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March 17, 2011

National Resources Defense Council founder to discuss why current environmental law isn’t working

Prominent lawyer and advisor, Gus Speth, to speak April 5

Few have had as much impact on United States environmental policy and law as Gus Speth, an academic expert on environmental law who served as an advisor to Presidents Carter and Clinton.

In his career, Speth has developed first-hand knowledge of why the legal frameworks created to address environmental challenges are not working . In the lecture “Why Environmental Law Can’t Solve Environmental Problems,” he will explore how environmental challenges tend to deal with the symptoms, rather than the underlying forces, putting the burden of action in the wrong places and identifying what is needed now.

The free lecture will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5 at the University of Oregon School of Law, Room 175. Also on April 5, at 4:00 p.m., Speth will present “American Environmentalism at the Crossroads” in the Knight Library Browsing Room. More details at waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu.

Preceding his appearance in Eugene, Speth will speak from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday, April 4, at the University of Oregon in Portland White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch St. Space is limited. RSVP is required at www.pdx.uoregon.edu. This is the keynote event for the UO in Portland’s 2010-11 academic theme, “Global Portland: The Sustainable Edge.”

“Gus has insight into a global issue that is relevant and timely for Portland,” said Wendy Larson, vice provost of UO Portland Programs. “He’s not coming at environmental and sustainability issues from one angle. He understand the needs of business, the restraints of law and the very real urgency for change to preserve a livable environment of generations to come.”

Speth co-founded the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental lobbyist group, in 1970. President Jimmy Carter appointed him as chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. In 1982, he founded the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank. He served as an advisor on natural resources, energy and the environment to President Bill Clinton’s transition team. From 1993 to 1999, Speth administered the United Nations Development Programme, which works to reduce poverty, build infrastructure and establish democracy in the world’s least developed countries.

A graduate from Yale Law School and a Rhodes Scholar, Speth taught environmental and constitutional law at Georgetown Law School and served as the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies until his retirement in 2009. In 2010, he joined the faculty of Vermont Law School.

Speth is the author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, in which he presents bold solutions to problems that go deeper than environmental issues. Speth looks at America’s constant push to always have more and to consume relentlessly as incompatible with sustaining the environment as well as social well being.

This event is sponsored by University of Oregon Portland Programs, the UO School of Law, the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, College of Arts and Science’s Environmental Studies Program and UO Climate Change Research Group.

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