It’s not too late to register for the 2021 California Environmental Assembly! Here’s a preview of the two virtual sessions happening this Thursday focusing on federal litigation and climate change. To view information about all of the sessions, click here.
Don’t forget to register for the Assembly Legal Sessions!
February 18th, 2021
Undoing the Damages of the Trump Administration and Moving Forward
9:00 am – 10:30 am
The former Trump Administration, by omission and commission, dramatically reduced the enforcement scope of federal environmental laws and regulations, leading to several dozen environmental lawsuits by the State of California; other states; and national and regional environmental groups. The arrival of the Biden Administration has created the opportunity to “undo” the widespread reduction of federal environmental protections. In this context, the University of California at Berkeley has for some time been working to catalog the full range of rollbacks.
The California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is now in the process of prioritizing its opportunities to settle; otherwise, conclude or pursue its many pending lawsuits. Our panel will provide an overview of ” damages done” and lead a discussion of pending options for select divisions of the DOJ; other State Attorney Generals; and environmental groups to move forward with corrective actions. The discussion will also consider select, “new opportunities” to not just restore but enhance environmental protections for disadvantaged communities.
Acting Chief Deputy Attorney General
Department of Justice
Matt Rodriquez started in state service in 1979 as a Graduate Legal Assistant with the California Coastal Commission while he was still in law school. As the CalEPA Secretary, he was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the operations of the California Air Resources Board, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. In 2019, Matt returned to the Department of Justice and was reappointed as Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Public Rights Division by Attorney General Xavier Becerra. He is currently serving as Acting Chief Deputy Attorney General.
Director of Project Climate
University of California, Berkeley
Ken Alex is the director of Project Climate. Ken was a senior policy advisor to Governor Jerry Brown in California, the director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the chair of the Strategic Growth Council. Before joining the Brown Administration, Ken was the head of the California Attorney General’s Office Environment section. For a short profile of Ken and some of his work from 2018, see CalMatters. Ken Alex is also the Director of Project Climate at the University of California, Berkeley.
Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice
Yana Garcia was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in August 2019 to serve as Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). Prior to her most recent appointment, she served two years at CalEPA as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs. Before joining CalEPA, Yana was an associate attorney at Earthjustice, in the California regional office, in San Francisco. Her legal practice areas have focused on environmental justice issues, civil rights, land use, toxics and chemical disclosure, oil and gas extraction, and crude transport.
Attorney and Founder,
Kevin Johnson, A Professional Law Corporation
Kevin Johnson is a CEQA Attorney and civil litigator with law offices in Carlsbad, California. He has been a member of the PCL Board of Directors since 1987 and serves on a number of PCL Board Committees. He is a 1980 graduate of the University of California, Davis Law School and holds the coveted “AV” Professional Rating from Martindale Hubbell. Mr. Johnson’s law practice emphasizes representation of national, state, regional and local environmental organizations and citizens groups.
Climate Change Mitigation and Protecting Disadvantaged Communities
10:45 am – 12:15 pm
The effects of climate change can be seen all over California. From raging wildfires, increased pollution, and hotter temperatures, climate change affects all Californians but is a major problem to the livelihoods of low-income communities and communities of color. This session will discuss the most recent litigation focused on protecting disadvantaged communities from the effects of climate change.
The session will also discuss SB 1000, which requires local governments to identify disadvantaged communities and address inequalities posed to these communities as part of their general plans. This includes improving public engagement in the local government decision-making process, reducing pollution, and promoting access to health care, housing, recreation, and healthy food options. This session will discuss the process of ensuring local governments comply with this law and develop strong Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) policies and programs.
Project Attorney, Environmental Justice
Natalia Ospina supports communities of color and low-income communities through advocacy and litigation as they fight disproportionate environmental burdens and build healthy and vibrant communities. Before joining NRDC, Ospina advocated on behalf of farmworkers in the Central Coast as a staff attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. She is based in NRDC’s Santa Monica office.
Based in Los Angeles, CA, Adrian works on clean air, clean energy and environmental justice issues. Adrian grew up in North Carolina and moved west for law school.
Prior to joining Earthjustice, Adrian worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council as a smog and environmental justice attorney.
Senior Staff Attorney
Communities for a Better Environment
Jennifer Ganata joined Communities for a Better Environment in September 2018. Previously she worked at Communities for a Better Environment from 2007 to 2012 as a youth organizer and a legal fellow. She transitioned from doing environmental justice work to housing by starting her housing career at Eviction Defense Network. Jennifer has a deep interest in connecting her passion for environmental justice and housing in order to defend frontline communities’ right to housing and a better environment. She believes that organizing is key to helping move our communities away from investing in an extractive economy.
Dr. Martha Dina-Arguello
Physicians for Social Responsibility
For the past 32 years, Martha has served in the non-profit sector as an advocate, community organizer, and coalition builder. She joined PSR-LA in 1998 to launch the environmental health programs, and became Executive Director in November 2007. She is committed to making the credible voice of physicians a powerful instrument for transforming California and our planet into a more peaceful and healthy place.
She also co-founded the Los Angeles County Asthma Coalition and the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, and was appointed to Cal/EPA’s Environmental Justice Committee and the California Air Resources Board’s Global Warming Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.
Douglas Carstens, managing partner, is a graduate of Cornell University and UCLA Law School. Prior to attending law school, he served for five years as an officer in the Navy.
Doug has extensive experience in environmental, land use, municipal, and natural resource matters. Doug has also written articles and lectured on CEQA, water quality, public trust, and historic resources issues.