Environmentalists sue federal government over planned Utah oil shale development

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Salt Lake Tribune:A proposed oil shale mine and ore-processing project in the Uinta Basin is under legal fire from several environmental groups that are seeking to invalidate a recent Bureau of Land Management decision to let the developer cut a 14-mile utility corridor across public land.In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, the groups say the BLM’s environmental review should have considered the impacts to air, water, wildlife and climate from the massive strip mine proposed on private land by Enefit American Oil. “The BLM approved the rights of way to service Enefit’s proposed oil shale mine and processing facility based on an utterly inadequate analysis of potentially devastating air, water, climate and species impacts,” said Michael Toll, a staff attorney at Grand Canyon Trust. “Considering the rights of way are a public subsidy of an otherwise economically unfeasible oil shale development, the public has a right to know exactly how Enefit’s project will impact their health and environment.”Enefit previously has argued that the larger environmental analysis should not be required because its project could move forward without the proposed rights of way. The corridor would lessen the project’s impacts and further reviews will be required before mining begins, executives say.A subsidiary of a large state-run Estonian energy firm, Enefit hopes to develop a mine on 9,000 acres near the White River, along with a 320-acre processing plant that would “retort” ore known as kerogen. This rockbound hydrocarbon can be converted to crude if subjected to intense heat and pressure. As a result, this form of energy extraction uses large amounts of energy and water.The company hopes to produce up to 50,000 barrels a day, extracted from 28 million tons of ore mined each year for up to 30 years. It is seeking rights to nearly 11,000 acre-feet of water that would be needed to extract and process the ore. Spent ore would then be returned to the mine pit.More: Groups sue to reverse the feds’ approval of right of way needed for eastern Utah oil shale mining Environmentalists sue federal government over planned Utah oil shale developmentlast_img read more

Putting Words Into Action

first_imgPutting Words Into Action Putting Words Into Action Symposium explores recruiting and retaining a diverse work force Melinda Melendez Assistant Editor They’ve talked the talk, now it’s time to walk the walk. That was the consensus of those who participated in the Bar’s Second Annual Diversity Symposium, which discussed the challenges of recruiting and retaining a diverse work force.Speakers, Bar leaders, and concerned members spent an intense nine-hour session April 22 at Stetson University College of Law discussing obstacles and strategizing how to successfully overcome those obstacles when attempting to secure a diverse work force. The symposium featured panelists who have expressed a commitment to diversity, individuals who have faced employment challenges, and representatives of organizations that have responded to client demands for diversity.Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson opened the symposium by discussing the progress that had been made since the first diversity symposium one year ago. One of the major recommendations from a report generated from that earlier symposium was the formation of the Member Outreach Committee.“This committee was formed specifically as a result of the recommendations from last year,” said Johnson. “Its purpose is to increase the participation of all Florida Bar members in activities, sections of the Bar, as well as the voluntary bars.”The Member Outreach Committee, chaired this year by President-elect Alan Bookman, is charged with the duty of making recomendations to the Board of Governors for implementing the report’s finding.The committee conducted a survey of Bar members to obtain statistics about the make-up of membership, started an online calendar of events so that minority bars may post events so that other organizations could avoid scheduling conflicting events, and encourage participation in the Bar’s sections and committees.Johnson said, “The committee appointments that Alan Bookman is in the process of making went up from 600 last year to 1,500 this year. That’s a huge increase, and we are very excited about that. We obviously don’t have 900 more slots to fill, but it’s nice that we’re getting some participation, and there are a lot of folks that have applied who would have never thought to be involved before.”The committee also is working with the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s Diversity Subcommittee to produce a one-hour CLE program and documentary on the strength of diversity within the legal community. The committee has also concentrated on making appropriate accommodations for people with disabilities so that Bar functions are readily accessible to everyone.“We are also working to make sure that our meeting facilities for Bar functions are ADA compliant and that all reasonable accommodations are provided,” Johnson saidWhile last year’s symposium triggered many ideas and new initiatives, this year’s symposium concentrated on tackling the issues involved while trying to maintain a diverse work force. Leaders from firms, corporations, government agencies, The Florida Bar, and voluntary bar associations delved into the issue head-on.The consensus among firm-wide leadership was that the diversity of a firm is not only morally appealing, but an integral part in securing a strong bottom line.