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Summer 2018 Science and Policy Internships

The Environmental Law & Policy Center offers several policy and science internships for undergraduate and graduate students.  Environmental Policy and Science Internships are available throughout the year and are open to undergraduate and graduate students studying politics/government, environmental sciences, business/economics or related fields.  Applicants should have a strong academic record, excellent writing and analytical skills, and a demonstrated interest in and commitment to public interest and environmental advocacy.

ELPC generally offers one fall, one spring, and three summer policy/science internships in the Chicago office with additional opportunities in our Madison, Wisconsin and Des Moines, Iowa offices.  This is an unpaid, volunteer position requiring a minimum of 15 hours per week.  ELPC encourages students to seek outside funding and fellowships.

ORGANIZATION:  ELPC is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and among the nation’s leaders. We develop and lead strategic environmental advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural heritage. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business dealmaking with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together.  ELPC’s multidisciplinary staff of 45 talented public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists, policy advocates and communications specialists brings a strong and effective combination of skills to solve environmental problems and improve the quality of life in our communities. Our headquarters is in downtown Chicago, with additional offices and staff across the Midwest and in Washington, DC.  Please visit www.ELPC.org.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Policy and Science Interns assist ELPC’s Senior Policy Advocates, Policy Associates, Communications Staff and Economists/Financial Analysts with a variety of tasks.

Job duties include: researching energy and environmental topics; preparing memos, summaries, and annotated bibliographies; researching organizations, companies, and individuals in key regions; researching and tracking events; reviewing reports and preparing summary memos; updating and managing Access databases; performing analysis of grant data for use by Congressional offices and others; and assisting with web site content and writing. Interns may also attend meetings with state and federal agencies, legislators, and concerned citizens.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and list of references via email to the appropriate staff member for each office, as listed below. Summer 2018 Internship Application Deadline: February 28, 2018.

Chicago: Intern Manager, policyinternships@elpc.org
Des Moines: Steve Falck, sfalck@elpc.org
Madison: Andy Olsen, aolsen@elpc.org

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is an equal opportunity employer and is continually seeking to diversify its staff.

For a printable PDF version, please click here

ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner Named to Crain’s “Who’s Who in Chicago Business”

Among the trailblazers profiled in Crain’s Chicago Business’ annual “Who’s Who in Chicago Business” is ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner.

“Who’s Who” comprises a comprehensive directory of 600+ Chicago leaders, offering information about each person’s business and professional endeavors as well as civic engagements. The list is divided by sector, and Learner appears alongside 33 non-profit standouts.

Learner’s profile includes his work with numerous environmental and legal organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Law Institute, as well as his service to organizations like Citizens Action of Illinois and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. Below is the profile that appears in the September 4th issue of Crain’s Chicago Business.

Howard_250x330dHoward A. Learner

President, Executive Director

Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chicago

Age: 62

Business: Environmental progress, economic development advocacy organization

Professional: Economic Club; Chicago Bar Association; Chicago Council of Lawyers; Environmental Law Institute

Civic: Leadership Fellows Association; Forest Preserves Foundation; Citizens Action of Illinois; Friends of Israel’s Environment; Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce

Undergraduate: University of Michigan

Graduate: Harvard University

My end-of-year letter

Elections produce change, they can shock the system, and they create new challenges and, often, unanticipated opportunities.  President-elect Trump does not share ELPC’s values and that creates enormous challenges.  Some fundamentals, however, still present positive opportunities in the Midwest states where ELPC focuses, leads and knows how to get things done.

The Midwest is the nation’s most pivotal region for transitioning to a clean energy economy and is the nation’s transportation crossroads where vehicle and mobility innovations can make the most difference in the ways that we live and work.  Cleaning up the energy and transportation sectors are the most important climate change solutions that are needed to save our planet.  Likewise, we must protect the Great Lakes, which are 22% of the world’s freshwater resources, supplying drinking water to 42 million people.  The leadership gap and gridlock in Washington DC makes clear that states and cities are key places for ELPC to drive environmental progress.

