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News Release

In China, Former Vermont AG Talks Environmental Enforcement

Monday, April 17, 2017


Former Vermont Attorney General William "Bill" Sorrell, a Vermont Law School honorary visiting scholar with the U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law (PEL), spent last month in the People's Republic of China, lecturing about the role of prosecutors in environmental enforcement.

Sorrell, who presented at the Supreme People's Court and the National Prosecutors College in Beijing, drew upon his experience representing the citizens of Vermont in environmental and public health matters. His lectures focused on the role of prosecutors in the enforcement of environmental laws—a timely topic as China is currently experimenting with measures to support the role of prosecutors. Sorrell gave a talk to about 60 judges from the relatively new Environmental and Natural Resources Tribunal, formed in 2014, of the Supreme People's Court. At the National Prosecutors College, he lectured more than 300 prosecutors from all over the republic.

"China exceeded not only my expectations, but my hopes, in many, many different respects," said Sorrell, who returned to Vermont earlier this month. "The people were remarkably informed, friendly and generous. I look forward to opportunities to visit again in the not-too-distant future." 

In addition to teaching, Sorrell met with Supreme People's Court Chief Justice Du Wanhua, a member of the Judicial Committee, and Professor Yang Yingze, vice president of the National Prosecutors College, among other officials.

"Bill Sorrell makes an excellent ambassador for our work in China," said Professor Siu Tip Lam, director of U.S.-Asia PEL. "His teaching and other activities have deepened our relationships with academies and institutions in China that are training the next generation of environmental advocates, as we are here at Vermont Law School."

The U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, founded in 2006 as the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, works collaboratively with government institutions, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), lawyers, judges, lawmakers and others to promote environmental governance in Asia. In 2013 the U.S.-Asia PEL initiated a Myanmar Environmental Governance Program. More recently, the partnerships embarked on a project working with government entities, NGOs and environmental lawyers from China and countries in the lower Mekong Sub-region—Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam—to explore ways to sustainably manage the environmental and social impacts of rapidly increasing Chinese overseas investment in the region. For more information about the U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, visit 


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​