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*NOTE: CLE Ethics panel will be held the morning of Sunday March 6th due to scheduling conflicts

Playing Friday, March 4th at the PIELC 2016 Roost
Hi-Fi Music Hall, 44 E 7th Ave, Eugene OR.
$15 – Doors at 8pm – 21+ 

Tickets will be sold at the door, online purchasing coming soon.


The music of Casey Neill & The Norway Rats combines high energy rave-ups and haunting sonic reveries built around melodic narrative songwriting. Their sound is deeply influenced by Scots/Irish melody and post-punk intensity. Casey’s songs are character sketches, anthems for social and environmental change, and celebrations of underground culture.

The Norway Rats feature Jenny Conlee (Decemberists) on keyboards and accordion, Chet Lyster (eels) on guitars, Jesse Emerson (Amelia) on bass, and Joe Mengis (Priory) on drums. Neill has been touring extensively with bands and solo for more than a decade, performing his songs at venues such as Town Hall in New York, San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, and the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. He is often a member of the Northwest power pop collective The Minus 5 (with members of R.E.M.) as well as Japanese/American cross cultural band Big Bridges.

Their latest CD/LP “All You Pretty Vandals”  was produced by Chris Funk of the Decemberists and has garnered rave reviews from national press, online blogs, and widespread radio play. Since it’s release they have performed on NPR’s Mountain Stage, a Daytrotter session, and 100s of shows across the U.S. and Japan.

The Norway Rats are hard at work on a new long player coming out later in the year with tour dates throughout 2016.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Sandor Katz

Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist. His books Wild Fermentation (2003) and The Art of Fermentation (2012), along with the hundreds of fermentation workshops he has taught around the world, have helped to catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts. A self-taught experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee, the New York Times calls him “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene.”

The Art of Fermentation received a James Beard award, and Sandor was honored with the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2014. For more information, check out Sandor’s website


Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Ocean Yuan


At this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, we have very special visitors from overseas. PIELC is proud to welcome for Friday afternoon’s keynote address three top environmental professionals from China! They hail from the legal, business, and academic worlds across the Pacific. Hosting it all will be Eugene resident Ocean Yuan.

Ocean Yuan came to Oregon in 1990 with $500 his father borrowed from his friends in rural China. At the time, $500 was approximately equal to an entire year’s income for a typical Chinese family. Ocean made the most of his opportunity, and graduated from the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon in 1993. After spending many years starting up and working for multinational electronics companies around the United States, he returned to Eugene in 2009 to start his own solar power business. Today, Grape Solar, Inc. is the largest product and service provider for retailers like Costco and Home Depot. Ocean lives in Eugene with his wife and daughter. He is living, breathing proof of the American Dream’s continued inspiration.

The United States is facing environmental disaster, but we are not the only ones. The United States and China, as the two biggest polluters in the world, have a shared responsibility to confront environmental degradation, the most pressing issue of our time. Please join us at PIELC 2016 for the unique opportunity to engage with the individuals confronting the environmental issues in China.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Lai Huineng
Huineng Lai

Lai Huineng was born in 1969 in Suichang, within the Zhejiang Province of China. After receiving his masters degree from Zhejiang University, Mr. Lai started working in media, a field he has pursued ever since. Now, Mr. Lai is Vice President of Xiaokang Magazine, a subsidiary of Qiushi Magazine, the most influential and authoritative state-owned magazine in China.

In the 1980s, China launched a modernization program to achieve what became known as a “Xiaokang society,” or moderately prosperous society. Their goal was to advance a strong economy and promote democracy, scientific and technological achievement, education, and a harmonious living environment for all Chinese citizens. China set 2020 as the goal to achieve their Xiaokang society. Xiaokang Magazine’s mission is to research and report on the impact the goal of a Xiaokang society has on Chinese citizens.

The incredible speed at which China’s economy has advanced over the past 30 years has strained the environment. Xiaokang Magazine’s research provides insight into China’s environmental and urbanization policy news agencies like CNN have called controversial. At this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, join us as Mr. Lai shares his insight and fascinating research rarely seen anywhere else.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Dr. Jiwen Chang


Dr. Jiwen Chang is a Professor for the Social Law Research Department at the Institute of Law for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). He is also a research fellow and vice director-general for the Research Institute for Resources and Environmental Policies at the Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council, China’s cabinet. The Institute is one of the top 10 most influential think-tanks in the world.

Dr. Chang made United States news in 2010 as a principle author of China’s Anti-Animal Abuse Law, aimed at stopping the consumption of dog and cat meat. Dr. Chang also authored China’s environmental protection law. He is currently writing laws to expand wildlife protection in China, and can provide insight into China’s environmental policy widely unavailable to a United States audience, until now.