ELPC is effective.  We advance savvy policy changes that combined with technological innovations are driving energy markets to accelerate solar energy, wind power, battery storage and energy efficiency.  We are seizing opportunities to transform the transportation sector with innovative new electric and driverless cars and trucks that pollute less and smart mobility options including high-speed rail, better public transit and shared vehicles.  ELPC public interest attorneys are winning strategic litigation with our conservation partners to protect the Midwest’s special wild and natural places – the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Sylvania Wilderness, Great Lakes and Northwoods.

Your support will help ELPC win in 2017, advancing cleaner energy in the Midwest, accelerating transportation innovations, and protecting the great lakes, rivers, forests and prairies that we love. Please read the enclosed report, consider ELPC’s track record of success, and make a contribution by phone, mail or at ELPC.org/donate.

ELPC shows that smart, strategic legal and policy advocacy can both improve environmental quality and grow the Midwest’s economy. ELPC’s teams of expert public interest attorneys, M.B.A.s, policy advocates, communications specialists and science advisors play to win and know how to get things done – truly making a difference for a better world.

ELPC is on the Cusp of Transformational Electricity Policy, Market and Technological Changes, Leading the Midwest to a Clean Energy Future, State by State.  New solar energy, wind power, battery and lighting technologies can help clean up and transform the electricity sector.  ELPC attorneys, M.B.A.s and policy experts are driving new pro-innovation and pro-competition policies to remove barriers and open up markets for solar, wind and storage technologies before the state public utilities commissions where “the rubber hits the road.”  We are playing both offense and defense to accelerate clean renewable energy across the Midwest.  The stakes are high for our future energy mix and climate change solutions.

We Can Make Solar + Batteries = 24/7 Electricity Market Game Changer. Midwest energy policies do not support (and in some ways impede) widespread implementation of new solar energy and storage technologies that would provide both economic benefits – less expensive ways of achieving reliability for business and residential consumers – and environmental value as a very low-carbon part of the electricity system when grid integrated.  ELPC is also working at regional transmission organizations to design policies for demand response and battery storage that provide grid support, enhance reliability, and reduce need for old coal plants.

ELPC Is Taking on Peabody Energy – the Biggest Coal Mine Company.  ELPC attorneys are making progress before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in challenging Peabody Energy’s flawed “self-bonding” practices — a promise to pay, without guarantee — for its mine reclamation obligations. Peabody and other coal mine companies must fulfill their environmental cleanup responsibilities and not shift their costs onto taxpayers.

ELPC Is Winning in the Courts to Clean Up or Retire Coal.  ELPC won a federal district court decision requiring the Edwards coal plant in Peoria to reduce dangerous soot pollution, and ELPC attorneys helped stop First Energy’s and AEP’s requested bailouts of uneconomic old coal plants in Ohio. Because of coal plant retirements, Illinois is already 81% and Michigan is 90% of the way toward achieving their full Clean Power Plan carbon pollution reductions by 2030.

ELPC is Accelerating Electric Vehicles (EV) and “Driverless” Car Policies to Steer the Right Course to Clean Up and Rapidly Transform the Transportation Sector.  We are exploring ways to develop a modern EV fast-charging network that brings together homes, public sites and fast-charging stations powered by solar or wind energy along major Midwest interstates.  ELPC is leading the national environmental advocacy with government agencies to integrate greenhouse gas reduction standards into emerging federal safety policies for driverless vehicles.  Done right, the technological advances spurring development of driverless cars create opportunities to lower traffic fatalities, optimize fuel efficiency to produce less pollution, and reduce congestion.  That’s a winning strategy.

ELPC – the Go-To Public Interest Litigation Attorneys for Conservation Partners Working to Protect the Midwest’s Wild and Natural Places When Serious Threats Emerge:

