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Full-Text Articles in Law

Back To The Future: Creating A Bipartisan Environmental Movement For The 21st Century, David M. Uhlmann Oct 2020

Back To The Future: Creating A Bipartisan Environmental Movement For The 21st Century, David M. Uhlmann

Articles

With a contentious presidential election looming amidst a pandemic, economic worries, and historic protests against systemic racism, climate action may seem less pressing than other challenges. Nothing could be further from the truth. To prevent greater public health threats and economic dislocation from climate disruption, which will disproportionately harm Black Americans, people of color, and indigenous people, this Comment argues that we need to restore the bipartisanship that fueled the environmental movement and that the fate of the planet—and our children and grandchildren—depends upon our collective action.


Resolving "Resolved": Covenants Not To Sue And The Availability Of Cercla Contribution Actions, Jacob Podell Oct 2020

Resolving "Resolved": Covenants Not To Sue And The Availability Of Cercla Contribution Actions, Jacob Podell

Michigan Law Review

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)—as part of its dual goals of cleaning up hazardous-waste sites and ensuring that the polluter pays for that cleanup—gives private parties two mutually exclusive causes of action: cost recovery and contribution. Contribution is available in limited circumstances, including if the party has “resolved” its liability with the government. But CERCLA does not define this operative term. Federal courts are split over how the structure of a settlement resolves liability. Several courts follow Bernstein v. Bankert, which held that any conditions precedent and nonadmissions of liability strongly suggest that a party …


What A Difference A State Makes: California’S Authority To Regulate Motor Vehicle Emissions Under The Clean Air Act And The Future Of State Autonomy, Chiara Pappalardo Sep 2020

What A Difference A State Makes: California’S Authority To Regulate Motor Vehicle Emissions Under The Clean Air Act And The Future Of State Autonomy, Chiara Pappalardo

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Air pollutants from motor vehicles constitute one of the leading sources of local and global air degradation with serious consequences for human health and the overall stability of Earth’s climate. Under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), for over fifty years, the state of California has served as a national “laboratory” for the testing of technological solutions and regulatory approaches to improve air quality. On September 19, 2019, the Trump Administration revoked California’s authority to set more stringent pollution emission standards. The revocation of California’s authority frustrates ambitious initiatives undertaken in California and in other states to reduce local air pollution …


Look To Windward: The Michigan Environmental Protection Act And The Case For Atmospheric Trust Litigation In The Mitten State, Jonathan M. Coumes Sep 2020

Look To Windward: The Michigan Environmental Protection Act And The Case For Atmospheric Trust Litigation In The Mitten State, Jonathan M. Coumes

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Failure to address climate change or even slow the growth of carbon emissions has led to innovation in the methods activists are using to push decisionmakers away from disaster. In the United States, climate activists frustrated by decades of legislative and executive inaction have turned to the courts to force the hand of the state. In their most recent iteration, climate cases have focused on the public trust doctrine, the notion that governments hold their jurisdictions’ natural resources in trust for the public. Plaintiffs have argued that the atmosphere is part of the public trust and that governments have a …


The Rise And Fall Of Clean Air Act Climate Policy, Nathan Richardson Sep 2020

The Rise And Fall Of Clean Air Act Climate Policy, Nathan Richardson

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The Clean Air Act has proven to be one of the most successful and durable statutes in American law. After the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, there was great hope that the Act could be brought to bear on climate change, the most pressing current environmental challenge of our time. Massachusetts was fêted as the most important environmental case ever decided, and, upon it, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama built a sweeping program of greenhouse gas regulations, aimed first at emissions from road vehicles, and later at fossil fuel power plants. It was the most …


Natural Resources And Natural Law Part Ii: The Public Trust Doctrine, Robert W. Adler Sep 2020

Natural Resources And Natural Law Part Ii: The Public Trust Doctrine, Robert W. Adler

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Natural Resources and Natural Law Part I: Prior Appropriation analyzed claims by some western ranchers, grounded in natural law, that they have property rights in grazing resources on federal public lands through prior appropriation. Those individuals advocated their position in part through civil disobedience and armed standoffs with federal officials. They also asserted that their duty to obey theistic natural law overrode any duty to obey the Nation’s positive law. Similar claims that individual religious beliefs override positive law have been made recently regarding a range of other controversial issues, such as same-sex marriage, public insurance for birth control, and …


Implementing Nepa In The Age Of Climate Change, Jayni Foley Hein, Natalie Jacewicz Sep 2020

Implementing Nepa In The Age Of Climate Change, Jayni Foley Hein, Natalie Jacewicz

