Mark Patrick Nevitt
This Article offers a new way to think about climate change. Two new climate change assessments—the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment (“NCA”) and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Climate Change—prominently highlight climate change’s multifaceted national security risks. Indeed, not only is climate change an environmental problem, it also accelerates existing national security threats, acting as both a “threat accelerant” and “catalyst for conflict.” Further, climate change increases the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events while threatening nations’ territorial integrity and sovereignty through rising sea levels. It causes both internal displacement within nations and climate change refugees across national borders. Addressing this new climate– security nexus brings together two historically distinct areas of law: environmental law and national security law. As we properly conceptualize climate change as a security threat, environmental law and national security law, once considered separate and often in conflict, engage with each other in new and complex ways.
The first body of law, environmental and climate change law, largely values the protection and preservation of the human environment via a cooperative federalism model of environmental laws and policies. The second body of law, national security law, largely suspends environmental protections ex ante via myriad national security exemptions within existing environmental statutes. But in the climate–security context, what was once in conflict is increasingly aligned as we look to preserve our common future from all threats, properly defined. If climate change is, indeed, correctly conceptualized as a security issue, how do these two bodies of law interact? Should a future President be afforded national security deference in addressing the threats posed by climate change? Is climate change potentially a national emergency? And if so, what actions can (or should) be taken?
This Article first describes and analyzes climate change as a national security issue, providing an overview of our understanding of climate change, climate science, and climate change’s multifaceted security effects. Second, I analyze where environmental, climate change, and national security law increasingly intersect to include a discussion of relevant U.S. law. Finally, I use one specific example—whether climate change is a national emergency—as a vehicle to highlight how these two areas of law interact in new and surprising ways.
Cost has become a central issue of administrative law. Courts, policymakers, and scholars have weighed in on the extent to which agencies should consider cost when creating regulations. The foremost solution that has gained bipartisan support is a two-step process involving a purely science-based risk assessment stage followed by a cost-conscious risk management stage. Congress has found this approach so compelling that some statutes now mandate the process. This Article examines two such statutes—the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Endangered Species Act—and conducts the first forensic analysis of whether this two-step structure actually binds agencies. The investigation reveals that agencies likely “cheat,” and cost considerations contaminate their risk assessments. Consequently, agencies misrepresent risk to the public and undermine their own democratic accountability. The Article next looks to the reasons why an agency might cheat and proposes a triage “step zero” that allows agencies to prioritize risk assessments, conserving resources without deceiving the public.
In 2018, toxic algae spread from Lake Okeechobee through the State of Florida, leading to a state of emergency and costing the state over $17 million. Similar toxic algal blooms have become an annual occurrence throughout the country and highlighted the pervasive issues with the U.S. water supply. Inadequate and incomplete monitoring data means that state and federal managers, as well as the public, know shockingly little about water quality in most of the waters in the United States despite the fact that the Clean Water Act requires extensive water quality monitoring and assessment. Academics have widely discussed failings of the Clean Water Act, but the impacts of these failings are only beginning to show their true extent.
This Article presents an empirical study on the effects of scientific inconsistency on regulatory classifications in the Clean Water Act’s Total Maximum Daily Load program by looking at waters that span state boundaries, or transboundary waters. Transboundary waters are subject to the same federal legal regime, but two different states monitor and assess their water quality. When two states monitor the same transboundary water they should find water quality measurements that are roughly in agreement. This is not the case: Only 4% of transboundary waters nationally are regulated consistently on both sides of a state boundary, indicating a striking degree of scientific and regulatory inconsistency among states. This inconsistency undermines a key goal of the Clean Water Act: to encourage uniform state regulation of water bodies.
I place this finding in the landscape of proposed solutions to the Clean Water Act’s failings. I argue that solutions that focus on changing the cooperative federalism relationships at the Clean Water Act’s core ignore the scientific realities at the heart of the Act. Transboundary waters highlight that regulatory outcomes in the Clean Water Act are highly sensitive to small changes in scientific methodology. I explain how misconceptions of science when the Act was drafted led to this outcome and propose solutions to overcome these misconceptions.
Environmental disasters displace over one million people in the United States per year. Displaced persons are disproportionately from marginalized communities, including low-income communities and communities of color. Once displaced, members of these groups also tend to be displaced for longer periods of time, exposing them to human rights violations.
Federal disaster programs are not equipped to prevent or address disaster displacement in the era of climate change. Most federal disaster programs derive their authority from the 1988 Stafford Act, which was designed to react to rare and random events through discretionary, short-term assistance. Long-term recovery funds increasingly come from unpredictable congressional appropriations that lack permanent statutory authority, leading to excessive delays and administrative burdens. This framework results in ad hoc responses that exclude vulnerable communities from critical planning processes and prolong displacement.
This Note argues that federal disaster reforms must address the rights of internally displaced persons (“IDPs”) as enumerated under the international Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Part I proposes a definitional framework for climate change–related migration in the United States, and reviews key drivers of disaster displacement. Parts II and III provide an overview of the Guiding Principles and the federal disaster system, respectively. Parts V and VI then address two key rights under the Guiding Principles. Part V reviews IDPs’ right to freedom from discrimination, concluding that the Stafford Act’s broad discretionary function exception, combined with courts’ narrow interpretation of the Act’s nondiscrimination provision, effectively blocks access to legal redress for disaster programs that disparately impact protected groups. Part VI evaluates IDPs’ right to access protection and assistance that accounts for their specific needs, finding that federal funding structures under both the Stafford Act and the Housing and Community Development Act severely inhibit meaningful consultation with groups vulnerable to disaster displacement. Both Parts V and VI conclude with suggested reforms to facilitate the recognition and affirmation of these rights.
As oceans warm, fish around the globe are shifting to cooler waters. This will present significant challenges for global fisheries management, most of which is organized within set jurisdictional boundaries.
Climate-driven fishery shifts will challenge sustainable fisheries management at local, regional, and international levels. However, one of the most vexing problems will be cross-border shifts: when a fishery shifts from one country’s waters into another’s. Cross-border shifts will exacerbate international tensions and undermine environmental sustainability. They will also add new dimensions to the problem of climate justice. While regional patterns vary, global trends indicate that marine organisms are generally moving towards the poles. Therefore, these shifts are predicted to fall the hardest on developing nations in the tropics.
In theory, creative and flexible bilateral agreements could address cross-border shifts. However, negotiations may be impeded by a wide range of challenges, including bargaining inequity.
This Note argues that the problems posed by cross-border fishery shifts are analogous to those presented by international hazardous waste disposal in the 1980s. In both situations, there is a global trend that puts developing countries at a disadvantage. In both cases, this global trend may systematically undermine hundreds of discrete bilateral negotiations. Thus, this Note proposes a new international treaty modeled on the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes. This treaty would establish a procedural checklist for any countries that experience a cross-border fishery shift. Proactively setting the stage for negotiations can help countries develop creative and flexible bilateral agreements that are tailored to their unique situation.
Peter O. Daniels
In March 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) amended its Greater Sage-Grouse Plans across the American West, undoing a decade of science-based collaboration among federal agencies, states, environmental groups, and private landowners.The claimed intent of the 2019 amendments was to “improv[e] alignment with State management plans and strategies for Greater Sage-Grouse.”These amendments, however, would open significant portions of public land to oil and gas leasing, to the detriment of the already vulnerable Sage-Grouse.In October 2019, a federal district court judge in Idaho issued a preliminary injunction in Western Watersheds Project v. Schneider,preventing the BLM from implementing the plan amendmentson the grounds that they violated the National Environmental Policy Act(“NEPA”) and Administrative Procedure Act(“APA”).
Western Watersheds Project upholds rigorous, science-based collaboration against subsequent attacks and expands NEPA’s potential to block unmerited changes in federal policy. Part I of this Comment discusses the natural history of the Sage-Grouse, the conservation efforts at the core of this case, and recent attempts to list the Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act(“ESA”). Part II describes the procedural posture, reasoning, and holding of the district court in Western Watersheds Project. Part III explores indications in the opinion of expanded opportunities under NEPA for challengers of federal policy reversals. Part IV argues that just as courts defer to agencies on some technical issues, agencies should more firmly rely on policy outcomes of rigorous collaborative decision-making processes instead of supplanting those outcomes with their own unilateral determinations.
Michael Greenstone, Cass Sunstein, & Sam Ori
Motor vehicle fuel-economy standards have long been a cornerstone of U.S. policy to reduce fuel consumption in the light-duty vehicle fleet. In 2010 and 2012, these standards were significantly expanded in an effort to achieve steep reductions in oil demand and greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions through 2025. In 2018, following a review of the standards, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed instead to freeze the standards at 2020 levels, citing high program costs (and potential safety issues).
