Widener Law distinguished professor receives environmental award
Public Relations - Published: April 29, 2010
Widener University School of Law is pleased to announce Professor John C. Dernbach received the 2010 award for distinguished service to the profession from the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Environmental and Energy Law Section.

Dernbach, of Camp Hill, received the award on Earth Day, April 22, at a dinner held at the Hilton Harrisburg. The award recognizes extensive academic and professional work and scholarship in the field of environmental law and sustainable development.

Dernbach, a distinguished professor at Widener, directs the school’s Environmental Law Center, the first academic-civic initiative to operate between the Widener Law campus in Harrisburg and the school’s other campus in Wilmington, Del. Launched in October 2009, the center seeks to harness the expertise of Widener’s environmental law faculty for the benefit of students and the public. Working under the motto “Law for Sustainability” the center creates more learning and service opportunities for students and helps public and private decision makers solve legal problems relating to environment, energy and climate change.

Dernbach’s 2009 book “Agenda for a Sustainable America” is a comprehensive assessment of recent American sustainability efforts based on contributions from academic and other experts from around the country. It also contains recommendations for the next five to 10 years. Dernbach approached the project with the intention of providing a broad framework for moving the United States toward sustainability. In 2006, Dernbach coauthored a successful friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 18 prominent climate scientists in the landmark case of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. Another coauthor of that brief, Robert B. McKinstry Jr. of Philadelphia, was a corecipient of the 2010 distinguished service award.

Dernbach gave the keynote address March 29 at a conference on environmental justice in legal education, held at the University of Warwick Law School in the United Kingdom. His remarks were centered on sustainability and setting the agenda for legal education.

“I am honored to be recognized by this section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association,” Dernbach said. “The section’s members have known me for as long as 30 years. Climate change and sustainable development are game changing issues. My projects and teaching are a labor of love, but to be honored for this kind of work is especially rewarding.”

Dernbach teaches and writes in the areas of environmental law, property, international environmental law, climate change, and sustainability and the law. He was quoted prominently in Thomas L. Friedman’s latest book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How it Can Renew America.” He joined the Widener Law faculty in 1993. Before that he counseled the mining and waste programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and was the primary drafter of several major laws, including Pennsylvania’s recycling legislation. More recently, he was the department’s policy director.