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ELAW is helping lawyers around the world protect communities and the environment, and they need help from scientists. Heidi Weiskel, a marine ecologist and ELAW Staff Scientist since 2012, says:

Scientists help communities understand how a development impacts the local ecology and help lawyers articulate these impacts in court.”

Scientist in Action: Glenn Miller (center)
and ELAW partners Aresio Valiente (left) and
Tania Arosemena (right) in Panama, July 2014

Heidi was joined by ELAW board member Glenn Miller and ELAW partner Fernando Ochoa at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, to help ecologists learn how they can use their expertise outside traditional academic research.

Glenn is a professor and mining expert at the University of Nevada at Reno. Fernando is an attorney and founder of Environmental Defense Northwest.

Introducing the work of ELAW to ESA builds bridges between these experts and the communities that need scientific analysis,” says Heidi.

Heidi and ELAW Staff Scientists Mark Chernaik and Meche Lu work with Glenn and several other pro bono scientists who share their expertise with hundreds of ELAW partners around the world.

Many thanks to Glenn and all of ELAW’s pro bono scientists who help bring scientific truth to environmental challenges.

Michele Kuhnle
Donor Liaison week I had the pleasure of joining 45 lawyers from East Africa to discuss how to defend the rights of communities threatened by the push for land and resources throughout the region.

With generous support from the Ford Foundation, ELAW partnered with Greenwatch in Uganda to host a workshop for lawyers from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.  The aim was to help young lawyers gain the skills they need to defend the rights of communities threatened by extractive industries.

More experienced lawyers came to give presentations and share their expertise.  But they also came to forge ties with the next generation of lawyers and mentor lawyers just starting out.  They depended on experienced lawyers to help them as they got started, and now they are happy to help the next generation of lawyers.

We are also helping build relationships between young lawyers within each country and across borders, so they know they are not alone taking on powerful interests.

In addition to Greenwatch, ELAW partners at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG) in Kenya and the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) in Tanzania helped organize the workshop.

I left the workshop inspired and full of hope and I believe that we all went away better prepared to defend the rights of communities threatened by unsustainable development.

Jen Gleason
Staff Attorney

Benedette & Adolf

Benedette and Adolf are enjoying their first visit to the U.S.

Kenyan attorney Benedette Mutuku and Tanzanian attorney Adolf Runyoro arrived in Eugene on Monday. These ELAW Fellows will work closely with the ELAW team to strengthen their organizations and tap legal and scientific resources.

Recent discoveries of oil in Turkana and minerals on Kenya’s coast are keeping us busy,” says Benedette.  “We need equitable sharing of benefits and public participation in decisions about natural resources.

Benedette is Law and Policy Project Officer at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG), based in Nairobi.

Adolf is Legal Officer at the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), based in Dar es Salaam.  LEAT works to protect the environment, land, and natural resources.  Adolf’s current projects include safeguarding Tanzanians from leaded paint and collaborating with colleagues to protect the land rights of Maasai communities threatened by foreign interests seeking land for trophy hunting.

Benedette and Adolf are part of East Africa’s new generation of grassroots defenders. ELAW has worked with ILEG and LEAT for more than 10 years.

Many thanks to the Ford Foundation for making these ELAW Fellowships possible!

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director &
Fellows Program Coordinator

amigos at reception cropped

Environmental leaders from around the world at ELAW’s reception at the PIELC

ELAW recently welcomed environmental leaders from 27 countries to Eugene for the 2013 ELAW Annual Meeting and the 31st Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC). While here, these advocates shared strategies and worked together to protect clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment.

The Eugene community offered tremendous support for our Annual Meeting and our reception at the PIELC. We would like to thank the following local businesses for their in-kind contributions to support our work.

On behalf of environmental leaders across the globe, thank you!

Nick Warren

Pictures for blog

Study tour participants listen to Mark Chernaik, beamed in from Eugene, Oregon.

Thai and Indonesian civil society representatives, high-level government officials, and legal aid groups participated in a World Resources Institute study tour in Washington, D.C. last month.  ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik participated too, without leaving Eugene.  He gave his presentation and conducted Q & A, by video conference.

The study tour involved learning about U.S. pollution-control regulations, data-release procedures, and the challenges of using freedom of information (FOI) requests to further pollution prevention campaigns.

“From the comfort of my chair at the University of Oregon’s Center for Media and Educational Technologies, I presented to the group about collecting facility specific emissions data then held a group discussion — all without costly air travel and related global greenhouse emissions,” says Mark.

Following the study tour, Carole Excel at WRI wrote to Mark:  “We know our participants were inspired by the work you are doing. They return home with a lot of information they can use to further their effort to improve their country’s pollution control regulations and the public’s right to information on air and water quality.”

Thanks Mark!

Maggie Keenan
ELAW Communications Director

The season has just changed in Eugene, Oregon from 80s and sunny to 50s and rainy, and it appeared to happen overnight.  Gone are the languid, long summer nights and perfect camping weather.  The changes that our partners in Baja California are experiencing have a similar “overnight” quality to them, but the backdrop is much more profound.

Mining companies are bringing more pressure to Baja California, with new mine proposals appearing as the price of gold and other metals rises in global markets.  Water quality and water quantity are key concerns with mining in Baja California.  Mines invariably cause contamination of nearby water sources; in the desert and dry pine forest habitats that dominate the Baja California Peninsula, these water sources are absolutely critical to the people and other species who live there.