The current debate over the future of U.S. fuel economy standards provides an opportunity to consider whether the existing approach could be improved to achieve environmental and other goals at a lower cost. The current policy prescribes standards that focus on fuel economy alone, as opposed to lifetime consumption, and treats vehicle categories differentially, meaning that it imposes unnecessarily high costs and does not deliver guaranteed GHG savings.
On the basis of a commitment to cost-benefit analysis, which has defined U.S. regulatory policy for more than thirty years, we propose novel reforms with three main features: (1) the direct regulation of expected fuel consumption and GHG emissions without consideration of the type or size of the vehicle; (2) use of existing data to assign lifetime fuel consumption and GHG emissions to each model; and (3) creation of a robust cap-and-trade market for automakers to reduce compliance costs. We show that these reforms would reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions in transportation with greater certainty and do so at a far lower cost per ton of GHG emissions avoided. We also show that the the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation could implement such an approach within their existing statutory authority.
Richard L. Revesz & Burcin Unel
Advancing energy technology, increasing penetration of distributed energy resources, and climate change concerns are forcing a transformation of the electricity grid. And, this transformation is making the economic inefficiency of the current rate designs increasingly apparent. Today’s typical rate designs not only fail to provide efficient price signals for electricity consumption, leading to inefficiently high capital expenditures and air pollution, but also fail to incentivize distributed energy resources, such as solar panels and energy storage, in a socially beneficial manner. As a result, reforming rates to accurately reflect the underlying costs, including external costs related to the emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, is becoming an urgent endeavor.
In this Article, we first explain how current electricity rate designs hamper economic efficiency because they break the link between price signals and underlying costs, especially the costs related to environmental externalities. Based on an economic framework, we highlight how better rate designs would improve economic efficiency, provide accurate price signals for distributed energy resources, and advance the seemingly conflicting interests of the relevant stakeholders. We provide a historical context to show that for almost 140 years of electricity rate design discussions, economic efficiency principles have mostly been ignored; yet, problems that stem from inefficient rate designs have continued to be salient. We then argue that the electricity sector is at a critical juncture, and that a shift to a paradigm with a long-term vision that includes better, economically efficient rate designs is necessary if we want to realize the clean energy future that the modern grid promises us.
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 defendants’ 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 to get vulnerable defendant corporations to fund pet projects, outside of available agency statutory authority and the Congressional budget appropriations process. This Article examines payments for projects in agency settlements, using Clean Air Act enforcement as an example, and argues for additional clarity and transparency surrounding the purpose of such payments. The law most clearly allows for payments for projects in statutory enforcement cases when they serve a clear remedial purpose. Yet payments for projects have often tried to achieve multiple goals at the same time, including deterrence and compensation. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to see the remedial purpose of payments for projects, particularly in a settlement where the process of resolution is not as apparent as in litigation. A legislative solution could provide for obvious legal authority for payments for projects. However, in the absence of such a legislative fix, agencies should focus on better identification of harm earlier in the enforcement process, and better articulation of the connection between harm and projects in the settlement process. Payments for projects serve a key role in making the public whole from statutory violations. Clarity and transparency on the purpose of projects can help alleviate the concerns surrounding authority and appropriations, and ultimately strengthen the review of projects by courts.
In 1998, Douglas T. Kendall and Charles P. Lord warned of “a large and increasingly successful campaign by conservatives and libertarians to use the federal judiciary to achieve an anti-regulatory, anti-environmental agenda.” Their article presciently described a growing trend—what they termed “The Takings Project”—of ideologically motivated judges, developers, foundations, and non-profit “public interest” organizations intent on fighting the regulatory state through constitutionally protected development rights originating in the Takings Clause. In particular, Kendall and Lord observed a recent and dramatic shift in Just Compensation doctrine that began in the 1980s. This wave of litigation successfully began to “use the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment as a severe brake on federal and state regulation of business and property.”
This Note argues that the Takings Project has grown in strength and breadth since the turn of the century. The Project now pursues impact litigation on the Just Compensation Clause, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a variety of other bedrock environmental laws. This litigation threatens core government tools to protect the environment and public health. Part I analyzes a series of Just Compensation and Clean Water Act cases to show the growth of the Takings Project since Kendall and Lord’s article. These cases together reveal the mechanisms that the Takings Project uses to advance its anti-regulatory aims. Part II examines the ways the Takings Project successfully navigates the legal system. Part III assesses the progress and success of the Takings Project as a whole since Kendall and Lord’s article. Finally, Part IV proposes potential responses to the threat posed by the Takings Project.
Allison M. Kolberg
Albert C. Lin
The Trump Administration has taken numerous actions that appear hostile to scientists, scientific research, and scientific data, leading some observers to assert that a war on science is underway. A more precise characterization is that the Trump Administration is engaging in a war on regulatory science, as these actions take aim specifically at regulatory science—i.e., knowledge production and synthesis carried out by EPA and other government agencies in the course of developing government regulations. The Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and other laws may constrain some aspects of the war on regulatory science, provided that they are subject to judicial review. Internal administrative law and agency norms also can promote rule of law values, but their success depends largely on the good faith of executive branch actors and the willingness of Congress and the public to push back when norms of administrative legality are ignored. Absent such pushback, the Trump Administration’s war on regulatory science could lead to irrational policies and threaten democratic governance.
Shelley Welton & Joel Eisen
The rapid transition to clean energy is fraught with potential inequities. As clean energy policies ramp up in scale and ambition, they confront challenging new questions: Who should pay for the transition? Who should live next to the industrial-scale wind and solar farms these policies promote? Will the new “green” economy be a fairer one, with more widespread opportunity, than the fossil fuel economy it is replacing? Who gets to decide what kinds of resources power our decarbonized world? In this article, we frame these challenges as part of an emerging agenda of “clean energy justice.” Mapping this agenda highlights the equity challenges that will attend the transition to clean energy, and allows for more comprehensive, creative approaches to legal and policy solutions.
A cleaner energy economy does not ineluctably translate into a more just economy. We identify four considerations that will be critical to ensure that clean energy does not entrench widening inequalities in wealth and power: (1) how to fund the transition; (2) who benefits from the upsides of the new clean energy economy, including green jobs and new technologies like rooftop solar panels; (3) who participates in decisions about the shape of the new clean energy economy; and (4) how and where new clean energy infrastructure is sited. Drawing from available data, we describe why there are real risks that the gains of clean energy might be unequally distributed, while the costs fall on rural communities and non-adopters of new technologies, thus exacerbating inequality while greening the grid. And through original empirical research, we highlight the challenges of full and equal participation in the esoteric, technocratic procedures of energy law.
The present moment is a critical one for bringing these diverse considerations together into this overarching agenda. The U.S. energy system is in the early days of a long transition away from fossil fuels towards clean energy. It is time for energy lawmakers and energy law scholars to better anticipate the distributive and procedural justice concerns that will attend this transition, and to forge new ways to address them.
Valerie J. Watnick
The public land use planning process is broken. The land use plans of the principal multiple-use agencies—the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”)—are unnecessarily complex, take too long to complete, monopolize the time and resources of public land management agency staffs, and fail to engage the general public in any meaningful way. Moreover, the end result is too often a plan that is not sufficiently nimble to respond to changing conditions on the ground, a problem that appears to be accelerating due to climate change.
It might seem easy to chalk up these problems to the inherent complexity of public land management. But what if public land management were not so complicated? What if the relevant agencies could rethink their current planning models and break down their decisions into more accessible and more manageable chunks?
In this article, I suggest a new public land use planning framework with the potential to make planning more logical, more efficient, and more effective at achieving the goal of the smart management of our public lands that everyone wants. Moreover, this new approach can be carried out in a way that makes planning more accessible to interested members of the general public, thereby enhancing opportunities for meaningful engagement with public land decision-makers.
The ideas proposed here should not be viewed as final or inviolate. Rather, they are offered as an opening bid worthy of testing and debate. We cannot address the crisis facing the current land use planning program if we are unwilling to try new things. Perhaps the ideas presented in this article, even if tried, will be found wanting. But it is my hope and belief that we can and will learn much from rethinking the current public land use planning process.
As the preeminent authority on the science of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) plays a key role in international climate negotiations and sub-global climate policy. The shift in the international climate regime brought about by the Paris Agreement has created new challenges and new opportunities for the IPCC. However, many of the questions facing the IPCC today, both about the role of science in politics and about how the IPCC should balance its independence against its obligations to various stakeholders, have their roots in tensions as old as the organization itself. Through an examination of the interplay between science and politics in the early IPCC and an exploration of several case studies of IPCC Special Reports, this Note seeks to draw lessons from past experience. It argues for a broad understanding of the IPCC’s role that includes solution-oriented science, increased interplay between—though not blending of—science and politics, and continued interaction with stakeholders outside of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also highlights the value of timely reports and provides insight into how the timing of reports can influence negotiations. Finally, it seeks to apply the lessons learned from the IPCC’s history to help answer the question of how the IPCC should modify its assessment cycle and work products to align with the quinquennial Global Stocktake process required by the Paris Agreement.
