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The Center’s “Battery Pack”: Toasting our Member Scholars on Our 20th Anniversary

Climate Justice Public Protections Responsive Government

This month, three Member Scholars – Dave Owen, Rob Fischman, and Rob Glicksman – take center stage in the latest edition of Land Use and Environment Law Review (LUELR), an anthology of last year’s best writing on environmental law.

In August, Member Scholar Rebecca Bratspies, earned the 2022 International Human Rights Award from the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, and Member Scholar Joel Eisen earned a Distinguished Scholar Award from the University of Richmond Law School.

And in July, two other scholars, Uma Outka and Hannah Wiseman, won a $500,000 grant to design a framework to mitigate the transition to renewable energy in vulnerable communities. 

And that’s just a few Member Scholar highlights over the last few months. 

Leading Lights

Indeed, our Member Scholars are leading lights in the legal academy and the field of environmental and public interest law – and have played a leading role at the Center for Progressive Reform ever since it was founded two decades ago. 

In 2002, a small group of scholars came together to challenge the growing conservative movement to undo government regulations that protect workers, consumers, the public (and marginalized communities in particular) and our environment. 

Since then, that small band of founding scholars has grown into a nationwide network of nearly five dozen volunteers who lend their time and expertise to advance the Center’s mission. Appointed upon nomination of a fellow scholar and approval by the Board of Directors, our Member Scholars are experts in subjects ranging from governance and regulation to climate and energy to worker health and safety and natural resources. They represent dozens of colleges and universities in every region of the country – in small towns, on the coasts and in the heartland, and in purple, red, and blue states. 

They are, as one prorgressive publication recently noted, a great and unique organizational asset – and give our partners and supporters an estimated $2.5 million in free public interest legal services every year. Board President Rob Verchick equates them a “battery pack,” an environmentally friendly metaphor for the work they do to fuel the Center and its mission.

Our Greatest Accomplishments

Our Members Scholars are also responsible for many of the Center’s greatest accomplishments, as our new timeline shows.

In the early 2000s, they wrote groundbreaking books – like Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing and A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment – that defined and set a progressive regulatory agenda.

In the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina, they published reports and testified before Congress about how natural disasters often lead to massive – and preventable unnatural disasters, which often disproportionately impact low-wealth people of color.

They spotlighted industry manipulation of science for political gain and corporate lobbying efforts to weaken regulatory safeguards. They pressed President Obama to take executive action on climate and environmental justice – and fought efforts by President Trump to weaken climate and environmental regulations. And they fought to protect worker health and safety as our climate changes at the federal and state levels.

Today, several Member Scholars serve in high-ranking positions in the Biden administration, shaping federal policy on issues ranging from energy policy to environmental justice.

All the while, they continue to educate the public about these issues via our podcast , blog posts and op-eds in publications large and small, interviews with reporters, and in in-depth research reports and white papers.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we want to congratulate our Member Scholars not only for their recent accolades but also for their many accomplishments over the decades on behalf of the Center for Progressive Reform and our collective movement for equity and justice, health, safety, and environmental sustainability.

Our sincere thanks. We could not do this work without you.

To learn more about our scholars and their work, visit our Member Scholar webpage.

Top image features the founding members of the Center for Progressive Reform (L-R Chris Schroeder, Sid Shapiro, Lisa Heinzerling, Tom McGarity, Rena Steinzor) and current Board President, Rob Verchick, at the Center’s 20th anniversary celebration gala in September 2022.

Climate Justice Public Protections Responsive Government

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