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Announcing PIELC 2018: Local Character, Global Vision – March 1-4, 2018

Over the last 36 years, the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference has brought together thousands of activists, students, and professionals, from a diverse array of communities and cultures, to advance efforts for environmental and social justice. The 2018 conference is no exception. We are excited to unveil our theme, “Local Character, Global Vision”.  

One of the main goals for PIELC 2018 is to provide a space that enables growth beyond the four-day conference. We are committed to facilitating discussions, workshops, and panels that give participants the tools and knowledge they can apply beyond this special conference. We believe that change is possible and that it comes in many forms, including but not limited to changes in the legislature and in policy both at local and global levels. We further believe that change starts with each individual making a conscious effort to better their local community resulting in a nation-wide ripple effect.

PIELC 2018 will be held on March 1-4, 2018 at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Keynote Live Stream

This year we are live streaming all of the Keynote speakers at PIELC. Click here to watch.

PIELC Roost 2017 – Tickets Now Available

This is the annual party of the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) hosted by Land Air Water. This year, the PIELC party will be on Friday, March 3rd at Sam Bond’s Garage and will feature performances by Casey Neill & The Norway Rats and Fortune’s Folly.

Tickets to this event are FREE! But each person who attends MUST claim one on Eventbrite to be admitted to the venue for safety and capacity reasons. Only 200 tickets are available so act fast!

Announcing PIELC 2017: One Cause, One Voice

Over the last 35 years, the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference has brought together thousands of activists, students, and professionals, from a diverse array of communities and cultures, to advance efforts for environmental and social justice. PIELC is a nexus for the exchange of ideas and perspectives, and strives to bolster the environmental movement’s human capital through illuminating discussion, productive debate, and collaborative workshops. Each year, the contribution of conference attendees and participants makes a meaningful, positive impact on the natural environment and the people around the world who love and depend on it.

In times of increased political, social, and economic divisiveness, unifying distinct campaigns within the movement for environmental and social justice is essential to promote policies and community action that create a more sustainable coexistence with the planet’s ecological systems. “One Cause, One Voice” is an effort to transcend trivial differences in ideology and superficial rivalries within the environmental movement to increase its collective strength and influence by uniting over common interests. It’s a reminder that a stable climate and clean land, air, and water are necessary to promote the health and welfare of all human beings, regardless of our differences in ideology or culture. “One Cause, One Voice” represents the potential to achieve widespread environmental and social justice through cooperation, collaboration, and mutual support.

Panel RegistrationTable RequestsHousing Requests and the Conference Registration form for PIELC 2017 are now available.

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

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By Emily Hajarizadeh, Alyssa Bonini, Emily Fenster, Esack Grueskin, and Annie Montgomery

The 34th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference spanned four days and hosted over 130 panels, five keynote sessions, three musical performances, a documentary film festival with director appearances, and an artist spotlight featuring photographer Ed Parbor and his Pacific Crest Trail series.

Each year, the five conference co-directors—all students—are elected by their peers to plan the largest international public-interest environmental law conference in the world. The planning process starts by selecting a theme. This year, we decided to use the conference to explore and critique current models of environmentalism in the United States and abroad. We selected the theme, “A Legacy Worth Leaving.” Our theme takes its name in part from the legacy of imperialist culture responsible for today’s global environmental crisis, but the title ultimately looks to the future. From climate change to copper mines, we challenged our attendees to question the integrity of “greening” the legal system.

This year’s panelists and keynote speakers called on attendees to recognize the ineffectiveness of overly politicized legal solutions that use our natural resources as bargaining chips. These experts emphasized the need for innovation; for example, shifting away from the relatively toothless Clean Air Act and instead developing alternative legal tools, such as Atmospheric Trust Litigation, to ensure safe and clean air in the U.S. As always, the Conference asked our attendees to join us in the fight to reverse the climate and natural resource crisis through direct, local, decentralized, daily acts of conscious environmentalism—offering examples of real-life successes and failures throughout.

