Hurricanes, Natural Disaster Preparedness, and Environmental Justice

Barry University hosted its annual Environmental Law Summit on April 5th.  The program featured keynote presentations by U.S. Representative Darren Soto, who represents Florida’s 9th District and is the first Floridian of Puerto Rican descent to represent Florida in Congress, and Dierdra Macnab, who is the former state president of the Florida League of Women Voters and leader of the Make Florida #1 in Solar Campaign. The event was co-sponsored by Barry University’s Center for Earth Jurisprudence, University of Central Florida’s Department of Legal Studies, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Environmental Justice Committee, and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

2018 flyer

Check out earlier programs:

Hurricane Maria and its Aftermath in Puerto Rico, October 11, 2017

The Department of Defense reports that two weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall only 5.4 percent of citizens on the island of Puerto Rico have electricity, while 12.1 percent have cell service. Communications still remain a challenge on the island. Currently, only 14 of Puerto Rico’s hospitals had electricity, while 51 were “degraded” and in need of generators for power. The situation remains dire. The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Environmental Justice Committee invites you to a webinar addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. The panel includes a distinguished group of experts working on the intersections of issues of environmental justice, energy rights, humanitarian relief, and civil rights. The group will discuss the obstacles Puerto Rico faces in the coming days and months ahead to restore electricity, rebuild infrastructure, and meet basic human needs. Panelists, moderated by Tiffany Sanchez (Barry Law), included Bernice Bird (Bird Law Firm), Sheila I Vélez Martínez (Pittsburgh Law), and Carlos Pares (Somos Solar). A recording of the program is available here.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate: Environmental Justice and Economic Justice Implications of Climate Change, November 8, 2017

It has been reported that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate have been the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. With a price tag already passing over $475 billion between just Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, it is more probable than not that the economic damage will continue to rise in the months ahead. Moreover, as the impact of climate change is accelerating, marine environments and biodiversity are becoming increasingly vulnerable. These hurricanes have brought in unprecedented levels of rainfall, and many scientists at National Geographic agree that the “record-breaking rain was almost certainly shaped by rising temperatures from human activity.” It has been predicted that future storm surges could worsen partly due to sea level rise and partly due to the impending increase in the number of intense hurricanes. Our panel of experts will discuss the environmental impact of these hurricanes on climate change, and the economic challenges the affected areas will face in the coming months. The group will also discuss the growing movement for environmental justice in favor of legislative reform of water regulations, and the economic implications of such restructuring. The panelists, which was moderated by Tiffany Sanchez (Barry Law) included Victor Flatt (Houston Law), Barry Hill (Environmental Law Institute) and Rachel Deming (Barry Law).  The event was sponsored by the ABA CRSJ Environmental Justice and Economic Justice Committee. A recording of the program can be found here.

 

At a Crossroads: Native American Sovereignty, Water Rights, and Climate Change, November 3, 2017

Water is crucial for sustaining life, especially for Native Nations. As the impact of climate change is accelerating, frontline low-income and minority communities are increasingly vulnerable. Our panel of experts will discuss the crossroads of Native American sovereignty, water rights, and climate change. The group will also discuss the growing movement for environmental justice among tribal communities. Panelists included Edmund Clay Goodman (Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker), Stephen Walker (Lewis, Longman & Walker), and Elizabeth Kronk Warner (Kansas Law). Susan Larned (Barry Law) moderated the panel. Her article on the topic is forthcoming in the Barry Environmental and Earth Law Journal. The event was sponsored by the ABA CRSJ Environmental Justice and Native American Concerns Committee.The program is available here.

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