Professor Michael B. Gerrard to Discuss Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Laws

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Gerrard and other experts will discuss preparation for future storms and expedited cleanup under existing environmental laws


New York, November 13, 2012—On the heels of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and its director, environmental law expert Michael B. Gerrard, will advance discussions about the legal implications of and preparations for extreme weather incidents.
Through a series of events designed to raise awareness about climate change law among the legal community, policymakers, and the public, Gerrard and other speakers will offer their views on the practical realities of climate change. They will talk about steps to take post-storm, including how to speed the cleanup and recovery process under environmental laws with waivers and exemptions, and ways to mitigate damage from future storms. Gerrard is speaking at or moderating each of the events. 
  • “What is the State of the Art in Preparing for Extreme Weather Events?” on Wed., Nov. 14, will feature a global perspective, with ambassadors from Taipei, the Solomon Islands, and Belize participating. In addition, representatives from state and local governments affected by Hurricane Sandy will be featured, including Leah Cohen, policy adviser on climate change adaption at New York City’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. 
  •  “Environmental Law and Hurricane Sandy,” a teleconference on Thurs., Nov. 15, will feature a distinguished panel of experts who will discuss how permit waivers, special conditions, and similar steps make it possible to move quickly while complying with environmental laws.  They will share lessons learned from prior disasters on some kinds of “red tape” that should not be lightly cut through. The teleconference is sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. 
The topics of the panels—preparing for future weather disasters and ways to expedite cleanup and recovery under the law—are all the more timely because of Hurricane Sandy, said Gerrard, the Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at the Law School and Associate Chair of the faculty at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
“Hopefully conversations like these will induce us to redouble our efforts to be prepared for the next huge storm,” he said. “There’s increasing reason to believe that these types of storms will happen with greater frequency.”
Gerrard, whose tenth book, The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects, was published in September, served on the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force, which issued a report making recommendations on the issue to the state legislature in December 2010.
More information about the specific events can be found at the Center for Climate Change Law’s website.