The conference began on an unusually warm Thursday afternoon. The first panel session appropriately included a presentation by Attorney Matt Pawa, who successfully represented the State of New Hampshire in its 2013 lawsuit against ExxonMobil for groundwater contamination—to the tune of $236 million. Mr. Pawa gave an attention-grabbing, courtroom-style presentation entitled, “What Exxon Knew About Global Warming, and What it Did Anyway.” Mr. Pawa packed his presentation with statistical evidence showing the magnitude of the oil giant’s systemic global warming smear-campaign, which he argued fueled enough doubt to persuade the U.S. government to stall pollution control for greenhouse gases for decades.

By Thursday evening, the Conference was in full swing. Professor Dalee Sambo Dorough of the University of Alaska Anchorage gave the inaugural keynote address. Professor Dorough, who is also Chairperson for and Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, narrated a year-by-year examination of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Professor Dorough emphasized the Declaration’s charge to UN member nations to create a ‘legacy worth leaving’ by preserving indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their profound relationship to the natural environment (Art. 25) and to uphold those responsibilities for future generations. Next, Peter Neill, founder of the web-based World Ocean Observatory, closed the session by articulating humanity’s collective responsibility to the world ocean, as captured in his new book, The Once and Future Ocean.

Friday’s afternoon keynote offered attendees a never-before-seen-in-the-U.S. opportunity to hear from three of the top environmental voices from the People’s Republic of China. Presenters Lai Hueneng, Dr. Jiwen Chang, and Cao Yinjoined adopted Oregonian Ocean Yuan on stage to present the current state of the environment and environmental law in China, as well as China’s future plan to revolutionize the way we think about resource and energy distribution by cultivating an internationally shared electricity and internet grid. Our guests discussed the interdependent relationship between countries and the reality of the “global village,” recognition of which leaves us primed to be leaders in developing new, effective environmental solutions. The presenters unveiled the gravity and magnitude of China’s environmental crisis, from mercury-laced rivers to unbreathable air, and the ongoing process of healing China’s priceless landscapes through technological and social innovation. Notably, the presenters also discussed the responsibility shared by the U.S. and China as world superpowers to protect the global environment for future generations.

The Saturday afternoon keynote featured two acclaimed documentary filmmakers, Mark Titus, writer and director ofThe Breach, and Mari-Lynn Evans, director of Blood on the Mountain. Mr. Titus began the session by steering the audience through a typical life cycle of the wild Pacific Salmon and the many ways the fish’s ideal pattern of birth, life, and reproduction runs up against the consequences of our insatiable appetite for the animal. Mr. Titus explained the undeniable impact of overfishing and global warming on the salmon’s ability to survive, while leaving the audience hooked (no pun intended) to watch his film, which we scheduled to show after the keynote. West-Virginian director Mari-Lynn Evans took the stage next and floored the audience with her captivating, unscripted, heart-wrenching personal epic of her life growing up as a coal miner’s daughter in coal country. Ms. Evans was immensely grateful that a northwestern community like Eugene could feel and appreciate the humanity in the struggle of Appalachian coal mine laborers. She integrated personal life experiences of laborers still fighting for union rights, labor rights, and jobs from corporate coal mine juggernauts, and she pleaded for the country-wide support needed for coal miners to transition away from the industry that took away their health and, in some cases, their lives. We were left with a provocative question: if we transition away from coal, how will we leave the men and women who gave everything to power this country and fuel our own consumption? Will we abandon them? Or will we lift each other up as one?

After an enjoyable and diverse day of panels—from direct action, to land use law, to climate litigation, and more—and films, it was time for the Saturday evening keynote session. The session opened on the topic of the highly publicized armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity Kieran Suckling and Burns Paiute Tribe member Jarvis Kennedy spoke on the occupation, which occurred over this past winter. Mr. Suckling offered short histories of several of the key occupiers and the racially charged, quasi-religious ideology motivating them. Mr. Kennedy brought the audience to their feet with his brave account of the Tribe’s reaction to the weeks of tense confrontation over its sacred lands.

