Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Law Schools Interested in Environmental Law Hiring

Editor's note - This post has been updated multiple times since it was first posted, with information about new schools posted.

Several years ago, Dan Farber began compiling a post listing law schools that were interested in hiring environmental law professors.  I've taken over that task, and this year's list appears below.  I've listed schools and, if I have it, additional information about the opening.

Readers should be aware of a few things about this list.  First, it is limited to tenured, tenure-track, and long-term clinical hiring.  I also hope to write a post on entry-level fellowships , but I haven't received yet enough information about those to make a post worthwhile.  That may be because little such hiring isn't happening this year (Oregon does have an opening), or because schools don't yet know their plans, or didn't see my email soliciting information.  I also haven't included schools interested in visitors.  That's because visiting positions tend to open up later in the academic year.

Second, this list may grow in the next few weeks, and I'll continue updating the post if it does, but it's likely to remain incomplete.  I've compiled the list by looking at Prawfsblawg's data on entry-level hiring committees and by soliciting input from the environmental law professors' listserve.  But there may be interested schools that (a) didn't post their interest on Prawfsblawg; (b) don't have faculty members on the listserve; and/or (c) choose to keep their hiring preferences to themselves.  Strong environmental law candidates therefore may draw interest from schools that aren't listed below.

Third, some schools that are interested in environmental law hires are probably also looking at other subject areas.  They may hire in those areas rather than environmental law, and they also may not hire at all.

With those qualifiers, the list:

The Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia (in Vancouver) is hiring a tenure-track professor in the area of corporate sustainability.  Here's a link.

Colorado is looking to hire an entry level and/or lateral tenure-track or tenured candidate in natural resources, energy, climate change, and environmental law.

Columbia is searching for a staff attorney in its environmental law clinic.  Details here.

On Prawfsblawg, Duke lists environmental law as one of several areas of interest.

Lewis and Clark Law School invites applications from entry level or experienced candidates for one position to begin in the 2019-20 academic year. We seek candidates who could teach administrative law and constitutional law, as well as courses in one or more of the following areas: energy law, environmental law, food law, or health law. Lewis & Clark is an equal opportunity employer, and we encourage applications from candidates who would enhance the diversity of our community. Information about the Lewis & Clark Law School is available at Interested persons should send a resume or c.v., references, a writing sample, and an indication of teaching interests to Kerry Rowand, Executive Assistant, by email at [email protected], or by postal mail at Lewis & Clark Law School, 10015 SW Terwilliger Boulevard, Portland, OR 97219.

Loyola University of Chicago is interested in hiring a tenure-track professor to teach environmental lawyer.  From the ad: "Loyola University Chicago School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track position beginning in the fall of 2019, pending final approval of funding. We welcome applicants whose primary area of expertise is Environmental Law with an interest in teaching either Civil Procedure, Torts or Property. We are particularly interested in candidates whose scholarship aligns with Loyola’s mission of social justice..."

Nebraska is interested in several areas, and lists "environmental law (environmental law, water law, natural resources law)" in its "other needs" category.

On Prawfsblawg, Oregon lists "environmental (environmental justice, land use, and/or state/local government)" as an area of interest.

Penn State is hiring in several areas, and energy law is a priority.

Texas A&M is looking for a climate law professor.  More details here.

UC Berkeley is interested in hiring an energy law professor.

UC Davis is interested in an entry-level hire, with environmental law one of several areas of interest.

UC Irvine is interested in hiring tenured environmental faculty.

The University of Miami School of Law is looking for an entry level (tenure-track) or lateral (tenured) hire in environmental law.  I would read that broadly to include natural resources (especially water) and energy.  An interdisciplinary interest is a plus as we have a good relationship with the University's Abess center for ecosystem science and policy and with the Rosenstiel school of marine and atmospheric science.

The University of Minnesota Law School plans to hire an entry-level or junior lateral candidate with expertise in a range of subject areas, including environmental law.

The University of New Mexico School of Law invites applications for faculty positions starting in the Fall of 2019. The law school anticipates hiring a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, or a visiting professor, to teach Oil and Gas Law and other related courses. Both experienced and entry-level candidates are encouraged to apply.

