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Environmental Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

International Law For Transboundary Aquifers: A Challenge For Our Times, Gabriel Eckstein May 2021

International Law For Transboundary Aquifers: A Challenge For Our Times, Gabriel Eckstein

Faculty Scholarship

Quarrels between states sharing a transboundary aquifer (TBA) have been relatively minor in comparison with the more boisterous disputes seen in many of the world's shared river basins. Yet, transboundary groundwater can easily serve as the basis for cross-border disagreements. Twice as many TBAs and shared groundwater bodies have been identified globally as compared to transboundary rivers and lakes, and the volume of accessible groundwater exceeds all surface waters by a factor of one hundred. Yet, the number of treaties in force for TBAs is miniscule in comparison with those for transboundary rivers and lakes. Moreover, dozens of nations ...


Brownfields Cleanup: A Look Back And Ahead Toward Superfund Authority, Clifford Villa Apr 2021

Brownfields Cleanup: A Look Back And Ahead Toward Superfund Authority, Clifford Villa

Faculty Scholarship

Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through the Superfund program within each of the ten regional offices across the United States, has millions of dollars to spend each year for cleaning up contaminated sites that are not designated “Superfund” sites? Not many people seem to know that, even lawyers who practice in environmental law, or even law professors who teach it. If these elite folks do not know that, then how would ordinary community members know that, people with busy lives who don’t do Superfund for a living? The short answer is, they probably don ...


Revitalizing Greenhouse Gas Permitting Inside A Biden Epa, Matt Haber, Seema Kakade Jan 2021

Revitalizing Greenhouse Gas Permitting Inside A Biden Epa, Matt Haber, Seema Kakade

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Sea Level Rise, Land Use, And Property Rights, Laura M. Padilla Jan 2021

Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Sea Level Rise, Land Use, And Property Rights, Laura M. Padilla

Faculty Scholarship

This Article considers the competing interests of landowners, governments, and academics; Part I describes the problem-sea level rise and its projected acceleration. Part II details sea level rise physical and economic impacts. Part III discusses a range of adaptation responses to the problem, and
Part IV explores the sea level rise-adaptation strategies' potential legal challenges. This Article focuses on California, but the problems, solutions, and challenges pervade coastal communities everywhere.


Beyond Emissions: Migration, Prisons, And The Green New Deal, Wyatt Sassman, Danielle C. Jefferis Jan 2021

Beyond Emissions: Migration, Prisons, And The Green New Deal, Wyatt Sassman, Danielle C. Jefferis

Faculty Scholarship

The Green New Deal is a bold resolution that asks us to envision climate policy beyond emissions reductions and pollution controls. The proposal seeks to reduce environmental impacts, including by dramatically reducing carbon emissions, while supporting domestic manufacturing, unionized labor, sustainable agriculture, and social equity. The Biden Administration has expressed support for the Green New Deal as “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face,” and the proposal has influenced the Administration’s early actions to reduce carbon emissions. How can the Green New Deal’s framework guide climate policy beyond emissions reductions, and who should be a ...


Nature’S Personhood And Property’S Virtues, Laura Spitz, Eduardo M. Peñalver Jan 2021

Nature’S Personhood And Property’S Virtues, Laura Spitz, Eduardo M. Peñalver

Faculty Scholarship

This Article evaluates the strategy of claiming personhood for natural objects as a way to advance environmental goals in the United States. Using the Colorado River Ecosystem v. Colorado litigation as the focus, we explore the normative foundation of the claim—elements of nature are legal persons—and the work personhood is being asked to do by the plaintiff and other environmental activists. We identify three possibilities: procedural work, substantive work, and rhetorical work. Of those, we suggest the plaintiff’s strongest case is rhetorical. We say this not only because it will likely be difficult to convince a judge ...


Presidential Progress On Climate Change: Will The Courts Interfere With What Needs To Be Done To Save Our Planet?, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

Presidential Progress On Climate Change: Will The Courts Interfere With What Needs To Be Done To Save Our Planet?, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

The Biden Administration is undertaking numerous actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition away from fossil fuels as part of the fight against climate change. Many of these actions are likely to be challenged in court. This paper describes the various legal theories that are likely to be used in these challenges, assesses their prospects of success given the current composition of the Supreme Court, and suggests ways to minimize the risks.


Removing Carbon Dioxide Through Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement And Seaweed Cultivation: Legal Challenges And Opportunities, Romany M. Webb, Korey Silverman-Roati, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

Removing Carbon Dioxide Through Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement And Seaweed Cultivation: Legal Challenges And Opportunities, Romany M. Webb, Korey Silverman-Roati, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

This paper explores two ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies – ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation. Ocean alkalinity enhancement involves adding alkalinity to ocean waters, either by discharging alkaline rocks or through an electrochemical process, which increases ocean pH levels and thereby enables greater uptake of carbon dioxide, as well as reducing the adverse impacts of ocean acidification. Seaweed cultivation involves the growing of kelp and other macroalgae to store carbon in biomass, which can then either be used to replace more greenhouse gas-intensive products or sequestered.

This paper also examines the international and U.S. legal frameworks that apply to ...


Review Of 2020 Cases Under Seqra, Michael B. Gerrard, Edward Mctiernan Jan 2021

Review Of 2020 Cases Under Seqra, Michael B. Gerrard, Edward Mctiernan

Faculty Scholarship

The courts decided 47 cases under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in 2020. Of these, in the great majority – 31 – the courts upheld, or at least left alone, agencies’ decisions that a particular action did not require the preparation of a full environmental impact statement (EIS); in seven the courts rejected such decisions; and in eight the courts upheld EISs that had been prepared. (One case was unclassifiable.) The Court of Appeals issued no SEQRA decisions in 2020.


Environmental Enforceability, Seema Kakade Jan 2021

Environmental Enforceability, Seema Kakade

Faculty Scholarship

There are great expectations for a resurgence in federal environmental enforcement in a Biden-led federal government. Indeed, federal environmental enforcement suffered serious blows during the Trump Administration, particularly at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including large cuts in the budget for enforcement and reversals of key enforcement policies. Yet, while important to repair the damage, truly strengthening federal environmental enforcement will require more. This Article highlights the need for greater attention to the multiple hurdles that plague environmental enforcement. In doing so it makes three contributions to the literature. First, it asserts that even though environmental statutes, regulations, and guidance ...


The Legal Framework For Offshore Carbon Capture And Storage In Canada, Romany M. Webb, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

The Legal Framework For Offshore Carbon Capture And Storage In Canada, Romany M. Webb, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

Averting catastrophic climate change requires immediate action to prevent additional carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. However, even that may not be sufficient, with many scientists now warning that it will likely also be necessary to reduce the existing atmospheric carbon dioxide load. That could be achieved using negative emissions technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store or utilize it in some way. One promising technology is direct air capture (“DAC”) which uses liquid chemical solutions or solid sorbent filters to capture carbon dioxide from the air and concentrate it into a ...


Principles Of International Law And The Adoption Of A Market-Based Mechanism For Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Shipping, Hillary Aidun, Daniel J. Metzger, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

Principles Of International Law And The Adoption Of A Market-Based Mechanism For Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Shipping, Hillary Aidun, Daniel J. Metzger, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

Emissions from shipping are a significant driver of human-induced climate change. International action to date has not succeeded in setting those emissions on a sustainable trajectory. The International Maritime Organization has committed to implementing an effective, international approach to tackle international shipping’s contribution to climate change.

This paper considers international law principles, exploring whether and how these principles may provide a basis for the IMO to address those contributions. The polluter pays principle, which counsels that whoever produces pollution should cover the costs their pollution imposes on others, is a doctrine of international law that offers strong support for ...