“The case for diversity is both a moral case and a business case, and I think the moral case is clear,” said Cesar Alvarez of Greenberg Traurig. “But the business case is also a very important case, and is pretty simple. We’re getting very global and very diverse in our country. Ultimately, in order to compete, you really need to bring the best that you can bring together. People from diverse areas bring different viewpoints and different ways of solving problems.”While each of the panelists agreed that diversity is an important way to meet the needs of the client, retaining a diverse work force can be a major challenge.“Surprisingly, recruiting African Americans is getting easier and easier,” said former U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joe Hatchett, now with Akerman Senterfitt. “It’s very difficult, for some reason, to retain those lawyers.”Members of the panel addressed the issue by suggesting diversity training for firms, mentoring programs, and increasing the number of diverse attorneys in leadership positions.Rhea Law of Fowler White said of new associates who did not stay at the firm:“They didn’t see themselves being successful here because they didn’t see themselves reflected in the leadership of our firm. Instead of looking so much at our summer program, we have really been focusing on laterals of diverse backgrounds that are ensconced in the community already.”Alvarez agreed mentoring is important and encouraging diversity in the educational system at every level is a necessary step in increasing the pool of qualified new hires.Throughout the day panalists stressed the importance of diversity from a business standpoint. Many corporate clients are embracing diversity as a requisite when hiring firms. Dorian Denberg of BellSouth said Bar-sponsored programs that match minority lawyers with recruiting corporations are an “invaluable” tool, and also suggested that the Bar reach out to retirees for mentoring programs.Others said the meaning of diversity may vary from firm to firm, and in the process of defining diversity, many have found that their concept of diversity is too exclusive.“There are a lot of groups and representatives that we weren’t thinking about at all,” said Ava K. Doppelt, of Allen, Dyer, Doppelt, Milbrath & Gilchrist. Disabilities Persons with disabilities appear to be one of those often overlooked groups. Sharon Langer, who is co-coordinator of a diversity initiative called the Disability Independence Group: Expanding Career Opportunities in the Legal System (DIG), said one in five Americans have disabilities.“People with disabilities are the nation’s largest minority, and I don’t think that we notice,” Langer said. “You may not be a person with disabilities now, but 20 percent of you will be at some time in your life, and we’re just not looking at the barriers.”Langer suggested firms are not including persons with disabilities in their definitions of diversity, and that lack of awareness has made it very difficult for many qualified attorneys to find employment.“There is $175 billion of discretionary income to be spent by persons with disabilities, and very few law firms are friendly to the consumers of law services who are persons with disabilities,” Langer said. “Very few firms really look at ‘Are my doors accessible?’ ‘Can I speak to a person who is hearing impaired?’ If you had a lawyer with disabilities on your staff, you would know the barriers in your office.”Langer and Matthew Dietz serve as co-coordinators of DIG, which is funded by The Florida Bar Foundation. The aim of the project is to identify the barriers that persons with disabilities experience in the practice of law and in the participation of Bar activities. Sexual Orientation Sexual orientation is another often overlooked trait when considering diversity, according to Larry Smith of Cabaniss, Smith, Toole, Wiggins. He said last year’s symposium included a recomendation that a survey should be conducted and include all categories of diversity identified at the symposium. But as of October, there were no questions on the survey that explored sexual orientation, but should be, he said. Smith said other studies conducted by various bars throughout the U.S. cited 3 to 7 percent of their attorneys had voluntarily identified themselves as homosexual. On the Radar Screen The symposium closed with a roundtable discussion titled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” featuring President Johnson, President-elect Bookman, and President-elect Designate Henry Coxe,. “My goal is to get diversity on everyone’s radar screen,” said Bookman, who will become president in June.Coxe admitted that while strides have been made, there is still a long way to go.“I’ve heard the term used today ‘preaching to the choir,’” Coxe said. “The more I heard during the day, the less and less I felt like I was part of the choir. Eight years ago I had a meeting of about 10 lawyers, one was in a wheelchair. It never occurred to me, we have no wheelchair access for that building. After the embarrassment of offering to carry him in, which was embarrassing to him as well, I haven’t done anything about it since. So how do you reach the people who aren’t here? It’s a long process, but I do believe that we have the commitment.”The discussion focused on bringing more diverse people into Bar leadership positions within the sections and committees, and also the voluntary bars. The group also stressed leaders in minority groups have to take the initiative to make their voices heard.