Official job description and online application forms for this opening can be found in UNM Jobs when posted in early Fall of 2018 ( Recruitment will continue until the position is filled. For more information regarding the job postings, contact:

Nathalie Martin
Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee
[email protected]


- Dave Owen

August 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

BLM's Plans for Reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments: More Mining, Grazing, and Off-Road Vehicle Use Ahead


BLM recently released planning documents illustrating the outline of a management strategy for the five new units of the modified Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah. Interior released summary reports for each Monument, containing categories of public comments received during the January - August 2018 comment period, along with future plans and any management alternatives the agency is considering. As expected, the planning for the modified Bears Ears units is more crystallized than for Grand Staircase, as Bears Ears in its original form was more recently established (by President Obama, in 2016) and had yet to be governed by any Monument-level management plan before Trump's 2017 reductions. The process for the modified Grand Staircase is proceeding more slowly, given this Monument’s relative age (it was established in 1996, by President Clinton) and more lengthy and complex management history.

BLM’s scoping report for the modified Bears Ears Monument includes four alternatives: A) the no-action alternative, which would require the agency to manage monument lands consistent with terms of the pre-2016 BLM and Forest Service multiple-use plans under FLPMA and NFMA, “to the extent they are compatible with” the 2017 Trump Proclamation reducing the Monument; B) a traditional monument management plan alternative, which would prioritize protection of Monument objects and values over other resources and uses, and would identify areas for additional long-term protections of resource values within the Planning Area; C) an adaptive management alternative, which would “emphasize protection” for Monument values and use adaptive management “to protect the long-term sustainability” of those values; and D) the preferred alternative, which is a restricted multiple-use approach that “would allow for the continuation of multiple uses of public lands and would maintain similar recreation management levels while protecting Monument objects and values.”

The summary report comparing alternatives sheds some light on the details of Alternative D, the agency’s preferred alternative, which incorporates a similar level of recreational vehicle use as under the pre-Monument plans, limited restrictions on recreational activities such as camping, reduced protections for cultural resources (due to nearly unrestricted off-road vehicle use and near unlimited access for recreation). It would also authorize grazing on over 90% of Monument lands, including sensitive riparian areas, and open 130,000 acres to timber harvesting.

The agency predicts that cultural resources will be particularly affected (read: damaged or potentially destroyed) by the preferred alternative, with over 60,000 acres containing documented archaeological sites being opened to off-road vehicle use and “right of way applications” (under R.S. 2477), along with increases in activities like livestock grazing and recreation. Similarly, the preferred alternative designates zero acres for wilderness-level management, and authorizes off-road vehicle use in all but 2,457 acres of existing inventoried wilderness quality areas.

For the three units of the modified Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, Escalante Canyons), the planning process is more detailed.   The newly released documents reflect a NEPA scoping effort informed by recent public comments, and they include a proposed Resource Management Plan/draft EIS. The August 15, 2018 scoping report, which accompanies the draft EIS, notes that BLM is considering potential impacts to the reduced Grand Staircase Monument in the areas of air quality, climate, soils and water (focusing on uses such as grazing, OHV use, recreation, and mineral development as they impact soils and riparian areas in particular), special status species, forest management, wildlife and habitat, cultural resources, paleontological resources, aesthetic resources, dark sky values, soundscape values, wildfire management, wilderness quality lands, and other specific values included in the original Grand Staircase Proclamation.

In the RMP/draft EIS, BLM lists four alternatives for the three Grand Staircase units, including A) a no-action alternative, B) a conservation alternative, C) a restricted multiple-use alternative, and D) a resource use alternative. As with Bears Ears, the resource-use alternative is BLM’s preferred management strategy. It proposes to open over 600,000 acres of Monument lands to mineral development, subject to some constraints for documented cultural resources and authorizes livestock grazing on over 2.1 million acres (with only 106,927 total acres closed to grazing).  It also proposes to maintain existing ORV travel management plans except in one new ORV management zone, and opening three previously closed ORV trails.  BLM is open about the extractive use approach this alternative embraces, stating that “compared to other alternatives, Alternative D conserves the least land area for physical, biological, and cultural resources; designates no ACECs or SRMAs; and is the least restrictive to energy and mineral development.” BLM also recognizes that wildlife habitat will diminish based on increased ORV use and mineral development, and surface-disturbing activities, fence modification and maintenance, ORV travel, and vegetation treatment will be allowed “in big-game crucial seasonal ranges, birthing habitats, and migration corridors on a basis consistent with other resource use restrictions.”  Surface-disturbing activities will be allowed in “crucial desert bighorn sheep habitat during lambing season subject to best management practices and mitigation.” Finally, this alternative includes authority to “dispos[e] of crucial wildlife habitat through Recreation and Public Purposes patents for public purposes.”

