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February 24, 2005

23rd Public Interest Environmental Law Conference draws thousands

Twenty-third public interest environmental law conference featured Fox News whistleblowers, A Civil Action attorney, Northern Cheyenne stripmining activist, Deep Ecology author and more
Read the Register-Guard story
Read the Eugene-Weekly story


For the twenty-third year, environmental attorneys and activists from more than 40 countries  converged on the University of Oregon School of Law the first weekend in March for what has become the world’s largest public environmental law conference.
Founded in 1982 and still organized by Land Air Water, the first student environmental law society, the event featured 120 panels and six keynote addresses on the theme Living As If Nature Mattered.


Jason Hartz, a second-year law student and public relations director for the conference, said, The PIELC is a strong tradition at this law school that really sets our environmental law students apart from the rest.  Every year dedicated Land Air Water members pour hundreds of volunteer hours into organizing this conference and it consistently results in a top-notch event. 
The biennial meeting of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW)  was held in conjunction with PIELC. 
Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, former Fox Television news reporters, were the first journalists to use the Whistleblowers Act after being fired for refusing to alter their 1996 reporting about health risks associated with bovine growth hormones. Akre and Wilson’s story has been featured in the 2003 documentary, “The Corporation” and the 2002 book, Into the Buzzsaw.
Bill Devall co-authored Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered, the 1986 book that inspired the theme for this year’s conference and provided a foundation for modern environmental philosophy. He is a professor emeritus at California State University-Humboldt.
Zygmunt Plater was the lead litigator in the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case halting construction of Tennessee’s Tellico Dam project because of its impact on the endangered snail darter minnow.  He and his students also played a major role in the toxic tort litigation made famous by the book and 1998 movie, A Civil Action. He is a law professor at Boston College.
Gail Small, a 1982 UO law graduate, works in Lame Deer, Montana. Her childhood home is the site of some of the world’s richest coalfields and she has spent years fighting for the Cheyenne and against stripmining. Small is the founding director of Native Action, a reservation-based nonprofit that has established national precedents in federal banking law, environmental policy, voter discrimination and youth law.
Other keynoters include Leslie Carothers, Rod Coronado, Fernando Dougnac, Samuel Epstein, Dune Lankard, Carla Garcia Zendejas, and Beverly Wright.




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