University of Pittsburgh
January 30, 2008

Pitt Law Class Focuses on Climate Change and the Law

Three-pronged approach explores science, law, and business of issues associated with climate change
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Google "climate change" and you'll get more that 24 million hits, from a Wikipedia definition to a "New York Times'" story on global warming to YouTube's "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See." The world is taking notice and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is no exception. This term, from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Pitt is offering a new law course, Climate Change and the Law.

Jennifer Smokelin-a 1992 summa cum laude Pitt law alumnus, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania with a BSE degree in system science and engineering and decision information systems, and an attorney at Reed Smith-developed Pitt's multidisciplinary course, which offers students a three-pronged approach to the issue, making the course appropriate for law, business, and engineering students. The course is designed to help students understand the science, law, and business of climate change by exploring the problems of global warming and climate change, law and policy, and corporate environmental strategy.

"Only by understanding these three areas can this budding legal community adequately grasp the magnitude of this issue and only then can it begin to address it," Smokelin said.

To accomplish this goal, Smokelin has recruited the help of two guest lecturers: M. Granger Morgan-Lord Chair Professor in Engineering, professor and department head in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University-who was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his work related to climate change; and John Fillo-CPEA at Environmental Resources Management, an environmental consulting services company that works worldwide with businesses to identify risks and opportunities related to greenhouse gas emission constraints and new carbon trading regimes.

Topics include "What Science Can Tell Us About the Climate Change Problem," "Fundamental Legal Concepts of Air Pollution Control," "Evolution of Kyoto Protocol," "What Lawyers Need to Know About Emission Trading Programs," and "Business Impacts of a Carbon-constrained Economy."

At Reed Smith, Smokelin represents clients in a broad range of environmental issues, including environmental civil enforcement and litigation matters, as well as regulatory and transactional issues. In the area of climate change, Smokelin helps clients understand the potential impact of greenhouse gas legislation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states and the European Union, and the requirements for creating and trading voluntary carbon emission reductions on the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first voluntary pilot program for trading of greenhouse gases. Her environmental litigation experience includes matters concerning the Clean Air Act, Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Clean Water Act, as well as various state law equivalents. Other environmental cases include defending toxic tort and property damage claims based on the discharge of hazardous pollutants into the air, soil, and surface and groundwater.