Making America A Better Place For All: Sustainable Development Recommendations For The Biden Administration, John C. Dernbach, Scott E. Schang, Robert W. Adler, Karol Boudreaux, John Bouman, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Kimberly Brown, Mikhail Chester, Michael B. Gerrard, Stephen Herzenberg, Samuel Markolf, Corey Malone-Smolla, Jane Nelson, Uma Outka, Tony Pipa, Alexandra Phelan, Leroy Paddock, Jonathan D. Rosenbloom, William Snape, Anastasia Telesetsky, Gerald Torres, Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner, Audra Wilson Jan 2021

Making America A Better Place For All: Sustainable Development Recommendations For The Biden Administration, John C. Dernbach, Scott E. Schang, Robert W. Adler, Karol Boudreaux, John Bouman, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Kimberly Brown, Mikhail Chester, Michael B. Gerrard, Stephen Herzenberg, Samuel Markolf, Corey Malone-Smolla, Jane Nelson, Uma Outka, Tony Pipa, Alexandra Phelan, Leroy Paddock, Jonathan D. Rosenbloom, William Snape, Anastasia Telesetsky, Gerald Torres, Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner, Audra Wilson

Faculty Scholarship

In 2015, the United Nations Member States, including the United States, unanimously approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are nonbinding; each nation is to implement them based on its own priorities and circumstances. This Article argues that the SDGs are a critical normative framework the United States should use to improve human quality of life, freedom, and opportunity by integrating economic and social development with environmental protection. It collects the recommendations of 22 experts on steps that the Biden-Harris Administration should take now to advance each of the SDGs. It is part of ...


America's Zero Carbon Action Plan: Federal Legislative And Administrative Framework, John C. Dernbach, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

America's Zero Carbon Action Plan: Federal Legislative And Administrative Framework, John C. Dernbach, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

This chapter sets out proposed federal laws and policies for America's Zero Carbon Action Plan, a comprehensive report on how to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This chapter sets forth recommendations for all four pillars of deep decarbonization – electricity decarbonization, energy efficiency and conservation, electrification of transportation and buildings, and carbon capture. It is supplemented with recommendations for significant reductions in emissions of non-carbon dioxide pollutants, as well as for changes in foreign policy. Each set of recommendations is accompanied by an explanation of the underlying strategy for the proposed changes.


Legal Pathways To Biden's Climate Goals, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2021

Legal Pathways To Biden's Climate Goals, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

Achieving President Biden’s goal of net-zero green­house gas emissions by 2050, with interim targets of being halfway there by 2030 and having entirely clean electric­ity by 2035, is possible with law and technologies that already exist or can be readily imagined. In the process, many more jobs would be created than lost, and aspects of the environment beyond climate change would be greatly improved. But it is a massive undertaking.


Water Diplomacy And Shared Resources Along The United States-Mexico Border, Maria Elena Giner, Gabriel Eckstein Nov 2020

Water Diplomacy And Shared Resources Along The United States-Mexico Border, Maria Elena Giner, Gabriel Eckstein

Faculty Scholarship

The United States and Mexico are geographic neighbors with high economic asymmetry, but also a shared history and intense social, cultural, economic, and security relations. Over 15 million people reside along the U.S.-Mexico border and share an environment that includes many watersheds and air basins transcending political boundaries. Pollution impacts on both sides of the border have required a coordinated response at the local, state, and federal level.

At the federal level, a joint institution was created in in 1889 as the International Boundary Commission and later renamed the International Boundary and Water Commission to provide binational solutions ...


Remedial Payments In Agency Enforcement, Seema Kakade Jan 2020

Remedial Payments In Agency Enforcement, Seema Kakade

Faculty Scholarship

During the Obama Administration, the government settled many enforcement cases involving alleged violations of the nation’s federal statutes. The settlements have several requirements, including that the defendants pay money for beneficial projects to mitigate or offset harm directly or indirectly caused by defendant’s actions. For example, the government settled an environmental enforcement case against Volkswagen that included payments for environmental projects, and a mortgage enforcement case against Bank of America that included payments for housing education projects. These payments have spawned renewed criticism amongst conservative groups who have long claimed that payments for projects are mechanisms for agencies ...


