UW News

October 29, 2015

First Environmental Law Symposium takes on ocean acidification

UW News

The UW School of Law will bring together many of the world’s leading experts on ocean acidification in its first-annual Environmental Law Symposium Nov. 6.

The day-long event will be held in the William H. Gates Hall on the UW campus and will include panels detailing the latest findings from scientists, current ocean acidification lawsuits and legislation, and updates on cooperative partnerships tackling this issue. Sen. Maria Cantwell will likely deliver the closing address.

“Washington state has been in the lead on ocean acidification and other states often look to us,” said Todd Wildermuth, director of the law school’s Environmental Law Program and organizer of the symposium. “Ocean acidification is part of climate change, but it doesn’t have the ‘climate change’ tag associated with it. For many people, especially here, it’s a huge issue, though it’s forgotten or unknown by a lot people.”

The event is free and open to the university community and general public, though attendees must register online by Nov. 4 to secure a spot.

UW scientists Jan Newton and Terrie Klinger, co-directors of the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, will kick off the morning science panel along with Mindy Roberts from the state Department of Ecology. They will talk about the latest research and findings on ocean acidification, which is a progressive increase in the acidity of the ocean from more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Some corals, shellfish and other marine organisms are vulnerable to these changes, and members of the shellfish industry and tribal fisheries will talk in another panel about their on-the-ground experiences with ocean acidification.

Most of the afternoon is dedicated to discussing where ocean acidification fits into current U.S. law. Several lawsuits have been filed again the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Center for Biological Diversity on the grounds of polluted water under the Clean Water Act. Speakers on both sides of those lawsuits will appear on afternoon panels, and the UW’s Ryan Kelly and others will discuss the emerging body of U.S. law that is the backdrop for current and future conflicts over efforts to curb ocean acidification.

See a full list of speakers and a schedule for the day here. The event is co-sponsored by the Washington Ocean Acidification Center and Washington Sea Grant.

Organizers plan to hold an environmental law-focused symposium each year going forward on other regionally relevant topics like natural disasters.


For more information, email lawrsvp@uw.edu.