By Matt Walker
The University of Florida Levin College of Law will welcome alumna Carol Browner (JD 79), former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, as keynote speaker for the 18th annual Public Interest Environmental Conference.
"Fishable? Swimmable? 40 Years of Water Law in Florida and the United States" will be held Feb. 23-25 at UF Law and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of two of the most significant laws guiding water policy in Florida — the federal Clean Water Act and the influential Florida Water Resources Act.
Browner has administered both acts during her career. She was Florida's Secretary of Environmental Regulation from 1991 to 1993, before serving in President Bill Clinton's cabinet as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001. Browner was the longest serving administrator in the agency's history. According to Time Magazine, Clinton's former chief of staff called her "the greatest administrator [the] EPA ever had." More recently, Browner directed the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy from 2009 to 2011 under President Barack Obama.
Browner has vast experience in developing environmental policies and helped initiate the Food Quality Protection Act, which brought pesticide use standards up to date, and worked with Congress to reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The conference will bring together others who have played a valuable role in shaping Florida's water policy.
The conference begins the evening of Feb. 23, with a reception featuring University of Kentucky Professor of Law Richard Ausness, one of the authors of the 1971 Model Water Code, upon which Florida's groundbreaking water law was largely based. A plenary session the following morning will feature UF Law's Richard Hamann and University of Virginia law professor and former EPA General Counsel Jonathan Cannon presenting a retrospective of both acts and the key cases and policy debates that have shaped them. The plenary will continue with a facilitated session of attorneys, lawmakers and administrators whose careers have shaped, and been shaped by, Florida law.
A special brown-bag lunch event will feature authors of both recent and forthcoming "water books" discussing the role of writers in focusing attention on water policy in Florida, facilitated by Florida Trend Magazine's Cynthia Barnett. Afternoon concurrent panels will develop the themes of "Water+Quality," "Water+Quantity" and "Water+Change." The Friday night banquet will feature Browner as the keynote speaker.
Saturday's sessions will be devoted to the current practice of water law and on the future of Florida's water resources, including a forum led by the newly established Florida Conservation Coalition, a jobs session for Florida's future environmental and land use lawyers, and a practice-based skills session sponsored by the Public Interest Committee of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of The Florida Bar. The conference will wrap up with a facilitated session addressing the development of a water ethic in Florida.
To register, visit http://www.law.ufl.edu/piec/registration.shtml. To download this year's agenda, go to http://www.law.ufl.edu/piec/pdf/PIEC-Agenda-2012.pdf.