Conferences and Events

  • 2024
    March 2024
    Managing a Just Transition
    Prof. Danielle Stokes

    With the resources allocated in recent federal laws, the United States has signaled that it is ready to fully invest in the energy transition. The Merhige Center hosted a works-in-progress colloquium to discuss issues related to this transition, which included presentations and discussion between energy experts, legal practitioners, and grassroots activists who shared insights into these issues and the opportunities and challenges that should be considered. 
  • 2023
    February 2023
    Law Review Symposium: Overlooked America

    The University of Richmond Law Review held an in-person symposium entitled “Overlooked America: Addressing Legal Issues Facing Rural United States.” Presentations focused on specific legal issues facing rural communities as well as the urban-rural divide. Topics included access to justice in rural America, water resources in indigenous communities, the coal industry’s degradation of Appalachian communities, electoral system reform to enhance rural representation, Virginia-specific policy recommendations, and a panel of esteemed authors and litigators discussing pharmaceutical companies’ roles in perpetuating the opioid epidemic in the region.

    Journal of Law and Technology Symposium: New Frontiers in Energy Trading and Blockchain for the Grid

    The University of Richmond Journal of Law & Technology’s annual symposium focused on the technological, legal, and regulatory developments that are propelling exciting changes to our energy grid. Speakers discussed several topics including P2P energy trading, blockchain-backed carbon markets, and vehicle-to-grid connectivity.

  • 2022

    April 2022 
    "European Energy Policy in the Wake of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine"
    Prof. Joel Eisen 

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis, but the ongoing war also threatens the energy security of European nations. Our panelists, both of whom are energy law experts at law schools in Europe, will discuss the threat to European energy security and the measures being taken in individual nations and across Europe to respond to the threat, accelerate Europe’s energy transition, and bolster European nations’ energy self-sufficiency. Panelists: Professor Catherine Banet, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway Professor Michael Fehling, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany Moderator: Professor Joel B. Eisen, University of Richmond School of Law


    An Expert’s Take on Renewable Energy Law
    Prof. Joel Eisen

    A discussion about Prof. Joel Eisen’s newest book, Advanced Introduction to Law and Renewable Energy. 

  • 2020

    March 2020
    Should Nature Have Legal Rights?
    Tish O’Dell

    Tish O’Dell of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund explores the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, a charter amendment enacted by voters in Toledo in early 2019. Her organization works to develop laws banning fracking, factory farming, and water privatization.

    February 2020
    Nuclear Power: Climate Savior or Foe?
    Greg Jackzo

    Greg Jackzo discusses his book, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, which covers his years on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His book is a wake-up call about the dangers of industry lobbying, the importance of governmental regulation, and the failures of congressional oversight.

  • 2019

    November 2019
    Race, Class, and Environmental Law: Working on the Front Lines of Environmental Justice
    Kendyl Crawford and Queen

    Kendyl Crawford, GC’18, Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and Queen Zakia Shabazz, Coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative and Bonner Center for Civic Engagement Fellow, joined Richmond Law students to share their work in helping communities of color with environmental problems. Co-sponsored by the Robert R. Merhige Jr. Center for Environmental Studies, the Black Law Students Association, Richmond Environmental Law Society, and Richmond Public Interest Law Association. With support from One Book - One Richmond.

  • 2018

    September 2018
    Trump, Climate Change, and the Future of the Paris Agreement
    Prof. Noah Sachs

    Prof. Noah Sachs gave a lunchtime talk about his research on the future of the Paris Agreement. The 2015 Agreement is holding for now, but the U.S. withdrawal from the Agreement makes its future uncertain. He discussed the implications of the withdrawal and other factors, such as countries falling short of their emissions goals, that could lead to the unraveling of the Agreement in the next decade.

    January 2018
    The Water Will Come
    Jeff Goodell, reporter, Rolling Stone magazine

    Environmental reporter Jeff Goodell spoke about his new book, The Water Will Come, which details the risks from sea level rise around the globe. Jeff described his travels to threatened cities like Miami, Mumbai, Norfolk, Venice, and New York. In front of a large audience in the law school’s moot courtroom, he offered suggestions for preparing for a wetter, inundated world.

  • 2017 and Earlier


    Imagining a Radically Transparent Future for Food

    Laura MacCleery, Center for Science in the Public Interest

    MacCleery, a lawyer and activist, discussed food labeling and disclosure of food additives, as well as ways to better inform the public about what we eat and where it comes from. She described her work campaigning before the FDA and EPA to achieve both improvements in public health and better access to information for consumers.


    The Choice: Energy & Environment Issues in the 2016 Election

    The video below is a recorded webcast of the Oct. 25, 2016 debate between Trevor Houser and Congressman Kevin Cramer, the energy policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s and Donald’s Trump’s campaigns.

    Please note that the program starts at the 16-minute mark.



    Environmental Law Careers in Washington, DC

    On February 20, 2015, members of the Richmond Environmental Law Society, joined by faculty members Noah Sachs and Joel Eisen, traveled to Washington, DC to meet with UR Law alums working in the environmental field. Barry Steinberg ’66 hosted the group in Washington, and in the afternoon, the students met with Brenda Mallory, General Counsel of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

    Adapting to Climate Change: A Legal Strategy

    Victor Flatt, Professor at UNC School of Law and Director of the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics, spoke to a packed house at the law school on February 3, 2015 on the challenge of climate change adaptation. He focused on necessary changes in federal and state law that will be needed in a warmer world.


