Community Service & Involvement

Widener ELSC faculty are involved in environmental issues and communities.

Regional/State/Local Community Involvement

State Government Advisory Councils/Task Forces

John Dernbach was on leave from June 2003 through December 2005 serving as policy director in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Local Efforts

John Dernbach led the effort at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg to have the St. Stephen’s School building project receive a silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

National Community Involvement

U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Briefs and Work.

Professor Dernbach coauthored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 18 prominent climate scientists in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).  The brief argued that EPA had mischaracterized or misrepresented the relevant science in deciding not to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that EPA erred by not controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The majority opinion reflects the science described in the brief, and the dissenting opinions do not contradict it.

American Bar Association

John Dernbach is a Council Member to SEER, and is past chair and current vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems.  He is the primary drafter of numerous resolutions adopted by the ABA House of Delegates-expressing the ABA’s commitment to work on behalf of sustainable development (2003), expressing the ABA’s support for comprehensive national climate change legislation (Feb. 2008), reaffirming ABA’s commitment to sustainable development, urging lawyers and law organizations to act in ways that accelerate progress toward sustainable development, and encouraging law schools and other legal education providers to foster legal education for sustainability (adopted 2013)  and First Year Report of the American Bar Association Task Force on Sustainable Development (July 2014).  With his support, encouragement, and leadership, the Committee held the nation’s first climate change conferences for lawyers and has pioneered a sustainable law practice initiative that many law firms have joined.

Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

John Dernbach leads a national project to review U.S. efforts concerning sustainable development and make recommendations for future efforts.  The contributing authors to this project-each distinguished experts in their fields–are from major universities and law schools, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.  The project has resulted in three books published by the Environmental Law Institute Press:  Stumbling Toward Sustainability, Agenda for a Sustainable America and Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability.

International Community Involvement

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

John Dernbach is a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, and presented a paper at an IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Mexico City.