James Blackburn

Jim Blackburn is an environmental lawyer and planner as well as Professor in the Practice of Environmental Law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department where he teaches environmental law and sustainable design. He is co-director of the Severe Storm Prevention, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center at Rice and a faculty scholar at the Baker Institute and Director of the undergraduate minor in energy and water sustainability.  Blackburn set aside active environmental litigation to concentrate on research and teaching and expand his planning practice through his firm,  Sustainable Planning and Design.  He has authored two books published by Texas A&M Press – The Book of Texas Bays, published in 2004, and A Texan Plan for the Texas Coast, published in 2017 as well as co-author with artist Isabelle Chapman of a collection of poems and art work titled “Birds:  A Book of Verse and Vision”. Blackburn received the Distinguished Alumni Laureate Award from Rice University in 2018, the Good Egg Award from the International Crane Foundation for litigation to protect the endangered whooping crane in 2015, the Barbara C. Jordan Community Advocate Award from Texas Southern University in 2007 and the Robert Eckhardt Lifetime Coastal Achievement Award from the General Land Office of the State of Texas in 1998, among others. Also active in civic affairs, Blackburn was among the founders of the Trinity Edwards Springs Association (TESPA), a Texas Hill Country non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting springs and groundwater, and he also founded the Bayou City Initiative (BCI), a Houston-based NGO focused on community recovery and long-term flood protection post Harvey and serves on the board of the Matagorda Bay Foundation and The Aransas Project, two NGOs committed to protecting the Texas coast.


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