John C. Ruple
On December 4, 2017, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation that “modified and reduced” the 1.7-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, carving the original monument into three smaller monuments. On the same day, President Trump “modified and reduced” the 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, also in Utah. The President’s actions, which reflect the two largest presidential reductions to a national monument that have ever been made, open lands excluded from the monuments to mineral exploration and development, reduce protection for resources within the replacement monuments, and diminish the role that Native American tribes play in management of Bears Ears. President Trump’s decision to drastically reduce the two monuments has spurred a vigorous and ongoing debate over the legality of his actions, centering on whether the Antiquities Act and congressional actions implicitly granted the President with authority to revisit and revise prior monument decisions.
This Article undertakes a survey of prior presidential reductions to determine whether, and to what extent, there exists a historical pattern of presidential action sufficient to support the congressional acquiescence argument. I find that the historical record does not support the argument that Congress generally acquiesced to reductions by proclamation. Most prior reductions were small in size, and many, if not most, likely did not rise to the attention of Congress. Congress repeatedly voted down bills to grant Presidents the authority to reduce monuments, and more than fifty years have passed since the last presidential reduction to a monument. During the intervening decades, Congress expressly constrained the executive branch’s discretionary power over public lands. Past reductions, moreover, can be classified either as minor boundary adjustments to early monuments that were designated on unsurveyed lands, revisions intended to improve resource protection rather than to accommodate commodity production, or as adjustments made under the President’s Article II war powers in relation to the two World Wars. President Trump’s reductions, which are the largest in history, check none of those boxes and therefore lack the historical precedent needed to support congressional acquiescence.
This Article identifies a disturbing trend: wildlife management agencies permitting landowners to shift threatened and endangered species from their native habitat on commercially valuable land to public land, land in foreign countries, and even captive breeding facilities. Surprisingly, this occurs under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act. Certainly, there are many instances of translocation that serve goals of species preservation. But, in practice, political pressures sometimes cause agencies to shift endangered wildlife populations from higher-value lands to lands with less commercial value. Analyzing the political economy of species translocation suggests that the continuous shift of wildlife to public and foreign land appears to be an almost inevitable outcome given the social, economic, ecological, and political context of the Endangered Species Act.
To illustrate this phenomenon, I present a detailed case study of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service paying Mexico to provide habitat for the endangered thick-billed parrot rather than re-establishing a population in the United States. This is not an isolated phenomenon; any one of the individual examples that I provide may seem relatively small. In aggregate, however, the long-term effects of shifting wildlife populations to make way for development or industrial activity may prove devastating. Moreover, translocations are a small part of the much broader trend of humans expropriating land from wildlife bit-by-bit, species-by-species. This reality, coupled with the current political climate, suggests that the Endangered Species Act, as applied, is insufficiently protective of wildlife habitat. I analyze the potential of an animal property rights regime—a new, habitat-preservation-focused solution to species preservation—as a new tool for stemming systemic habitat loss and related extinctions.
Peter Howard & Michael A. Livermore
The Article investigates sociopolitical feedbacks in the economy-climate system. These feedbacks occur when climate change affects the social or political processes that determine mitigation or adaptation levels, which in turn affect future climate damages. We discuss two possible feedbacks: an economic disruption pathway and a political disruption pathway. In both, climate damages earlier in time undermine mitigation and adaptation policies, which exacerbates future climate damages. Using data on participation in multilateral environmental agreements, we explore the political disruption pathway. Coupled with prior work demonstrating the potential for climate damages to exacerbate civil conflict, our empirical analysis indicates that climate-induced political disruptions may impede climate policymaking, increasing the threat of future damages. We estimate how feedbacks of this sort affect predictions of temperature change and damages in the Dynamic Integrated Climate Economy (DICE) model. We find that, especially if feedbacks affect participation in international emissions-reduction efforts, anticipated temperature change and damages are substantially higher than currently estimated. Finally, we discuss how policymakers can respond to the existence of these feedbacks, especially by facilitating the resilience of climate policies and governance to climate-related shocks
Daniel E. Walters
In environmental regulation as well as in other regulatory domains, a critical question is how outside interests shape the rulemaking agenda. A great deal of skepticism toward regulation stems from the widespread perception that agencies excessively, or even exclusively, cater to business interests. One answer to these concerns is administrative procedure, in particular rulemaking petitions, which are provided for in the Administrative Procedure Act and in many substantive environmental statutes. Although rulemaking petitions could in theory be used by business interests to strengthen their hold on regulatory agenda-setting, a growing number of scholars, highlighting the critical role a rulemaking petition played in the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision forcing EPA action on climate change, have pointed to the potential for rulemaking petitions to combat agency inaction and under-regulation. Despite these warring descriptions, we actually have very little generalizable understanding of how rulemaking petitions operate in practice and to whom the benefits of the institution flow.
In this Article, I take a close look at original data on all the rulemaking petitions submitted to three administrative agencies from 2000 to 2016, statistically tracing petitions’ fates from submission to resolution. I find that, although business interests may participate at a higher rate than public interest groups and individuals, there is little evidence of full-on regulatory capture via petitions. Even in a venue where it would be exceedingly easy to give business interests precisely what they want, agencies remain largely unmoved and evenhanded. The pattern that does emerge—an agency preference for using petitions to inform incremental revision and softening of existing regulations to reflect changed circumstances or new technologies—probably does inure mostly to the benefit of regulated entities, but it is difficult to square these findings with theories of excessive influence or capture of the regulatory process by business interests. At the same time, the findings pour cold water on the more sanguine account of petitions as a tool to advance environmental regulation. Despite the allure of such an account after Massachusetts v. EPA, the reality is that petitions are rarely transformative and will remain so unless significant changes are made to the institution.
Maria L. Banda
The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change has sought to inject renewed energy into the international climate regime. As a “bottom-up” treaty, however, it allows States to set their own emissions targets. Even before the U.S. withdrawal, States Parties’ commitments fell far short of what is required to achieve the treaty’s objectives. The low level of State ambition, coupled with the lack of an international enforcement mechanism, means that private initiatives—including through courts, investor actions, and voluntary business commitments—will be critical, especially in the U.S., if the climate regime is to deliver on its goals.
This Article seeks to contribute to both the theoretical and empirical literature on private climate governance and develop a richer understanding of bottom-up options for the implementation of the Paris Agreement where State leadership is weak or lacking. First, it develops an analytical framework to evaluate the effectiveness, or the mitigation potential, of private climate governance. Second, it provides a critical assessment of three promising forms of private climate governance: (a) disclosure of company emissions and climate risks; (b) voluntary commitments to reduce emissions; and (c) carbon labeling. The Article shows empirically that these private initiatives face a number of constraints that make them unlikely to generate significant mitigation action in the near term without regulatory backing. However, other bottom-up options, such as climate litigation, can play an important role in closing the ambition deficit by increasing government accountability and facilitating the de facto implementation of the Paris Agreement in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Can Congress pick and choose when it must follow the Constitution? One would expect not, and yet the Supreme Court has allowed it to do so. In multiple statutory programs, Congress has disclaimed constitutional property protections for valuable interests that otherwise serve as property. The result is billions of dollars’ worth of “disclaimed property” that can be bought, sold, mortgaged, or leased, but that can also be revoked at any moment without due process or just compensation.
Disclaimed property already represents a great source of value, and property disclaimers are at the core of major recent policies ranging from natural resource management to intellectual property governance. As legislatures continue with market-based regulations for environmental concerns or licensing arrangements for the sharing economy, the use of disclaimed property is poised to expand even further.
As a relatively recent phenomenon, property disclaimers have gone largely unconsidered by courts and scholars, but their increased importance now calls for closer study. Accordingly, this Article offers a practical and theoretical analysis of disclaimed property. It begins by examining property disclaimers arising in contexts that range from natural resources to intellectual property. It then synthesizes the judicial treatment of these interests and offers a model for valuing constitutional property protections. Building upon this background, it evaluates the constitutionality of property disclaimers as well as the policy justifications for such provisions. After a doctrinal and economic analysis, it ultimately concludes that while property disclaimers raise significant political process concerns, they may be constitutional nonetheless. However, the Article also concludes that property disclaimers are apt to be ineffective in their pursuit of legislative flexibility. Thus, this Article counsels that despite the current use and likely expansion of property disclaimers, they do not represent a beneficial or desirable policy tool.
