Climate + Energy

Public Interest Conference Refreshes, Revitalizes Staff


The PIELC sign welcomes visitors to University of Oregon’s law school. Photo credit: Shannon Hughes.

For those working, volunteering, and engaging in environmental activism in the West, the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon is almost a requirement.

Each spring, environmental activists and professionals gather in the lush, green Pacific Northwest for an informative, fun-filled weekend chock full of exciting speakers and opportunities to chat. For those of us who are still stuck in the dregs of winter, the conference is a chance to witness the beginnings of spring and shake off the winter doldrums.

As a large majority of our program staff attend each year, it is also a chance for WildEarth Guardians’ increasingly far-flung offices to gather, bond, and present to the outside world about the exciting work we do each and every day.

Staff at PIELC 3

WildEarth Guardians staff a PIELC pose for a staff photo.

But, the conference is not all play. This year Guardians staffers presented on seven different panels with topics ranging from wildlife to dirty energies such as coal and oil and gas.

My co-worker and fellow Climate Guardian Shannon Hughes did a fantastic job presenting “How to Actually Make America Great Again: Challenging Coal in the Trump Administration.” On the panel with her were Shannon Anderson with Powder River Basin Resource Council and Nathaniel Shoaff with the Sierra Club. In case you missed it, all of the slides for Shannon’s panel are available here.

PIELC from above

Learning opportunities abound at PIELC. Photo credit: Shannon Hughes.

I also had the opportunity to present on federal oil and gas issues in my panel titled, “Is the American West Fracked? Not on Our Watch: Fighting Oil and Gas on Public Lands in the West.” It was fun to talk about in-depth the great work Guardians in doing to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  It was also great to engage with citizens and environmental professionals interested and discuss how we can all work together to protect our public lands. If you’re interested, my slides are available here.

All in all, we left the conference feeling re-energized and ready to return to the chaos that is the Trump Administration.

If you’re in need of an inspiring and educational experience next March, I highly recommend that you attend PIELC. WildEarth Guardians is sure to have a variety of new panels and Eugene will be as beautiful and green as ever.

Eugene in the spring

The Willamette River winds through Eugene, Oregon. Photo credit: Shannon Hughes.