A two-part speaker series on food and agricultural law followed the Malheur presentation. First, Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, inspired the audience to address ‘the beauty of the breakdown’ and the process of anaerobic food preservation—and left everyone hungry for pickles and kimchi. Mr. Katz encouraged the audience to explore their relationship with food and food systems, focusing on the health and ecological benefits realized by growing and preserving your own food. Our second food and agricultural law presenter was Center for Food Safety Founder and Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell. Mr. Kimbrell took the stage to address the politics of food law and the organic food movement’s successes and failures.

Sunday afternoon’s keynote ended the Conference, and the session was one of the most moving and emotional experiences we co-directors have seen at PIELC. Wendsler Nosie Sr. and his 14-year-old granddaughter Naelyn Pike—both leaders and members of the Apache Stronghold—described the immense need for Indigenous communities to lead the environmental conservation movement. Mr. Nosie described the Apache Stronghold’s occupation of the Oak Flat in Arizona, a culturally significant and sacred site for the Apache that faces sale by the federal government to big industry for copper mining. Mr. Nosie focused on the importance of the younger generation’s ownership of the preservation and proliferation of their traditional culture, and he outlined young people’s role in educating Western culture on the significance of living responsibly in harmony with our planet. Mr. Nosie’s speech set the stage perfectly for his granddaughter. Naelyn Pike, a spiritual warrior for her people and her generation, shed tears of courage while describing the importance of women as leaders and healers of this environmental crisis—not a dry eye in the room. At the end of the session, Mr. Nosie and Miss Pike led the audience in an Apache song affirming our commitment to honor our land and our communities that depend on its health.

As law students, we often censor or ignore the politicization of the “paperwork resistance” of environmental law. PIELC is an opportunity to realize we can do better. If we aren’t satisfied with the direction we’re going, it’s our responsibility to find out how we got here in the first place. We can’t hope to do better in the future without admitting the mistakes of the past. When we decided to organize this year’s Conference around the idea of a legacy, none of us knew what to expect. PIELC 2016 entertained, informed, inspired, challenged, provoked, and humbled us beyond description. We received more from this process than we could have imagined, and we are proud and thankful for the opportunity to share, explore, and commit to creating a legacy worth living and leaving behind.

We’re already looking forward to the new co-directors’ unique perspectives, creativity, and vision they’ll bring to the tradition and institution that is PIELC. Please join us in Eugene on March 2–5, 2017 for the 35th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

The 34th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference took place at the University of Oregon on March 3–6, 2016. To watch the PIELC 2016 keynote speakers, please visit


PIELC 2017 Dates Announced

We at Land Air Water are pleased to announce that the 35th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference will be held March 2nd – March 5th, 2017 at the University of Oregon, Law School.  

Submit comments/suggestions to

See you next Spring!

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PIELC 2016 CLE Credits Update

PIELC 2016 is certified for 11.25 Law and Legal and 2.00 Ethics CLE credits by the Oregon and Washington State Bars.  Additionally, the Washington State bar has authorized 1.25 “Other” CLE credits for the Panel Entitled How to Start and Run a Public Interest Law Practice.

Visit the PIELC 2016 CLE Page for a complete list of CLE certified panels.

To receive CLE credits for panels you attended, attorneys must submit their certification of attendance to

Oregon and Washington Attorneys who submitted their 2016 CLE certification of attendance during the conference will have their attendance reported to their respective bar(s). Please check with your state Bar to make sure your attendance has been reported by Fall 2016.

Attorneys that did not submit their CLE certification of attendance at the conference can electronically submit attendance by completing this confidential online form.  The e-attendance form will be available until August 1st.
URL to e-attendance: 

**Out-of-state attorneys are required to self-report.

For more information please contact

PIELC 2016 Brochure – Released

We are pleased to release our finalized schedule for panels, keynote addresses, and special events to occur at this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

Click the link to access the .pdf of the PIELC 2016 Brochure
For a hard copy, please register for PIELC 2016. To complete registration, you will be leaving our website and going to our Co-sponsor, Friends of Land Air Water. Click here to register.