  • We’re Protecting the Sylvania Wilderness, a beautiful 18,327-acre area of interconnected lakes and old growth trees along the Michigan-Wisconsin border where people canoe, fish, hike, camp and enjoy the quiet of the outdoors.  ELPC attorneys represent environmental groups intervening in litigation brought by private plaintiffs seeking to overturn the Forest Service’s limits on “grandfathered” uses of loud gas-powered motorboats.  In June, ELPC won a favorable Federal District Court summary judgment decision to limit large motorboat uses that disturb the wilderness experience and potentially bring in invasive species.  If upheld on appeal, that decision will also set a precedent for protecting other Midwest National Parks, Lakeshores and Wilderness Areas.
  • We’re Ditching the Illiana Tollway Boondoggle and Protecting the Remarkable Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The Illiana Tollway is a fiscal folly, undermines sound regional planning, and would harm wildlife and ecological values in the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. ELPC attorneys representing the Midewin Heritage Association, Openlands and Sierra Club have now twice prevailed before the Federal District Courts, which have declared that the federal and state transportation agencies’ approvals of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statements and Record of Decisions violated NEPA and are invalid.  ELPC’s media outreach has secured 20 editorials against the Illiana “road to nowhere” during Illinois’ fiscal crisis when there are much higher priorities for limited transportation infrastructure funds to enable badly-needed fixes for transit and commuter rail, intercity higher-speed rail, and bridge repairs.  It’s time to finally bring the proposed Illiana Tollway to an end.
  • We’re Protecting Clean Water in the Great Lakes and Midwest Rivers. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has bipartisan support and sustained appropriations, which have largely avoided political squabbling. The projects supported by close to $2 billion of federal funds over the past seven years are achieving real results for restoring the Great Lakes ecological system. In Illinois, ELPC attorneys won a state court decision overturning agencies’ failure to establish sound phosphorus standards and a separate permit appeal challenging discharges of superheated water into Lake Michigan.  In Iowa, ELPC attorneys won a court decision reversing an agency’s flawed “antidegradation” standards that should keep clean water clean.

ELPC believes in the core principle that environmental progress and economic growth can be achieved together, and we put that sustainability principle into practice every day. Our multidisciplinary staff teams of public interest attorneys, M.B.A.s, policy experts and communications specialists are fully engaged across the Midwest, and we’re achieving progress.  ELPC’s strong Board of Directors, scientist advisors, and next-gen and state advisory councils expand our capabilities, talent and networks to succeed.   It isn’t easy; real change never is. We don’t give up. We play to win and work with diverse partners to accomplish results that matter.

Thank you for your engagement and your support.  Please consider making a contribution by mail, phone or online at elpc.org/donate to support ELPC’s effective work to seize opportunities for transformational changes and achieve a brighter Midwest future for all.

Victory in Federal Court! Illiana Tollway Tier 2 EIS “Invalid”

ELPC litigation success! U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle issued an Order yesterday holding that the federal and state transportation agencies’ approvals of the Tier 2 environmental impact statement and record of decision for the boondoggle Illiana Tollway are “invalid” and “no longer effective.” ELPC Staff Attorney Rachel Granneman and I are representing Openlands, Midewin Heritage Association and Sierra Club in this case.

Federal judges have now twice held in favor of ELPC and our clients that the federal and state transportation agencies’ environmental reviews of the proposed Illiana Tollway were invalid and illegal. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) impermissibly skewed their environmental reviews from the outset to somehow justify the proposed new Illiana Tollway. Their Tier 1 EIS, which was held to be illegal by the federal court on June 16, 2015, relied on improper methodologies to support the proposed Illiana Tollway and reject better alternatives. Their Tier 2 EIS relied on the flawed underlying Tier 1 EIS in then choosing among proposed corridors to build this tollway.

The new federal court decision yesterday ruled “invalid” and “no longer effective” the Tier 2 EIS approvals by IDOT, INDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. Accordingly, the court then stated that the case is now “moot” and dismissed the lawsuit. We are pleased that the federal courts have now held that both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 environmental impact statements are illegal and cannot be relied upon for the proposed new Illiana Tollway.

The U.S. District Court’s decision means that IDOT and INDOT must start over their environmental reviews from the beginning based on much more realistic data and do it right without impermissible shortcuts. However, if done right, that would very likely show that the proposed costly Illiana Tollway is not economically justified and is not environmentally sensible.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The proposed new Illiana Tollway proposal is fiscally irresponsible, contradicts sound regional planning, and would harm the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. It’s time for IDOT and INDOT to stop wasting taxpayers’ money and time, and instead bring the boondoggle Illiana Tollway to its well-deserved end.

Thank you for your continued engagement and support. We’re winning.

