Environmental activism is more important than ever before, as the current president is poised to roll back decades of environmental regulations that protect our water, air, wildlife, and the very future of our planet. Using a strategic combination of impact litigation, grassroots activism, and judicious politics, environmental activists and attorneys must creatively engage the judiciary in the effort to pursue environmental initiatives. This panel will discuss the successes and shortcomings of several significant lawsuits filed to mitigate the damage caused by this administration’s flagrant disrespect for the environment.
- Richard Webster, BA, MSc, J.D. Richard Webster is the Legal Director for Riverkeeper. He was formerly a staff attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Project at Public Justice. Richard has had considerable experience representing environmental groups on water and other issues. At Public Justice, he pioneered the use of citizen suit litigation regarding coal ash and fracking to both clean up water and reduce climate change impacts. He also litigated the relicensing of the Oyster Creek and Indian Point nuclear power plants. In addition, he has much experience litigating regarding state permit issuance and renewal in both New York and New Jersey. At Riverkeeper, he has successfully combined litigation with advocacy and public mobilization to push back on adverse decisions from the Trump administration.Before becoming an attorney, Richard was an expert hydrologist and environmental scientist. Richard received his J.D. from Columbia University Law School. Before that, he earned a Master’s Degree in 1989 from London University in Engineering Hydrology and a B.A. in Physics from Oxford University in England.
- Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law and Senior Counsel in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) at Vermont Law School
Professor Parenteau has an extensive background in environmental and natural resources law. His previous positions include Vice President for Conservation with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC (1976-1984); Regional Counsel to the New England Regional Office of the EPA in Boston (1984-1987); Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (1987-1989); and Senior Counsel with the Perkins Coie law firm in Portland, Oregon (1989-1993).Professor Parenteau has been involved in drafting, litigating, implementing, teaching, and writing about environmental law and policy for over three decades. His current focus is on confronting the profound challenges of climate change through his teaching, publishing, public speaking and litigation. Professor Parenteau is a Fellow in the American College of Environmental Lawyers. In 2005 he received the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award in recognition of his contributions to wildlife conservation and environmental education. In 2016 he received the Kerry Rydberg Award for excellence in public interest environmental law.Professor Parenteau holds a B.S. from Regis University, a J.D. from Creighton University, and an LLM in Environmental Law from the George Washington University. He previously served as Director of the Environmental Law Center at VLS from 1993-1999; and was the founding director of the ENRLC in 2004.
- Kevin Thompson, Environmental Lawyer Kevin W. Thompson is an environmental lawyer whose efforts have helped to stop mountain-top removal projects, secure municipal water supplies for poisoned communities, restore graveyards destroyed by gas companies, put a corrupt judge in jail and protect the safety of a water-supply serving 225,000 people. Thompson has served as an adjunct professor of advocacy at LSU Law School and a NITA faculty member. He received his J.D. from Tulane Law School after obtaining a degree in broadcast journalism from Marshall University.
- Rock Palermo, Partner, Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson (moderator)
Rock graduated from LSU Law School in 1992 and from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in 1987. While at LSU Law School he was selected to the Moot Court Board. He is a partner in the firm of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson in Lake Charles. The firm handles environmental litigation, oil and gas litigation, serious personal injury and maritime law claims and commercial litigation. Rock was a founding member of the Judge Albert Tate Inn of Court. He is a member of LSU Law Center Board of Trustees, American Board of Trial Advocates and the Louisiana Association for Justice. Rock was named to each edition of the Louisiana Super Lawyers since 2007 and to each edition of The Best Lawyers in America since 2009. He holds an AV Rating from Martindale Hubbell. He serves on the LSU Law Center Trial Advocacy faculty. Rock is a certified mediator, FAA licensed Airline Transport Pilot with airplane, jet and helicopter ratings, and a master scuba instructor. He is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force Auxiliary, and holds the rank of Colonel. In addition, he serves on the Lake Charles Regional Airport Authority. He and his wife, Kim, have three children.