Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Program (GELPP)


Georgetown Law's Peter Byrne and Vicki Arroyo meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at a recent Law Center event. The Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Program features numerous events each year that bring acclaimed speakers to campus to discuss the day's most salient and compelling issues. In 2013, President Obama chose the steps of Georgetown's historic Old North building to announce his Climate Action Plan to the nation.

Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, world-class scholars, and opinion leaders are among the many national and global influencers who visit Georgetown Law to share their views and insights with our students and the surrounding legal and policy community. The Georgetown Climate Center convenes state and federal policymakers to advance effective climate, energy, and transportation policies. The Climate Center, in conjunction with the Georgetown Environment Initiative, also sponsors a speaker series on climate change. The following information highlights the latest events covering critical environmental and energy issues at Georgetown Law.

Threat-Multiplier: Exploring the National Security Law and Policy Implications of Climate Change

March 20, 2015 – This event involved an informed discussion with leading experts about national security and climate change. It featured a keynote address by Alice Hill, senior director for resilience policy at the National Security Council, followed by a panel discussion about the climate change threats U.S. government agencies should prioritize and the greatest challenges to addressing these risks.

The panel discussion featured the following speakers: 

  • John Conger, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and the environment at the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Sherri Goodman, president and CEO of Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • Zvika Krieger, senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State
  • Rear Admiral Jonathan W. White, oceanographer and navigator of the Navy director for Space and Maritime Domain Awareness
  • Panel Moderator: Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center and professor from practice at Georgetown Law

The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, the National Security Law Society, and the Environmental Law Society hosted the event. 

A webcast of the event may be viewed here.

Takings Conference 2014 at UC Davis School of Law
17th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations

September 19, 2014 – The Georgetown University Law Center, along with the Vermont Law School and the UC Davis School of Law, sponsored this conference that explored the regulatory takings issue as it relates to land use and environmental regulation. In addition to offering a basic education in modern takings law, the conference brought together a diverse group of leading scholars and experienced practitioners to discuss cutting-edge issues raised by recent decisions and pending court cases. Some of the topics discussed included the practical implications of the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District for state and local government land use standards and procedures. The conference also addressed the potential effects of the Supreme Court's decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States on the Rails to Trails program in the western United States. National experts also discussed the new, hotly contested idea of using the eminent domain power to take over underwater residential mortgages. Other major topics included the potential takings issues associated with water management and possible takings claims that may arise from efforts to adapt to climate change. CLE accreditation was requested for 8.5 CLE credit hours (60-minute hour).

Additional information, including the conference schedule and list of speakers, can be found here.

Impact of Power Industry Regulation and Technology on Private Sector Investment

September 18, 2014 – This event explored the impact that EPA's proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution in the power sector and technological innovation will have on private investment in the power sector. The event, sponsored by the Georgetown Climate Center and Lazard, featured industry experts, regulators, and government officials sharing their views on how environmental regulation, technology, and other factors could impact the country's generation resource mix, utility resource planning decisions, and private sector investment. View the program agenda here and watch the event webcast here.

Insights into the Making of State and Federal Climate Policy & LL.M. Program Launch

April 7, 2014 – This event featured a frank conversation about state and federal climate policymaking with leading state officials and academic experts followed by a special launch event to celebrate our new LL.M. degree in environmental law. The Georgetown Climate Center and the Georgetown Environment Initiative sponsored the event as part of a speaker series focused on climate change. Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center and director of the Georgetown Environmental Law Program, moderated the discussion.

Panelists include:

  • Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Georgetown Law Alumna
  • Lisa Heinzerling, the William Brennan Professor of Law at Georgetown University and former Associate Administrator of EPA's Office of Policy
  • William W. Buzbee, director of the Emory Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program and a new member of the Georgetown Law Faculty (Fall 2014)

A reception followed the event to celebrate Georgetown's new LL.M. degree in environmental law, to welcome Professor William Buzbee to our faculty, and to congratulate Professor Lisa Heinzerling on her recent installation as Brennan Chair.

Georgetown International Environmental Law Review Symposium
Sustainable Development: Renewable Energy Sources, Technology, and Administration

February 24, 2014 – Featuring energy and environmental policy and legal experts from the federal government and private sector, this symposium provided engaging panel discussions and keynote address. A panel discussion about renewable energy development covered new ideas and technologies that affect the availability and competitiveness of renewable energy sources, including financing and legal challenges facing the industry. A second panel addressed how the administrative process can be used to shape renewable energy regulations and development that included discussion of negotiated rulemaking. Bicky Corman, Deputy General Counsel in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of General Counsel, delivered the keynote address. The event also featured a sustainable lunch and presentation by a Bon Appétit official about social and environmental issues related to the food we eat.

Additional information and a list of speakers can be found here.

We invite you to view the webcast.

Lisa Heinzerling Named William J. Brennan, Jr. Professor of Law

February 19, 2014Lisa Heinzerling was installed as Georgetown Law's Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Professor of Law in a ceremony at the Law Center. The professorship, made possible through a gift from the late John McInespie (L'93), was an especially fitting honor for Heinzerling, who once clerked for the late justice.

"Like Justice Brennan, Lisa is kind, smart, hard working, is deeply committed to a set of beliefs, and has made her life's work their realization," said Professor Naomi Mezey, who introduced Heinzerling at the ceremony along with Dean William M. Treanor. "For Lisa, those [beliefs include] the importance of clean air and water, of pristine wilderness, of safe food … and of the small issue of planetary survival."

Heinzerling's inaugural address as Brennan Professor, A Phone, a Pen, and the U.S. Code, focused on the President's control over agencies' decisionmaking and legal issues raised by that control.

Heinzerling's specialties include environmental and natural resources law, administrative law, the economics of regulation, and food and drug law. In 2008, she served as a member of President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency transition team, and later served in his administration as senior climate policy counsel to the Administrator of the EPA, and as associate administrator of the EPA's Office of Policy. While at Georgetown, Heinzerling has continued to litigate cases in environmental law. Most prominently, she was lead author of the winning briefs in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

A webcast of the ceremony may be viewed here.

The Politics of Climate Change

February 19, 2014 – Leading congressional affairs experts engaged in a frank discussion about the politics of climate change, including the Obama Administration's efforts to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector through EPA regulations.

Discussants included:

  • Merribel S. Ayres, President of Lighthouse Consulting Group, LLC
  • Christina DeConcini, Director of Government Affairs for the World Resources Institute
  • Manik Roy, Vice President for Strategic Outreach for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

The event was sponsored by the Georgetown Climate Center and the Georgetown Environment Initiative and is part of a speaker series focused on climate change. Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center moderated the discussion.

Watch a video of the event here.

Covering Climate Change: Journalists Share Their Perspectives

November 14, 2013 – Leading journalists joined the Georgetown Climate Center to discuss the coverage of climate change in the news. NPR's Richard Harris, USA Today's Wendy Koch, and award-winning science writer John Carey shared their experiences in covering stories about mitigating and adapting to climate change across the country.

The Georgetown Environment Initiative co-sponsored the event at the Mortara Center at Georgetown University as part of a year-long series on climate change.Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center and an inaugural Environment Fellow with the Georgetown Environment Initiative, moderated the discussion.

Watch a video of the event here.

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