Professor Howard A. Learner is the president and executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)—the Midwest’s premier public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.
Learner is responsible for the overall strategic leadership, policy direction, and financial platform for ELPC’s work promoting clean energy development solutions to climate change problems, advancing transportation policy innovations and improvements, including regional high-speed rail development, and preserving the Midwest’s valued natural resources and heritage.
ELPC combines successful strategic legal and policy advocacy with its core premise that environmental progress, job creation, and economic growth can be achieved together. Learner and his multidisciplinary staff put this sustainability policy vision into practice by forming joint business, labor, and environmental initiatives to grow the "green economy" with innovative solutions that create new jobs, spur economic growth, and improve the environment and public health. Learner founded ELPC in 1993 following his work as the general counsel for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, where he specialized in complex environmental, energy, economic development, and civil rights litigation in both the federal and state courts and policy advocacy. He served as a senior adviser on energy and environmental issues to the Obama for President Campaign (2008).
Much of Learner’s work has concentrated on developing and advocating new directions on environmental policy issues, including developing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency resources to achieve cleaner air, job creation, and economic growth; advancing sustainable transportation and land use strategies and leading national and regional efforts to develop high-speed rail networks that can produce complementary environmental quality, economic development, and employment benefits; and protecting the Midwest’s wild and natural places—the Great Lakes, rivers, and forests. Learner has both significant appellate and trial litigation experience, including recent federal district court victories to protect the Midwest’s natural areas and enforce National Environmental Policy Act requirements that agencies fully and fairly consider reasonable alternatives.
Learner serves as the vice chair of the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator. He received the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois–Federal Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service; Leadership Greater Chicago’s Distinguished Leadership Fellow Award for the 25th Anniversary; the Public Interest Law Initiative’s Distinguished Public Service Award; the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s National Champion of Energy Efficiency Award for Energy Policy; and the American Wind Energy Association’s National Wind Energy Advocacy Award.
He serves on the board of directors of the Forest Preserves Foundation (treasurer) and the Friends of Israel’s Environment (vice chair), among others.