The Property Clause of the Constitution grants Congress the “Power to Dispose” of federal land. Congress uses this Clause to justify permanent federal land ownership of approximately one-third of the land within the United States. Legal scholars, however, are divided as to whether the original understanding of the Clause supports this practice. While many scholars argue that the text and intent of the framers show that Congress has the power to permanently own land within the states, others contend that these sources demonstrate that Congress has a duty to dispose of all federal land not held pursuant to another enumerated power. This scholarly debate has become increasingly important in recent years as a popular movement for state ownership of federal land has reemerged in the West.
This Article argues that the debate over the history of the Property Clause should move beyond the Founding. The original meaning of the text, the intent of the framers, and the precedent of the early Supreme Court simply do not resolve the issue of whether Congress’s Duty to Dispose includes the power to permanently retain land within the states. This Article therefore provides the first detailed examination of how Congress’s Power to Dispose has been understood since the Founding. It concludes that, although Westerners have repeatedly challenged Congress’s power when federal land policy has restricted western development, dominant opinion has always supported a broad construction of Congress’s power. In fact, those who favor federal land ownership have long argued that giving land to individual states would violate a constitutional obligation for Congress to use the land for the common benefit. When constitutional history is properly applied to Congress’s Power to Dispose, it strongly supports federal land ownership
Ecofeminism, a concept that links environmentalism and feminism, can help decisionmakers better understand the distributional implications of many environmental policies. Effective environmental policies must account for distributional inequity because the more resourceful party will more likely degrade the environment, and because the less resourceful party will disproportionately experience the harms. A crucial element in assessing how environmental benefits and burdens are unequally distributed is gender. Women may experience environmental harms differently from and disproportionate to men, and environmental harms can easily roll back various feminist causes. This Note analyzes EPA regulations of mercury emissions as a case study. The case study demonstrates that such policies could have been more effective, just, and durable if they had more thoroughly accounted for how mercury emissions harm women. A sound, responsible distributional analysis requires identification of the background law, the stakeholders and their underlying interests, and a policy’s surplus value and its distribution. Ecofeminism can help in all three areas.
Jayni Foley Hein
Pursuant to several statutes, the Department of the Interior is tasked with managing the nation’s mineral resources under the principles of “multiple use” and “sustained yield” and must earn “fair market value” for the use of federal lands and their resources. In recent years, Interior’s coal, oil, and natural gas leasing programs have been criticized for failing to keep pace with developments in modern technology, shortchanging taxpayers, and failing to adequately account for climate change and other environmental effects. This Article suggests a rational path forward for federal fossil fuel leasing. Just as a private company would seek to maximize net revenue in its operations, Interior should seek to manage its program to provide maximum net benefits to the public. Yet distinct from a private actor, Interior is the steward of federal lands for current and future generations and must balance production with environmental preservation. This Article argues that Interior should account for all of the costs and benefits of leasing—including environmental and social costs—and adjust the fiscal terms of its fossil fuel leases to recoup unmitigated externality costs. In doing so, Interior can arrive at a social welfare-maximizing leasing program. The Article describes how a social welfare-maximizing framework is consistent with the best interpretation of Interior’s statutory mandates as confirmed by legislative history, judicial precedent, and principles of executive-level review in place since the Reagan Administration that instruct agencies to maximize the net benefits of their policy choices. The reforms suggested here can significantly increase revenue for states and the federal government while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, illustrating the utility of using fiscal reform as a policy lever in the absence of comprehensive climate change legislation.
Robert B. Keiter
The United States has made a remarkable commitment to nature conservation on the federal public lands. The country’s existing array of national parks, wilderness areas, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and other protective designations encompasses roughly 150 million acres, or nearly 40 percent of the “lower 48” federal estate. A robust land trust movement has protected another 56 million acres of privately owned lands. Advances in scientific knowledge reveal that these protected enclaves, standing alone, are insufficient to protect native ecosystems and at-risk wildlife from climate change impacts and unrelenting development pressures. Abetted by existing law, conservation policy is now focusing on the larger landscape to preserve biological diversity and to promote ecological resilience as principal management goals. This growing emphasis on landscape-scale conservation is evident in various protected area complexes that have arisen organically across the federal estate in places as diverse as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, California’s Mojave Desert, and Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
To fully capitalize on these ad hoc developments, this article makes the case for a new National Conservation Network Act to legitimize and expand upon these protected areas. It first reviews the origins and evolution of the nation’s protected land systems and related nature conservation strategies, and then identifies the scientific and legal developments underlying landscape-scale conservation strategies. Next, it highlights several emergent protected area complexes evident on the public lands, explaining their diverse origins and important conservation contributions. It concludes by proposing new legislation that would place a statutory umbrella over these protected complexes, mandate effective interagency coordination within them, enlist private lands as voluntary “affiliates” in these conservation efforts, and establish new wildlife corridor and restoration area designations. The proposed law would validate the current movement toward landscape conservation, and thus amplify the federal commitment to nature conservation to meet the challenges looming ahead.
Richard L. Revesz & Burcin Unel
Recent advances in technology and the consequent decline in manufacturing costs are making energy storage systems a central element of energy and climate change policy debates across the nation. Energy storage systems have the potential to provide many benefits such as lower electricity prices at peak demand times, deferred or avoided new capacity investments, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, both federal and state policymakers are enthusiastically encouraging more energy storage deployment with the belief that energy storage systems will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by making intermittent and variable renewable energy resources such as solar and wind more attractive.
This Article challenges the common assumption that increased energy storage will necessarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We first explore the conditions under which energy storage systems can cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions contrary to the intent of policymakers. As policymakers start to rely more heavily on energy storage systems to achieve clean energy goals, this insight is crucial to inform stakeholders in the energy and climate policy debates. Next, we show that the current regulatory and policy landscape falls short of providing sufficient incentives for a desirable level of deployment of energy storage or sufficient safeguards to ensure that more energy storage deployment is indeed environmentally beneficial and economically efficient. Last, we suggest policy reforms that can correct these inefficiencies and discuss the jurisdictional roles that state and federal regulators have in implementing these reforms
In the past two decades there has been a surge in legal scholarship on ecosystem services, more recently with an eye toward developing methods for economically valuing them. Ecosystem services supply us with clean air and water, protect us from floods, allow us to grow food, and so much more, so naturally they have great economic value. That value may be understood in terms of the benefits themselves (i.e. what they are worth to us) or in terms of replacement cost (such as the cost of building and operating a water treatment plant—a cost avoided in New York by restoring the Catskills watershed), but no matter how we value them, it has become increasingly clear that they have economic value. While these concepts have been navigated somewhat already, there has been very little discussion regarding how this newly identified economic value impacts property rights. If ecosystem services can be identified as a thing of value, who owns that thing? What is the impact of altering that thing in such a manner that those who previously benefitted from it no longer do? Can it be protected via traditional property principles? This Article will first explore these overarching theoretical questions by looking at the role ecosystem services might play (and in some cases have played) in several property law contexts: eminent domain, exactions, regulatory takings, nuisance, markets, and the public trust. What we see is that ecosystem services are definable as property, and that they may be protected as a property right. This inquiry also unearths a surprising and important problem: this property right has been placed in different hands in different contexts, resulting in a serious failure of security in these interests. For this reason, it is important that we allocate these rights in a consistent and reliable manner. This should be accomplished with an eye toward maximizing their social value.
Cass R. Sunstein
With respect to major issues in federal policy, what is the role of the executive branch? Of Congress? In the absence of action from the latter, how much can be done by the former? To the last question, the answer is “a great deal”—which means that in many domains, national policy is executive branch policy.
In 2009, the Obama Administration entered office in the midst of a serious economic recession. Nonetheless, one of its priorities was to address the problem of climate change. Without the benefit of new legislation, it cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically—using existing authorities to produce, with the aid of market forces, significant reductions in such emissions, which ultimately helped make an international agreement possible. This Article offers an account of some of the central domestic reforms, including the “endangerment finding”; the selection of a social cost of carbon; fuel economy regulations for motor vehicles; controls on new and existing power plants; and energy efficiency regulations. At various points, potentially challenging issues of law and policy are identified, and different imaginable paths are specified.
The various reforms show the extraordinary extent to which the executive branch, relying on longstanding regulatory authorities, can reorient national policy in an area in which the national legislature is blocked. To that extent, the climate change initiatives offer an illuminating case study in the contemporary operation of the system of separation of powers. There is a brief discussion of the extent to which the reforms are likely to prove enduring. Appendices offer an assortment of tables on relevant costs and benefits.
