Legally Brief: Animal Law ConferencePosted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on October 21, 2014
Last weekend, ALDF, the Center for Animal Law Studies, and Lewis & Clark Law School’s student ALDF chapter hosted the 22nd annual Animal Law Conference in Portland, Oregon. As always, this outstanding event brought together the key organizations and individuals working within the legal system to advance animal laws.
The theme was “Animal Law in a Changing Environment” and there was a strong emphasis on effective collaborations between animal rights and environmental advocates, something ALDF has been working hard to create. Just last week, for example, ALDF filed a first-of-its-kind legal petition asking California’s Air Resources Board to regulate greenhouse emissions from animal agriculture as it does for the transportation and energy sectors.
Numerous studies show animal agriculture is one of the most significant global contributors to the greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide and methane—that are worsening climate change. Animal agriculture, particularly factory farming, also causes great suffering to billions of animals. So, legal challenges to these operations that focus on environmental harm or animal cruelty will benefit both. And climate change is not just a threat to human beings: it’s a threat to all life on earth. Climate change is an animal rights issue, just as reducing consumption of animal products is an environmental issue.
What the animal agriculture industry fears most is exposure of these facts. This is why it has gone to great lengths to hide its operations from the public, including using its substantial influence to pass “ag gag” laws, which seek to criminalize investigation and exposure of its operations. Award-winning journalist and author Will Potter spoke to attendees in a keynote address Friday evening and explained the threat these laws pose to free speech and freedom of the press. ALDF has filed suit against the states of Utah and Idaho to overturn ag gag laws and Will is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. ALDF also continues to work with other animal protection groups to fight ag gag legislation in other states.