PUBLISHED:September 10, 2009

Duke scholars appointed to key policy roles

Professors Christopher Schroeder, James Salzman, and Jonathan Wiener have been selected to, respectively, advise the U.S Attorney General on legal policy issues; serve on a committee that operates at the junction of high-level trade and environmental policy initiatives; and author a chapter of a major report by the leading global organization assessing climate change.

Engagement “at the heart of things” advances teaching, scholarship
These sorts of appointments are a boon to Duke faculty and students, Salzman says. “There’s no question that if you’re engaged in the heart of things at the highest levels, you develop insights that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Certainly for me, when I’ve worked on high-level projects, a whole series of hypotheses and questions start to percolate. If I look back on many of the topics I’ve written on, many of them grew out of this kind of outside engagement.”

Having experience in organizations where policy is developed and mechanisms to accomplish goals are designed and put to use can be especially useful for those working in environmental law, Salzman says.

“Perhaps more than most fields, environmental law is very much an applied field. It’s not deeply theoretical. It’s not like a theory of the First Amendment, where you would ponder ‘What is free speech?’ You don’t ask ‘What is pollution?’ It’s interesting, but we don’t spend a lot of time on that.

“How do we address climate change? That’s not a big metaphysical question, that’s a practical question. And your insights, your participation, your engagement is much more meaningful if you’ve actually gotten your hands dirty.”

Schroeder takes helm of Office of Legal Policy
Schroeder, the Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy, currently serves as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Department of Justice. Nominated to the post by President Barack Obama in June 2009, he was confirmed by the United States Senate in April.

Schroeder serves as the primary policy adviser to the attorney general and deputy attorney general and develops and implements significant policy initiatives of the Department of Justice. His duties include assisting the president and attorney general in the selection and confirmation of federal judges.

The longtime director of Duke Law School’s Program in Public Law and co-director of the Duke in D.C. program, Schroeder served in the Clinton administration as acting assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, where he was responsible for legal advice to the attorney general, the executive office of the president, and other executive branch agencies on a broad range of issues, including separation of powers, other constitutional issues, and matters of statutory interpretation and administrative law. He also has served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Schroeder has focused on environmental policy throughout his career, having authored one of the leading environmental law casebooks, Environmental Regulation: Law, Science and Policy (with Robert Percival, Alan Miller and James Leape, 6th edition, 2009).

“I am pleased to welcome Chris back to the Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement following Schroeder’s confirmation. “The Office of Legal Policy serves a crucial role at the department in coordinating some of our most important projects and initiatives. Chris is an experienced and talented attorney, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of the American people.”

Salzman appointment aims to align trade, environmental goals
The Samuel Fox Mordecai Professor of Law and the Nicholas Institute Professor of Environmental Policy, Salzman was appointed to serve on the U.S. Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC).

TEPAC was created during the Clinton administration to report to the U.S. Trade Representative and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator regarding trade issues that involve environmental policy.

“The environmental community was really concerned in the mid-’90s that the trade institutions were simply biased against environmental protection,” Salzman said. “The Clinton administration responded by creating this high-level advisory group that was supposed to make sure constituencies from both worlds were talking to one another.” Advisory board members typically represent nonprofit conservation organizations, business organizations and law firms; Salzman is the only current member not affiliated with a specific group.

Salzman previously served as a liaison to the committee on behalf of Dan Esty, a law and policy professor at Yale.

TEPAC has been an effective organization at “decreasing the heat and increasing the light” at times when trade and environmental objectives conflict, said Salzman. He cites an executive order requiring environmental reviews of trade agreements as one of the committee’s signature achievements.

“That was a pretty bold step, requiring that all trade agreements with potential environmental impacts receive a complete review and report of those impacts,” Salzman says. “There was contention and discussion about whether to do it, and about how it might work, but we had some candid discussions and I helped arrange workshops with experts, and those reviews are part of our trade policy now.”

Upcoming issues for TEPAC might include the trade implications of carbon legislation, as well as “environmental side agreements,” portions of trade agreements that talk about compliance with environmental laws and sometimes include dispute resolution mechanisms, Salzman says.

In more than 60 articles and five books, his broad-ranging scholarship has addressed topics spanning trade and environment conflicts, the history of drinking water, environmental protection in the service economy, wetlands mitigation banking, and the legal and institutional issues in creating markets for ecosystem services. A dedicated classroom teacher and colleague, Salzman has twice been voted Professor of the Year by students at Duke's School of the Environment and received a Blueprint Award from the Law School for institutional service.

Wiener to co-author IPCC climate change report
Wiener, the William R. and Thomas L. Perkins Professor of Law, was selected to co-author the Fifth Assessment Report of the International Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC). The working group charged with writing the report will convene in South Korea next May, with the final assessment due in 2014.

The IPCC is the foremost global organization assessing climate change data and evaluating potential environmental and socio-economic consequences. The organization shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. Before coming to Duke in 1994, Wiener contributed to the IPCC's First Assessment Report, helped organize working group three for the Second Assessment Report, and helped negotiate the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“It's very nice to have a chance to contribute again,” said Wiener, who also has appointments at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Nicholas School of the Environment. “A lot has been learned since I worked on the first report, and I'm eager to help conduct the next assessment.”

Wiener has worked on U.S. and international environmental policy with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and at the U.S. Department of Justice, serving in both the first Bush and Clinton administrations.

His scholarship and research has focused on, among other things, risk analysis and climate change issues. Wiener served as president of the Society for Risk Analysis in 2008 and served as the founding faculty director of the Duke Center for Environmental Solutions (now the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions), for which he chaired the faculty advisory committee from 2007 to 2010. He will co-chair the next World Congress on Risk, to be held in Sydney Australia in July 2012.