About Robert Emmet Hernan


In September  2009, Bob launched an electronic magazine, or ezine, called irish environment: an online resource for environmental matters on the island of Ireland.


Before launching the ezine,  Bob worked as Senior Counsel for Commissioner Initiatives at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) from June 2007 to March 2009, where he developed enforcement actions to address impacts from pollution on communities, especially communities of color or low income that historically have been disproportionately impacted by environmental problems.  He put together a Stop Smoking and Idling Trucks initiative which deployed NYSDEC police officers to pull over, inspect and ticket trucks and buses that were spewing out air pollutants, in violation of state law, or were illegally idling.  The operation was first implemented in Harlem, New York City that is a neighborhood with very high asthma rates, caused in part by air contamination, and a neighborhood with heavy truck traffic.  The enforcement action was extended  to other parts of New York City and to other cities across New York State, and it continues to be implemented.  

Before his job with NYSDEC, Bob spent 19 years an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, from 1988 to 2007, where he served as a trial counsel in major toxic waste cases, including the Love Canal case.  Before that, Bob was a partner in a private law firm in Philadelphia.

Prior to practicing law, Bob taught college English in Philadelphia for 15 years during which time he served as Chairman of an English Department, and set up a Staff Development program and federal grants office at a college.

Bob is a member of the Bars of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; the New York Court of Appeals; the United States District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Southern, Northern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York; the United States Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits; and, the United States Supreme Court.


Bob earned his B.A. in English at the University of Notre Dame in 1964, a M.A in English at the University of Wisconsin in 1965, and a J.D at Temple University in 1980.


This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World, published in English in February 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan, and in Chinese in December 2011 by China Machine Press.

“The Brownfields and Superfund Small Business Relief Act: Relief For More Than Small   Businesses,” with Gordon Johnson, in 17 National Environmental Enforcement Journal 3 (March 2002).

“The Dark Side of Water,” in Aquaria: The Fascinating World of Man and Water, curated by Dr. Barbara Wally (a book-length catalogue for an art show in Austria) (Linz, Austria: Landesgalerie am Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseum, February 2002).

“Glacial Geology, Law & the Love Canal Trial,” with Jodi Feld and David Michelson, in A Paradox of Power: Voices of Warning and Reason in the Geosciences, ed. Charles W. Welby and M.E. Gowan, (Boulder, Colo.: Geological Society of America Reviews in Engineering, Geology, 1998) [peer reviewed].

“Due and Don’t Care Under CERCLA: An Emerging Standard For Current Owners,” 27 Environmental Law Reporter 10064 (February 1997).

“A State’s Right To Recover Punitive Damages In A Public Nuisance Action: The Love Canal Case Study,” 1 Touro Environmental Law Journal 45 (No.1) (Fall 1994).

Lecture Materials on “Corporate Liability for Environmental Contamination,” in Emerging Environmental Law Issues, New York State Bar Association (June 1995).

“A Psychoanalysis of Small Claims Court,” The Shingle, March 1985 (Philadelphia Bar Assoc. Quarterly Magazine); reprinted as Op Ed article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1988.

“Project Insight: Video Tape As A Learning Medium,” Community and Junior College Journal, November 1972.


Bob grew up in Lancaster, Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He currently lives in New York City and spends time in Donegal, Ireland.  He is married to Jeanne Silverthorne, a sculptor [see www.jeannesilverthorne.net