2020 Symposium: Covid-19 and Environmental Justice


On September 29, the NYU Environmental Law Journal hosted a series of lunchtime webinars exploring the coronavirus pandemic and environmental justice. Each webinar featured a panel of science, policy, legal, and community experts to discuss the relationship between humans, our physical surroundings, and Covid-19.

Covid-19 and Air Quality

Tuesday, September 15th from 12:30-2pm

Professor Richard Revesz moderated this panel exploring the ways in which dirty air contributes to illness and death from Covid-19, and also the ways in which the pandemic – an enormous shock to our economic and regulatory systems – has impacted air quality around the US. The panel focused particularly on environmental racism, as manifested by the race and wealth disparities in both air quality and illness.


-Professor Masoud Ghandehari from the NYU School of Engineering

-Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir from Columbia University Medical Center

-Taylor Morton from WeAct for Environmental Justice

-Christine Appah from NY Lawyers for the Public Interest

-Patrick Omilian from the NY State Attorney General

Covid-19 and the Future of Cities

Tuesday, September 22 from 12:30-1:30pm

Professor Danielle Spiegel-Feld moderated this panel exploring the future of NYC, and cities in general, during and after the pandemic. We discussed the transit system, the public health system, rent, homelessness, and increasingly pronounced class divides, where privileged populations are able to work remotely and vacate cities, while the working class must work in person at risk to their health.


-Darnell Grisby from the American Public Transportation Association

-Sarah Johnson from the NYC Department of Health

-Yaritza Mendez from Make the Road NY

-Sateesh Nori from the Legal Aid, Housing

-Jonathan Meyers from HR&A

Covid-19 and the Electricity Sector

Tuesday, September 29 from 12:30-1:30pm

This webinar explored opportunities and challenges for moving toward 100% clean electricity during a pandemic. We discussed the economic downturn and its impact on the markets for fossil fuels and renewables; the abundance of unemployed workers who could be employed building wind and solar plants;  and changes in energy demand due to new patterns of working and living.


-Amol Phadke, author of the 2035 Report (2035report.com) on reaching a 90% clean electricity sector

-Karl Rábago, electricity expert and former commissioner of the Texas Public Utilities Commission