Widener Law hosts attorney from iconic environmental law case for its Distinguished Speaker Series
Public Relations - Published: April 4, 2014
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Widener Law will host a central figure in one of the most important environmental law cases ever to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, for the final installment of its 2014 Environmental Law Distinguished Speaker Series.

Boston College Law School Professor Zygmunt J.B. Plater will speak Tuesday, April 8 at 4 p.m. in room A180 of the Widener Law administration building, 3737 Vartan Way, Harrisburg. The event is free and open to the public.

Plater and his students used the then-new Endangered Species Act to launch a legal battle 30 years ago against the construction of a dam in Tennessee. They argued the project would destroy the habitat of the snail darter, a fish about half the size of a wooden Popsicle stick. The case went all the way to the nation’s high court in Washington, where Plater and his students won, although Congress later passed legislation that made it possible for the project to proceed.

The case generated much attention, and rallied detractors who considered it an example of liberal extremism. Plater has written a book about the experience, “The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River,” which he will discuss on his visit to Widener. Published by Yale University Press, the book offers a detailed account of the six-year crusade, including family farms at stake in the project, the experience of citizens navigating the corridors of national power and the political and media mischaracterizations that ensued.

“Professor Plater achieved a great deal for endangered species protection in general with this case, even though Congress exempted this project from the Act,” Widener Distinguished Professor John C. Dernbach said. “We are pleased to have someone of his stature speak as part of our series.”

Plater’s talk, “TVA v. Hill: A Little Fish in a Pork Barrel,” will be teleconferenced to the Alfred Avins Special Collections Library Room on Widener’s campus in Wilmington, Delaware. Copies of his book will be available for purchase on the Harrisburg campus.

Attorneys from Delaware and Pennsylvania who attend the lecture in Harrisburg will be eligible for one continuing legal education credit. To register, contact Sandra Graeff at slgraeff@widener.edu or 717.541.3965.

The Environmental Law Distinguished Speaker Series is a project of the law school and its Environmental Law Center