For more than two decades, my work as an environmental lawyer, professor, and policy advocate has revolved around various areas of U.S., international, and comparative environmental law and governance, including environmental justice, climate change and other international environmental treaties, and China’s environmental law and governance system. My current research interest focuses on the varying approaches to environmental governance and sustainability across the world. Concretely, that means that I have been studying environmental regulatory systems in other countries and in international environmental treaties to understand how well they function and what we can learn from them. A further special research project of mine focuses on environmental justice issues here in the U.S., specifically the intersection of environmental law with civil/human rights and social justice considerations.
Much of my research and teaching has been informed and influenced by my public service and policy advocacy work. In addition to starting my environmental law career as an attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, I served as Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. EPA under President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. In that latter role, I provided legal counsel to senior agency officers and led the EPA’s international environmental law work and environmental law capacity-building cooperation with China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. From 2007 to 2010, as a member of the Vermont Law School faculty, I also led the establishment of the US-China Partnership for Environmental Law, a US AID and State Department-funded initiative to strengthen China’s institutional capacity in environmental law and governance.
Currently, I am a member of the Santa Clara Law faculty where I teach torts, property, administrative law, and various environmental law courses. I have also taught law at Vermont Law School, at the University of Pittsburgh, at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and at Sun-Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, China.
My bachelor degree (in biochemistry) is from Harvard University and my J.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley. In my spare time, I serve on the Board of Trustees of Earthjustice, the nation’s largest public interest environmental law firm, enjoy discussing books with my daughter Gwen-Zoe, and serve as my dog’s social secretary. I am also an avid gardener.