Take down the TRUMP sign along the improved Chicago Riverwalk!

TakeTrumpSignDownThe enormous TRUMP sign along the scenic Chicago Riverwalk is a 20-foot-high, 141-foot-across blight on this otherwise beautiful environmental, architectural, cultural and economic corridor. This sign offends community values and shouldn’t be there. Help end this offensive visual pollution by signing our petition to #TakeTrumpSignDown!

Respected Chicago Tribune architectural writer Blair Kamin has blasted the sign on Chicago’s Trump Tower as “grotesquely oversized” and “crudely detailed.” And Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called the sign “awful” and “in very poor taste.” In fact, the mayor was so moved by the sign’s unpleasantness – and, no doubt, by the scores of Chicago voters who agreed with him – that he drafted a new ordinance, later adopted by the city council, to limit the size and placement of future signage along the Riverwalk.

But the Trump sign eyesore remains. Tell the mayor you want it taken down. 

The newly improved Chicago Riverwalk is generating broad public support to preserve the public space as a place where civic values take priority over this offensive commercialism. Chicago’s downtown Riverwalk should be a recreational showplace lined with trees, walking paths and restaurants – NOT Las Vegas-style excess. Take action today to support the removal of the “TRUMP” sign on this tower along our community’s iconic Chicago River.

Scott Strand Joins Environmental Law & Policy Center as Senior Attorney to Expand Natural Resources Protection Advocacy in Upper Midwest

The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) is pleased to announce that Scott Strand, an experienced public interest litigation attorney and environmental policy advocate, will join ELPC as a Senior Attorney focused on natural resources protection issues and opportunities in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains states.  Strand is a Minnesota native, bringing 30 years of litigation experience to his new environmental role at ELPC.

Strand most recently served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) for six years. He and MCEA have played key roles in securing state regulations that protect Minnesota’s waterways, retiring old highly-polluting coal plants and keeping harmful sulfide mining proposals at bay.

Strand previously served for 17 years in senior positions at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, including as Deputy Counsel and Manager of the Natural Resources Division. He also worked at a private law firm on diverse business and public sector litigation.

Scott Strand said:  “Joining ELPC presents an exciting opportunity for me to work at a regional organization that uses a diverse strategic advocacy approach to preserve the Midwest’s vital natural resources.  I look forward to working with ELPC’s strong multidisciplinary team of public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists and policy experts to better protect the special places in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.  This is a great opportunity for me to help make a difference by focusing my work as a full-time public interest lawyer on important litigation and advocacy campaigns to protect our Midwest environment.”

ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said:  “We welcome Scott Strand to ELPC’s strong public interest advocacy team.  Scott is a talented litigator and knowledgeable environmental policy advocate who has been a valued colleague.  We look forward to Scott now joining ELPC to expand our important work to protect vital natural resources and the wild and special places in the Great Plains and the Upper Midwest including the Driftless Area, Great Lakes, Mississippi River and Northwoods. Scott will provide additional experienced legal firepower for ELPC and our clients and colleagues to succeed.”

Strand will be based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, which is a regional hub in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, and is a key place for natural resources protection issues and opportunities, and for clean energy development.

ELPC’s Learner & Shah make 2016 “Who’s Who” List

Crain’s Chicago Business publishes an annual “Who’s Who in Chicago” list of movers and shakers. The 2016 list features ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner as one of the 561 people whose names you need to know, from Fortune 500 CEOs to civic leaders and philanthropists. Click here to see the full list.

Crain’s also published a list of the 100 most-connected people in business, with ELPC Board member Smita Shah as #19. Smita heads up Spaan Tech Inc., an engineering, construction and architecture firm.

Crains

Litigation Victory! Federal Court Finds that Dynegy’s Edwards Coal Plant Violates Law on Particulate Pollution and Opacity

Victory! ELPC and our partners won a major victory as Federal District Court Judge McDade just issued a very favorable decision granting us summary judgment in our lawsuit challenging excessive particulate emissions, which exacerbate respiratory problems, from the old Edwards coal plant near Peoria, IL. The Court’s opinion holds that a Dynegy subsidiary, the plant owner, violated the Edwards coal plant’s operating permit thousands of times over seven years – emitting an illegal amount of harmful soot pollution.