At this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, Dr. Chang will speak on the environmental successes and shortcomings of Chinese environmental policy. China and the United States, as the two most powerful nations in the world, have a shared responsibility to protect the environment for future generations. Please join us as we learn from Dr. Chang’s wealth of experience and knowledge to develop our own visions for the future of the environment around the world.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Cao Yin

CaoYinAlthough Cao Yin is still young by scholarly standards, he has already been called “China’s Jeremy Rifkin.” Mr. Cao is the driving force behind the Internet+ Smart Energy movement driving China to reinvent their energy industry. This will be Mr. Cao’s first visit to the United States.

Mr. Cao graduated from prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai, China. After graduating, Mr. Cao worked on an impressive range of projects. Mr. Cao is currently the Principle Analyst of Cinda Security Co., Ltd., helping China value and privatize state assets. Mr. Cao also serves as strategic advisor for several famous companies, including internet and social media giant Tencent, one of China’s three largest internet companies, together referred to as BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent). Mr. Cao’s vision drives companies to move towards sustainable, smart energy technology, with the ultimate goal of globalizing the energy grid.

Mr. Cao’s vision for a global energy-trading market envisions solutions to the global energy pollution crisis and would begin to eliminate reliance on coal power, without resorting to dangerous tactics like nuclear energy. This year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference is an opportunity to engage with one of China’s greatest young minds. Please join us for this unique and incredible opportunity.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Peter Neill

The Once and Future Ocean

Peter Neill is the founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory (W2O),  an online forum for information and educational exchange about the world ocean.  He will be presenting themes captured in his new book The Once and Future Ocean; Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society and will be available for a book signing after his keynote at the Opening Ceremonies at PIELC, on Thursday evening.

Neill’s keynote will be devoted to analyze and transform our relationship with the world’s most promising and imperiled natural element: the ocean and the inter-connected cycles of water, essential for all aspects of human survival in the 21st century.

Neill provides a persuasive argument for “why the ocean matters” and how its sustainability and careful use, from mountain-top to abyssal plain, can establish a new paradigm for value and social behavior around which to build a new post-industrial, post-consumption global community. This fundamental shift is directed toward the creation of a “new hydraulic society” wherein water in all its cycles and conveyances will determine how we live – from our buildings and cities to the structures of governance by which we succeed in an increasingly populated world.. Neill calls for a new ocean ethos and offers concrete examples of technologies and applications that already exist but have been suppressed by complacency and political subversion financed by exhausted vested interests.

Neill’s presentation on The Once and Future Ocean will offer a bold vision for a practical and possible future, based on a revolutionary paradigm shift that can be implemented through the political will of thousands of citizens of the ocean who understand the necessity for change, the logic of a new moral alternative, and the reality of the consequences if we fail to act in time.



The conference is FREE to the public, all attendees are encouraged to register.  Attorneys seeking CLE credits must register before the conference begins.

To complete registration, you will be leaving our website and going to our Co-sponsor, Friends of Land Air Water. Click here to register.

If you are buying CLE credit or donations, you may pay by credit card or by sending checks payable to Friends of Land Air Water to

P.O. Box 11501
Eugene, OR 97440

Thank you, and see you at PIELC 2016, March 3rd – 6th, at the University of Oregon!

***”Early bird” pricing for registering attorneys seeking CLE credits will close on Friday, February 19th.

Are you a member of an organization that would like to table at PIELC 2016? Fill out our Table Request Form before February 19th to be eligible.

PIELC 2016 Poster


We are currently accepting panel submissions for PIELC 2016, occurring Thursday March 3rd to Sunday March 6th at the University of Oregon, School of Law.

If you, or your organization would like to submit a for panel or workshop slot, please fill out the Panel Submission Form.  The final date to submit a panel for CLE credits is January 31st.  The final date to submit a general panel is February 19th. (Preferred time slots are decided on a first come, first serve basis)

The PIELC 2016 Stipend Request Form is now live.


For decades, the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference has cultivated a forum recognized for novel constructive debate. It is a place to address both the best and the worst moments of humanity’s relationship with nature and with itself. We have reflected on past interactions. We have fought to challenge matters of ecological, social, and cultural degradation. We have responded. Over time, PIELC has become a reliable element to the mechanism of modern environmental justice.

Now it is time to build new legacies. Now it is time to recognize that although the tools of rationality and logic have gotten us to where we are, we have so much further to go. While we live in a world that expresses diverse realities, dominant assumptions of ecology, economy, and society have left us with only one narrative. A different construction of our assumptions will lead to a more open conversation of shaping environmental justice in the 21st century.

