Environmental Law Program

Hāʻupu ʻĀina Aloha Conference Concludes a Memorable 30th Anniversary Celebration

On April 9, ELP and the Hawai‘i State Bar Association’s Environment, Energy, and Resources Section presented a conference entitled Hāʻupu ʻĀina Aloha: Re-Envisioning ELP.

The conference capped off a semester-long celebration of the program’s thirtieth anniversary. Professor Denise Antolini started us off by hosting a “talk story” session with Brian Schatz, Hawai‘i’s senior United States Senator, that touched on topics including climate policy, our energy transition, and environmental justice.

Professor MaxineBurkett hosted the next panel featuring Shalanda Baker, the first Deputy Director for Energy Justice & Secretary’s Advisor on Equity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Baker described how her experiences as an ELP faculty member from 2014 to 2017 made a transformative impact on her, as part of a career journey that also took her to Japan, Mexico, Massachusetts, and now Washington, D.C.

In her new position, Baker will help the Biden Administration implement the Justice40 Initiative and its goal of delivering forty percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities. She also offered conference attendees some valuable words of wisdom: “What world would you create if you had no constraints?” she asked. “Once your vision is crystalized, go about building the legal and policy structure to support you in building that vision.”

Professor Richard Wallsgrove ’08 then hosted a panel with Julia Olson, lead plaintiffs’ attorney in Juliana v. United States, discussing the “many twists and turns” of the famous climate case. She concluded with a line from Judge Josephine Staton’s powerful dissent in the recent Ninth Circuit decision: “When the seas envelop our coastal cities, fires and droughts haunt our interiors, and storms ravage everything between, those remaining will ask: Why did so many do so little?”

The conference also featured a roundtable discussion with ELP founder Casey Leigh and her successors, Professor Antolini and current ELP Director David M. Forman ’93. The trio set the stage for subsequent audience participation with a discussion led by ELP research associate Hannah Caddle ’22 on the next evolution of the program, environmental law education, and professional responsibility.

Although the event concluded our thirtieth-anniversary celebrations, it also served as an opportunity to collectively re-envision the future of ELP. Following the roundtable discussion, ELP alumni and friends joined breakout rooms for free-flowing discussions about what the next thirty years of the program might look like, facilitated by ELP faculty members identified above and Malia Akutagawa ’97, ELP research associates Joel Burgess ’23, Hannah Caddle ’22, Hōkū Chun ’21, Tehani Louis-Perkins ’22, Joe Udell ’22, and Anna Weightman ’23, as well as Environmental Law Society members and conference volunteers Cat Barbour ’22, Grant Barring ’23, Alyssa Couchie ’23, Isaiah Cureton ’21, and Kealapono Richardson ’23.

Professor Forman highlighted the intentional deployment of ELP research associate voices throughout the conference, praising their “creativity, passion, commitment and resilience as we transitioned from our original plans for a weekend event in spring 2020 to a semester-long virtual experience in spring 2021.”  He added that “we will be incorporating ideas generated by ELP students, alumni and friends into strategic planning efforts, aiming to continue the expansion of our program’s reach and impact for the benefit of future generations.”    

Link to Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veXJT_gsE_I

JU 5/2/21            

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