Environmental Law and Hurricane Sandy

  • Special Programs
  • Disaster

Debris, mud, and contaminated water cover and fill some of the most important public infrastructure in the world. There is an urgent need to restore critical services and otherwise clean up this mess, but at what environmental cost? And speaking of cost, who will pay for the cleanup? This program will include a distinguished panel of experts to discuss how permit waivers, special conditions, and similar steps make it possible to move quickly while complying with environmental laws. They will share lessons learned from prior disasters on some kinds of "red tape" that should not be lightly cut through. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has earned plaudits for its early response, but some localities may discover the hard way to seeking reimbursement from FEMA for cleanup costs requires compliance with unfamiliar documentation and other requirements.

Representatives from some of the state and local agencies closest to cleanup operations will be invited to call in and share their practical observations and advice. Finally, the program will briefly consider some of the implications of rebuilding, including a discussion of how changes adopted in the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 last summer might affect plans to replace damaged facilities.

Educational Objectives:
Attorneys advising those affected by Hurricane Sandy will gain practical advice on how environmental laws apply following a disaster, including some of the specific waivers and exemptions available in the affected areas. Also, those advising municipal governments on how to obtain reimbursement from FEMA will learn some of the pitfalls observed in prior responses to large-scale disasters.

Michael B. Gerrard, Professor and Director, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, New York, NY

Ernest B. "Ernie" Abbott, FEMA Law Associates, PLLC, Washington, DC, Adjunct Professor in Disaster Law at George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC

Victor B. Flatt, Taft Professor and Director, Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources (CLEAR),
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law, Chapel Hill, NC

John Gray, Office of Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, NJ

Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC