Reprise of Fireside Chat Yosemite Environmental Law Conference October 24, 2015
by E. Clement (Clem) Shute, Jr.*
Editor’s Note: The second annual Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Environmental Law was given to Mr. Shute at the 2015 Environmental Law Conference in Yosemite. As part of the evening, he participated in a Fireside Chat in a question and answer format. Thomas McHenry and Jane Kroesche, members of the State Bar’s Environmental Law Section Executive Committee, asked the questions. Below is a standalone article prepared by Mr. Shute which reprises the highlights of the talk.
I am deeply honored to have received this award and truly appreciate the acknowledgment of my career by my peers. The whole process of being notified, hearing from old friends and colleagues, and preparing for the Fireside Chat led me to reflect back across the years. I have tried to recall some highlights as well as some less stellar moments. What stands out is the fact that a whole new area of law developed and matured in less than 50 years. When I started practicing, there was no field of environmental law. In fact, the early advocates for protecting Earth’s resources in the 1960s debated what to call themselves, some pushing for the name "conservationists" because to them the idea of pushing back against harmful human endeavors that degraded natural functions was a conservative philosophy. How things have changed!
To make it easier to read and to keep things in context, I have retained the questions that were asked at the Fireside Chat.