Against this backdrop, my colleague Liz Mitchell and I traveled to La Paz, Mexico to present at a workshop on mining hosted by our partners at the Defensa Ambiental del Noroeste (DAN).  Members of ELAW partner organization Centro Mexicano del Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA), and other Mexican NGOs Niparajá, Agua Vale Mas Que Oro, Pro Natura, and Medio Ambiente y Sociedad attended the workshop, which provided information about the impacts and implications of mining in the region and provided the opportunity for group members to discuss concerns and raise questions.  Mining projects are not new to this region – two years ago many of the same groups joined together to stop an open pit gold mine known as La Concordia, which was backed by U.S.-based Vista Gold.  Now Vista Gold is proposing to construct the same mine under a different name – Los Cardones – and other mining plans are increasing in size and number.

The workshop was an enormous success: the participants were knowledgeable and organized, and benefited from the information DAN and ELAW provided.  It is such a privilege to work with communities and professionals around the world engaged in the most critical struggles over clean air, water, and soil.  Liz and I, and the rest of the ELAW team, look forward to collaborating with DAN and other partners as the pressures to develop, mine, dredge, and deforest continue to increase in the spectacular Baja California Peninsula.

Heidi Weiskel
ELAW Staff Scientist

ELAW is co-sponsoring the “New Directions for Human Rights and the Environment” symposium this Friday and Saturday at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Dr. Svitlana Krevchenko

Dr. Svitlana Kravchenko

The symposium is dedicated to the late Dr. Kravchenko who was a pioneering lawyer from Ukraine. Svitlana founded the non-profit organization Environment-People-Law (EPL) and inspired young lawyers around the world to protect the environment and human rights.

The Symposium– which is free and open to the public — will feature keynote speeches by: Bill Rodgers, Stimson Bullitt Endowed Professor of Environmental Law at University of Washington; Antonio Benjamin, Justice, The High Court of Brazil, Professor, Catholic University of Brasilia, and chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law; Oliver Houck, Professor of Law and Director, Environmental Law Program, Tulane University Law School; and Dr. Marc Pallemaerts, Professor of Law, University of Amsterdam and Head of the Environmental Governance Research Programme at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP).

ELAW is proud to co-sponsor this event honoring our partner, Svitlana Kravchenko.

We hope to see you there!

Bern Johnson
Executive Director

Here at ELAW, we are grateful for our many generous and loyal supporters.  Many of them are doing great work in their own communities to protect the planet, and they also choose to help create a more just, sustainable world by giving to ELAW.

Our supporters want to make the highest impact they can, which is part of the reason they give to ELAW.  That’s why I’m always excited when we have an opportunity to make their gifts even bigger.

Next week, The Seattle Foundation will again host GiveBIG, a one-day online giving event.  The Foundation will grow all gifts made to ELAW through its website on Wednesday, May 2.

If you want to help craft a more just, sustainable world, I hope you will consider GivingBIG to ELAW next Wednesday.

Thank you for your generosity and confidence in our work!

Michele Kuhnle
Donor Liaison

ELAW Fellow Rockson Akugre

Last weekend, ELAW joined fellow Eugene non-profit NextStep — a consumer electronics reuse and recycling organization — at the 7th Annual Good Earth Home, Garden, and Living Show.

NextStep had volunteers and staff on-hand to answer questions about the vast range of consumer electronics they accept for reuse or responsible recycling as well as the amazing array of refurbished computers, televisions, CD and DVD players, and other items they sell at their Eugene and Springfield ReUse stores.

ELAW works with NextStep’s Executive Director, Lorraine Kerwood, to teach vising ELAW Fellows about the recycling and reuse of “e-waste.” After visiting Next Step in March 2011, ELAW Fellow Rockson Akugre said: “In Ghana, we would throw broken computers away…this is very new to me and good to be exposed to.”

NextStep is part of a growing international awareness of the problem of e-waste.  Many coalitions have formed to combat the e-waste problem, including the Electronics Takeback Coalition (ETC) and Basel Action Network (BAN).  In 2010, proposed Federal legislation focused on prohibiting the export of “restricted electronic waste” from the U.S.  to developing nations.  ELAW’s staff and international partners are thrilled to collaborate with NextStep to further our impact on the global problem of e-waste!

Glenn Gillis
Information Technology Manager

ELAW will be co-presenting the film “The 4th Revolution: Energy Autonomy” on October 8th at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday, October 9th at 1:30 p.m. at Bijou Art Cinemas as part of the GoodWorks Film Festival. A first time event in Eugene, the GoodWorks Film Festival will feature a series of acclaimed feature-length films with an array of social justice themes.

One of the highlights of the Festival will be the opportunity for audience members to interact with the creators of these inspiring films. Following both showings of “The 4th Revolution,” the filmmaker, Carl-A. Fechner, will join ELAW Staff Attorney and energy law professor Jen Gleason and EWEB representative Bill Welch in a Q&A with the audience.

Coming to see the film and participating in the conversation that follows will be a great way to find out what you can do to support renewable energy and make a difference.

The film presents the hypothesis that we can make the change to 100% renewable energy within the next 30 years if — and only if — we truly want to. Peak oil and the end of the fossil fuels era is near — if not already here — and whether we can make the shift to a more renewable society is up to us.

Eugene has already been a leading renewable energy adopter among similar-sized U.S. cities:

Yet, we still have a ways to go if we want to make the switch to 100% renewable energy. I hope you will join us this Saturday and Sunday to learn more about what you can do.

The Festival will feature several other socially conscious films, including: “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator,” “Bag It: Is your life too Plastic?” and “The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls.”

Find the complete Festival schedule here.

See you at the Festival!

Glenn Gillis
IT Manager

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