Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene, Oregon
2010 PIELC Speakers

Click a name below to link to speaker's bio
Ramona Africa
Patricia Cochran
Peter DeFazio
Steven Donziger
Marc Ona Essangui
Craig Franklin
Maria Gunnoe
Rizwana Hasan
Terri Irwin
David Kirby
Anuradha Mittal
Trip Van Noppen
Charles Wilkinson

Ramona Africa [Video] [audio]
Ramona Africa, Minister of Information of the MOVE Organization, is the sole adult survivor of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia by the Philadelphia police. She subsequently served seven years in prison without parole because of her refusal to agree to a condition of release to never again associate with any member of MOVE. Africa now serves as the Minister of Information for MOVE, speaking on her experiences and MOVE’s commitment to justice and freedom for all life on the planet: “Each individual life is dependent on every other life, and all life has a purpose, so all living beings, things that move, are equally important, whether they are human beings, dogs, birds, fish, trees, ants, weeds, rivers, wind or rain. To stay healthy and strong, life must have clean air, clear water and pure food.”

Patricia Cochran [Video] [audio]
Patricia Cochran is an Inupiaq Eskimo born and raised in Nome, Alaska. Cochran serves as Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, an organization created to bring together research and science in partnership with Alaska Native communities. She also is Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change and former Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an international organization representing 155,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. Cochran is also former Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat to the Arctic Council, and previously served as Administrator of the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage; Executive Director of the Alaska Community Development Corporation; Local Government Program Director with the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and Director of Employment and Training for the North Pacific Rim Native Corporation (Chugachmiut).

Peter DeFazio [Video] [audio]
Representative Peter DeFazio was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1986. He is the dean of the Oregon House delegation, representing southwest Oregon, including Eugene. DeFazio is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as Chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, and also serves on the Aviation and Railroad Subcommittees.
   DeFazio also serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, where he sits on the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee and the Water and Power Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Homeland Security, on the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee and the Management, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee.

Steven Donziger [Video] [audio - Q&A] [audio - End only]
Steven Donziger currently practices criminal defense law and international environmental law in New York City as a partner in Donziger & Associates. He received his JD from Harvard Law School, and has been a member of a joint Ecuadorian-American legal team for the last 16 years representing 80 indigenous and farmer communities of the Amazon Region of Ecuador in a class-action lawsuit against Chevron Texaco. This lawsuit, which originally began in the United States and has since moved to Ecuadorian courts, seeks a clean-up of oil-related contamination in an area of Ecuadorian rainforest the size of Rhode Island.

Marc Ona Essangui [audio]
Marc Ona Essangui is president and founder of the environmental NGO Brainforest and president of Environment Gabon. Since developing polio as a child, Ona has been campaigning for disability rights and won the 2009 Goldman Prize for his fight to save Ivindo National Park from controversial development.
   In July 2007, in violation of Gabon’s Environmental Code, president Omar Bongo allowed a Chinese-based development company to begin constructing a road directly through Ivindo Park to the Kangou Falls, leaving a wide path that opened this once impenetrable forest to poachers. The Gabonese forests are part of the Congo Basin rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon and a vital asset in the fight against global climate change. Ona has repeatedly called for a full environmental impact assessment of the dam project, arguing that it would have a catastrophic impact on the forest, its villagers, and the rest of the world. As a result of Ona’s work, the area to be affected by the dam has been substantially reduced and the road through Ivindo Park has been rerouted through less of the protected area. The development is currently on hold, but the future of Kangou Falls is still unclear.
   Ona has paid a price for his campaigning. Brainforest’s offices have been broken into, Ona has been refused permission to leave the country, he and his family have been evicted, and in December 2008 he was imprisoned for “destabilizing the state through propaganda.” Ona remains optimistic about the fate of the Falls and is undeterred by these tactics. “I am not afraid. If they want to get me, they’ll get me. We have to protect our forests. It is our country, it is our duty.”
   “My fight is the fight of all the people concerned with the survival of the planet. Our forest is home to the most extraordinary biodiversity. To destroy it would mean the ruin of humanity.”

Craig Franklin [Video] [audio] [audio - Q&A]
Craig Franklin is a Professor of Zoology at the University of Queensland, Australia. He received his PhD from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Franklin’s research program focuses on how animals such as fish, frogs, and crocodiles can survive and function in extreme and often hostile environments and under challenging conditions. He is a strong proponent of wildlife conservation and has a number of research projects assessing the impact of environmental change and human disturbance. Franklin has been appointed as an Australian Professorial Fellow by the Australian Research Council, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Göteborg, Sweden, and received the President’s Medal from the Society for Experimental Biology, United Kingdom. In 2003, Prof. Franklin teamed up with Steve and Terri Irwin on the Australia Zoo’s annual crocodile research trip, conducting groundbreaking research using satellite tracking devices to record the movements of crocodiles. Today, Prof. Franklin remains an integral member of the Australia Zoo crocodile research team and advocate for the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.

Maria Gunnoe [Video] [audio] [audio - Q&A] [David Brower Award]
Maria Gunnoe is a full-time organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. She is a lifelong Cherokee Native resident of West Virginia and has experienced the destruction of mountaintop removal firsthand. Her family's ancestral home, where she currently resides, has sustained repeated flood damage caused by runoff from a nearby valley fill and mountaintop removal operation. Maria began organizing as a volunteer in 1997 and has been involved in community organizing around the issues of the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, valley fills, and coal waste dams for the past 12 years, and her advocacy has led to the closure of mines in the region and stricter regulations for the industry. She is recipient of the 2005 West Virginia Environmental Council’s Environmental Courage Award, the 2006 Joe Calloway Award for Civic Courage (created by the Shafeek Nader Trust for The Community and presented by Ralph Nader), the 2007 David Vs. Goliath Award presented by Rainforest Action Network, and the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize. As a result of her advocacy, mine managers point to Maria as an enemy of mine workers and their jobs, and have encouraged acts of harassment. Gunnoe has received numerous verbal threats on her life, her children are frequently harassed at school, “wanted” posters of Gunnoe have appeared in local convenience stores, and her daughter's dog was shot dead. Despite these obstacles, Maria continues to fight to sustain the mountain way of life and the people that it has created.

