Ohio Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Co-hosted with the Ohio Environmental Council, Cleveland-Marshall's Environmental Law Society, Ohio State's Energy & Environmental Law Society, and University of Toledo's College of Law
Ohio State’s Environmental Professionals Network is excited to co-host the 2019 Ohio Public Interest Environmental Law Conference titled, “Environmental Justice and Equity for All” with the Ohio Environmental Council, Cleveland-Marshall's Environmental Law Society, Ohio State's Energy & Environmental Law Society, and University of Toledo's College of Law. This conference will feature breakfast, lunch and extended networking and educational components. Please see the full program Agenda below for additional presenters and details.
Throughout the day, you’ll hear from speakers sharing stories of past injustices—and the legal actions taken to fix the problem, including from the following individuals:
Michael Charles (citizen of the Navajo Nation and Ohio State PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering) who will provide an indigenous perspective of environmental justice and how it impacts the sovereignty, human rights, and the everyday life of indigenous peoples globally.
- Kerry Ard, PhD (Assistant Professor Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology at the Ohio State University) whose research highlights the clear inequalities surrounding pollution and population distribution.
- Yolanda Hamilton (Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park) who will explore the past and future of environmental justice in our National Parks.
- Tara Ramchandani (Partner at Relman Dane & Colfax in Washington D.C.) who will discuss her work fighting intentional discrimination of African American access to safe drinking water in Zanesville, Ohio.
The Ohio Public Interest Environmental Law Conference is intended as a place for students, environmental professionals and advocates from all backgrounds as well as attorneys to come together to learn from one another. We hope you can join us!
8:00 AM Doors and Registration open
9:00 AM - The Spirit of the Land through the Voice of its Indigenous Peoples - Michael Charles, citizen of the Navajo Nation and Ohio State PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering, will provide an indigenous perspective of environmental justice and how it impacts the sovereignty, human rights, and the everyday life of indigenous peoples globally.
10:30 AM - The Hard Facts of Environmental Racism —Kerry Ard, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology, The Ohio State University. Professor Ard will outline a stark reality: environmental injustices strike people of color at higher rates than white counterparts.
11:00 AM - Ohio Environmental Justice in Action —Carol Davey, Southeast Regional Director, Ohio Environmental Council; Aslyn Rodriguez, CEO, Empower Bus; & a third speaker to be announced. Three professionals illustrate how they’re fighting for environmental justice in different locales across the state, emphasizing the legal barriers in their way and the actions taken to overcome those obstacles.
11:30 AM - Reversing the Inequitable History of Public Lands —Yolanda Hamilton, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Yolanda Hamilton will identify the historical inequalities surrounding public lands in Ohio and the United States and chart a part toward righting past wrongs, showing how the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park is overcoming legal and social obstacles restricting certain communities from accessing Ohio’s only National Park.
12:00 PM - Lunch
12:30 PM - The Intersection of Intentional Discrimination and Environmental Justice in Zanesville, Ohio — Tara Ramchandani, Partner at Relman, Dane & Colfax. Tara Ramchandani has been a civil rights litigator working to combat discrimination in its many forms for over a decade. Ms. Ramchandani will share the story of the African-American community in Zanesville, Ohio that Relman, Dane & Colfax represented in its fight to obtain water service. In 2008, a federal jury in the Southern District of Ohio here in Columbus returned an $11 million verdict against the City of Zanesville, Ohio, Muskingum County, Ohio, and the East Muskingum Water Authority for illegally denying water service to a predominantly African-American community on the basis of race. Ramchandani will use this case as an illustration of how environmental injustice, even in the present day, can occur through intentional mechanisms and local decision-makers.
1:40 PM - Breakout Sessions
(Session 1) Understanding International Climate Inequality: A Paris Agreement Simulation—Chris Tavenor, Staff Attorney, Ohio Environmental Council. Join a climate negotiations simulation, where participants play the role of UN negotiators representing blocks of countries with different resources and historical climate responsibility.
(Session 2) The Plague and Prosecution of Illegal Dumping—Shirley Tomasello, Assistant Director of Law, City of Cleveland; Sgt. Andrew Ezzo, City of Cleveland. Together, Shirley Tomasello and Sgt. Andrew Ezzo will lead a discussion on how environmental crimes task forces have formed to address these problems and their work in the Cleveland Environmental Crimes Task Force. Ms. Tomasello obtained restitution for the City of Cleveland under the Federal Victims of Crime Act for possibly the first time in environmental law history, but changes in environmental laws and resources are needed because dumpers are also exploiting corporate law and State regulation, leaving no financial assets, and leaving taxpayers with the clean-up bill.
(Session 3) Shaping Our Future: Census 2020—Aryeh Alex, Vice President of Public Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council. Aryeh Alex will explore the barriers opposing an accurate census count, and why a fair census will ensure environmental justice for all.
3:00PM - Pushing Ohio toward a Clean Energy Future for All —Randi Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy & Lead Energy Counsel, Ohio Environmental Council; additional speakers may be added. In the aftermath of House Bill 6, Ohio’s clean energy future is uncertain. Randi Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy for the OEC, will lead a discussion charting a path toward Ohio’s clean energy future—a future where our state’s grid sustainably and equitably works for all who call Ohio home.