Elisabeth H. Carter
Gina McCarthy & Janet McCabe
Environmental law and energy law, two historically disparate fields, seem to be converging. Energy regulation has begun to seriously address environmental concerns for the first time, and environmental law is increasingly becoming a driver of energy policy. This Article describes the legal mechanisms through which greater congruence has been achieved, while acknowledging the still significant and stubborn barriers to true integration, which likely will be difficult to overcome. It shows that federal agencies have taken steps toward greater policy alignment by repurposing existing statutory provisions and relying on previously under-utilized legal authorities for the first time, in a carefully calibrated process of legal innovation. Yet it also shows this process to be meaningfully constrained by the agencies’ adherence to their own distinct missions, and by the constraints of their particular statutory authorities. The Article builds on the work of scholars who have lamented the divide between energy and environmental law, and urged that it be dismantled. Most of the accounts to date suggest that environmental rules and energy sector regulation, which are so obviously interrelated, inevitably will be drawn closer together. The analysis here looks more closely at the drivers of convergence to date, and presents a more nuanced picture of events. The trend toward greater policy alignment, while real, is limited. Energy and environmental regulators have not embraced convergence as an independent goal, but rather have achieved it incrementally and indirectly, as a consequence of pursuing their traditional missions during a time of change. These agencies have reacted to numerous external forces—technological innovation, market shifts, scientific developments, federal and state regulatory measures—which have prompted them to respond with their own initiatives. Yet they remain constrained by the bounds of their governing statutes and the confines of their long established regulatory roles. Tellingly, these agencies have tended to justify their policy innovations as necessary to fulfill their own traditional mandates, not to help other agencies realize theirs. The Article ultimately concludes that claims of convergence between the two fields should be tempered. However desirable greater policy congruence might be, it has not been mandated by Congress, explicitly commanded by the President, or centrally directed by anyone else. And it is not inevitable. The most that can be said is that convenient alignments may arise when the imperatives of these different regulators coincide. Thus, the story of “convergence” between energy and environmental goals is one of gradual steps rather than great leaps—of interestbased compatibility rather than love-struck merger.
Cite as: Jody Freeman, The Uncomfortable Convergence of Energy and Environmental Law, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 339 (2017).
Alexandra B. Klass & Jim Rossi
This Article explores the growing federalism tensions arising from efforts to expand the nation’s energy transportation infrastructure—the electric transmission lines, natural gas pipelines, natural gas import and export terminals, and related facilities that power the nation. It examines two controversial energy transport projects for the purpose of evaluating current barriers to more comprehensive energy infrastructure planning and implementation. The first project is the Plains & Eastern Clean Line—an interstate electric transmission line project designed to transport wind energy resources across several south-central states. The second project is the Constitution Pipeline—a natural gas pipeline designed to transport new natural gas resources from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to New York. The federal-state tensions associated with these projects highlight how a fixation on establishing clear jurisdictional lines between federal and state authority in energy infrastructure approval processes has failed to provide an adequate framework for addressing today’s energy needs. These projects also show that these federalism battles manifest themselves in similar ways regardless of whether the states are the primary decision-makers—as is the case with interstate electric transmission lines—or whether federal agencies are the primary decision-makers—as is the case with interstate natural gas pipelines. Drawing from these illustrations, we evaluate how reforms to the governmental approval processes for energy transport projects can result in more efficient decision-making that can lead to more rapid integration of diverse energy resources and implementation of new energy technologies. We conclude that federal regulators—historically much more attuned to federal and national energy needs in making project approval decisions—can benefit substantially from taking a more proactive approach towards state interests and concerns associated with multistate energy transport projects in cases where federal authority preempts state authority. Such reforms can in turn prompt state regulators to articulate state and local land use and environmental concerns in the early stages of the project review process, better ensuring that these impacts are more fully vetted and addressed prior to federal approvals. Moreover, a more proactive approach by regulators and project proposers can help to diffuse interest group behavior that tends to limit the ability of regulators to fully consider regional and national needs as well as environmental concerns in energy transportation approval, regardless of whether the primary decision-maker is a state or a federal agency.
Cite as: Alexandra B. Klass & Jim Rossi, Reconstituting the Federalism Battle in Energy Transportation, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 423 (2017).
Emily A. Benfer
Lead poisoning has plagued society for centuries, dating back to the Roman Empire. Children and adults exposed to the neurotoxin regularly experience an elevated risk for permanent brain damage, disability, and, at higher levels, death. Despite scientific evidence of the dangers of lead, the heavy metal was commonly used throughout civilization and quickly integrated into the American home in the form of paint containing up to 70% lead. At the same time, lead smelters and leaded gasoline left a toxic footprint across the United States. Today, over twenty-three million homes contain one or more lead hazards and thirty-eight million have lead-based paint that will eventually become a lead hazard if not closely monitored and maintained; the majority of those homes are located in impoverished and marginalized communities of color. Federal laws and policies have consistently failed to prevent lead poisoning in these areas, depriving low-income, minority children of equal opportunity and trapping generations in poverty. Federally subsidized housing programs are intended to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for low-income families. These homes are often clustered in areas with high rates of lead poisoning and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated in 2016 that 450,000 federally assisted housing units were built before 1978 and likely contain lead-based paint. Federal law governing these homes takes a “wait and see” approach that delays lead hazard inspections of a home until after a child is lead poisoned. Rather than requiring lead hazard risk assessments that could identify and control sources of lead poisoning before a child resides in the home, according to federal regulations, the child must develop lead poisoning at levels more than four times the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards before the government requires any intervention. This policy places millions of children annually at risk of permanent neurological damage. This Article describes how lead poisoning policies governing federally assisted housing perpetuate health inequities, increase socioeconomic and racial inequality among low-income and minority children, and thwart the promise of multiple civil rights laws and policies. It examines the legislative history of federal lead poisoning prevention laws, including compromises that resulted in ineffective laws as well as the civil rights laws violated by the lack of primary prevention. Finally, with the aim of identifying policies that abide by principles of health justice, this Article proposes urgent reform measures to end the lead poisoning epidemic.
Cite as: Emily A. Benfer, Contaminated Childhood: How the United States Failed to Prevent the Chronic Lead Poisoning of Low-Income Children and Communities of Color, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 493 (2017).
Under the extraterritoriality doctrine, a branch of the dormant Commerce Clause, state statutes that regulate behavior wholly outside of the regulating state’s borders will be invalidated. In today’s interconnected world, this doctrine is outdated. Many desirable state statutes have out-of-state effects, and per se application of extraterritoriality threatens to invalidate these statutes despite their net benefits. This is particularly true as applied to the electric grid, which is interconnected by nature. This Note joins the chorus of scholars and judges who have argued that extraterritoriality is outmoded and should be folded into the Pike balancing test. Under this balancing framework, statutes’ local benefits would be credited, but courts would remain free to strike down statutes that excessively burdened interstate commerce. This balancing framework is loyal to the Supreme Court’s early articulations of the concerns animating the extraterritoriality doctrine and would allow a path forward for innovative state solutions to climate change.
Cite as: Tessa Gellerson, Note, Extraterritoriality and the Electric Grid: North Dakota v. Heydinger, a Case Study for State Energy Regulation, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 563 (2017).
Cass R. Sunstein
When an agency fails to engage in quantitative cost-benefit analysis, has it acted arbitrarily and hence in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act? At first glance, the question answers itself: Congress sometimes requires that form of analysis, but if it has not done so, then agencies have discretion to proceed as they see fit. But as recent environmental and other decisions suggest, the underlying issues are far more complicated than they seem. The central reason is that for all its limitations, cost-benefit analysis remains the best available method for testing whether regulations increase social welfare. Whenever a statute authorizes an agency to consider costs and benefits, its failure to quantify them, and to weigh them against each other, requires a non-arbitrary justification. Potential justifications include the technical difficulty of quantifying costs and benefits; the relevance of values such as equity, dignity, and fair distribution; and the existence of welfare effects that are not captured by monetized costs and benefits. For the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and other regulatory agencies, these justifications will often be sufficient. But in some cases, they are not, and agencies, including EPA, should be found to have acted arbitrarily in failing to quantify costs and benefits and to show that the benefits justify the costs.
Cite as: Cass R. Sunstein, Cost-Benefit Analysis and Arbitrariness Review, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (2017).