“A Legacy Worth Leaving” is a response to the drastic need of daily, direct action of individuals in their communities. Cohesive leadership models must acknowledge that individual participation directs society’s impact on interdependent community and global systems. Diversity of cultures, talents, and specialties must converge to guide community initiatives in a balanced system. Each has a unique role that can no longer be hindered by the complacent passive-participation models of traditional leadership schemes. Building community means being community.

This year at PIELC, we will be exploring alternative methods of approaching current ecological, social, and cultural paradigms. First, by examining the past – let us not relive our mistakes. Then, by focusing on the present. Days to months, months to years, years to a lifetime; small acts compound to the life-story of a person, a place, a planet. What legacy are you leaving?

Please join us March 3rd – 6th in Eugene, Oregon, for the 34rd annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. We are now accepting panel submissions. Please note that if your panel is expected to receive CLE credit, we ask that your panel materials be submitted by the end of January, prior to the conference.

Registration for the conference will open in January.

In Solidarity,
Your 2016 PIELC Co-Directors

PIELC 2015 Recap

Changing Currents: A Reflection on PIELC 2015

By Alexis Biddle, Anne Haugaard, Rory Isbell, Malia Losordo, and Tori Wilder

The 33rd annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) was held at the University of Oregon on March 5 – 8. All six keynote sessions were live-streamed on YouTube and may be viewed at

This year’s conference featured over 120 panels, two workshops, and several film screenings. Despite substantial construction at the University, PIELC persevered. With limited classroom access and many panels resorting to standing room only, it was encouraging to see attendees enjoy the weekend and find their “piece of PIELC” to inspire them year-round.

2015-03-08 11.29.16

As the organizers of PIELC 2015, we chose the theme Changing Currents to signify society’s need to change courses from our environmentally catastrophic business-as-usual path. As the physical, biological, and chemical currents of our world change, we too must change our own currents and work collectively to mobilize and set humanity on a path toward resiliency.

The conference opened with a blessing by Gordon Bettles, the steward of the Many Nations Longhouse and a member of the Klamath Tribes. Changing Current’s inaugural keynote featured internationally renowned journalist and activist Amy Goodman appearing by video and philosopher-writer-extraordinaire Kathleen Dean Moore. Goodman delivered a truly powerful address. She spoke of how our political system and media are systematically broken in their ability to address climate change and the need for the media to make the connection between extreme weather and the science of global climate change. She emphasized our nation’s power and responsibility to reign in global environmental devastation brought by United States-chartered companies. Kathleen Dean Moore called for us to “throw our stones” into the river of society, that we may alter its path and perhaps even change its direction.

We were fortunate enough to have Bill McKibben grace us with his wisdom and inspiration via (carbon friendly, of course) video to kick off the Friday afternoon keynote. He brought home the deep changes the Earth and climate are undergoing and how we need to continue to press forward at this critical juncture in the climate movement. Gary Nabhan followed McKibbin with an illumination of his work on collaborative conservation of food producing landscapes. In his speech, Nabhan related these new collaborative efforts to the concept of the radical center – a place where the values, cultures, ideologies and faith intersect. The afternoon keynote ended with Antonio Oposa, Jr. of the Philippines. He provided an exceptional speech focusing on the importance of reducing carbon emissions from transportation through transforming the way we share space on public streets.

Friday evening was special: two friends, and partners in saving us from ourselves, Severine Von Charner Fleming and Janelle Orsi took the stage. Fleming’s passion and creativity shined thought as she talked about the changing currents of agricultural land ownership and her efforts to pass farmland into the hands of the next generation of farmers. Orsi, who followed Fleming but invited her back on stage during her keynote, delivered a hilarious account of her work through cartoons and comedy. Orsi works to help communities become more efficient with their resources through establishing frameworks of trust and accountability among neighbors. She also works with Fleming to help secure land tenure for the next generation of farmers. Listening to both of these inspiring women was not only a treat, but also mind-opening and hilarious.

It is important to include a younger perspective as we strategize how to change our currents, as the stones we cast land in our children’s river, not our own. On Saturday, fourteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez used both speech and music to convey the critical role young people must play in healing our planet. Roske-Martinez has since spoken (again) before the United Nations, demanding that our governments take serious action. Wahleah Johns, of the Red Bottom People, closed the afternoon keynote with a presentation about her work to replace coal mining atop Black Mesa on Hopi and Navajo lands with renewable energy. She closed with a poignant reminder that our work as activists, students, and lawyers must be done to preserve pristine lands and leave a habitable earth to future generations.

