Profile: New Jersey’s Mild-Mannered Environmental Lawyer

Lee Keough | December 3, 2014 | Energy & Environment, Profiles
Although widely admired for his gentle demeanor, Edward Lloyd won't give an inch when it comes to the environment

Edward Loyd
Name: Edward Lloyd

What he does: Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia Law School and Evan M. Frankel Clinical Professor of Environmental Law.

The Columbia Law Clinic represents nonprofit environmental groups globally, including New Jersey, West Virginia, Baltimore, and the World Bank in Colombia.

Lloyd previously served in a similar post at Rutgers Law School, where he said they considered themselves to be the lawyers for the state’s environmental community.

Hometown: South Orange

Age: 66

Why he’s different: In an environmental community with many differences of opinion, he’s almost universally admired.

Why he’s significant: For more than 30 years, Lloyd has served as a key legal advocate for environmental causes in New Jersey and beyond. He’s been involved in some of the most important environmental cases facing the state.

When he served as executive director and later counsel to NJ Public Interest Group in the late 1970s and 1980s, Lloyd represented local environmental groups against Ciba Geigy and the state Department of Environmental Protection, which allowed the chemical company to discharge high levels of pollutants directly into the ocean by Toms River. Although he lost the case on appeal, Lloyd thinks he won the war since the state DEP reduced permit levels by 90 percent when regulations were renewed.

Widely admired for his gentle nature, he’s nevertheless been at the center of significant New Jersey cases, including:

  • successfully suing the Christie administration on technical grounds for pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative;
  • challenging the Delaware River Basin Commission for failure to conduct environmental analysis of fracking regulations;
  • suing the Kean administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the American Lung Association for their failure to implement a state plan to reduce ozone;
  • and many other cases involving dumping sewage into waterways, stopping developers from building on sensitive lands, and restricting hazardous waste discharges.
  • Most recent publicized fight: Lloyd has served on the Pinelands Commission since 2002. Earlier this year, the state Ethics Commission at the behest of the Christie administration tried to stop Lloyd from voting on a 22-mile pipeline through the Pinelands. Lloyd chose to recuse himself but reserves the right to vote on the issue in the future, if it should come up again. Despite his recusal, the proposal failed to win approval.

    On the Pinelands: “I hope the outlook is bright. We hit a bump in the road every once in a while, but most of our elected officials have been supportive of the Pinelands plan, which has been in place for 35 years. We had four former governors come out against the pipeline, which gives you an idea of the breadth of our support.”

    On the Highlands: “We face a bigger struggle. The Highlands Act is not as strong, and it also takes a while to mature. Frankly, in the Highlands, the gubernatorial appointments have not been as strong and has made it a weaker council. Not all of the commissioners support the act. That’s not the case with the Pinelands.”

    Future of the environment in New Jersey: “Like everywhere else, we face a huge problem with climate change and its impacts. We are a low-lying state, and we still have to rebuild after Sandy. With the other fiscal issues, we face a big problem. We need proper funding to rebuild our infrastructure so we can comply with national standards for clean air and water.”

    Has the public lost its appetite for fighting for the environment? “While there was a golden era in the 1970s, we now have forty years under our belt, and I think support for environmental causes is as strong as ever. It’s certainly not reflected in passing legislation, but it is reflected in broad public support. We certainly saw keen interest regarding the pipeline in the Pinelands.”

    Why is the environmental community so fractured? “I view it as strength, not a weakness. Many groups are focused on different things: land trusts, pollution, water, air. These folks don’t always agree, but they can use different tactics and achieve different goals.”

    Proudest career achievement: The opportunity to train the next generation of environmental lawyers on leadership and litigation skills. The Law Clinic also enables him to represent a huge number of groups that are fighting to protect the planet.

    Family: Married 32 years to Janine Bauer, an attorney and the former director of the Tri-State Transportation campaign. Two children, a 25-year-old son and 18 year-old daughter.

    What he does in his spare time: “What spare time?” Lloyd is an avid Princeton basketball fan. Lloyd went to undergraduate school in Princeton and to the University of Wisconsin Law School, but his devotion stems from his father having played basketball for the Tigers.