Center for Progressive Reform

Robert W. Adler

Robert W.  Adler is the James I. Farr Chair and Professor of Law at the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, where he is affiliated with the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment.

For almost 25 years, Professor Adler has been involved in a wide range of complex environmental issues as a litigator, lobbyist, regulatory attorney, enforcement attorney, and in other related capacities. He has litigated or co-litigated cases involving the Three Mile Island accident, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and several major lawsuits regarding implementation of the Clean Water Act and other key environmental laws at the national, state, and local levels. For more than a decade, he was one of the principal lobbyists involved in Clean Water Act reauthorization efforts and the debate over proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Professor Adler has also served on a number of major national advisory boards and collaborative efforts, including the Federal Advisory Committee on TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads under the Clean Water Act), the Task Force on Assessing Costs of Unfunded Federal Mandates of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the Management Advisory Group to the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, and Water Quality 2000, of which he was the vice chair, and the Political Advisory Committee of the League of Conservation Voters.

Before entering academia, Professor Adler practiced environmental law in various capacities for 15 years. He was a Senior Attorney and Clean Water Program Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, he was also the founding Chair of the Clean Water Network. Previously, Mr. Adler was a staff attorney and later Executive Director of Trustees for Alaska, a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in Anchorage, and an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Counsel with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. Prior to and during law school, he worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Environmental Law Institute. He has also served as a consultant for the National Academy of Public Administration; the Environmental Law Institute; several national, statewide and local environmental organizations; and other entities.

Professor Adler has co-authored or contributed chapters to eight books on environmental law and policy, including a book on the history and impact of the Clean Water Act, an environmental law casebook ( Environmental Law: A Conceptual and Pragmatic Approach (with David Driesen, Aspen Publishers, 2007)), and most recently, Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems: A Troubled Sense of Immensity (Island Press, 2007), of which he was the principal author.. Professor Adler has also published dozens of articles and reports in law reviews and in policy journals regarding the Clean Water Act and other aspects of environmental law, including issues involving water pollution, watershed protection, water law and policy, federalism, administrative law, environmental crimes, environmental law and science, and other issues.

Professor Adler has been the recipient of several notable awards and other recognition for his contribution to the field of environmental law and policy at the national and local levels. At the national level, he was a co-recipient of the National Performance Review "Hammer Award" from Vice President Al Gore as a member of EPA Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Negotiating Team, which successfully negotiated a national permitting policy for CSOs in the face of a protracted and heated dispute. He also received the President's Award from America's Clean Water Foundation on the Twentieth Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. In Utah, he has received the Pfeifferhorn Award, presented by a coalition of Utah environmental groups for environmental leadership and volunteer activities (2002), and the University of Utah College of Law's Peter W. Billings Excellence in Teaching Award (1999-2000). Professor Adler has served on a number of boards and advisory boards of national and local environmental organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters, Hawkwatch International, and Friends of Great Salt Lake. 

Robert Adler
University of Utah
S.J. Quinney College of Law
Salt Lake City, UT

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