These planning documents signal a brave new world in Monument management strategy for BLM.  The agency is open and transparent about its goal to manage the five new units of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments for increased mineral development, livestock grazing, and recreation (specifically, ORV use).  While BLM indicates some intent to safeguard certain of the historical, archaeological, biological, and cultural resource values that Presidents Obama and Clinton included in their original proclamations establishing these monuments, others will no doubt be reduced, damaged, or possibly destroyed by the uptick in mineral leasing and other extractive uses.

- Hillary Hoffmann 

August 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Making Sense of NOAA's Wildfire Announcement

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross just released a statement directing NOAA to "facilitate" water use to respond to California's wildfires (the statement follows several tweets in which President Trump implied that the cause of California's wildfires was the state's ill-advised decision to let some of its rivers flow downhill to the ocean).  Because I've already seen a few befuddled headlines about what this all means, I thought a short post explaining a few key points about what NOAA can and can't do here would be helpful.

1.  Importantly, NOAA does not itself manage reservoirs, forests, or firefighting equipment.  It just regulates activities that might harm threatened or endangered salmon (and other oceanic or diadromous species).  So headlines saying that Secretary Ross ordered NOAA to "use" water to fight fires are not accurate.  Instead, he has ordered NOAA to look favorably upon the requests of other federal agencies to use water that might otherwise have been allocated to fish protection. 

2.  NOAA also does not have general water management authority in California.  Instead, the California State Water Resources Control Board, a state agency, is the primary regulator of water rights, including rights held by the United States Bureau of Reclamation.  Consequently, NOAA does not have authority to just order that water be devoted to firefighting.

3.  This statement has no legal meaning.  As a legal matter, NOAA cannot waive the Endangered Species Act.  Agencies cannot repeal statutes, even in emergencies, though people will sometimes understand if agencies cut corners when human lives are at stake.  Federal water withdrawals of the kinds contemplated in the order therefore are legal only if they do not unlawfully jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, adversely modify their critical habitat, or take those species.  Neither an agency administrator's statement nor a presidential tweet erases those statutory obligations.

4.  Firefighters' water access isn't the problem.  As already reported elsewhere, California officials have rejected claims that their firefighters lack access to sufficient water.  So have independent scientists.  This announcement isn't really about fighting fires.  Instead, it's about using California's troubles to score a few political points.  Indeed, if fighting fires is really the Administration's central priority and a lack of firefighting water really is the problem, we might expect to see another announcement that the Bureau of Reclamation, which delivers billions of gallons of water to farmers, will be redirecting much of that water to the firefighting effort.  But don't hold your breath.

5.  The Department of Commerce is not doing everything it can to help.  In his statement, Secretary Ross stated that "the Department of Commerce is doing everything it can to help" with the fires.  That is false.  Neither Secretary Ross nor anyone else in the President's cabinet, nor the President himself, is taking one of the most important steps to address wildfires.  Fires are becoming more intense for a variety of reasons, but one is climate change, which is making much of the West hotter, dryer, and more prone to fire.  If Secretary Ross were actually doing everything he could to help, he would be loudly advocating for policies tor respond to climate change, and he would be condemning policies, like the recent proposal to weaken pollution standards for motor vehicles, that will make climate worse.

Lastly, an interesting tidbit about Trump's tweets: they included a claim that California had erred by passing laws that allowed some of its rivers to flow toward the sea, rather than being pumped into the Central Valley.  That's an odd assertion to make in a tweet about fires; moving water out of northwestern California isn't a very good way to fight fires in northwestern California.  I also wonder if Trump is aware of the original source of the laws he is lambasting.  If he has a coherent idea about the laws he's referring to, then he's probably talking about decisions, made decades ago, to designate California's north coast rivers as wild and scenic, which precluded the construction of dams and water-diversion works (other than a diversion from the Trinity River).  The governor who signed those laws into law?  Ronald Reagan.