In solidarity,

Your 2016 Conference Co-Directors.


Playing Friday, March 4th at the PIELC 2016 Roost
Hi-Fi Music Hall, 44 E 7th Ave, Eugene OR.
$15 Advance/ $20 Day of – Doors at 7pm – 21+ 

Buy your advance tickets here:


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.

Kerry Rydberg Award 2016 Recipient –
Pat Parenteau


For more than three decades Patrick Parenteau has represented environmental organizations and individual citizens with little money and power but a deep commitment to protecting the natural world and its inhabitants. His creative advocacy has given substance to statutory and regulatory provisions that would have otherwise been empty of meaning. His powerful voice has spoken for those unable to speak for themselves.

Pat is Professor of Law and Senior Counsel to the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, where he works with students litigating natural resources and environmental cases. His expertise includes endangered species and biological diversity, water quality and wetlands, environmental policy and litigation, and climate change. He also teaches Climate Change and the Law, Extinction and Climate Change, and Water Quality and Environmental Litigation.

Pat’s career includes nearly a decade at the National Wildlife Federation where he held a number of positions, including vice president for conservation. He was regional counsel for EPA Region I, in Boston and served as commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.  From 1989 to 1993 he was of counsel to the firm of Perkins Coie in Portland, Oregon. During that time he was special counsel to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the spotted owl exemption proceedings under the Endangered Species Act.

David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award for Activism 2016 Recipient – Calvin Hecocta

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The Co-Directors of this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference are proud to announce the 2016 recipient of the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award for Activism, lifelong Native Rights and Environmental Activist Calvin Hecocta. Please join us on March 6 at 12:15 in the Erb Memorial Union Ballroom for the award ceremony. Hecocta was raised by his parents and elders in the Numa tribe near Beatty, Oregon. The Numa are a band of the Owens Valley Northern Paiute Nation and are part of the federation of Klamath Tribes. Numa is a self-appointed moniker that means “the people.” The Numa also call themselves Nün‘wa Paya Hup Ca’a‘ Otuu’mu -“coyote’s children living in the water ditch.”

Calvin learned the spiritual blessings and traditional ceremonial practices of his people from his Grandfathers, Uncles, and others who were true to their traditions. The Grandmother Culture of the tribe held him to strict behavioral and cultural standards. Environmental ethics were paramount.

Hecocta’s involvement with Native and environmental activism started when the sacred sites he visited with his Grandfathers fell under the control of the US Forest Service. The Forest Service began a robust logging program upon critical habitat and sites sacred to the Tribes. Hecocta dedicated his life to protecting those lands, including the restoration of the anadromous fish runs the Tribes depended upon.

In 1954, when Hecocta was young, the Klamath were chosen for “Termination,” a practice sold to the public as a benign “assimilation” effort. Termination was in fact an odious practice that led to the revocation and sale of 1.9 million acres of the Klamath Reservation, all that was left from the 22 million acres of their historic ancestral lands, mostly to private timber interests. The remainder became the Winema National Forest. Soon after, many other tribes faced Termination. By 1973, the Klamath tribal lands were no more.

Hecocta worked with legendary Native activist John Trudell; Mark Comfort, the great Civil Rights activist and Black Panther Party leader; and many others on the founding legal documents for the American Indian Movement (AIM). Hecocta served as Northwest Chairman for AIM and was instrumental in AIM’s activism efforts.

In November 1972, during AIM’s occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs DC headquarters, AIM and their Hog Farm Commune allies found secret documents detailing Termination plans for all tribes. Hecocta, AIM, and their allies began a concerted campaign to not only expose and prevent further Terminations, but to begin the process of Restoration of tribal rights and lands. This effort was one of AIM’s major successes, and saw Restoration occur for many tribes, including the Klamath.

The Klamath Tribes officially regained federal recognition under the Klamath Restoration Act (25 U.S.C. § 566, et seq.) on August 26, 1986. However, the Restoration Act did not restore The Klamath Tribe’s former reservation lands, and tribal efforts to regain their tribal land base continue.