Richard L. Revesz and Burcin Unel
As distributed energy generation is becoming increasingly common, the debate on how a utility’s customers should be compensated for the energy they sell back to the grid is intensifying. And net metering, the practice of compensating for such energy at the retail rate for electricity, is becoming the subject of intense political disagreement. Utilities argue that net metering fails to compensate them for grid construction and distribution costs and that it gives rise to regressive cost shifting among customers. Conversely, solar energy proponents argue that the compensation should be higher than the retail rate to account for other benefits that distributed generation systems provide, such as greenhouse gas emission reductions, improved air quality, and reduced utility spending on new capacity installations. This ongoing debate is leading to significant changes to net metering policies in many states. This Article provides a thorough analysis of benefits and costs of distributed generation. It also highlights the analytical flaws and missing elements in many of the competing positions and existing state policies. We propose an alternative approach that properly recognizes the respective contributions to the electric grid of utilities on the one hand and of distributed generators on the other. We show, however, that this policy is second-best as a result of certain constraints on how electricity can currently be priced. For the longer run, when these constraints might no longer be present, we discuss the need to consider net metering as part of a more comprehensive energy reform that would ensure the efficient integration of all types of distributed energy resources into the electricity grid. These reforms are needed to secure our Nation’s clean energy future.
Cite as: Richard L. Revesz & Burcin Unel, Managing the Future of the Electricity Grid: Distributed Generation and Net Metering, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 43 (2017).
Michael Burger & Jessica Wentz
Recently, legal controversies have arisen regarding the scope of greenhouse gas emissions that should be considered in environmental reviews of fossil fuel extraction and transportation proposals under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). The key question is whether and how agencies should account for emissions from activities that occur “downstream” from the proposed action, such as the combustion of fossil fuels, and emissions from activities that occur “upstream” of the proposed action, such as the extraction of fossil fuels. This question is important, because consideration of such emissions can alter the balance of costs and benefits for a proposed project and the agency’s ability to justify approving the project in light of that balance. This Article argues that such emissions do typically fall within the scope of indirect and cumulative impacts that must be evaluated under NEPA, and provides recommendations on how agencies should evaluate such emissions in environmental review documents. To support the argument and recommendations, the Article makes several unique contributions to the growing literature on NEPA and climate change. First, we describe how federal approvals of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure contribute to global climate change, and we explain why federal agencies have ample discretion to account for these impacts when deciding whether to issue such approvals. Second, we conduct an in-depth examination of NEPA’s requirements as they pertain to the analysis of downstream and upstream emissions, focusing in particular on the requirements to evaluate indirect effects, cumulative effects, and effects from related actions. Third, we describe how federal agencies currently account for downstream and upstream greenhouse gas emissions in their NEPA reviews, and we find that there are major inconsistencies in the analytical approaches both within and across agencies, but many agencies are nonetheless beginning to recognize that upstream and downstream emissions fall within the scope of impacts that should be reviewed under NEPA. Fourth, we synthesize all of the existing case law on this subject, and we find that courts have generally treated such emissions as the type of indirect effects that must be evaluated in a NEPA reviews. Finally, we outline an approach for evaluating upstream and downstream emissions that would improve the quality of federal decision-making, improve agencies’ chances in litigation, and provide muchneeded information about the indirect and cumulative effects of fossil fuel development on global climate change.
Cite as: Michael Burger & Jessica Wentz, Downstream and Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Proper Scope of NEPA Review, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 109 (2017).
This Article explores constitutional limits and regulatory openings for innovative state policies to mitigate climate change by promoting climate-friendly, renewable energy. In the absence of a comprehensive federal policy approach to climate change and clean energy, more and more states are stepping in to fill the policy void. Already, nearly thirty states have adopted renewable portfolio standards that create markets for solar, wind, and other clean electricity. To help populate these markets, a few pioneering states have recently started using feed-in tariffs that offer eligible generators above-market rates for their clean, renewable power. But renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, and other state climate policies have increasingly come under attack for alleged violations of the Constitution. How much latitude do states have when they experiment with innovative climate and clean energy policies? And which policy best protects states from the risk of lengthy and costly litigation over its constitutionality? To answer these crucial questions, this Article takes stock of recent litigation challenging the constitutionality of state renewable portfolio standards and feed-in tariffs. Qualitative analysis reveals markedly different constitutional risk profiles for both policies with portfolio standards more prone to Commerce Clause challenges and feed-in tariffs more likely to face Supremacy Clause challenges. These vulnerabilities have prompted widespread scholarly skepticism over both policies’ constitutional viability when implemented at the state level, often accompanied by calls for sweeping legislative or judicial reform. Pushing back against the prevailing scholarly skepticism, this Article draws on recent precedent to make the case for joint implementation of both policies as a way to reduce, rather than exacerbate, a state’s overall exposure to the risk of constitutional attacks on its climate and clean energy policy.
Cite as: Felix Mormann, Constitutional Challenges and Regulatory Opportunities for State Climate Policy Innovation, 41 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 189 (2017).
John C. Cruden and Matthew R. Oakes
On November 10, 2015, the D.C. Bar’s Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section held its annual Harold Leventhal Lecture. The address was given by John Cruden, U.S.
Department of Justice’s Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Cite as: John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney Gen. for the Env’t and Nat. Res. Div., U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Harold Leventhal Lecture Before the Admin. Law and Agency Practice Section of the D.C. Bar, in John C. Cruden and Matthew R. Oakes, The Enduring Nature of the Chevron Doctrine, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 189 (2016).
The United States manages natural resources held in the public trust for the collective
benefit of all citizens. When human action injures certain natural resources, the government has statutory authority to pursue monetary damages, which are used to restore the resources to their pre-injury condition. As the only statutory tort remedy in environmental law, natural resource damages provide a valuable opportunity to consider the efficiency of a tort regime as a tool for addressing environmental problems. Moreover, administration of the remedy provides insights into interagency dynamics and valuation of natural resources without a market value. At present, these important inquiries are sharply limited by a lack of comprehensive information about the remedy. Commentators routinely underestimate the frequency and size of claims by failing to account for settlement, which resolves over ninety-five percent of natural resource damages matters, and lesser-known applications of the remedy. This Article begins to fill the void of information surrounding natural resource damages settlements by presenting a novel empirical overview of all settlements by federal trustees between 1989 and 2015, constructed from data gathered by Freedom of Information Act requests to each relevant agency.
Cite as: Karen Bradshaw, Settling for Natural Resource Damages, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 211 (2016).
Amelia I.P. Frenkel
During the past 100 years, water rights have been equitably apportioned among states by
the Supreme Court and, increasingly, divvied up by interstate water compacts. But when water flows across state lines individual upstream users may nonetheless draw on waters allocated to downstream users on the other side of the border, satisfying their needs out of the lower state’s water allocation. The Supreme Court—most recently in its decision in Kansas v. Nebraska—has embraced monetary remedies as a means to deter upstream users from seizing more water than the states’ compacts allow. Such deterrence comes at a cost, however: Even when an upstream state is able to use water more efficiently than its downstream neighbor, it is penalized for doing so; furthermore, any recovery in such an action goes to the state, rather than to the individuals who suffered losses as a result of the water shortage. This paper proposes a new framework for resolving interstate water disputes: by applying the law of eminent domain to interstate water takings, the Court could promote more efficient interstate water use during a time of widespread drought, while vindicating the usufructory rights of downstream states’ citizens.
Cite as: Amelia I.P. Frenkel, Interstate Water Rights: Take No Drop for Granted, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 254 (2016).
Hannah J. Wiseman
The question of which level of government—local, state, or federal—is best suited to regulate a particular activity or risk is both important and, often, contentious. Judges, legislatures, and scholars frequently debate, for example, who should regulate education policy or the impacts of booming oil and gas development. The values cited for choosing a particular level of governmental control vary dramatically. Supporters of preemption point to the need for uniform regulation and the risk of races to the bottom, while opponents raise the need for government accountability to local voters and the benefits of state and local experimentation. In weighing these competing values, those on all sides of the debate too often treat preemption as an all-or-nothing, binary proposition—nearly total local, state, or federal control, or nearly none. As argued here, this approach is unfortunate because it obscures what should be obvious: in many cases, some aspects of a particular activity are best regulated at the local or state level even if most of them are best regulated by the federal government (and vice versa).
Cite as: Hannah J. Wiseman, Disaggregating Preemption in Energy Law, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 293 (2016).
Section 110(a)(2)(E)(i) of the Clean Air Act requires that each state submit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) “necessary assurances that the State . . . will have adequate personnel [and] funding . . . to carry out” the state’s implementation plan to improve the state’s air quality. Though this provision has been a part of the Clean Air Act since 1970, it has garnered little academic attention and has largely been ignored by states and by EPA. This Note presents legal and policy arguments for a revival of the section 110(a)(2)(E)(i) requirement through a more rigorous approval process for newly submitted state implementation plans and a more robust enforcement regime for states that fail to adequately fund their clean air programs.