- Dave Owen




August 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Goodbye Abbey, Hello Intersectional Environmentalism

It is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, which popularized the stark beauty of southeast Utah’s vast and seemingly untouched landscapes. Abbey’s later writings, including the novels The Monkey Wrench Gang and Hayduke Lives, cemented his reputation as a radical scallywag. These books embraced vandalism in defense of the environment, and inspired the founders of EarthFirst!, whose tactics and philosophy posed a deliberate challenge to the accommodationist approaches of mainstream environmental groups. 

Abbey’s love-letters to Utah’s red-rock country spawned generations of canyoneering backpackers, and still serve as the heart of aesthetic and political defenses of desert wilderness. Ever since, Abbey has been attacked and defended. Was he racist, misogynist, and anti-immigration? He was. His views of Black and Brown people were deplorable, and his descriptions of women were retrograde. And yet, his defenders inevitably retort, we need his irascible, cranky, and irrepressible voice today more than ever.  

But do we? I have come to (re)bury Edward Abbey, not to praise him. (Abbey died in 1989 at the age of 62; he was buried illegally on public lands.) Or more accurately, to make a pitch for putting Abbey in his place and moving on. That place should be in the context of what it means to protect those same dramatic and soul-stirring landscapes without perpetuating an alienating version of what it means to be “truly wild,” or “truly radical,” or “truly environmentalist.” The problem with re-lionizing Abbey in 2018 is not just that he was sexist, racist, and xenophobic. But also that those views were sewn into his brand of so-called radicalism. They constituted the lenses through which he saw the landscape he aimed to protect.

What Abbey saw were beautiful empty places where white men (quite specifically) could be free and wild. Their version of wilderness preservation, even supplemented by the occasional nod to the evils of growth-dependent and extraction-based economies, was oblivious to the structures that enabled their seemingly unmediated encounters with the desert. Those structures included brutal and unscrupulous campaigns to dispossess Native people of most of southeast Utah. They included the failure of post-Civil War efforts to democratize homesteading by including eligible African Americans eager to flee the South. And they included, time and again, the cultural acceptability of exploiting women, both by treating them as fungible sex toys and by relying on them to mind the homestead and raise the young’uns. Abbey’s version of radical environmentalism assumes away all of the inequalities baked into his ability to be a free man in canyon country. Abbey also managed to alienate lots of white men while he was at it. He scorned ordinary work as part of his critique of corporate and industrial interests and romanticized manual labor even while he railed against ranchers and farmers in his midst.

Here let me pause a moment to acknowledge two things about Abbey that explain his enduring appeal to many environmentalists. First, his nature writing is beautiful. It has that dual-quality of inspiring you to visit if you have never been, and evoking waves of longing to return if you have.

Second, like Henry David Thoreau, Abbey taps into an elemental longing for “wildness.” In 1865, Thoreau wrote “that in Wildness is the preservation of the world,” and by that he meant not just places that were unmanaged and untamed, but the habits of mind inspired by such places. Thoreau wrote of his preference for bogs and swamps over cultivated gardens, but also of the wildness in Hamlet and The Iliad versus the tame prose of Chaucer, Spencer, and Milton. “The poet today, notwithstanding all the discoveries of science . . . enjoys no advantage over Homer.” Similarly, in Freedom and Wilderness, Wilderness and Freedom, Abbey penned the following moving passage about north Jersey: “When I lived in Hoboken . . . we had all the wilderness we needed. There was the waterfront with its decaying piers and the abandoned warehouses, the jungle of bars along River Street and Hudson Street, the mildew-green cathedral of the Erie-Lackawanna Railway Terminal.” For Abbey and Thoreau, wildness involved a state of mind, not just the places that could inspire it. This aesthetic has a long pedigree. In the western tradition, Kant and Burke explored the sublime and the abject, two opposed cognates of the wild. Freud plumbed the uncanny, and art historians have documented the swings between meticulous perfection and emotive explosiveness in painting, sculpture, and other art forms. Abbey brought this aesthetic to the desert southwest. For doing so, he earned devoted followers in his own time and generations of acolytes afterward. Had he just done that, we could celebrate his literary contributions and stop there.