Detecting Corporate Environmental Cheating, Seema Kakade, Matt Haber Jan 2020

Detecting Corporate Environmental Cheating, Seema Kakade, Matt Haber

Faculty Scholarship

As evidenced by the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, corporations cheat on environmental regulations. Such scandals have created a surge in the academic literature in a wide range of areas, including corporate law, administrative law, and deterrence theory. This article furthers that literature by focusing on one particular area of corporate cheating—the ability to learn of the cheating in the first place. Detecting corporate cheating requires significant information about corporate behavior, activity, and output. Indeed, most agencies have broad statutory authority to collect such information from corporations, through targeted records requests, and inspection. However, authority is different from ability. The ...


Reconciling Environmental Justice With Climate Change Mitigation: A Case Study Of Nc Swine Cafos, D. Lee Miller, Ryke Longest Jan 2020

Reconciling Environmental Justice With Climate Change Mitigation: A Case Study Of Nc Swine Cafos, D. Lee Miller, Ryke Longest

Faculty Scholarship

For thirty years, the swine industry has externalized severe environmental and health harms onto poor communities of color in Eastern North Carolina. This “Big Pig” problem is caused by the confinement, consolidation, and concentration of industrial hog operations within the low, flat, and economically marginalized Coastal Plain. Big Pig’s rise was not inevitable. As recently as 1982, more than 11,000 small swine farms freckled nearly all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Then came the “boom” of consolidation and industrialization that transformed hog production into a highly consolidated and vertically integrated industry.


Building A National Ocean Policy Confronts Deconstruction Of The Administrative State, Brion Blackwelder Jan 2020

Building A National Ocean Policy Confronts Deconstruction Of The Administrative State, Brion Blackwelder

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Greening The Old New Deal: Strengthening Rural Electric Cooperative Supports And Oversight To Combat Climate Change, Gabriel Pacyniak Jan 2020

Greening The Old New Deal: Strengthening Rural Electric Cooperative Supports And Oversight To Combat Climate Change, Gabriel Pacyniak

Faculty Scholarship

New Deal cooperatives succeeded in electrifying rural America when for-profit utilities would not. Today, however, rural electric cooperatives are lagging behind when it comes to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cooperatives have collectively been slower to embrace the shift to low-carbon electricity than for-profit and municipal utilities and have served as a drag on state and federal clean energy and climate policies. This is partially because of the structural differences between cooperatives and other utilities, but also because of a weak and under-determined federal and state regulatory structure. A few cooperatives in Colorado and New Mexico are seeking to ...


Remaking Environmental Justice, Clifford Villa Jan 2020

Remaking Environmental Justice, Clifford Villa

Faculty Scholarship

From movements for civil rights in the 1960s and environmental protection in the 1970s, the environmental justice movement emerged in the 1980s and 1990s to highlight the disparate impacts of pollution, principally upon people of color and low-income communities. Over time, the scope of environmental justice expanded to address concerns for other dimensions of diversity. New and continuing challenges tell us that we need to reframe our understanding of environmental justice to ensure better protection for people going forward. One way to reframe this understanding may be to apply the heuristic of vulnerability analysis as proposed by legal theorist Martha ...


Emergency Exemptions From Environmental Laws, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2020

Emergency Exemptions From Environmental Laws, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

The national response to the coronavirus crisis may face several impediments but federal and state environmental laws should not be among them. Most of these laws have emergency exemptions that allow the usual (and sometimes lengthy) procedures to be bypassed, and some substantive requirements to be waived, in instances of true urgency. However, there is concern that some agencies and corporations will use this as an excuse to bypass environmental laws that aren’t actually getting in the way of responses to the crisis.


Global Investor-Director Survey On Climate Risk Management, Kristin Bresnahan, Jens Frankenreiter, Sophie L'Helias, Brea Hinricks, Nina Hodzic, Julian Nyarko, Sneha Pandya, Eric L. Talley Jan 2020

Global Investor-Director Survey On Climate Risk Management, Kristin Bresnahan, Jens Frankenreiter, Sophie L'Helias, Brea Hinricks, Nina Hodzic, Julian Nyarko, Sneha Pandya, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Changes in the global climate are having profound impacts on business operations, governance, and organizational management around the world. Boards of directors are searching for ways to account for these changes as they help guide their organizations, and investors are increasingly concerned about how these changes might impact their portfolios. This global survey, conducted by a team of researchers at the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School and experts at LeaderXXchange, seeks to understand how – if at all – institutional investors and board directors incorporate climate-related issues in their investment decision making and ...


