EENR Section Essay Contest Winners Recognized

Maria, a woman with short brown hair wears a white shirt, black jacket, and teal, grey, and gold neckerchief.By Maria Savasta-Kennedy

Each year the NCBA Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section Council hosts an essay contest for high school students across the state. The essays center on the theme of sustainability, and this year’s contest focused on drinking water safety in North Carolina.

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Can You Limit Your Exposure to PFAS?

Scott, a white man with a shaved head and a brown beard, wears a blue button-down shirt and navy jacket.By Scott M. Werley 

If you’ve been following the emergence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) over the past six years, one may think that it would be impossible to limit your exposure to PFAS as we’ve learned about its ubiquitous nature in the environment, its inability to break down and tendency to bioaccumulate, as well as its presence in many everyday consumer products.

As an industry, we’ve primarily focused on drinking-water quality as a primary route of exposure. However, ongoing research relating to our nation’s game and fish tissue and biosolid application now has us questioning the safety of our food supply. Are these compounds being taken up by the root systems of plants and transferred to the cattle being fed those plants, or are they even being taken up by the plants and vegetables we consume directly? A few other potential PFAS exposure routes include food packaging, cosmetics, the clothes we wear and the products that we launder our clothes with.

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Upcoming Pro Bono Opportunities

Cordon, a white man with brown hair, wears a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.By Cordon Smart

Greetings Section Members,

Anne Harvey, Mona O’Bryant and I serve as the co-chairs of the Environment, Energy, & Natural Resources Law Section Pro Bono Committee. We wanted to provide information about some upcoming pro-bono opportunities.

Updates to EENR Environmental Law Fact Sheets

In 2009, the EENR Section prepared a series of Environmental Law Fact Sheets as part of a series intended to provide an introduction to someone living or working in North Carolina who is confronted with an issue of environmental law. We are looking for volunteers to help update the existing fact sheets and, if there is sufficient interest, create new fact sheets. A link to the current version of the fact sheets is available.

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Profile of Cordon Smart – Brooks Pierce

Cordon Smart, a white man with brown hair, stands in front of a well-lit stairway. He is pictured wearing a white shirt, grey tie and blue jacket, and he is smiling.

Cordon Smart

By Rick Kolb, L.G.

Environmental law has been a practice in North Carolina since only the 1980s, and the early practitioners in North Carolina are now approaching the end of their careers if not already retired. In the past for the section newsletter, and later the section blog, I have profiled “senior” environmental attorneys Amos Dawson, Charles Case, and Billy Clarke and “mid-career” environmental attorneys Mary Katherine Stukes, Emily Sherlock, and Amy Wang, thinking that profiles of veteran environmental attorneys may be of interest to those relatively new to the members of the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section. Recently, I asked past section chair Amy Wang of Ward & Smith for a recommendation of a younger attorney to profile, and she suggested Cordon, who is entering his second year on the section council.

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NCBA Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section: 2021-2022 Year In Review

By Amy P. Wang, Outgoing Section ChairAmy Wang is a woman with shoulder-length blond hair. She is wearing a blue shirt with a dark grey jacket, and she is standing outside with green foliage behind her.

I am honored to have served as the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EENR) Section Chair for 2021-2022. As we are set to begin anew next month, it’s important that we reflect on the past year and the challenges we faced as a Section.

An uptick in COVID-19 cases forced us to reinstitute various protective protocols among our members’ institutions and the North Carolina Bar Association. As a result, our meetings in August, November, January, and May were held virtually. I am proud of the way our Section adapted and continued to provide valuable content and programming to our members. Our meetings included many excellent substantive committee reports. We also benefitted from presentations by Dionne Delli-Gatti, Clean Energy Director for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), with an overview and update on various energy and climate issues at the global, federal, and state levels; Peter Ledford and Christina Cress spoke about the clean energy stakeholder process surrounding the passage of House Bill 951; and Dru Carlisle and Steven DeGeorge provided a primer on environmental insurance. Thank you to the Programs Committee, Hayes Finely, Robin Smith, and Joe Starr, for their efforts.

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Register Now for the Section’s Annual Meeting and the 2022 Tri-State Environmental Law Conference

By Andrew Wagner

Turn off your webcams and join us at the farm for our section’s Annual Meeting and Social on May 4. Then, pack your bags and head down to Charleston on June 16-18 for the 2022 Tri-State Environmental Law Conference!

Our Section will hold its Annual Meeting and Social on May 4 at Carolina Morning Stables in Siler City, home of section member Jeff Tyburski. The afternoon’s agenda promises fresh air, food, fellowship, horses, and music. Registration and agenda are available here. Remember to register by April 22.

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Spotlight: Billy Clarke

By Rick Kolb

Billy Clarke is a partner at Roberts & Stevens in Asheville. Billy has long been active in the Environment, Energy, & Natural Resources Section and served as chair of the section in 2009-2010. For those who attend the annual section meeting on alternate years in Asheville, you probably know Billy as the host of our Friday evening social at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, his family’s farm near Asheville.

Billy Clarke

Billy was born in Bat Cave, North Carolina and grew up as one of eight children (two girls and six boys; Billy was next to youngest) on his family’s Fairview dairy farm, where they also raised tobacco, apples, chickens and pigs. Billy says raising eight kids and gardening kept his mom busy, and he remembers meat from dairy cows being tough.

Billy’s father, James McClure Clarke, came to the Carolinas in the 1930s after graduating from Princeton in 1939. He ran the Farmer’s Federation, a farm cooperative that was squeezed out of business by larger cooperatives in the 1950s. Jamie Clarke was the editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times for 15 years, served in the North Carolina legislature in the 1970s, and served three terms as a U.S. Congressman in the 1980s. Billy’s sister Annie and her husband live in the “big” house at the family farm, and Annie’s husband is in the North Carolina legislature as one of three representatives from Buncombe County.

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Spotlight: Amy Wang

By Rick Kolb

Amy Wang is the incoming chair of the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section, and she is an attorney at Ward and Smith, P.A., based in their New Bern office. She leads the environmental practice for her firm, where she has worked for 17 years.

Amy was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska, when her father was drafted by the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in U.S. history. Amy’s family moved a lot after her father left the Army to begin his career with Mobil Oil: Kansas to Nebraska, back to Kansas, back and forth between Chicago, Illinois, Virginia and Pennsylvania (six different junior high and high schools). After graduating from high school in Virginia, Amy attended the University of Virginia as an undergraduate and spent fall semester of her junior year at University College London. During summer breaks after her first, second, and third years of undergraduate school and for a year after graduating in 1992, she worked for the Wiley Rein & Fielding law firm in Washington, D.C.

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2020 NCBA Sustainability Contest Winners

By Maria Savasta-Kennedy

“There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”
(Mr. Maguire speaking to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate)

The Sustainability Committee is thrilled to announce our winners for this year’s NCBA EENR Sustainability Contest. Our topic this year was—you guessed it—plastics, and our contestants did a terrific job of thinking about what that “great future in plastics”  looks like now.

Specifically, we asked students to respond to the following prompt:

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A Profile of Emily Sherlock, Incoming Chair

By Rick Kolb

Emily Sherlock is a partner at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson and is the Vice Chair of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section of the NCBA. She will rise to the Chair position on July 1, 2020. Prior to serving on the board, Emily was one of the newsletter editors (back when our section had a newsletter) and served on the Section Council.

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