Lesley K. McAllister Symposium on Climate and Energy Law

Each year the University of San Diego School of Law hosts the Climate and Energy Law Symposium. Legal and policy experts from across the country attend the event, including practicing attorneys, policy makers, and academic experts.

The symposium is co-hosted by the Energy Policy Initiatives Center and the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law.

Our USD Law School community was saddened to learn that our former colleague Professor Lesley McAllister passed away at the end of August 2017. She was part of the USD School of Law faculty from 2005 until 2013, when she moved to UC Davis. During her tenure at USD, among many other things, Professor McAllister helped to create the Annual Climate and Energy Law Symposium and the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law. She also pioneered the Climate and Energy Law Course at USD School of Law and co-authored a book on the subject.

To honor her contributions to the USD School of Law generally, and to the Symposium and Journal specifically, we have formally changed the name to the Lesley K. McAllister Symposium on Climate and Energy Law.

Read more about Professor Lesley McAllister (pdf).

Latest Symposium

Energy and Climate Policy Under the Current Presidential Administration, Congress, and Courts

November 3, 2017

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Professor Lesley McAllister

Symposium Details

On Friday, November 3, 2017, the University of San Diego School of Law hosted its Ninth Annual Climate & Energy Law Symposium.  The theme of our 2017 Climate & Energy Law Symposium was “Energy and Climate Policy under the Current Presidential Administration, Congress, and Courts.” The transition from the Obama presidency to the Trump presidency marked a significant change in approaches to climate and energy policy. The current Administration has stated its intent to reverse much of current climate and energy policy and regulation. At the University of San Diego’s Ninth Annual Climate & Energy Law Symposium, academic and policy experts analyzed and assessed several aspects of this complex issue. 

Executive Actions

Recent executive actions regarding vehicle emissions standards and the Clean Power Plan affect two of the main strategies for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. The change is more significant when combined with executive actions on energy production, environmental review, and regulatory reform. It is likely that additional executive actions will follow budget reductions for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and potentially the U.S. Department of Energy (e.g., funding for research and the national energy laboratories). A likely Republican majority through the appointment of three commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will likely change the direction of interstate pipeline and electricity regulation.

Effects of a One-Party Majority Congress

With a majority in both houses of Congress, Republicans could reverse previous legislative efforts and codify the new Administrations executive actions. The current Congress exhibits a willingness to rescind Obama era regulation using the Congressional Review Act and has proposed many other significant changes that effect energy through environmental regulation and funding. Uncertainty remains constant under the fractured factions of the Republican Party and its evolving relationship with the Trump Administration. Whether the Senate will confirm Trump appointees across the government and the Congress will enact the Trump Administration’s major policy goals will determine the effect of this administration on U.S. policy

Role of the Courts

The vacancy on the U.S Supreme Court and over 100 vacancies at the district and circuit level will allow the Trump Administration to play a significant role in shaping the composition of the federal courts for decades to come. This will affect litigation in a way that is significant for climate and energy law and policy in the U.S. How this takes shape and what types of judges are ultimately appointed and confirmed by the Senate in the Trump administration will be paramount to understanding the effect. Additionally, litigation remains one of the major responses to current and proposed Congressional and Executive action. There are strong indications that a broad range of groups and government at many levels plan to litigate proposed Congressional and Executive action.

Role of States and Cities

States like California, New York, and Washington have vowed to continue their current energy and climate policy strategies regardless of federal policy direction. How far the Trump Administration steps back from regulation combined with its allegiance to state’s rights will shape the actions of these states. Potentially, if the federal government takes a limited role then the states and local governments may act of their own accord to fill the gaps. However, other parties may litigate to constrain some state action under preemption or dormant Commerce Clause theories. States and local governments have also announced a willingness to litigate against the new Administration and Congress

Law students at the 2014 Climate and Energy Law Symposium