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Coastal Policy Clinic to host Governor's Climate Change Commission

  • Working in Partnership
    Working in Partnership  The clinic is an ongoing collaboration between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Sea Grant, and William & Mary Law School.  
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U.S. Senator Tim Kaine to Provide Keynote Address

On Dec. 5, the William & Mary Law School Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic will host the Governor's Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

The commission will convene at the clinic's second annual conference on the topic of  "Adaptive Planning for Flooding and Coastal Change in Virginia: Next Steps for the Commonwealth."  U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine will give the keynote address. The senator, a member of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, said in a March 11 speech on the Senate floor that, in Virginia, there are "huge areas of risk of the negative impacts of climate change."

William & Mary Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas underscored the importance of the conference: "This gathering will afford a marvelous opportunity for those from both the public and private arenas to seek solutions to an array of issues that confront us with respect to our coastal areas."

At the conference, the commission will receive an update on the state and local actions that have occurred to date since the publication of the report of the "Kaine Commission" on climate change. The report, completed in 2008 when Kaine was governor of Virginia, included 113 recommendations for responding to climate change.  The Law School's Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic and the Center for Coastal Resources Management at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will present the update.

"There are many innovations occurring at the state, local and regional levels," added Roy A. Hoagland, director of the clinic.  "This conference will provide participants with the opportunity to share solutions, discuss barriers to their implementation, and identify ways to overcome them."

After receipt of the update, the conference will continue with a commission work session followed by a series of panels focusing on critical climate change issues and solutions.

"Last year's conference was about identifying the problems and what needs to be done. This year we're going to focus on solutions and what is actually being done," said Mary-Carson Saunders Stiff J.D. '13, a former Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic student who is now consulting with the clinic.

Speakers at the conference include:

  • The Hon. Molly Ward J.D. '87, Virginia secretary of natural resources, and the Hon. Brian Moran, Virginia secretary of public safety,  co-chairs of the Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission;
  • Legal scholars and public policy experts;
  • Carlton H. Hershner, director of the VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management;
  • Leaders from federal and local governments and agencies;
  • Entrepreneurs providing new solutions to climate change challenges.

"We see this conference as an essential tool in helping move the policy discussion forward, spur innovation in adaptation options, and make Virginia a national leader on these issues," said Troy Hartley, director of Virginia Sea Grant, one of the partnering organizations for the clinic and the conference.

While the conference is free and open to the public, pre-registration by Dec. 4 is required due to limited seating. Visit the conference website to register and view the full agenda. For more information about the conference, contact Mary-Carson Saunders Stiff at

The Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic is an ongoing collaboration between VIMS, Virginia Sea Grant, and William & Mary Law School.

"What we are working together to develop is integrated scientific and legal advice on critical coastal management issues for the Virginia General Assembly, the governor, local governments, and decision makers," noted Hershner. "VIMS, the Law School, and Sea Grant together provide Virginia with a unique blend of talent and expertise for solving the coastal problems of today and tomorrow."

The conference is made possible by funding from the Virginia Environmental Endowment.