After ENR alumni gathered for the annual Alumni Reception in Gerlinger Lounge, Saturday evening’s keynotes began with the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award presentation. This year, we honored University of Oregon Professor and ENR Faculty Director Mary Wood for her lifelong dedication to innovative legal scholarship, restoration of the public trust, and passionate activism. The award itself was a remnant piece of the former Elwha Dam, which we hoped would remind all present and future generations to “think like a river,” as Professor Wood has taught us all to do.

Helen Slottje, winner of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize, followed the award ceremony. She shared her inspiring story as New York attorney turned community-organizer who rallied her neighbors to ban fracking through land use regulation. Under her innovative legal framework, the resulting ordinances withstood lawsuits and asserted communities rights over those of the fossil fuel industry. Derrick Evans then delivered a moving speech that followed his remarkable journey dedicated to protecting his home – the Turkey Creek Community – from encroaching urban development. The development has been erasing Turkey Creek’s rich history and subjecting it to increased flooding. Through the Turkey Creek Initiative, Evans is employing conservation and historical preservation laws to resist the undermining of his community.

It is always a blessing when PIELC coincides with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) conference. This year, the ELAW conference took place the weekend before PIELC and we were honored to have many international environmentalists and attorneys join us and speak at PIELC. In his keynote address, Rugemeleza A.K. Nshala, a lawyer and activist from Tanzania, spoke of the ills that industrial mining has wrought on his nation, and the great  struggle we face in protecting the land, air, and water of East Africa from pollution and exploitation.

The final keynote also featured Malia Akutagawa, a native Hawaiian and law professor. Akutagawa reminded us of the importance of remembering our roots, our history, and the importance of searching within cultural traditions and practices to find sustainable answers.

As we write this reflection, there are activists suspended below the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon, and kayakers camped out below the bridge on the Willamette River. They do this to prevent an icebreaking vessel from reaching the Arctic Circle and enabling the extraction of fossil fuels from the formerly frozen polar ice cap. Whether we protest in the courtroom, in the community, or bravely dangling from a massive bridge, we all agree that this much is clear: we are upset by the events taking place around us and the time is now to rise up and change these currents.

We had an incredible experience planning this year’s conference. In addition to the five of us, there were dozens of law student volunteers working around the clock to make Changing Currents a reality. We hope to see you next year from March 3-6, 2016, and we wish the best of luck to the 2016 PIELC Co-Directors!

Alexis Biddle is Co-Director of Land Air Water and a Sustainable Cities Initiative Fellow for the ENR Sustainable Land Use Project.  Anne Haugaard is President of the Student Bar Association, Staff Editor of the Western Environmental Law Update, and an Oregon Child Advocacy Project fellow. Malia Losordo is Marketing Director and Western Environmental Law Update Editor-in-Chief for Land Air Water and a Bowerman Fellow for the ENR Oceans, Coasts and Watersheds Project. Rory Isbell is Co-Director of Land Air Water and a Sustainable Cities Initiative Fellow for the ENR Sustainable Land Use Project. Tori Wilder is the Articles and Source Editor for the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation, Secretary of Land Air Water, Secretary of Student Legal Advocates for Tribal Sovereignty, and a Global Environmental Democracy Project Fellow.  

PIELC YouTube Channel PIELC 2015 keynote recordings!

PIELC 2015 Brochure

“Changing Currents” expresses an awareness that the physical currents of our planet are shifting and that we must alter our human patterns to adapt for a better future. Actions of the past set in motion the drastic changes we are experiencing today. At the same time our actions today will deeply affect our world’s future. The currents that drive our climate system are changing and causing unprecedented changes to human and biotic communities across the globe. But, armed with an awareness of these changes, we can mobilize the social currency needed to change currents and set humanity on the path to resiliency. This year’s conference will provide an opportunity to challenge each other and discuss solutions and strategies for how we may move forward in confronting the world of today with an eye towards tomorrow’s reality.
PIELC Poster_Final_nobar_printshop.compressed-page-001 PIELC 2015: Changing Currents – March 5-8, 2015 – University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Western Environmental Law Update Reduces Carbon Footprint

Land Air Water is reducing its carbon footprint by discontinuing the printed form of the Western Environmental Law Update (WELU) while maintaining its online presence.

WELU is an annual publication of short articles detailing recent developments in environmental and natural resource law and their effect on the West. The pieces are all student written and may be written specifically for WELU or adopted from papers used to satisfy class or graduation requirements.

Volume 1 of the 2015 WELU we be available online starting Friday, March 6, 2015. The update can be found at

The update is currently accepting submissions for Volume 2 until April 3rd. Those interested in publication should write an article which focuses on pertinent, timely, legal issues affecting the environment on a local, regional, or international level.

The submission should be between 1000 and 2500 words long. Citation format should follow Blue Book or ALWD Citation Manual and should be located in endnotes.

For additional details, please contact