Student Scholarships for 2017 California State Bar Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite (Deadline: July 13, 2017)

Click to access 2017_scholarship-application-form.pdf

The annual Yosemite conference for the section is scheduled for October 19-22, 2017.


The Environmental Law Section of The State Bar of California is pleased to offer at least 25 tuition scholarships AND five (5) Michael H. Remy Scholarships which include tuition, transportation, and hotel accommodations, courtesy of Remy Moose Manley LLP.


Students, practitioners and other environmental law professionals are invited to apply. The Scholarship Committee will review all applications received by the deadline. Scholarships will be awarded based on the following considerations:

1. Financial Need

2. Environmental Law Interest (for Students)

3. Environmental Law Practice (for Practitioners and other Environmental Law professionals)

4. Environmental Law Section Membership & Support (for Practitioners and other Environmental Law professionals)


To apply for a 2017 Scholarship, complete the Scholarship Application Form [see link at top], attach resume only, and return both by mail or email. Application and resume must be received by July 13, 2017. Note: we cannot confirm receipt of scholarship applications, and recommend that you include the “read receipt requested” option with an email filing.

Mail: Environmental Law Section Yosemite Scholarship The State Bar of California 180 Howard Street, San Francisco CA 94105


Successful applicants will be notified by email after August 21, 2017.

For additional information please contact State Bar staff at (415) 538-2582.

In early August, the 2017 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite brochure will be posted on the Section’s website:

Did you know that North Korea has a general environmental protection law?

220px-Flag_of_North_Korea.svgAs well as a full-blown environmental impact assessment law?  If you are not surprised, you should be.  After all, the “hermit kingdom” is not generally associated with the rule of law.  But it is true.  North Korea’s general environmental protection law dates to 1998 and its environmental impact assessment law to 2005.  Anyone dying to look this up can see it on the Kimchi Law Blog at (scroll down to see item 45).  [Apparently, the author of the Kimchi Law Blog got his hands on a bound volume of North Korean laws and was kind enough to scan and upload it.]

For those unfamiliar with environmental impact assessment law, such laws generally create a duty for government agencies to study potential significant adverse environmental impact of a project proposal or other development activity before a license or some other government permission is granted.  The concept and legal duty is the bedrock of modern environmental law and was first created in the United States through the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.  It was thus also the first of the modern environmental laws, both in the U.S. and across the world.  Since then, the EIA duty and processes have been widely adopted across the world to such an extent that they are now nearly universal.

Of course, these laws don’t mean a heck of a lot when they are not implemented or enforced.  And that varies immensely across countries.  One can only guess as to how effective environmental laws are in North Korea.  One indication is that the requirements contained in the law appear to be quite general and generic.


Taiwan’s Constitutional Court Rules in Favor of Same-sex Marriage

In a rather remarkable, progressive, and individually rights-minded decision, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that its Constitution guarantees the right of same-sex couples of get married and ordered the legislature to change its laws within the next couple of years.  Here’s a link to the Court’s official English-language press release, and general webpage which has a link to Chinese-language full opinion.  In the first footnote of the Chinese language opinion, the Court cites the 2015 US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell.

That makes Taiwan the first place in Asia to allow gay marriage and shows how different from mainland China it is now as a society, in terms of its values, commitment to individual rights, and the rule of law.   I’ll be in Taiwan in a few weeks to speak at a water pollution conference, and I’ll be really interested to see this plays out there.

Professor Patrice Simms joins Earthjustice as a Vice President for Litigation


This happened a couple of weeks ago, but still a great development.  My good friend Patrice Simms, law professor at Howard University Law School, is joining Earthjustice as a Vice President for Litigation.  Earthjustice is fortunate to get him (though he was already a member of the Board of Trustees and so has stepped down from that role).

Here’s the link to the Earthjustice press release:

Hon. Leon Panetta Commencement Speech at 2017 Santa Clara Law Commencement


Inspiring commencement speech by former Secretary of Defense and 1963 SCU Law graduate Leon Panetta at Santa Clara Law’s 2017 commencement exercises on Saturday.

Here’s an excerpt from linked article:

“The story of the last election was the story of lost trust, angry voters who felt that no one in Washington, no political party, was working to deal with the problems they were facing,” he said.

He said such divisions are surmountable, but “you cannot be a good leader or a good citizen if you do not respect our Constitution and the institutions responsible for enforcing the requirements of that sacred document.”

Panetta is the son of immigrants, and he told of how his parents traveled thousands of miles to give their children a better life. “We are a nation that builds bridges, not walls,” he said. “And most of all, we need to respect the truth.”

He told a story of when he was CIA director and met the families of seven CIA employees killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2009. He said he gave each family a plaque with a biblical verse from Isaiah: “Whom shall I send? … Here I am Lord. Send me.”

“That, ladies and gentlemen,” said Panetta, “is the sound of the trumpet that must summon all of us to action.”

It was a great call to service for our graduates as they enter the profession and an inspiring message impressing on them that their chief duty is to justice and the rule of law .  Godspeed to all of them.

Checking out the fish (and fisheries management) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium


The photo above:  Three weeks ago, after a great morning that the Monterey Bay Aquarium looking at fish and talking fisheries management with the students in my International Environmental Law course.  Super great appreciation and thanks to the Aquarium for providing complimentary admission for my class. The youngest there, on the far left, could have been a super-precocious Class of 2035 law student . . . but in reality was my research fellow Laura Davis’ daughter.  Unfortunately, none of the muslim women in my class felt comfortable joining the photo.

Environmental PhD program opportunity at Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

Came across this PhD program opportunity in my inbox.  Wuhan Law Schools has one of the top environmental law programs in China; however, location in China is of course an important factor to consider.

“The Research Institute of Environmental Law (RIEL) is the top research center in China for environmental law. Beginning this year, full scholarships will support students to enrol in the Institute’s English-language PhD Program. Scholarship information is attached. The current scholarship program will be continued into 2018, and beyond, with new One Belt, One Road Initiative funding. Suitably qualified persons from all countries of the world are encouraged to apply. Research is supported in all areas of environmental law, whether focused on China or not. In addition to an experienced and diversified faculty, RIEL is home to two English-language international journals: Climate Law, and the new Chinese Journal of Environmental Law (both published by Brill/Nijhoff). Expressions of interest in RIEL’s PhD Program should be sent in the first instance to Professor Alexander Zahar, Luojia Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University, email:”