For Coöperation And The Abolition Of Capital, Or, How To Get Beyond Our Extractive Punitive Society And Achieve A Just Society, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2020

For Coöperation And The Abolition Of Capital, Or, How To Get Beyond Our Extractive Punitive Society And Achieve A Just Society, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In hindsight, the term "capitalism" was always a misnomer, coined paradoxically by its critics in the nineteenth century. The term misleadingly suggests that the existence of capital produces a unique economic system or that capital itself is governed by economic laws. But that's an illusion. In truth, we do not live today in a system in which capital dictates our economic circumstances. Instead, we live under the tyranny of what I would call "tournament dirigisme": a type of state-directed gladiator sport where our political leaders bestow spoils on the wealthy, privileged elite.

We need to displace this tournament dirigisme ...


Distributional Arguments, In Reverse, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2020

Distributional Arguments, In Reverse, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

What should the government do about the distribution of resources and outcomes in the society? Two arguments have shaped academic debates about this question for several decades. The first argument states that economic regulation should focus on efficiency alone, leaving distributional considerations for the tax-and-transfer system. The second argument objects to government assistance for people unintentionally harmed by legal reforms. Taken together, the two arguments impose major restrictions on the range of possible distributional policies.

This Article contends that a growing body of research in the economics of trade, immigration, industrial organization, labor, and environmental regulation reveals that the core ...


An Environmental Lawyer's Fraught Quest For Legal Tools To Hold Back The Seas, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2020

An Environmental Lawyer's Fraught Quest For Legal Tools To Hold Back The Seas, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

The law is the principal mechanism by which society resolves disputes and implements policies. For more than forty years, I have worked to use the law to address environmental problems, initially by trying to stop projects that would increase pollution and harm communities. But there are limits to what the courts can do without explicit direction from legislatures. Climate change is a prime example. Some have seen litigation as a silver bullet, but at least so far that has not been the case. Elections matter more than lawsuits. Until and unless elections bring to power a president, a Congress, and ...


The Role Of Lawyers In Decarbonizing Society, Michael B. Gerrard Jan 2020

The Role Of Lawyers In Decarbonizing Society, Michael B. Gerrard

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay concerns one current project to turn GHG reduction goals into actual laws that could achieve these goals. The project has four phases: (1) formulating the engineers’ recommendations; (2) identifying the existing laws that would help implement those recommendations, and the new laws that need to be written; (3) drafting the laws; and (4) attempting to persuade lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels to adopt them. This Essay discusses each phase in turn. As will be shown, we are well into the third phase and starting the fourth, and are in need of volunteer lawyers to help ...


Fun With Reverse Ejusdem Generis, Jay Wexler Oct 2019

Fun With Reverse Ejusdem Generis, Jay Wexler

Faculty Scholarship

In the canon of statutory construction canons, perhaps no canon is more canonical than the canon known as ejusdem generis. This canon, which translates as “of the same kind,” states that when a statute includes a list of terms and a catch-all phrase, the set of items covered by the catch-all phrase is limited to the same kind or type of items that are in the list. The canon of ejusdem generis has a long and storied history in the law, has been used by judges in countless cases, and has been the subject of a large body of scholarly ...


Let's Talk Protecting Endangered Species, Clifford J. Villa, Ty Bannerman, Will Cavin, Taylor Jones, Ari Biernoff Aug 2019

Let's Talk Protecting Endangered Species, Clifford J. Villa, Ty Bannerman, Will Cavin, Taylor Jones, Ari Biernoff

Faculty Scholarship

The Trump Administration recently changed Endangered Species Act regulations affecting how species are removed from endangered status and streamlining permits for the oil and gas and ranching industries. Environmentalists say the rules weaken protections. How could the new rules change industry and conservation in New Mexico?