Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blowout: Legal Legacy of the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe - Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University School of Law, Marine Affairs Institute is hosting 
update - the complete program 
April 13, 2011 
Bristol, Rhode Island 


One of our nation's worst environmental and human disasters began on April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people, injuring 17 others, and spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. What is the state of the law one year later, as the human and environmental toll rises? This conference will convene national leaders, elected officials and legal experts to examine the law’s response to this calamity to date and consider  the future legal legacy. We will consider issues of agency capture, tort liability, natural resource damages, and changes to law and regulation contemplated by Congress and the President's National Commission.

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.  Welcome 
Ronald O. Champagne, President, Roger Williams University 
David A. Logan, Dean, Roger Williams University School of Law 
Susan E. Farady, Director, Marine Affairs Institute, RWU School of Law    

9:15 – 9:30 a.m.  Keynote:     Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (video recorded) 

9:30 –11:00 a.m.  Panel I:   Origin of a Disaster

Deepwater Horizon was sited in accordance with existing regulations and policies, yet the blowout and its aftermath demonstrated significant weaknesses in the current regulatory system.  This panel will examine how this disaster unfolded, including the laws regarding offshore oil and gas, protection of the marine environment, the health and safety of maritime workers, and the role of regulators and industry.  

Moderator: Michael Burger, Professor, RWU School of Law  
Stephen Da Ponte, Atty., USCG Headquarters, Office of Maritime and International Law 
Juliet Eilperin, Reporter, The Washington Post Garret Graves, Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority,   State of Louisiana 
Sidney Shapiro, Associate Dean for Research and Development, Wake Forest University School of Law 
David Westerholm, Director, Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, NOAA 

11:00 – 11:15 a.m.  Break
11:15 – 12:30 p.m.  Panel II:   Assessing Damage to Marine and Human Communities   

 The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem experienced significant harm as a result of the Deepwater disaster.  This panel will discuss the challenges of assessing damage to ecosystems and the human communities that surround them following an environmental disaster.  

Moderator: Susan Farady, RWU School of Law 

Panelists: Hal Chittum, Chittum Skiffs 
Kevin Dean, Esq., Motley Rice
 James J. Opaluch, Professor & Dept. Chair, Environmental and Resource  Economics, University of Rhode Island
Jill Rowe, Biologist, Applied Science Associates, Inc. 

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.  Lunch   
Speaker:   Christopher M. Reddy, Sr. Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute   
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.  Panel III:   Sue or Settle? The Adequacy of Tort Law to Fairly and Expeditiously Compensate Victims of Mass Disasters

The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe caused extensive damages to businesses on the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.  This panel will explore whether tort law is up to the task, either procedurally or doctrinally, to fairly compensate victims of mass disasters or whether a compensation fund is preferable. 

Moderator: David A. Logan, RWU School of Law   
George W. Conk, Adjunct Professor & Sr. Fellow, Stein Center, Fordham Law School
Deborah E. Greenspan, Atty., Dickstein Shapiro LLP   
Donald A. Migliori, Esq., Motley Rice 

2:45 – 3:00 p.m.  Break

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.  Keynote Speaker:     Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) (video recorded) 

3:15 – 4:45 p.m.  Panel IV:   The Legal Legacy

 The wake of the Deepwater disaster included numerous legislative hearings, introduction  of numerous pieces of legislation and high-level investigative Commissions. Will legislation significantly change law and policy in environmental, energy and tort arenas?  What will the lasting legal legacy of the Deepwater Horizon be?       

Moderator: Dennis Nixon, Associate Dean/Professor, University of Rhode Island 

Panelists: Fred H. Bartlit, Jr., Esq., Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott  
   LLP, Chief Counsel to National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon  
   Oil Spill    
Thomas C. Galligan., Jr., President and Professor of Humanities, Colby-  Sawyer College     
David Pettit, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council 
Jonathan K. Waldron, Esq., Blank Rome LLP 
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.  Reception               Linden Place, Bristol, RI

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