By EvanMarie Allison, Event and Rapid Response Coordinator
The 18th annual Tulane summit on environmental law & policy granted attendees the opportunity to participate in a diverse array of sessions debating issues from mountaintop removal in Appalachia, natural gas fracking, the newly purposed coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish, uranium coal mining along the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, green economics and its role in addressing global demand on natural resources, the Bayou Corne sinkhole, and many more. I walk away from the experience with a better in-depth understanding of the issues we currently face and the necessity of multiple approaches to addressing them. Ironically but not surprisingly, the law summit illustrated that, at times, our judicial system fails and we must take to the streets and turn to additional approaches. Take note that I say additional and not alternative because each goes hand in hand and reinforces the other. It may be law that keeps Walmart out of our Marshes but it is the masses speaking out in unison that engenders a revolution of change.
There are many sentiments I take away from the summit, however, there are a particular few that have stirred me most deeply. I was delighted to read that Summit coordinators reached out to Patagonia founder and climbing pioneer, Yvon Chouinard, and selected him as the main keynote speaker. It was a pleasure to hear his honest and personal account of the founding of the company and his evolution as a person and businessman. Patagonia’s corporate responsibility and environmental initiatives stand as the leading example of sustainable business models. The company is not only highly successful but truly focuses on environmental activism, donating a percentage of its profits to environmental causes including Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Additionally, Yvon and the company openly embrace and encourage change which he credits as a foundation to any “sustainable” business model. “A good nomadic leader,” Yvon declared, “moves his tribe not only when things are bad, but also moves his people when things are good. Because if he waits until things are bad, he knows he won’t be able to move.”
While inspired by the potential of corporate transformation using a Patagonia model, it is you and I, the “consumers”, that must demand it. In the age of technology and innovation, it is amazing how grounded our society is in the resistance of change. The Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) just celebrated its 90th birthday– 90 years of environmental degradation, inefficiency , and profits-before-people mentality that we are still fighting today. As we near the “environmental cliff”, we do not have the luxury of waiting another 90 years before we stand up and demand the changes necessary to ensure a sustainable future in which public and environmental health are protected. I invite you to stand with me today as an agent of change towards a brighter future.