Over the years, Hecocta’s presence was felt at most of the Northwest forest protection campaigns, which began in earnest when grassroots activist Dinah Ross filed the firstAppeal of Old Growth logging plans in 1979. Hecocta joined the board of the Native Forest Council and traveled the land as a voice for the species not represented at government hearings. He allied with the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC) and was a founding board member of the Friends of Opal Creek. He and his ally, the great Oglala spiritual leader Wilmer Stampede Mesteth, conducted many protection ceremonies at Opal Creek. Opal Creek is now a protected and treasured Oregon Wilderness Area.

Hecocta taught Native American religion, philosophy, and environmental ethics at Willamette University and Portland Community College. Today, Hecocta is working with activists to stop a Forest Service plan to burn a fire break adjacent to two historic sacred sites in the Mount Washington Wilderness Area. He also leads an effort to get a sacred hot spring returned to Native stewardship. He still runs the annual Touch the Earth Environmental Camp for Native and other youth. Of course, he continues his singing and story-telling and conducts many cultural and environmental workshops dealing with ancient beliefs and contemporary Native Rights and species habitat issues.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016–Kieran Suckling


Kieran Suckling is the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Since founding the Center 25 years ago, Kieran has devoted his life to protecting endangered species and their habitats, winning the protection of over 500 species and 240,000,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat. Kieran traveled to Harney County and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to organize counter-protests against the armed, right wing militia in order to speak up for the importance of public lands and native peoples from the occupied land itself.

Recognizing that cultural and biological diversity are inextricably linked, Kieran will discuss how the racist, fundamentalist militia movement that reared its head at the Malheur seeks to destroy native cultures, wildlife and public ownership of land and water. He will discuss the immeasurable value of our public lands and what we can do to stop the ideology of the Bundy militia movement from spreading.

Jarvis Kennedy


Jarvis Kennedy is a Burns Paiute Tribal Councilman of the Burns Paiute Tribe, born and raised in Burns, Oregon. Jarvis is a spokesperson for the Tribe. He spoke out against the occupation of the Malheur from the beginning and continues to do so. Jarvis is also a mens traditional dancer who loves to sing Native American songs to keep his Paiute traditions alive.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016–Mari-Lynn Evans

2015-05-26-1432654930-3164589-bloodMari-Lynn Evans is the Executive Producer of many television and video programs including The Appalachians (a three hour APT series for PBS); Coal Country ( Discovery Planet Green); Living Well: A Guide to Healthy Aging Changes; and the children’s television program Geezbo’s Alley; the documentary Standing in the Safety Zone; and John Glenn: The International Year of Older Adults for PBS. She also executive produced, Body, Mind and Spirit Integrative Medicine:, a 13-week series for American’s Health Network and the Fox Health Network.


Ms. Evans is also a media and brand development consultant to international corporate and government organizations and has been a lead consultant to Procter & Gamble. She is the recipient of several National Institutes of Health awards including the US Small Business Administration Tibbetts Award. She was also the Founder and President of ADULT CARE , adult day care centers , which she sold to SUMMA Hospitals. At SUMMA she was VP of Geriatrics and founded the Center for Senior Health. She has also been President of the Boards of Summit AIDS Housing, OASIS with the May Foundation, ACCESS Shelter for Women, Women’s Network, WEGO. She was one of Akron ’s Extraordinary Women (Akron Beacon Journal) and Woman of the Year for Women’s History/Akron.

She is the 2010 West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year, and was awarded Best Film for both The Appalchians and Coal Country.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Andrew Kimbrell


Andrew Kimbrell is an internationally recognized public interest attorney, public speaker, and author. He is the founder and Executive Director of Center for Food Safety.

He also is Director of the San Francisco based Center for Technology Assessment, co-founder of Foundation Earth, and President of the Board of Humane Farm Animal Care (that administers the Certified Humane label).