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The national government has a crucial role to play in combating climate change, yet federal projects continue to constitute a major source of United States greenhouse gas emissions. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, agencies must consider the environmental impacts of major federal actions before they can move forward. But agencies frequently downplay or ignore the climate change impacts of their projects in NEPA analyses, citing a slew of technical difficulties and uncertainties. This Article analyzes a suite of the most common analytical failures on the part of agencies with respect to climate change: failure to account for a project’s …


Litigating For The Homeland: An Indian Treaty Framework To Climate Litigation In The Wake Of Juliana, Evan Neustater Sep 2020

Litigating For The Homeland: An Indian Treaty Framework To Climate Litigation In The Wake Of Juliana, Evan Neustater

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Climate change is an increasingly pressing issue on the world stage. The federal government, however, has largely declined to address any problems stemming from the effects of climate change, and litigation attempting to force the federal government to take action, as highlighted by Juliana v. United States, has largely failed. This Note presents the case for a class of plaintiffs more likely to succeed than youth plaintiffs in Juliana—federally recognized Indian tribes. Treaties between the United States and Indian nations are independent substantive sources of law that create enforceable obligations on the federal government. The United States maintains a …


Making The Case For A Right To A Healthy Environment For The Protection Of Vulnerable Communities: A Case Of Coal-Ash Disaster In Puerto Rico, Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak Aug 2020

Making The Case For A Right To A Healthy Environment For The Protection Of Vulnerable Communities: A Case Of Coal-Ash Disaster In Puerto Rico, Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The connection between the environment and human rights is not a surprising one. The enjoyment of human rights depends on a person’s ability to live free from interference and to have his or her rights protected. The interdependence of human rights and the protection of the environment is manifested in the full and effective enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment. This article argues that in order to protect vulnerable persons and communities facing environmental harm, a human rights framework—specifically the right to a healthy environment—must be applied. A human rights approach complements environmental justice work, recognizing that individuals …


Customary Law Of Indigenous Communities: Making Space On The Global Environmental Stage, Melissa L. Tatum Mar 2020

Customary Law Of Indigenous Communities: Making Space On The Global Environmental Stage, Melissa L. Tatum

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The high stakes often involved in controversies regarding who owns valuable natural resources and who has the authority to regulate environmental contaminants have resulted in fierce legal battles and struggles to establish and define international principles of law. Grand theoretical debates have played out on the international stage regarding the principle of free, prior, and informed consent and the legal contours of corporate social responsibility. Meanwhile, often under the radar, Indigenous people around the world have worked to create a sustained niche for their community and culture in the face of exploitation and environmental devastation at the hands of the …


The Wild And Scenic Rivers Act At 50: Overlooked Watershed Protection, Michael C. Blumm, Max M. Yoklic Mar 2020

The Wild And Scenic Rivers Act At 50: Overlooked Watershed Protection, Michael C. Blumm, Max M. Yoklic

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2018 without much fanfare. The WSRA has been somewhat overshadowed by the Wilderness Act, which preceded it by four years, and by the National Environmental Policy Act and the pollution control statutes which followed in the 1970s. But the WSRA was a significant conservation achievement, has now extended its protections to over 200 rivers, and has the potential to provide watershed protection to many more in the future. This article explains the statute and its implementation over the last half-century as well as a number of challenges to …


The Possibility Of Prosecuting Corporations For Climate Crimes Before The International Criminal Court: All Roads Lead To The Rome Statute?, Donna Minha Jan 2020

The Possibility Of Prosecuting Corporations For Climate Crimes Before The International Criminal Court: All Roads Lead To The Rome Statute?, Donna Minha

Michigan Journal of International Law

Due to rapid developments in climate science, scientists are now able to quantifiably link significant greenhouse gas emissions caused by major oil and gas corporations to specific climate impacts. These scientific advances have been accompanied by the publication of documents and studies suggesting that the oil and gas industry allegedly had knowledge of climate change as early as sixty years ago, and yet it actively worked to promote climate change denial and to delay governmental regulation on this matter. Though climate-related litigation is proceeding against the industry in different jurisdictions, proceedings brought against oil and gas corporations mainly focus on …


New Environmental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During The First Two Years Of The Trump Administration, David M. Uhlmann Jan 2020

New Environmental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During The First Two Years Of The Trump Administration, David M. Uhlmann

Other Publications

The latest data from the Environmental Crimes Project at the University of Michigan Law School shows a dramatic drop in pollution prosecutions during the first two years under President Donald J. Trump. The data, which now includes 14 years of cases from 2005–2018, shows a 70 percent decrease in Clean Water Act prosecutions under President Trump, as well as a more than 50 percent decrease in Clean Air Act prosecutions. The data again shows that most defendants charged with pollution crime commit misconduct involving one or more of the aggravating factors identified in my previous scholarship, so prosecutors continue to …