Podcast: Nation’s preeminent water law and policy expert

March 7, 2016

Robert Glennon is proud to be a lawyer.

“Lawyers are people who tackle problems,” he says.

And for decades, he’s taken on one of the greatest problems of our time.

Glennon is one of the nation’s leading experts on water law and policy.

The recipient of two National Science Foundation grants, he serves as an advisor to governments, corporations, think tanks, law firms, and NGOs looking to solve challenges around water sustainability and planning.

Glennon is the author of  “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It,” which has become a go-to resource for environmental policy stakeholders nationwide andreceived a Rachel Carson Book Award for Reporting on the Environment from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He also wrote”Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters.”

In 2014, Glennon and two co-authors collaborated with the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution to explore solutions to broken federal and state laws that are contributing to worsening water shortages in California and other Western states. Their groundbreaking report, “Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West,” received widespread national attention and is viewed by many as a game-changer for water policy moving forward.

Glennon also contributes regularly to national print media including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has been a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Talk of the Nation with Neal Conan, The Diane Rehm Show, C-SPAN2’s Book TV, and numerous National Public Radio shows. He has been a commentator for American Public Media’s Marketplace, and he was featured in the 2011 documentary Last Call at the Oasis.

Today, he is the Regents’ Professor and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Arizona, and I was fortunate to snag an hour with him for freshwater Talk. We chatted about water law in the West and in the East, market-based solutions for solving our freshwater crises, optimism, toilets, and about changing our perception.

“I am amazed at how spoiled we are in the United States,” said Glennon. “When we turn on the tap in the morning, as much water as we want comes out for less than we pay for cell phone service or cable television. When most of us think about water, we think of it like the air, infinite and inexhaustible when for all practical purposes it’s very finite and quite exhaustible.”

I’m back next month with Pete McBride. An award-winning photographer, writer and filmmaker, he has traveled on assignment to more than 70 countries for publications like National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outside, Esquire and Audubon and companies like Patagonia and Microsoft.

American Photo Magazine named him one of the top five water photographers in the nation, and The National Geographic Society calls Pete a “Freshwater Hero”.

Until then, cheers.

Joe Whitworth

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