By Sarah Main, Rules Committee Vice Chair
Yesterday was the first day of the 28th annual Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. The competition is hosted by Pace Law School every February, and attracts competitors from law schools around the country. When the competition began in 1989, only 22 teams competed. Today, NELMCC is the largest interschool moot court competition of any kind under one roof.
Over 50 teams arrived on campus to argue the case of Sylvanergy, LLC v. Shaney Granger and Save Our Climate, Inc., v. Shaney Granger. The consolidated petitions for review involve issues arising under the Clean Air Act; specifically, competitors argued whether a biomass-fueled facility is subject to Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) review as an emitter of greenhouse gases, and whether consideration of a wood gasification and partial carbon capture and storage plant as Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for the Sylvanergy facility was properly rejected. Competitors also briefed and argued two jurisdictional issues.
The first day of three-day competition kicked off with a Welcome Ceremony, where Professor Jason Czarnezki, Executive Director of the Environmental Programs at Pace Law School, and Chair of the NELMCC Board, Ashley Stilson, welcomed competitors to the highly anticipated event.
After arguing in two preliminary rounds, awards were given for the best brief for each party and best brief in the competition. Due to the anonymity of the competition, team names will not be disclosed until the final awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20th. Awards were also given to Riverkeeper, commemorating its 50th Anniversary as New York’s clean water advocate protecting the New York City and Hudson Valley watersheds. Ann Powers, Associate Professor of Law Emerita, received an award for her longstanding involvement with, and impact on, the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Professor and Co-Director of the Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace Law School, Karl Coplan, was also awarded recognition for his authorship of the NELMCC problem, which he has done for numerous years, after taking over the role from Jeffrey G. Miller himself.
Competitors will return to Pace Saturday morning to compete in the final preliminary round before finding out if they will advance to the quarterfinals. Scoring in the preliminary rounds is based on a combination of brief scores and oral arguments scores. As competitors advance to the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds, their scores are based solely on their oral advocacy performance. The final round of the competition is open to the public and will take place in the Judicial Institute Lecture Hall on Saturday, February 20th at 1:30 p.m. All are welcome and encouraged to attend as the nation’s two highest-scored environmental moot court teams argue their way to the title of NELMCC champion.