Denise Fort (Professor Emerita, University of New Mexico School of Law ) and Daniel Larremore (March for Science, Santa Fe Institute)
Environmental law is intimately intertwined with science, with risk reduction the basis for most of the nation’s environmental regulatory schemes. The U.S. has powerful institutions for building scientific knowledge, including excellent universities, national laboratories, cadres of scientists within federal agencies, and national academies. The New Deal gave rise to the administrative state, which has grown to include regulatory authorities over public health, food and drug safety, transportation, and, most critically, the use of coal to generate power. But the second most powerful person in the White House has pledged to “deconstruct the administrative state.” The attack on science is now most vocal in the debunking of climate science. This is not occurring in academic journals and conferences, but is instead coming from the mouth of the President and his EPA appointee. It is accompanied, as it logically must be, by ending data collection and revamped webpages, and by prohibiting the participation of agency scientists in public communications. Budget cuts and the elimination of entire programs are threatened. Academic institutions, with their dependence on federal funding, have surely felt this chill. Nonetheless, federal laws, and specifically federal environmental laws, are built on a relationship between science and law. How will environmental lawyers respond? How does the polis matter in the next four years?
There are no roadmaps for what lies ahead in our nation, although science has been questioned since the Enlightenment and the movement for environmental protection has waxed and waned in the last half century. We hope to have a thoughtful conversation about the response of scientists to the current moment.
Bio. Denise D. Fort is an environmental consultant and Emerita Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law. She resigned her position as a Professor of Law and Director of the School’s Utton Center to focus on climate change and environmental advocacy, as a citizen (Chair of the Energy Committee for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club; convener of activists, issue advocacy) and a lawyer. She chaired the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, by appointment of President Clinton, which prepared a seminal report on western water policy. Fort also served as Director of New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Division, as an attorney with New Mexico PIRG and Southwest Research and Information Center, and as Executive Director of Citizens for a Better Environment (CA). She was a member of the National Research Council’s Water, Science, and Technology Board and participated in NRC reports. Her research and publications address environmental law, water policy, river restoration, and climate policy. Other positions include experience in public finance as the Secretary of Finance and Administration for New Mexico and as an assistant Attorney General in the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org