ELPC attorneys Jenny Cassel and Justin Vickers represent client plaintiffs Respiratory Health Association and Sierra Club, and we are working with co-plaintiff Natural Resources Defense Council. Together, we alleged that the Edwards coal plant was not properly controlling soot pollution – also known as “particulate matter,” which is associated with asthma, decreased lung function, and other respiratory problems.

This important legal victory reinforces the ability of environmental advocacy organizations to bring and win citizen enforcement lawsuits against polluters, even when state agencies do not enforce the permits they issue. It’s time for Dynegy to recognize that if it is going to continue to operate the Edwards plant, it must follow the law by installing sufficient modern pollution control equipment.

Going forward, the case will shift to a “remedy” phase for the Judge to determine what steps Dynegy must take to reduce pollution and comply with its permit, as well as what penalties should be paid for violations.

Kudos to ELPC attorneys Jenny Cassel and Justin Vickers and our partners who all worked hard on this case. This court decision will reduce pollution and set a precedent for environmental enforcement lawsuits brought in the public interest.

Peabody trying to shift coal clean-up costs onto taxpayers, ELPC’s Learner explains to NPR’s Marketplace

Just about every big coal mining company in America is in bankruptcy, or emerging from it. That includes the world’s largest private sector coal firm: Peabody Energy.

Peabody won court approval to set aside just a small amount of money for environmental cleanup – a mere 15 cents on the dollar. That leaves the states in which it operates at risk for the rest.

The whole question here is, if coal companies wobble and fall down for good, who pays for the cleanup? The process of removing water pollution, planting trees and shrubs and returning the topsoil is expensive and time-consuming.

In Peabody’s case, the court and three key mining states agreed to let the company put up just a fraction of the cleanup money that would be required.

“They’re trying to shift the costs from the coal mining companies back to the states, and basically onto taxpayers,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said. “And unfortunately, for example, the state of Indiana seems to have agreed to take 15 to 17 cents on the dollar.”

Continue Reading or listen below

American Bar Association: Environmental Justice and Citizens’ Rights Short-Term Legal Specialist (pro bono)

ABA ROLI is a non-profit pro­gram that implements legal reform programs in over 50 countries around the world.  ABA ROLI has nearly 500 professional staff work­ing abroad and in its Washington, D.C. office. ABA ROLI’s host country partners include judges, lawyers, bar associations, law schools, court administrators, legislatures, ministries of justice and a wide array of civil society organi­zations, including human rights groups.

 

JOB SUMMARY

Short Term Legal Experts: Environmental Justice and Citizens’ Rights

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative seeks Short-Term Legal Experts to assist a newly established Bar organization working group focusing on environmental justice and rights. This working group will provide the initial leadership and training capacity for an Environmental Justice and Rights Initiative.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES

Legal Specialists’ responsibilities will include, but are not limited to, to following:

  • Conduct workshops for the working group on creating the structural framework for the Initiative;
  • Developing a training of trainers program in support of the Initiative, to include:
    • The development of skills for conducting research on environmental issues,
    • The identification of specific environmental problems,
    • A review of law, regulations, and international norms that may apply,
    • The identification of key stakeholders,
    • The development of environmental justice and rights advocacy skills;
    • The creation of workshop written materials;
  • Developing the criteria for selecting diverse trainers for the Initiative;
  • Create relevant guidelines and assistance tools for long-term use by the bar association in the continuation of the Initiative.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • JD or foreign equivalent or other related advanced degree;
  • A thorough knowledge of substantive environmental norms and environmental justice issues;
  • At least 7 years of experience in developing, managing, and evaluating environmental justice/rights advocacy programs with the involvement of bar associations, lawyers, and/or civil society organizations;
  • Prior experience in working on international technical assistance programs will be a distinct advantage.

 

Due to the high volume of applications received, we are only able to follow up with candidates who are selected for interviews. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and this position may be filled prior to the close date. To apply, please visit: https://www.devex.com/jobs/aba-roli-short-term-legal-expert-environmental-justice-and-citizens-rights-turkey-pro-bono-406279

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