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February 23, 2010

28th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference Takes Place February 25-28

“Recover, Renew, Reimagine,” the 28th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) will take place Thursday, February 25, through Sunday, February 28, at the Knight Law Center.

Billed as the premier annual gathering for environmentalists worldwide, the 2010 PIELC will examine how continuing economic uncertainty is merging with environmental and social degradation, and how humanity faces both a mounting crisis and a dawning opportunity. Environmental activists must recover from the damage inflicted on communities, nations, and the planet. They must renew the determination for and commitment to positive change, and reimagine how humanity should move forward into the new century and toward future generations.

This year’s keynote speakers are:

Ramona Africa, minister of information for the MOVE Organization. Africa is the sole adult survivor of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia by the Philadelphia police. She now speaks about her experiences and MOVE’s commitment to justice and freedom for all life on the planet.

Patricia Cochran, executive director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, an organization created to bring together research and science in partnership with Alaska Native communities. She also serves as current chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change and is former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Cochran is an Inupiaq Eskimo born and raised in Nome, Alaska.
Peter DeFazio, congressman representing Oregon’s 4th District. Representative DeFazio was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1986. Representative DeFazio is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as chairman of the Highways and Transit subcommittee, and also serves on the Aviation and Railroad subcommittees.
Marcilynn Burke, Bureau of Land Management’s deputy director for programs and policy. Burke’s expertise in renewable energy, endangered species, and other land management issues benefits the BLM as it works to support the Department of the Interior’s clean energy, treasured landscapes, and other natural resource and land use priorities.
Steven Donziger, partner in New York City’s Donziger & Associates practicing criminal defense law and international environmental law. For the last 16 years, Donziger has been a member of a joint Ecuadorian-American legal team representing 80 indigenous and farmer communities of the Amazon Region of Ecuador in a class-action lawsuit against Chevron Texaco.
Marc Ona Essangui, president and founder of the environmental NGO Brainforest and president of Environment Gabon. Essangui won the 2009 Goldman Prize for his fight to save Gabon’s Ivindo National Park from controversial development. Since developing Polio as a child, Essangui also has been a strong advocate for disability rights.
Craig Franklin, biologist and professor of zoology at the University of Queensland, Australia, who has been studying fish, amphibians, and reptiles for more than 15 years. Franklin’s research program focuses on how animals, such as fish, frogs, and crocodiles can survive and function in extreme and often hostile environments and under challenging conditions.
Maria Gunnoe, full-time organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. Gunnoe is a lifelong Cherokee Native resident of West Virginia and has experienced the destruction of mountaintop removal firsthand. A 2009 Goldman Prize winner, Gunnoe began organizing as a volunteer in 1997, and her advocacy has led to the closure of mines in the region and stricter regulations for the industry.
Rizwana Hasan, executive director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association and 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner. Hasan is an environmental attorney who has worked to reduce the impact of Bangladesh’s exploitative and environmentally devastating ship breaking industry.
Terri Irwin, co-founder of Wildlife Warriors Worldwide and owner of the Australia Zoo in Queensland. In 1986, the Eugene, Oregon, native started the city’s “Cougar Country,” a rehabilitation center for predatory mammals. In 1992, she married the late Steve Irwin. While on their honeymoon, Terri and Steve filmed a wildlife documentary and used this footage as the basis for the first episode of the popular television program, The Crocodile Hunter.
David Kirby, author of the forthcoming book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment; also wrote The New York Times bestseller Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic–A Medical Controversy. Kirby has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since its founding in 2005 and has also written for a number of national magazines.
Anuradha Mittal, internationally renowned expert on trade, developmental human rights, and agriculture issues. After working as the co-director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, Mittal established the Oakland Institute, a progressive policy think tank, in 2004.
Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. Earthjustice was founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and since that time has provided legal representation at no cost to more than 700 clients.
Charles Wilkinson, Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, author of thirteen books, and a leading authority on public land, Indian, and natural resources law. Wilkinson won the Colorado Book Award for Messages From Frank’s Landing, a profile of Billy Frank, Jr. of the Nisqually Tribe of western Washington. In his latest book, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, Wilkinson poses what he calls “the most fundamental question of all: Can the Indian voice endure?”
Organized entirely by the Oregon Law student group Land Air Water, this year’s conference features a special opening event for children and families with Bindi and Robert Irwin, the daughter and son of Steve Irwin and his wife, Terri. “Empowering the Next Generation of Wildlife Warriors” will take place at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, February 25, in the UO’s Erb Memorial Union Ballroom. The interactive session will educate children about conservation and things they can do to make a difference in the world. Tickets to this special event are free, but must be reserved through registration.

A full schedule of events, as well as online registration for the conference and the opening kids empowerment event is available on the PIELC webs

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