Spring/Summer 2018

The Legal Climate of Climate Change Cover Art

The Legal Climate of Climate Change

By Amy Spooner

Like most headline-grabbing problems, the issues surrounding climate change are integral to the work of many Michigan Law graduates. For some alumni, curbing and combating climate change is their life’s calling. For others, it is another hurdle to navigate as they pursue optimal outcomes for their clients or businesses.

In the following pages, you will read about a few of the ways that climate change is defining and redefining the work of some Michigan Law alumni. It is far from being all-inclusive—in terms of the layers of work or the people involved. Nor is it an attempt to portray heroes or villains, or to propose a definitive solution.

In addition, although Michigan Law’s strong tradition in environmental law has produced a plethora of environmental activists, you will find them largely absent from this story.

Rather, our goal is to showcase some of the less obvious ways that Michigan Law alumni are facing and influencing one of the defining issues of our time.

Photo Collage with the word Policy in the center


“How do you find a bipartisan path forward? I don’t necessarily think all Republicans have to agree with each other, or all Democrats have to agree with each other. Some Democrats, some Republicans, and some Independents have to step forward, stand tall, and show leadership.”

—Fred Krupp, ’78, President, Environmental Defense Fund

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Photo Collage with the word Energy in the center


“The left thinks the energy sector is evil because of its use of fossil fuels. But the power sector is completely on course to meet the commitments of the Paris Accord and the Clean Power Plan—not due to climate policy, but due to fuel switching.”

—Marc Manly, ’77, Former Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Duke Energy

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Photo Collage with the word Finance in the center


“To the extent that you make money burning coal, people are gonna do that. But here’s the thing: It’s hard to make money burning coal anymore.”

—Paul Astolfi, ’00, Co-Head, Global Projects Group, Mayer Brown LLP 

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Photo Collage with the word Water in the center


“When it comes to water, the world has changed a lot, but the law hasn’t kept up.”

—Reed Benson, ’88, University of New Mexico School of Law 

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Photo Collage with the word Preparedness and Recovery in the center

Preparedness and Recovery

“Did the insurance industry assume some risks of climate change over the last 75 years? While governments and policymakers must address these risks now, the debate over who bears the cost of historical conditions may intensify in the coming years.”

—Marty Myers, ’87, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP 

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