Cite as: Jessica Ranucci, Reviving the Clean Air Act’s Requirement that States Adequately Fund and Staff Clean Air Programs, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 352 (2016).
The Clean Air Act depends on the cooperation of several actors. The state and federal governments work together to set and enforce emissions standards. The Act strikes this balance by charging the Environmental Protection Agency with setting a national floor for ambient air quality while allowing states to set higher standards. The Act also enlists the help of the local citizenry. Through the citizen suit clause, private individuals can enforce emissions standards and seek “any other relief” from courts. In Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., the Sixth Circuit considered the respective roles of federal, state, and private actors, concluding that state common law tort claims do not interfere with the purpose of the CAA, and thus are not preempted. However, courts should be hesitant to follow the Sixth Circuit’s wholesale allowance of common law remedies. While state common law claims yielding compensatory or punitive damages may not directly conflict with the text of the CAA, “the purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone in every pre-emption case.” The legislative history of the CAA demonstrates that the savings clauses were not meant to allow courts to unilaterally set new emissions standards using the common law. A close analysis of that history, considered alongside the decisions of the Third and Fourth Circuits and the Supreme Court of Iowa, reveals that the Sixth Circuit has set itself apart by being the sole court to allow injunctive relief that creates a new emissions standard.
Cite as: Nate Bishop, Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 385 (2016).
Federico Cheever and Jessica Owley
Land conservation transactions have been the most active component of the conservation movement in the United States for the past three decades. Conservation organizations have acquired property rights—mostly conservation easements—to protect roughly 40 million acres of land nationwide. However, climate change threatens this vast edifice. Climate change means that the resources that land conservation transactions were intended to protect may not persist on the land protected. Options to purchase conservation easements (“OPCEs”) have long played a modest but important role in conservation law practice. In the world climate change is creating, with its substantial uncertainties and shifting windows of opportunity, OPCEs can serve more complicated and strategic purposes. This potential would be significantly increased if state legislatures amended current conservation easement enabling statutes to: (1) specifically recognize OPCEs, (2) immunize OPCEs from a range of potential common law challenges, and (3) integrate OPCEs into the burgeoning body of conservation easement law. These statutory amendments would do for OPCEs what conservation easement statutes have done for conservation easements: transform them into an essential multi-purpose tool for conservation in a changing world.
Cite as: Federico Cheever & Jessica Owley, Enhancing Conservation Options: An Argument for Statutory Recognition of Options to Purchase Conservation Easements (OPCEs), 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (2016).
James W. Coleman
When companies face adverse proposed rules, they may want to convince regulators that the proposed rules are unworkable and should be changed while, at the same time, reassuring investors that the rules will be manageable. These conflicting incentives may lead to inconsistent messages in regulatory comments and securities disclosures, fueling a perception that corporate submissions to regulators are “cheap talk.” Despite this perception, there has been no empirical study comparing statements to these two audiences. This project performs such a study, taking the example of comments submitted on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard. This standard provides an ideal case study because controversial annual rulemakings have created a rich dataset of company comments that can be compared to contemporaneous securities disclosures from the same companies.
The empirical study demonstrates that oil companies do send inconsistent messages to their two audiences—warning regulators and reassuring investors. The Article suggests that regulators should use this approach to assess the sincerity of industry warnings about the cost of regulation. Private and public enforcers of securities disclosure laws should also use this approach to identify companies that are hiding regulatory risks. Finally, now that a company’s comments can be compared with its securities disclosures, corporate counsel should align company statements to avoid securities litigation and enhance the company’s credibility in each forum.
Cite as: James W. Coleman, How Cheap Is Corporate Talk? Comparing Companies’ Comments on Regulations with Their Securities Disclosures, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 47 (2016).
Daniel A. Farber
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Michigan v. EPA is only one of a long line of cases struggling with the same problem: when can—or must—a decision-maker consider costs?Agencies face the problem in rulemaking; courts face it in statutory injunctions. The law has developed independently in these two contexts, and cases are marked by heated judicial disagreement. Yet a deeper analysis reveals that, to a surprising extent, the same principles govern the legal relevance of costs in both areas. The areas differ, however, in terms of how to consider legally relevant costs: courts must use a balancing test for injunctions (eBay) while agencies have other choices (Michigan v. EPA). This difference should be resolved in favor of using the Michigan v. EPA approach in both settings.
Cite as: Daniel A. Farber, Taking Costs into Account: Mapping the Boundaries of Judicial and Agency Discretion, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 87 (2016).
Timothy M. Mulvaney
Exactions—a term used to describe certain conditions that are attached to land-use permits issued at the government’s discretion—ostensibly oblige property owners to internalize the costs of the expected infrastructural, environmental, and social harms resulting from development. This Article explores how proponents of progressive conceptions of property might respond to the open question of whether legislative exactions should be subject to the same level of judicial scrutiny to which administrative exactions are subject in constitutional takings cases. It identifies several first-order reasons to support the idea of immunizing legislative exactions from heightened takings scrutiny. However, the Article suggests that distinguishing between legislative and administrative measures in this context could produce several second-order consequences that actually undercut the goals of progressive property theory.
Cite as: Timothy M. Mulvaney, Legislative Exactions and Progressive Property, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 138 (2016).
Robin Alexander Smith
When reviewing the meaning of a regulation, courts generally give an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations “controlling weight unless it is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.” Though uncontroversial for decades, this grant of deference—known as Seminole Rock or Auer deference—has been subject to increasing judicial critique. The primary concern with Seminole Rock is that, because an agency can promulgate vague rules and later authoritatively interpret them, the agency can impose binding law without either the ex ante hurdles of notice and comment or the ex post check of independent judicial review. In an effort to mitigate this risk, the D.C. Circuit established in Paralyzed Veterans of America v. D.C. Arena L.P. that if an agency wanted to significantly revise its prior interpretation of its own regulations, it must issue the interpretation via a notice-and-comment rulemaking rather than as a mere interpretive rule.
Last term, in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned Paralyzed Veterans. Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas each filed separate opinions that, though concurring in the Court’s judgment, praised the D.C. Circuit’s efforts as an “understandable” or “practically sound” solution to a set of perceived problems in federal administrative law. In their view, granting deference to agencies’ interpretations of their own regulations violates the motivating principles of the APA, enables the promulgation of regulations without judicial oversight, and raises separation-of-powers concerns. Rather than resolving these concerns by imposing procedural hurdles like the “one-bite rule” of Paralyzed Veterans, the Mortgage Bankers concurrences argue that they should be eliminated at the source—Seminole Rock.
But Seminole Rock need not, and should not, be overturned. First, the risk of agency self-aggrandizement expressed in the Mortgage Bankers concurrences is overblown. Even assuming that an unconditioned grant of controlling deference would permit agencies to bind the public without judicial oversight, critics of Seminole Rock fail to take into account the myriad ways that courts already address this problem. Second, the alternatives to Seminole Rock—de novo review and Skidmore “deference”—would splinter the implementation of comprehensive federal legislation and expose regulated parties to significant uncertainty.
Cite as: Robin Alexander Smith, Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association and the Future of Seminole Rock, 40 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 173 (2016).
Travis O. Brandon
Recent empirical studies have shown that public participation is an essential part of the listing process of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) because it provides the wildlife agencies with valuable scientific information regarding candidate species and forces agencies to make politically unpopular decisions to protect species standing in the way of development interests. However, the crucial agency-forcing mechanism of public participation is lacking in the interagency consultation process in section 7 of the ESA, one of the most important provisions by which the ESA’s protections for listed species are enforced. This Article explains how the absence of public input through a notice-and-comment procedure in the section 7 consultation process creates a chain of structural asymmetries that predictably skew section 7 decisions in favor of regulated parties and against environmental interests. Because of these structural asymmetries, section 7 is the only provision of the ESA where the “availability” of the “best available science” is an essential evidentiary issue. Examining several recent significant section 7 cases, this Article shows that courts have failed to grapple with the structural differences between section 7 and other parts of the ESA, leading to an inconsistent and improper application of the “best available science” standard in section 7. This Article argues that in order to address the structural asymmetries in the section 7 process, courts should be less deferential toward agency scientific analysis in section 7 decisions, and should be more willing to admit extra-record scientific evidence to challenge the adequacy of agency scientific decisions. Finally, the Article argues in favor of introducing a notice-and-comment procedure in a subset of significant section 7 decisions.
Cite as: Travis O. Brandon, Fearful Asymmetry: How the Absence of Public Participation in Section 7 of the ESA Can Make the “Best Available Science” Unavailable for Judicial Review, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 311 (2015).