As an attorney, Kimbrell has successfully challenged federal agencies in several historic court cases. He initiated the court challenge that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court victory forcing, for the first time, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change. He also pioneered the legal strategy that led to the Supreme Court ruling that DNA is not patentable due to being a “product of nature.” Through his leadership at CFS, Kimbrell has been at the forefront of legal challenges to genetically engineered crops and lawsuits forcing FDA to adopt new food safety regulations. His legal work has also helped maintain the integrity of organic standards.

As an author and public speaker Kimbrell has been a leading proponent of regenerative forms of agriculture and organic policies. He is the editor of the nationally renowned book Fatal Harvest, The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture and the author of Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food. Kimbrell’s articles and editorials have appeared in The New York Times, Harpers, USA Today, and numerous other print and new media publications such as The Huffington Post.

He has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress and has been a featured speaker at dozens of colleges and universities around the country and other public forums including Google Author Talks, Slow Food Nation, Bioneers and Ecofarm. He is featured in several documentaries including “The Future of Food,” “FRESH,” and a critique of genetic engineering, “Life Running out of Control.”

Kimbrell is also a noted expert on a wide range of technology and economic issues. His works in this area include his international best-selling book “The Human Body Shop: the Engineering and Marketing of Life” and the printed versions of his influential E.F. Schumacher lectures, “Cold Evil: Technology and Modern Ethics” and “Salmon Economics.”

In addition to his legal degree Kimbrell also has a graduate degree in Psychology and has often written in the field including his book, “The Masculine Mystique.” Besides his public interest work, Kimbrell’s passions include his love of piano (stemming from his earlier career as a concert pianist), poetry, baseball, and wilderness fly fishing.

Kimbrell’s many accolades include a spot on the Utne Reader list of the world’s leading 100 visionaries, and The Guardian recognizing him in 2008 as one of the 50 people “most likely to save the planet.”

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Wendsler Nosie Sr.

Wendsler Nosie Sr

Wendsler Nosie Sr. is currently the Peridot District Councilman and the former Tribal Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which consists of nearly 15,000 tribal members on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. San Carlos stretches across Gila, Graham and Pinal Counties, totaling 1.8 million acres and is situated in the southeastern portion of the State.

Wendsler Nosie was born on July 10, 1959 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. He was raised in a traditional Apache way of life. He graduated from Globe High School in May 1978. He then attended Merritt College in Oakland, California and Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona before completing the State of Arizona Banking Academy.

Following college, Wendsler returned to San Carlos and began his employment as the Tribal Work Experience Program Director in 1982. In 1988, he was elected to the Tribal Council for the Peridot District, which governs the San Carlos Apache Tribe through its Amended Constitution and By-Laws, gaining federal recognition in 1954 through the U.S. Indian Reorganization Act.

Wendsler next founded Rural Opportunities of Arizona (ROA) in 1990, an individually owned business owned and operated by a tribal member, which provided opportunities for tribal members to become skilled in trade and trained for jobs throughout Arizona.

In 1995, Wendsler established Apaches for Cultural Preservation and founded the Spirit of the Mountain Runners in 2000, which is a traditional runners organization.

Wendsler Nosie was re-elected as the Tribal Council Representative for the Peridot District in 2004 to serve another four-year term. It was then he was inspired to run for Tribal Chairman. Then in 2006, he was elected by the San Carlos Apache People as their Tribal Chairman.

Wendsler was recognized in 2006 and given an Honorable Mention by Wake Forest University of Winston-Salem, North Carolina for his work bringing students from Wake Forest to the San Carlos Apache Reservation for a cultural integration program. He was also recognized and honored in 2007 by the National Council of Churches in New York City for his accomplishments in Indian Country as a leader of spirituality among youth and for organizing many events over fifteen-plus years, including achieving worldwide participation in sacred runs for the protection of Native American culture, tradition, and heritage. The National Council of Churches has a 30-million membership throughout the nation.

Wendsler Nosie Sr. became an executive committee member for the AZ State Democratic Party of District One. He introduced the resolution that established the AZ Native American Democratic Caucus. He became the first Native American electorate member of the National Electoral College for Arizona for Obama’s first term as President.

