October 8, 2008


Panel to Address Climate Change; Educate Citizens and Public Officials on Ways to Reduce its Impact

The New York State Bar Association today announced the creation of a Task Force on Global Warming to address the profound impact climate change is having on our natural environment and ecosystems. Created by Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) to address one of her key presidential initiatives, the task force will identify specific areas of legal reform needed to combat global warming, with an eye toward educating policy-makers and the broader public about its far-reaching effects.

"From the air we breathe to the water we drink, climate change has had a dramatic impact on our quality of life as well as the quality of our environment," said Leber. "This task force harnesses the knowledge of climate studies and environmental science professionals with the goal of advancing comprehensive proposals to preserve and protect our vital natural resources in a manner that encourages conservation while keeping New Yorkeconomically competitive for future generations."

The task force will review New York Statestatutes and regulations, taking into account the existing and pending federal laws and local initiatives, in order to address the current global warming crisis. Through its systematic analyses, the task force also will provide additional opportunities to better inform legislators, the legal profession and citizens about climate change issues.

After careful review, the task force will prepare a report that covers the current state of the law and will recommend any appropriate reforms with the aim of ensuring that our laws, policies and practices are designed in a constructive manner to reduce profound climate changes. The report also will address efforts to reduce the impact of climate change at the local level.

The Task Force on Global Warming will be chaired by Michael B. Gerrard (Arnold & Porter LLP) and will be co-sponsored by the Association's Environmental Law Section, chaired by Joan Leary Matthews, Associate Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

As technology has advanced, so too has the risk that greenhouse gas emissions, associated with industrialization and strong economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, are increasing global warming at a rate that has become unsustainable in the long-term. In 1994, the Association's Environmental Law Section reported on the steps that New Yorkand its citizens should take to address climate change. In 1998, the section updated its report and again issued a call to action.

The members of the Association's Task Force on Global Warming are:

  • Michael B. Gerrard (Arnold & Porter LLP), Chairman;
  • David Driesen, Professor, Syracuse Law School;
  • Veronica Eady Famira , New YorkLawyers for the Public Interest;
  • J. Kevin Healy (BryanCave LLP);
  • Katrina Kuh, Professor, Hofstra Law School;
  • Edward Lloyd, Professor, Columbia Law School;
  • Eileen Millett (Gibbons P.C.);
  • David Paget (Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C.);
  • Virginia Robbins (Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC);
  • Patricia Salkin, Professor, Albany Law School;
  • James Sevinsky, Executive Counsel, General Electric; and
  • James Van Nostrand, Executive Director, Energy and Climate Center at Pace Law School.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, the Association's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.