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Arctic Refuge Litigation Panel

November 9 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Please join the Environmental Law Society and the Native American Law Students Association for a panel discussing litigation over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. After the Trump administration opened up the Refuge to oil and gas leasing, numerous lawsuits were filed on behalf of Alaska Native Tribal Governments, environmental groups, and 15 states. The competing interests of caribou calving grounds, economic development, Gwich’in subsistence rights and oil extraction leads to high stakes legal battles. The panel will feature Matthew Newman from Native American Rights Fund, Erik Grafe from EarthJustice, and Brook Brisson from Trustees for Alaska (see below for bios).

Matt Newman is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund’s Alaska office. At NARF, Matt works in the areas of land use and natural resources, with a focus on federal environmental permitting. Since joining NARF in 2013, he has worked on active campaigns throughout Alaska, involving large coalitions of Alaska Native Tribes, commercial and sports fishing interests, and conservation NGOs. His litigation practice focuses on tribal land rights. He was part of the litigation team which achieved the landmark victory in Akiachak Native Community v. Jewell, which removed the federal prohibitions on Alaska Tribes acquiring lands in trust. Matt hails from Interior Alaska. After graduating from the University of Montana School of Law, he returned to Alaska, settling in Anchorage where he lives with his family.

Erik Grafe is the Deputy Managing Attorney of EarthJustice’s Alaska office. His work focuses on the Arctic, working with conservation and Alaska Native groups to fend off attempts by oil companies and the federal government to open new lands to oil and gas operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the Western Arctic, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Arctic is one of the most obvious places on Earth to say ‘no’ to Big Oil and heed climate science that tells us that we need to move rapidly away from fossil power, not expand it. Erik has had the good fortune to travel in the Arctic in the past and establish relationships with some of the communities that call it home. What motivates him to do the work, however, is the intrinsic value of the place, its people, and its wildlife; whether one can visit or not, their existence matters. What Erik loves best about living in the far north is that it is a place of constant change, particularly in the quality and quantity of the light and the comings and goings of birds and caribou and whales and salmon.

Brook Brisson joined Trustees for Alaska as a staff attorney in the summer of 2010 and took the role of a senior staff attorney in 2015. Prior to joining Trustees, Brook worked for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center on clean water and public lands issues related to industrial development in the Interior and Arctic Alaska and served as a law clerk to Judge David Mannheimer on the Alaska Court of Appeals. Brook graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2008, where she obtained a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and interned for a number of conservation and social justice organizations.

The lunch talk will be on Monday, November 9th at 12pm EST.

Register in advance for this panel:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the lunch talk.


November 9
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Live Zoom Event


Environmental Law Society