacy skills.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills.
  • Strong public speaking and presentation skills.
  • Excellent computer skills (e.g. Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • 25% or more travel time.
  • Demonstrates an awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations.
  • Contributes to recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce.

We offer a mission- and employee-focused work environment and a competitive compensation package, including excellent benefits.  Earthjustice is an equal opportunity employer and highly values diversity.


Interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Please reach out to if you are having technical difficulties submitting your application.  No phone calls, drop-ins, or hard copies.

Advice for Law Students in Santa Clara Law’s Student Newspaper “The Advocate”

I just noticed that they questionnaire/advice I provided to students in “The Advocate,” Santa Clara Law’s student newspaper, came out more than a month ago, February 17.  Nevertheless, here it is, for your amusement, with a link to the Advocate.  I posted the relevant page below. Dori Pina’s advice came first, so you’ll need to scroll down a bit.

Position: Columbia University Law School, Sabin Center Staff Attorney (2017-18) Deadline: not available, NY, NY)

Sabin Center Staff Attorney

Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law is seeking an Associate Research Scholar who will serve as the Center’s staff attorney from September 2017 to September 2018.  Reporting to the Faculty Director and Executive Director of the Center, the incumbent will develop and implement strategic research concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation; contribute to advocacy-oriented programs and projects; assist with the research administration of the Center; and supervise interns and volunteers.

Applicants must have received a J.D. or equivalent degree, and should have 3 years of work experience in environmental, energy or natural resources law and policy. Ability to exercise independent judgment, work under pressure, supervise multiple research and support staff, work with students from the law school and other graduate and undergraduate programs, and prioritize and carry out multiple tasks with minimal supervision is a must.

A detailed job description and instructions on how to apply online can be found by clicking the following link:

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer –Race/Gender/Disability/Veteran.

Santa Clara Magazine’s Article (“For the Record”) on Distinguished Alumnus John Cruden (Law ’74)

For the Record

Santa Clara Magazine, our university’s alumni magazine, recently did a very nice piece on one of our illustrious alumni John Cruden (Law ’74).  [By the way, the bear (Grizzly?), in the background, displayed in the office of Assistant Attorney General for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice, is a courtesy of a loan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.]

Richard Revesz op-ed on Pruitt’s seriously wrong-headed vision of environmental federalism

Professor Richard Revesz’s op-ed on all that is wrong with how EPA Administrator Pruitt has described and is envisioning environmental federalism, i.e. the allocation of power and the role of the states vis-a-vis the federal government on environmental issues.  Really worth a read.

Santa Clara Law Students Win 2017 California Bar Environmental Negotiations Competition

 Angela Nelson, Charles Huh, Marinna Radloff, Martin Kopp.

Kudos to our environmental negotiation team of 2L students Charles Huh and Marinna Radloff (middle two) for winning the 2017 California Bar Student Environmental Negotiations Competition! Yay! (Pictured are also Attorney Coach, Martin Kopp ’12 (Corporate Counsel, Ooyala) and HMCE Competition Coordinator, Angela Nelson 3L.)

Reconsideration (repeal?) of fuel economy standards for 2022-2025 model year cars


EPA just posted the news release of Administrator Pruitt’s  (and DOT Secretary Chao’s) decision to reexamine the fuel economy standards for model years 2022-2025.  The decision was announced earlier by President Trump at a Michigan auto plant.  The rationale for this reexamination, the complaint by auto-makers that they are having difficulties meeting the standards, is remarkably disappointing  The rest of the world, especially Europe and Japan, already have much higher fuel economy standards than the US, and the EPA/DOT standards would only have made the US catch up.  In other words, car-makers already have to build cars with higher fuel economy standards if they want to sell them in most of the rest of the world.

What is especially galling about this is the reason  why the rest of the world is so far ahead. For more than 2 decades, between the mid-1980s to 2009, fuel economy standards were not increased, essentially allowing the US to fall far behind other industrialized countries.  The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has a nice chart that shows the fuel economy standards of various countries, including the US.    The consequence?  Not only will there be more greenhouse gas emissions, but consumers will pay more for gas usage.  Sad.

Even sadder?  Countries like China have more stringent standards.  (Though in fairness, the standards only apply to new model years.)  But at least, these countries have the right forward-looking policies on this issue in place.

Back in the early 80s, the Reagan Administration attempted to reverse air bag requirements of the preceding Carter Administration, designed to improve vehicle safety and save lives.  The ensuing litigation resulted in a famous U.S. Supreme Court case, Motor Vehicles Manufacturers v. State Farm Mutual, which is taught in every administrative law course.  The Supreme Court struck down the Reagan Administration’s attempt to roll back that regulation.  In the end, the Reagan Administration was only able to slow down the process of making cars safer but didn’t change the eventual outcome – airbags in every vehicle.  That same legal standard, asking whether the new Administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously in undoing the prior regulation, will be applied to the Trump/Pruitt regulatory roll-back effort when it is challenged in court.

On a completely different matter and for some levity, for yesterday’s Pi day activities at Santa Clara Law, I “took one for the team” and got “pied,” together with several other colleagues!  Here’s the video.  Enjoy.

Can’t quite believe what is going on at EPA

I am in some disbelief about what is going on at EPA, so fast and furious yesterday — just like the Trump tweets.   First, there was the report of the resignation of Mustafa Ali, who had been the senior advisor on environmental justice at EPA.  Really too bad to lose such an important advocate for these issues at the Agency.

And then there is what Pruitt said about climate change – that he does “not agree that it’s [human activity] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”  I just wish he would stop talking.  He also said, “We need to continue the debate” about whether human activity causes climate change.  As if “debate” can answer the ultimate scientific question of climate change.  The overwhelming consensus of scientists disagrees with him, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Debate may be a standard tool of persuasion, especially for lawyers (and Pruitt seems to be good lawyer), but it is not a scientific methodology.  Science is about empirical evidence, not opinion, with no room for “alternative facts.” Ultimately, there are only facts.

Phew, bracing for more to come. . .

Updated 3/13 – The American Meteorology Society responded to Pruitt’s statement.  Yay.