    Lobbying: The Art of Persuasion

    David Goldston, Director of Government Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council joined us on April 3, 2013, for a discussion with students on his career in lobbying, how to get a job in the field, and the strategies and tactics of a Capitol Hill lobbyist.

    Greening Richmond: Politics and Land Use in the Capital

    On March 6, 2013, the Merhige Center hosted a discussion with Dan Slone (Partner, McGuireWoods LLP), Thad Williamson (Associate Professor of Leadership Studies), and Alicia Zatcoff, L’94 (Sustainability Manager for the City of Richmond). These three leaders in land use, development, and public policy discussed the environmental future of the City of Richmond. The City is undergoing rapid change, including redevelopment of the river front, downtown revitalization, and continued suburban expansion. The speakers outlined what these changes mean for Richmond and the region.


    Improving Cooperative Relationships to Advance Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference

    On October 17-18, 2012, the Merhige Center presented an Environmental Enforcement Conference co-sponsored with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Enforcement Division; and the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network. The conference drew a crowd of over 100 to the Robert R. Merhige, Jr. moot courtroom, and the discussion focused on improving enforcement and compliance in the Commonwealth.

    Election 2012: Facing Off on Energy and the Environment

    On October 10, 2012, the Merhige Center for Environmental Law and the Richmond Environmental Law Society co-sponsored an event featuring a discussion with representatives from the Obama and Romney campaigns regarding environmental and energy issues in the upcoming election. Kenneth Berlin (Obama-Biden 2012) and Jeff Holmstead (Romney-Ryan 2012) discussed their respective campaigns’ positions.

    Merhige Center Symposium - "Clearing the Air: Mercury and the Environment"

    On March 28, 2012, the University of Richmond School of Law and the Merhige Center for Environmental Law hosted the "Clearing the Air: Mercury and the Environment" symposium. The symposium discussed the impacts of the EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxic Standard on the environment, public health, and industry. Panelists discussed challenges of cost and implementation, the long history of legislation and rulemaking regarding mercury, and the environmental benefits of limiting mercury emissions.

    "Race, Class, and Power in Environmental Justice" (Lecture by University of Richmond Professor Andrea Simpson, January 25, 2012)

    On January 25, 2012, Dr. Andrea Simpson, associate professor of political science and chair of the Department of Policital Science at the University of Richmond was the speaker for an event entitled "Race, Class, and Power in Environmental Justice." The event was hosted by the Merhige Center for Environmental Law and the Black Law Students Association of the University of Richmond School of Law. With over 40 University of Richmond professors, undergraduate students, and law students in attendance, Simpson led a lively discussion about the effects that race, class, and power in the modern world have on the environmental justice movement, and how those aspects will affect it in the future.


    Merhige Center Rock Climbing Trip to Belle Isle in Richmond, VA

    On Sept. 15, 2011, students from the University of Richmond Law School spent an afternoon rock climbing and adventure at Richmond’s Belle Isle. Students had the opportunity to explore the island, sunbathe, check out the rapids on the James, and get acquainted with one of Richmond’s greatest outdoor spaces. The event was a great way for law school students to get to know one another and enjoy some fun outdoor activities!

    "Creative Cooperation: The Roadmap to our Energy Future" (Lecture by Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, April 18, 2011) Background Report Prepared By Law Students

    The Richmond School of Law, Robins School of Business and Jepson School of Leadership Studies jointly sponsored a lecture on "Creative Cooperation: The Roadmap to our Energy Future," by James E. Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy Corporation, on Monday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m., in the Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium. In preparation for this lecture, students in Professor Joel Eisen’s spring 2011 Energy Law and Law of Climate Change courses (Aminah Qureshi, Brianne Mullen, Jim Tartaglia, Stephen Rancourt, Carl Tate, Clayton Worthington, Julia Curtis, Oliver Taylor, Clayton LaForge, Matthew Curtis, and Tricia Dunlap) studied Duke Energy’s climate change strategy, and prepared background on twelve projects that the company is undertaking to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.

    Here is a copy of the student-prepared background report.

    We hope that you will find this information enlightening and a useful background companion to Mr. Rogers’ lecture.


    “Vision 2020: A View of Our Energy Future,” April 1, 2010
    On April 1, 2010, scholars, energy experts and policy makers gathered to address some of the most pressing questions faced by the United States: What is the future of energy in the United States and Virginia? How will climate change impact economic stability and national security? What role will alternative energy sources play in meeting our future needs?

    Vision 2020: A View of Our Energy Future provided a vigorous conversation among speakers and panelists who debated a broad range of timely and controversial issues including the legal framework of environmental regulations, the future of coal and nuclear power, the role of emerging technologies, and the interplay of energy with our nation’s security. The Merhige Center for Environmental Law, along with the University of Richmond Law Review, Allen Chair Issue and the Virginia State Bar’s Environmental Law Section hosted attorneys, academics, and the general public who benefited from discussion with, among others: former Governor George Allen; Eric Finkbeiner, Senior Advisor for Policy to Governor Bob McDonnell; Cale Jaffe, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center; and, Christopher Paine, Director of the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.