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Nelson Symposium draws national experts

J. Peter Byrne

J. Peter Byrne, professor of law and director of the Environmental Law and Policy Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, discussed global warming and its newest challenges at this year's Nelson Symposium Feb. 11. (Photo by Nicole Safker)

By Alyssa Cameron
Law Student Writer

An outstanding lineup of national experts addressed a variety of environmental, property, and governmental concerns before practitioners, professors, and students at the 10th Annual Richard E. Nelson Symposium on Feb. 11.

J. Peter Byrne, professor of law and director of the Environmental Law and Policy Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, and William Rodgers, Stimson Bullitt Professor of Law at University of Washington School of Law, delivered a lecture entitled "Global Warming and its Newest Challenges: Mitigation and Acidification."

Professor Byrne discussed possible ways humans can adapt to sea-level rise while also attempting to mitigate climate change's effects. He predicted that we will have to re-evaluate our existing legislation to deal with climate change issues.

"The road of legal adaptation to the sea-level rise will be long and tortuous," Professor Byrne said. "Creativity and experimentation," he said, would provide the proper balance between private property rights with the predicted sea-level rise.

Professor Rodgers added that the "integration of science with the law is a big part of environmental law." Successful environmental lawyers "can't be intimidated by the science."

Other presenters included Sarah Chasis, Natural Resources Defense Council; Cynthia Drew, University of Miami; Florida Solicitor General Scott Makar; Buzz Thompson, Stanford Law School; and Michael Allan Wolf, University of Florida Levin College of Law. The symposium also included presentations from UF Law students Tony Bajoczky and Celia Thacker.

The presentations focused on sea-level rise mitigation, oil spill litigation, the drilling moratoria, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, ocean acidification and judicial takings.

"Regardless of whether you are a lawyer, all Floridians will likely be involved with environmental or land use issues at some point, and this symposium gives people a great opportunity to hear and learn about relevant issues both in our state and nationally," Bajoczky (3L) said.

Bajoczky's presentation focused on policy issues surrounding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the difficult task of striking a balance between protecting natural resources and the demand for oil and gas.

The Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section and the Florida Bar City, County, and Local Government Section co-sponsored the event.