Rizwana Hasan [Video] [audio]
Rizwana Hasan, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), is an environmental attorney in Bangladesh who has worked to reduce the impact of the country’s exploitative and environmentally devastating ship breaking industry. Hasan headed a legal battle against the practice that led to increased government regulation of ship breaking and increased public awareness of its dangers. She continues her legal advocacy for the environment, focusing on wetlands preservation, regulation of commercial shrimp farming, traditional forest rights preservation, and pollution. Hasan was named one of Time’s 2009 Heroes of the Environment and received the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia.

Terri Irwin [Video] [audio] [audio - Q&A]
Terri Irwin, a native of Eugene, Oregon, is a co-founder of Wildlife Warriors Worldwide and the owner of Australia Zoo. In 1986, Terri started “Cougar Country,” a rehabilitation center for predatory mammals, in Eugene, and also worked for a number of years as a veterinary technician. While on holiday in Australia in 1991, Terri met Steve Irwin and married him the next year. While on their honeymoon, they filmed a wildlife documentary and used this footage as the basis for the first episode of the popular television program The Crocodile Hunter. Terri and Steve were co-stars on two television programs on the Animal Planet network and also starred in a movie together. Today, Terri continues her work with Australia Zoo and Wildlife Warriors Worldwide to protect injured, threatened, and endangered wildlife across the globe. Learn about the campaign to Save Steve's Place.

David Kirby [Video] [audio]
David Kirby, author of the forthcoming book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, previously wrote the New York Times bestseller Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic—A Medical Controversy. Kirby has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since its founding in 2005 and has also written for a number of national magazines. In addition, Kirby was a foreign correspondent in Mexico and Central America from 1986-1990, where he covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and covered politics, corruption and natural disasters in Mexico.
   Kirby previously worked in politics, medical research and public relations. He worked for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy as a special assistant for healthcare, cultural affairs and civil rights. He also was a senior staff adviser to David Dinkins’ successful 1989 run for Mayor of New York.

Anuradha Mittal [Video] [audio]
Anuradha Mittal, a native of India, is an internationally renowned expert on trade, development, human rights and agriculture issues. After working as the co-director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, Mittal established the Oakland Institute, a progressive policy think tank, in 2004.
   Named as the 2008 Most Valuable Progressive Thinker by the Nation magazine, Anuradha was awarded the 2007 Global Citizen Award by the UNA-USA East Bay and KPFA Peace Award in 2006. She is on the board and advisory committees of several non-profit organizations, including the Polaris Institute, and is a member of the independent board of Ben & Jerry's, which focuses on providing leadership for Ben & Jerry’s social mission and brand integrity.
   Mittal is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, including America Needs Human Rights; The Future in the Balance: Essays on Globalization and Resistance; Sahel: A Prisoner of Starvation; and most recently, Voices from Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution and The Great Land Grab: Rush for World’s Farmland Threatens Food Security for the Poor. Her articles and opinion pieces have been published in widely circulated newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Bangkok Post, Houston Chronicle, and the Nation.

Trip Van Noppen [Video] [audio]
Trip Van Noppen serves Earthjustice as its President, leading the organization's staff, board, and supporters to advance its mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people's health. Trip has degrees from Yale and the University of North Carolina, and he clerked for a federal district judge. He then practiced law in Raleigh, NC, in a litigation practice emphasizing civil rights, employment, environmental, and toxic tort cases. In 1998, he joined the Southern Environmental Law Center and became director of its Carolinas Office. Both in private practice and at SELC, Trip handled a wide variety of environmental cases and cases involving access to the courts. From 2005 - 2007, Trip was Earthjustice's Vice President for Litigation. Trip is married to Rivka Gordon, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and they have two children.
   Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.Earthjustice was founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and since that time has provided legal representation at no cost to more than 700 clients, ranging from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Wilderness Society to community-based coalitions.Earthjustice works through the courts to ensure government agencies and private interests follow the law. On Capitol Hill, Earthjustice works to protect and strengthen federal environmental laws and preserve special places such as the Arctic. Headquartered in Oakland, California, Earthjustice has nine offices across the United States and is involved in various environmental issues domestically and internationally.

Charles Wilkinson [Video] [Video - Q&A] [audio]
Charles Wilkinson is a Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. His primary specialties are federal public land law and Indian law. In addition to his many articles in law reviews, popular journals, and newspapers, his thirteen books include the standard law texts on public land law and on Indian law. The books he has written in recent years, such as 1992's The Eagle Bird, are aimed for a general audience, and they discuss society, history, and land in the American West. Wilkinson won the Colorado Book Award for Messages From Frank's Landing, a profile of Billy Frank, Jr. of the Nisqually Tribe of western Washington. In his latest book, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, Wilkinson poses what he calls "the most fundamental question of all: Can the Indian voice endure?"
   Wilkinson has received teaching awards from his students at all three law schools where he has taught, and he has also won acclamation from non-academic organizations. The National Wildlife Federation presented him with its National Conservation Award, and in its 10-year anniversary issue, Outside Magazine named him one of 15 "People to Watch," calling him "the West's leading authority on natural resources law."

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