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Deepwater Horizon commission chief to keynote Tulane environmental law summit

February 20, 2024 11:00 AM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu



Richard Lazarus, one of the nation’s foremost environmental lawyers and the former executive director of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, will keynote the 29th annual Tulane Environmental Law and Policy Summit Feb. 23 and 24.

Lazarus will speak on the history of environmental law and how that shapes regulatory and legal responses to climate change. He was appointed in 2010 by President Obama as the executive director of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, which investigated the root causes of the disaster and produced a report recommending changes in law and policy that would reduce the risk of future spills and mitigate their impacts.

Lazarus was the principal author of Deep Water – The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling (GPO 2011), the report presented to the president in 2011.

Lazarus is a professor of law at Harvard University, where he teaches environmental law, natural resources Law, Supreme Court advocacy, and torts. Lazarus has represented the U.S., state and local governments, and environmental groups at the U.S. Supreme Court in 40 cases and has presented oral arguments in 14 of those cases. His primary areas of legal scholarship are environmental and natural resources law, with particular emphasis on constitutional law and the Supreme Court. 

The Summit runs Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24. Lazarus will speak Saturday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the John Giffen Weinmann Hall, 6329 Freret Street.

The Summit is free and open to the public but registration is required. And, Continuing Legal Education credits (CLE) will be offered.

Register here

Information on CLE.

See the Summit agenda. 

In addition to the keynote, the Summit features dozens of panels starting Friday at 8:30 a.m., discussing issues such as the state of Louisiana’s coastline, issues regarding climate change and insurance rates, carbon capture, Lousiana’s cancer alley, threats against pollinators and environmental justice and the future of energy transition in Louisiana.

Among other speakers, the Summit will hear from:

  • Nicole Alt, Director, Center for Pollinator Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Spencer Murphy, VP-Risk Management & General Counsel at Canal Barge Company, Inc.;
  • Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources;
  • Christina Reichert, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice.

Tulane Law faculty that will speak include Professors Mark Davis, Chris Dalbom, Adam Babich, Ann Lipton, and Devin Lowell.

“I am proud to welcome numerous legal experts, policymakers, and journalists to Tulane this weekend to speak on numerous issues at the forefront of environmental law,” said Summit Executive Director Alicia Harris, a third-year law student. “I hope that participants find the topics interesting, learn some new information throughout the weekend, and make new contacts.”

The Summit is the longest ongoing student-run environmental law conference in the nation and, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, is fully in-person.