2009 Press Releases

Press Release

Thursday, February 05, 2009

For Immediate Release

Berkeley Law Think Tank Announces New Name, New Energy Initiatives

Research center is a leading source of environmental and energy programs

Contact: Susan Gluss, media relations director, 510.642.6936 sgluss@law.berkeley.edu

Berkeley, CA—February 5, 2009… The Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) is the new name for the UC Berkeley School of Law think tank known for its environmental and energy policy initiatives. Formerly the California Center for Environmental Law & Policy, CLEE has worked on energy matters since its launch in 2006. But the more the research center emerged as an authority on the intersection of energy and environmental policy, the more it saw fit to highlight that fact.

“The name change is reflective of our adding talented staff in the energy arena and putting a greater emphasis on these issues as they affect the environment,” says Richard Frank, CLEE’s executive director. “Considering about 80 percent of climate change challenges have an energy component, that intersection is vital.”

Steve Weissman spearheads CLEE’s energy work as its associate director for energy law and policy. Weissman is a former administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission and has written legislation on energy, air quality, and waste management. 

“Our work is significantly driven by the global challenge of climate change,” says Weissman. “Energy policy has a huge impact on carbon emissions, on the availability of renewable resources, and on our ability to sustain environmental quality.”

The center’s programs are designed to tackle the nation’s energy and environmental problems through policy reforms.   New energy initiatives include: 

  • crafting a strategy to eliminate direct carbon emissions by U.S. utilities;
  • reducing the amount of energy needed to pump, treat, and deliver water;
  • developing national renewable energy standards that don’t restrict ambitious state policies;
  • lifting market barriers to less-expensive and more flexible solar cells for commercial and home use;
  • drafting new building standards to enhance energy efficiency;
  • ensuring that energy policies do not unfairly burden low-income neighborhoods.

The center is currently advising California policymakers on state efforts to develop renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved fuel standards, more efficient vehicles, and low carbon thresholds. The center also works with state leaders on revising transportation and land-use policy to lower reliance on fossil fuels.

CLEE actively partners with other research centers—on campus, in California, and across the nation—to deepen the intellectual depth of its work.

“Our position within UC Berkeley is a tremendous asset,” says Frank. “The partnering opportunities are phenomenal.” By collaborating with the UC Berkeley Energy Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Haas School of Business, Goldman School of Public Policy, and Berkeley Institute of the Environment, among others, Frank says CLEE “fosters interdisciplinary research truly geared toward practical public policy solutions.”

Dan Farber, director of the law school’s environmental law program and faculty co-director of CLEE, says its energy initiatives underscore the need for policy reform.

“People have worked on some of these issues for a long time but now energy policy really is on the front burner,” Farber says. “Given the seriousness of the challenges involved, I don't think that should change anytime soon.”

Professor Farber also heads the Energy and Resources Group, a campus-wide unit that promotes sustainable energy programs and partners closely with CLEE.

About University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
For over a century, Berkeley Law has prepared lawyers to be skilled and ethical problem-solvers. The law school’s curriculum—one of the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation—offers its J.D. and advanced degree candidates a broad array of nearly 200 courses. Students collaborate with leading scholars and practitioners working on complex issues at more than a dozen interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and clinical programs within its Boalt Hall complex. For more information, visit http://www.law.berkeley.edu/