“It’s important that we, the minorities, that have been excluded from our profession, rise [above] those barriers that have been imposed upon us, whatever those may be,” said Ramón Abadin of Abadin, Jaramillo, Cook & Hefferman, chair of this year’s symposium.Johnson summed it up: “We should all embrace diversity in its broadest sense and recognize its true value to the Bar and the world at large. It is in our differences that we have strength because each person’s point of view is unique. Nonetheless, these words mean nothing if there are no accompanying actions to accomplish the goals. We must foster an environment that includes rather than excludes lawyers in our Bar, and I ask for your help in accomplishing this mission.”There’s more work to be done May 15, 2005 Assistant Editor Regular Newscenter_img While there has been significant progress and increased opportunities for minorities, they continue to be significantly under-represented in all levels of the legal profession — and that is still a concern, according to Judge Charles R. Wilson of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.Wilson and Florida Chief Justice Barbara Pariente were featured speakers at the 2005 Annual Diversity Symposium in Tampa. While each presented a unique perspective with wit and wisdom, their experiences revealed a singular portrait of a judicial system struggling to maintain fairness and equity for all.Wilson and Pariente both attended law school during a time when women and blacks were scarcely found in the legal lecture halls. While the face of law schools has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, Wilson expressed concern over the small percentages of minority membership in the Bar.“Although there has been significant progress and increased opportunities for minorities according to studies conducted by the ABA and The Florida Bar, minorities continue to be significantly under-represented in all levels of the legal profession as compared with the general population,” Wilson said.There are now more than 1,400 African American members of the Bar; however, this constitutes only 2 percent of the Bar’s total 76,000 members, he said.Wilson was careful to point out that although there is much work to be done, great strides have been made over the past few decades. The numbers for women since 1987, for example, speak volumes:• 170 percent more women federal judges.• 180 percent more women judges in Florida’s courts.• 75 percent more women partners.“Even though the numbers are increasing,” said Wilson, “the challenges remain to maintain these diversity levels. The ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession recognizes that balancing work with family is a major concern of women lawyers. The reality, according to the ABA commission, is that women bear the greater burden in balancing career and family than men.”Pariente recalls being a young attorney faced with a balancing act.“I was pregnant two years into the firm, and I felt that I had to be back in three weeks, which I was,” said Pariente, who stressed the necessity for a shift in the change of firm culture.Pariente and Wilson highly praised part-time programs, alternative work schedules, and on-site daycare programs that make the balancing act a little easier for working moms.During her service as chief justice, Pariente re-established the Supreme Court Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity.“I said when I became chief justice I was committed to diversity. It was very important to me in putting together this committee that it include white males. I think otherwise we just keep on talking to each other,” she said.The first charge of the committee’s administrative order is to design a program to promote and explore the diversity of judicial staff attorneys and judicial law clerks in the Florida state court system.“We have no problem recruiting and retaining women law clerks, but our percentages of African Americans and Hispanics are mournfully inadequate,” Pariente said.Pariente was also quick to point out an issue no other speaker touched upon: disparity in pay among groups.“We need to every so often take the temperature of the court system and of The Florida Bar because it’s sometimes shocking that things haven’t changed all that much in the differential of earnings at partner level, entry level, or women vs. men, blacks vs. whites,” said Pariente.While each discussed diversity from a different perspective, both commended the efforts of firms, the Bar, state agencies, and law schools for their efforts in promoting diversity, but were careful to stress that the profession has a long way to go.“We’re a country that was founded on the principles that all people are created equal, even though we weren’t all equal when the country was founded, and we are a system that strives for equal justice under law. But if we subscribe to these beliefs and principles as part of the enduring value of this country or democracy, then our work with fairness and diversity could not be more important in seeing to it that all our citizens are treated with equal dignity and fairness in our community, in our law firms, and in our justice system,” said Pariente.last_img read more