He established the Apache Messenger Newspaper in 2011 and currently owns and operates the newspaper. He received the honor of being added to the Globe High School Hall of Fame for Sports.

In 2010, and again in 2012, Wendsler Nosie Sr. was re-elected to the Tribal Council for the Peridot District. Wendsler has been instrumental over the course of his political career with the Tribe in establishing the Apache Gold Casino, Bashas, and the Peridot District Enterprises that includes Apache Burger, True Value Hardware, PDEE shopping center, and more.

Wendsler was also appointed as the San Carlos Recreation and Wildlife Director and has marketed and expanded the Hunting and Recreational area of the Tribe.

In 2013, Wendsler Nosie Sr. received the Presidential Award from National Progressive Baptist Convention for his fight for human rights for all Native Americans. He is the first Native American to receive such an award.

Wendsler Nosie is married to Theresa Beard Nosie, a member of the Navajo Nation. They reside in Peridot, Arizona on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and have six children: Lian, Vanessa, Wendsler Jr., Angel, Alicia, and Taegan. They also have 12 grandchildren.

Wendsler Nosie is a long distance runner and has participated in numerous marathons and half marathons over the years. He organized the March from San Carlos to Oak Flat on February 5, 2015 and the anniversary march to Oak Flat, which took place February 26-27 of this year. He established the Apache Stronghold that traveled to Washington, DC, unifying with all the tribes along the way, and currently is still occupying Oak Flat over a year later. He is a lifelong advocate for indigenous rights, dedicated to the preservation and protection of Native American culture, artifacts, history, religion, and tradition.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Naeyln Pike

Naelyn Pike

Naelyn Pike is a 16-year-old member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. She is in her junior year at Globe High School. She has continued to maintain a high grade point average, enabling her membership in the National Honor Society. She is very involved in school functions and extra-curricular activities, such as running and playing basketball.

Naelyn has been a Spirit of the Mountain Runner since age 2, which is a group of traditional runners who continue to protect sacred Mount Graham from a telescope project by the University of Arizona and the Vatican. She began to break down the barriers of colonization when she chose to have her traditional Apache Sunrise Dance ceremony at Mount Graham in 2013. It was the first ceremony to take place on our holy mountain in over 100 years.

Naelyn is a member of the Apache Stronghold, which continues to occupy and defend holy Oak Flat from the foreign mining company Resolution Copper. Oak Flat is sacred to the Apache people and many other southwestern tribes. It was given away through a midnight rider placed inside the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. Naelyn has testified twice before Congress regarding the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and the Save Oak Flat Act. She also traveled to Washington D.C. with the Apache Stronghold Convoy to unify all people regarding the protection of Mother Earth and the future of the next generations.

Keynote Profile PIELC 2016 – Mark Titus

TITUSMark Titus is a writer + director and founder of August Island Pictures in Seattle. He’s studied acting at the University of Oregon, directing at Vancouver Film School and directing actors with Judith Weston.

Mark spent his 20s as an Alaskan fishing guide and during that time, began working on the craft of screenwriting – finishing several screenplays while living in the wilderness. In 2004, Mark Titus’ third script, TSONOQUA won the Washington State Screenplay Competition.

Since then, he has written and directed brand films for clients like: Amazon, T-Mobile, Microsoft, the United Nations Development Programme and Washington’s Lottery.

As a filmmaker, Mark Titus directed the short documentary, Fins in 2003 as part of the Seattle International Film Festival’s Fly Filmmaking Program. The three short films he’s produced since have screened at film festivals worldwide.

Mark Titus spent the last 4+ years writing and directing the award winning documentary film, The Breach.  It won Best International Documentary at its world premiere film festival – the 2014 Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland.  The Breach was selected as one of ten Best of Fest films at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2015 and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, March 2015.  Mark completed a twenty city national tour with The Breach in the summer of 2015 and the film is now available on seven Video-On-Demand platforms, DVD and Pivot TV.

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. Panel Submissions are now closed. 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