SESSION 10: Integrating Environmental Justice into Extreme Weather Preparedness and Response in Texas and Beyond


Session 10, Wednesday, 26 January at 10:45 am

(Joint between the Presidential Sessions and the Major Weather Events and Impacts of 2021)

Extreme weather is frightening, traumatizing, and catastrophic in many ways for everyone. However, some individuals and communities are affected more by the effects of extreme weather than others. What is not often discussed is the correlation between race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status and other demographic factors that could further increase individual and community vulnerabilities to the effects of extreme weather or increase the amount of time it takes for these communities to receive support after. Understanding these dynamics requires examining environmental justice considerations and how they interact with extreme weather events.

This Presidential Session will (1) examine environmental justice considerations in response to Texas extreme weather events, (2) how to integrate environmental justice considerations into preparing for extreme weather events, and (3) integrating environmental justice into responding to extreme weather in and outside Texas.


Arielle King

Environmental Law Institute


Arielle V. King is the Environmental Justice Staff Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute. Arielle brings to ELI a background in environmental racism analysis, political ecology, critical race theory, sustainability, civil rights law, and integrating equity and environmental justice considerations into climate action plans. She is passionate about making environmental education inclusive and accessible to all. Arielle holds a JD and a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) from Vermont Law School and a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She is a member of the 2021 Cohort of the Environmental Leadership Program's Chesapeake Regional Fellowship and was a 2020-2021 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, where she developed a company focused on writing anti-racism policies for school districts, organizations, and municipalities.

Dr. Cecilia Martinez, PhD

Executive Office of the President of the United States of America


Dr. Cecilia Martinez is the Senior Director for Environmental Justice (EJ) at the White House Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ). In this role, she facilitates the coordination of the whole-of-government EJ agenda of the Biden administration. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, an organization that she co-founded to ensure that communities and policy-makers have the tools and information they need to create a just, sustainable energy and environmental policy.  Dr. Martinez also previously held positions as Associate Research Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment at the University of Delaware.  She has led a variety of projects to address sustainable development at the local, state and federal level. Her work focuses on the development of energy and environmental strategies that promote equitable and sustainable policies. She received her B.S. from Stanford University, and MPA from New Mexico State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware’s College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.

Dr. Farhana Sultana, PhD

Syracuse University


Dr. Farhana Sultana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, where she is also the Research Director for Environmental Collaboration and Conflicts at the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflicts and Collaboration (PARCC).

Dr. Sultana is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary scholar of political ecology, water governance, post?colonial development, social and environmental justice, climate change, and feminism. Her research and scholar-activism draw from her experiences of having lived and worked on three continents as well as from her backgrounds in the natural sciences, social sciences, and policy experience.

Prior to joining Syracuse, she taught at King’s College London and worked at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Author of several dozen publications, her recent books are “The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles” (2012), “Eating, Drinking: Surviving” (2016) and “Water Politics: Governance, Justice, and the Right to Water” (2020). Dr. Sultana graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University (in Geosciences and Environmental Studies) and obtained her Masters and PhD (in Geography) from the University of Minnesota, where she was a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

She was awarded the Glenda Laws Award from the American Association of Geographers for “outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues” in 2019.


Barry Hill

Vermont Law School and Environmental Law Institute

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Barry E. Hill is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vermont Law School, where he has taught an environmental justice and sustainable development course for more than 20 years. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute since he retired from federal service in March 2015. Mr. Hill was Senior Counsel for Environmental Governance, Office of International and Tribal Affairs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2007-2015. Previously, Mr. Hill was Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice from 1998-2007. Prior to that, he was the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Associate Solicitor, Division of Conservation and Wildlife, and the Director, Office of Hearings and Appeals. Prior positions include: Of Counsel to the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro, LLP, where he practiced environmental law; Project Manager of the Superfund Business Unit of ICF International, an international consulting firm; Special Counsel to the Attorney General of the District of Columbia; Legal Counsel to the Inspector General of the U.S. EPA; Law Secretary to the Deputy Administrative Judge of New York City (Criminal Division); and an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York.

Mr. Hill has lectured in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America, and the Caribbean on the following topics: establishing an environmental law and policy framework for national governments; environmental justice and sustainable development; capacity-building training in environmental law for judges, prosecutors, government regulators, citizens, and the bar; citizen involvement in the environmental enforcement process; and the impact of global warming on indigenous populations. In 2011, Mr. Hill delivered the Distinguished Lecture for the Trinidad & Tobago Environmental Commission, and the Supreme Court of Trinidad & Tobago.

In 2011, Mr. Hill was presented the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by Brooklyn College of the City University of New York for his “commitment to environmental justice and sustainable development, and pioneering leadership in the field of environmental law and policy in the U.S. and abroad.”

In 2001, Mr. Hill was presented the “Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy” by the American Bar Association for his work—teaching, research, and leadership—in the areas of environmental justice and sustainable development, and environmental law and policy.

Since 1999, Mr. Hill has been a Fellow of the American Bar Association’s American Bar Foundation in recognition of his professional accomplishments, distinguished service, and commitment to the study of law and legal research.

Mr. Hill received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College; M.A. degree in Political Science from Howard University; and a J.D. degree from the Cornell University Law School. In 2012, Mr. Hill received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, since he “steadfastly fought environmental injustice by taking action to decrease environmental risks and to raise awareness of these issues, and by providing communities with the appropriate tools needed to address serious environmental problems.”