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News Posted on April 25, 2011

King Hall Launches Environmental Law and Policy Center

With California facing critical environmental law issues related to climate change, water rights, and other pressing concerns, the new California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law is poised to address the legal challenges involved in ways that positively impact the state, the nation, and the world as it trains the next generation of environmental law leaders.

Professor Richard Frank, founding director of the center, said that all too often, the debate over critical environmental issues has been dominated by political adversaries and litigation opponents, and thus has "generated more heat than light." 

"As a nonpartisan, academic center that is part of a great university and a great law school, we can have a reputation for rigorous analysis, objectivity, and credibility that enables us to lead a reasoned debate that goes beyond political posturing," said Frank.  "For example, with regard to climate change, we can help to fashion a system for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in California that is viewed as a model and can be replicated at the national and international levels."

As a top public research university that has long been a leader in environmental science and clean technology, UC Davis already has become a model for sustainable change.  Launched in January 2011, the Environmental Law and Policy Center will serve as a focus of environmental scholarship, initiatives, and events within the Law School, promote linkages with environmental scholarship and research on the UC Davis campus and elsewhere, and advance informed environmental law and policy at all levels of government. Private support will be vital, as the Law School seeks to fund an environmental law chair, fellowships, scholarships and awards, symposia and lecture events, stipends for students performing public interest environmental law work, research projects, and more.

Frank, a 1974 graduate of King Hall, has impressive environmental law credentials that include more than 30 years of practice with state and federal agencies and four years as executive director of the Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law, where he taught before joining the UC Davis School of Law faculty full-time this year.  He has published extensively on environmental issues and advised state policy makers, including service as a member of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, as vice chair for the Air Resources Board's Economic Allocation & Advisory Committee, as chair of the Ocean Protection Council's Expert Advisory Panel, and as co-chair of the environmental component of Attorney General Kamala Harris' transition team.  He has also been an effective litigator, and this year was honored with the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for his successful representation of environmental groups before the California Supreme Court.

Frank said it was "very satisfying" to be able to return to King Hall.  "Like most of our alums, I very much enjoyed and valued my time here as a student.  For that reason I've tried very hard to stay closely involved with King Hall by teaching here as an adjunct instructor and serving on the Alumni Board for a number of years," he said.  "It's very rewarding after 35 years of practicing environmental law to come back here as a full-time faculty member, to help launch the Center and have the opportunity to work with the outstanding environmental law faculty and students."

California is facing a set of crucial environmental law challenges related to the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a perceived need for reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act, conflicts over water rights amid chronic water shortages, and other issues.  In each case, the implications for the economy, the environment, and public health are profound, and the solutions arrived at in California are likely to influence policymakers all over the nation and around the world, Frank said.

"King Hall is a great law school with a history of excellence in environmental law, located in close proximity to Sacramento, where so many of these critical decisions will be made," said Frank.  "With the support of our friends and alumni, the California Environmental Law and Policy Center can influence public policy in a positive way and have a profound impact on our state, our nation, and our world."

To find out how you can support the California Environmental Law and Policy Center, please contact Jean Korinke, Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations (jfkorinke@ucdavis.edu, 530-752-1067).