But Abbey did more. He embraced a xenophobic and overtly racist version of anti-growth environmentalism. In 1963, during the heart of the civil rights movement, Abbey wrote:

According to the morning newspaper, the population of America will reach 267 million by 2000 AD. An increase of forty million, or about one-sixth, in only seventeen years! And the racial composition of the population will also change considerably: the white birth rate is about sixty per thousand females, the Negro rate eighty-three per thousand, and the Hispanic rate ninety-six per thousand. Am I a racist? I guess I am. I certainly do not wish to live in a society dominated by blacks, or Mexicans, or Orientals. Look at Africa, at Mexico, at Asia. Garrett Hardin compares our situation to an overcrowded lifeboat in a sea of drowning bodies. If we take more aboard, the boat will be swamped and we’ll all go under. Militarize our borders. The lifeboat is listing.

There is a long pedigree to this kind of thinking too. The first wave of American conservationists included prominent white supremacists, such as Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn. They associated nature preservation with racial superiority and employed the disgraced science of eugenics to justify their approach. Sadly, these views are not limited to marginal figures in the conservation canon. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club and literary antecedent to Abbey, espoused ugly anti-Indian views and was also largely apolitical with regard to the important civil rights and egalitarian movements of his day. Even Aldo Leopold, who penned the justly celebrated “Land Ethic,” held some members of the human community in higher esteem than others. In Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation, Miles Powell unearths Leopold’s unsavory statements about immigration and population growth. In an exchange with natural historian William Vogt, Leopold railed against Asians and other non-Western European immigrants who threatened to overrun the country with their high rates of reproduction. There is a through-line from these Malthusian thoughts to Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, which became the basis for late-twentieth century versions of the immigration panic within some environmental circles. The Sierra Club successfully fended off an anti-immigrant board take-over in 2004, but the fight was a reminder that white nativist ideologies still lurk within some strains of environmentalism.

Yet many other environmentalisms also exist. The environmental justice movement, which gained prominence through battles over racially discriminatory siting and permitting, today includes broad redistributive concerns. Social ecologists have long argued that there will be no environmental protection as long as capitalism, with all of its attendant exploitative hierarchies, forms the basis for our economic system. In many indigenous worldviews, leading an ethical and moral life is defined in the context of taking care of the Earth and all its creatures, including human ones. And most mainstream versions of environmentalism today include at least rhetorical nods to justice, equality, and sustainability. The science of climate change and other global environmental threats make it naïve, at best, not to consider the connections between consumption, inequality, and environmental protection.

Given the long, hard road ahead to make good on efforts to dismantle local and global inequality, combat climate change, and sustain/create just and equitable communities, it is past time to celebrate Ed Abbey, the person. Not only was he sexist and racist; he was politically shallow. He espoused a naïve anarchism, taking potshots at the state, without appreciating that without it he would have had no Arches, no Canyonlands, no seemingly “empty” places. He criticized corporate capitalism for its consumerism, but not its production of racialized inequality. Lionizing Abbey today does nothing to bring the redistributive and justice-oriented strands of environmentalism together. Worse, Abbey-worship is likely off-putting to young activists of color and their allies, who see protecting places like Bears Ears National Monument as inextricably linked to addressing the extreme trauma that affects Native people outside of monument boundaries. Abbey thoughtlessly mused that “compulsory birth control” might be a necessary part of the solution to Navajo poverty. Today’s intersectional environmentalists understand that freedom and justice for Navajo women is inseparable from preserving their sacred lands. They are just as likely to work for non-profits serving poor indigenous clients as they are to throw their hearts and souls into protecting public lands. Some do both, practically simultaneously. And so it should be.   

Go ahead; read (most of) Desert Solitaire and revel in the poetry of a desert sunrise. But if you are looking for heroes, look here instead. Or here. Or wake up for that sunrise yourself, embrace intersectional and egalitarian environmentalism, and look in the mirror.

- Sarah Krakoff

August 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (2)