Howard A. Learner, President & Executive Director


Howard A. Learner is an experienced attorney who serves as the President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center – the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. Mr. Learner is responsible for the overall strategic leadership, policy direction and financial platform for ELPC’s successful work promoting clean energy development solutions to global warming problems, improving the Midwest’s environmental quality, and preserving the region’s natural resources and heritage. One of ELPC’s premises is that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together.

Mr. Learner previously served as General Counsel for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, specializing in complex environmental, energy, economic development and civil rights litigation and policy advocacy. He also served as the founding Chair of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board, a large consumer advocacy organization, and as Legal Counsel for the Chicago Energy Commission, which assessed energy policies and expenditures for the City of Chicago.

As an attorney, Mr. Learner has successfully represented environmental and consumer organizations in complex civil litigation in the federal and state courts. He has both significant appellate and trial experience. He recently succeeded in representing a group of Wisconsin scientists in Federal District Court, which issued three injunctions on 22,000 acres of proposed logging in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service had failed to analyze the cumulative impacts of multiple timber sales that harm clean water, wildlife habitat, biodiversity and other natural resources. Mr. Learner also served as the lead attorney for a coalition of Illinois consumer organizations and government agencies in litigating and, then, negotiating a settlement with Commonwealth Edison on complicated rate issues that produced more than $2 billion of refunds – the largest ever in the U.S.

Much of Mr. Learner’s work has concentrated on developing and advocating new directions on environmental policy issues, including: developing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency resources to avoid global warming and other pollution from conventional power plants; designing “smart growth” transportation and land use strategies to counteract sprawl; protecting the Midwest’s wild and natural places; and leading efforts to develop a Midwest high-speed rail network that can produce complementary environmental quality, economic development and employment benefits.

Mr. Learner has received Leadership Greater Chicago’s Distinguished Leadership Fellow Award for the 25th Anniversary (2009), Chicago Magazine’s Green Leader Award (2009), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – Federal Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service (2006), the Public Interest Law Initiative’s Distinguished Public Service Award (2005) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s National Champion of Energy Efficiency Award for Energy Policy (2002). He and the Center received the U.S. Green Building Council – Chicago Chapter’s Natural Leader Award (2009), ShoreBank’s Green Neighbor Award (2007), the American Wind Energy Association’s National Wind Energy Advocacy Award (2004) and WPWR-TV Channel 50 Foundation’s Award for Sustained Excellence in Advocacy (1999). Mr. Learner appears in Crain’s Chicago Business’ “Who’s Who in Chicago Business” (1997 – 2009). He was selected as a Fellow for the Leadership Greater Chicago program (1989 1990) and for Crain’s “40 Under Forty (Years Old) business standouts” (1992). The German Marshall Fund and the Institute for European Environmental Policy awarded him an Environmental Fellowship to study environmental and economic policy.

Mr. Learner received his law degree from Harvard Law School (1980), and a B.A. (Honors) from the University of Michigan (1976). He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Council for Renewable Energy, Friends of Israel’s Environment (Chair), Illinois Citizens Action, Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Association and Wind on the Wires. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Board of the Environmental Law Institute and as a Trustee and Chair of the Grantmaking Committee of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Mr. Learner is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School, teaching an advanced seminar on environmental law and sustainable development, and he has a Lecturer appointment at the University of Chicago, teaching environmental and policy law. He is married to Lauren Rosenthal, an attorney, and they live in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago with their three children.


J.D., Harvard Law School, 1980

B.A., University of Michigan, 1976

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