U.S. administrative agencies now routinely base domestic regulatory decisions upon the expected global impacts of carbon dioxide emissions. This is a startling divergence from traditional regulatory practice, which had been to entirely exclude foreign impacts from domestic regulatory analysis. Even more strikingly, this significant shift in valuation practice has occurred with virtually no legal analysis as to when or whether agencies have the statutory authority to consider foreign impacts. As a result, a number of recent rules proposed on the basis of a globally scoped Social Cost of Carbon (“SCC”) are now vulnerable to legal challenge. To insulate future rules against such challenges, agencies should adopt the globally scoped SCC only where they have performed individualized, statute-specific analyses of their own authority to incorporate foreign impacts into their decisions.
Cite as: Arden Rowell, Foreign Impacts and Climate Change, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 371 (2015).
Jeffrey M. Schmitt
The dormant Commerce Clause’s extraterritoriality doctrine has long baffled courts and legal scholars. Rather than attempt to make sense of the doctrine, most scholars have instead argued that it should be abandoned as unnecessary and unworkable. Such scholarship, however, is of little use to the lower courts struggling with extraterritoriality issues. The federal courts in California, for example, have recently been forced to rule on challenges to California’s landmark carbon emissions and animal welfare legislation. Plaintiffs in these cases argue that California is regulating extraterritorially by telling ethanol producers and farmers in other states how to run their businesses. In these cases, the litigants and federal courts have struggled to formulate a coherent account of the doctrine, thus throwing California’s progressive legislation into doubt.
This Article proposes a new test based on existing lower court precedent to clarify the extraterritoriality doctrine. Under this proposal, a state’s regulation of in-state conduct would violate the extraterritoriality principle only when it: (1) inescapably has the practical effect of regulating conduct beyond the state’s borders; and (2) such regulated extraterritorial conduct lacks a corresponding in-state interest. Not only is this test supported by existing precedent, but it would also best serve the policy justification for the extraterritoriality doctrine by properly allocating state power in our federal system. Applying this proposed test to California’s legislation would provide a clear and coherent way to uphold California’s attempt to reduce the carbon emissions caused by Californians and to eliminate California’s role in cruelty to farm animals.
Cite as: Jeffrey M. Schmitt, Making Sense of Extraterritoriality: Why California’s Progressive Global Warming and Animal Welfare Legislation Does Not Violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 423 (2015).
This Article examines the reasons that “non-transmission alternatives”—including energy efficiency, energy storage, demand response, and distributed generation—have played a very limited role in meeting electricity grid constraints, despite their great potential. It argues that the predominant reasons for this failure lie in structural flaws in transmission planning in the United States, caused in part by questions over how far the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) extends when it comes to these “non-transmission” resources. FERC has declared achieving “comparable consideration” for non-transmission alternatives to be an Agency goal, but has limited the extent of its reforms to opening up the planning process to stakeholders. It has enacted these limited participatory reforms knowing that transmission planning is carried out by entities with expertise biases and financial incentives to build transmission, such that stakeholder participation is an unlikely remedy for the problem. This Article illustrates why participatory reforms alone are likely to fail non-transmission alternatives, and then explores the jurisdictional limitations holding FERC back from creating transmission planning processes that fully and fairly incorporate non-transmission alternatives. In addition to suggesting ways that FERC can improve planning processes within its jurisdiction, this Article argues that the Commission does a disservice to the regulatory dialogue that occurs among Congress, the Agency, states, and stakeholders when it claims to have accomplished an objective that its reforms will do little to achieve in practice. It closes by suggesting that FERC might be more honest about the shortcomings of its reforms in order to inform inter-branch and state-federal conversations about options for progress on non-transmission alternatives.
Cite as: Shelley Welton, Non-Transmission Alternatives, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 457 (2015).
David A. Wirth
The perception of the United States as a laggard or malingerer on climate change is widespread. The current reality, however, is largely underappreciated and considerably more nuanced, both in terms of the substance of U.S. domestic action and its engagement with international processes. Unusual if not unique attributes of the United States’ domestic political, legal, and constitutional structure have come together on the climate issue in a revealing manner—one that thrusts into sharp relief the United States’ difficulties in managing foreign affairs while maintaining the domestic rule of law on heavily regulatory issues such as the environment.
This Article asserts that neither Senate advice and consent nor new congressional legislation are necessarily conditions precedent to the United States becoming a party to an agreement containing binding emission-reduction (mitigation) commitments adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris in December 2015. Depending on the form of such an agreement, which is presently under negotiation, portions of the President’s Climate Action Plan could provide sufficient domestic legal authority for the conclusion of all or part of such a binding international instrument as an executive agreement, as well as for its domestic implementation, overcoming the legal necessity for interaction with Congress either before or after its conclusion.
In making this argument, the Article disaggregates U.S. international and domestic climate policy as it has developed to the present from a structural point of view. Among the subjects analyzed are (1) the extent of the Executive’s powers in foreign relations on climate and related issues; (2) the strengths and limitations of existing federal legislation as domestic legal authority for an international agreement; (3) options available under existing legislation, both those that have already been put in place and those in the process of implementation; (4) the extent, if any, of the need for additional legislation, and the international and domestic implications of the absence of additional legislative authority; and (5) the role of the courts.
Cite as: David A. Wirth, The International and Domestic Law of Climate Change: A Binding International Agreement Without the Senate or Congress?, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 515 (2015).
In CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, several North Carolina landowners brought a state-law nuisance action against electronics manufacturer CTS Corporation (“CTS”) in federal court, alleging damages resulting from well-water contamination caused by CTS’s storage of trichloroethylene and other chemicals on a property that CTS had sold nearly twenty-four years earlier. North Carolina’s statute of repose barred suits brought more than ten years after a defendant’s last culpable act. Unlike a statute of limitations, which requires that plaintiffs bring claims within a certain period of time after the plaintiffs’ exposure to or discovery of harm (subject to equitable tolling), a statute of repose presents an absolute bar to suit after a specified time from a defendant’s last act. Here, because CTS’s last act was the sale of the property, the district court dismissed the landowners’ complaint. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that § 9658 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), which preempts the commencement dates for state statutes of limitations, also preempts state statutes of repose.6 In a 7–2 opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court rejected the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning.7 Relying on the text, structure, and legislative history of § 9658, the Court held that CERCLA unambiguously preempted only statutes of limitations, and not statutes of repose. Justice Kennedy, who wrote only for a plurality on this point, further contended that the presumption against preemption also supported this narrow reading. This Comment analyzes the Court’s decision and argues that the decision will have limited practical effect and that industry’s potential constitutional concerns were exaggerated. Part I surveys CERCLA’s legislative history and distinguishes statutes of limitations from statutes of repose. Part II discusses the Fourth Circuit and Supreme Court Waldburger decisions. Part III evaluates the practical implications of the Supreme Court’s decision and potential constitutional ramifications implicit in the Court’s holding.
Cite as: Michael Barclay, CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 567 (2015).
In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Supreme Court largely upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration program for new or modified major stationary sources of air pollution. Although the Court rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s claim that it was statutorily compelled to consider a source’s greenhouse gas emissions as triggering the Prevention of Significant Deterioration program’s permitting requirements, it held that sources already subject to the program based on their emissions of other pollutants could then be required to apply Prevention of Significant Deterioration pollution-control technology to their greenhouse gas emissions as well. In this Symposium, eight authors explore the Court’s decision and consider its implications for the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Cite as: Cecilia Segal, Climate Regulation Under the Clean Air Act in the Wake of Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA: Introduction, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (2015).
When the Supreme Court decided Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”) in June of 2014, it was both a victory and a loss for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). The Court largely upheld EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act’s (“CAA”) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) program. The government and environmental groups aggressively spun the decision as a near-total vindication of the Agency’s strategy to implement the CAA to control GHGs, playing down the one legal issue on which the Agency had lost: whether GHG emissions alone could trigger the permitting requirements of the program. This mattered little, Agency supporters said, since the largest emitters would be triggered into the program because of their emissions of conventional pollutants, at which point their GHGs would need to meet control requirements anyway. As the story goes, EPA won what it needed to win to address GHGs under this permitting program, and lost on an issue that, secretly, many in the Agency wanted to lose. The media bought the spin. The result could not have been better.
My reaction to the case was different. While the short-term outcome was favorable to EPA, UARG struck me as a decision laced with the legal equivalent of improvised explosive devices.
Cite as: Jody Freeman, Why I Worry About UARG, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 9 (2015).
Ann E. Carlson & Megan M. Herzog
The 2013 Term of the U.S. Supreme Court was obviously significant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). EPA achieved a complete victory in one case, EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. (“EME Homer”), and partial victory in another, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”). In EME Homer, the Court upheld EPA’s reading of the Clean Air Act’s (“CAA”) Good Neighbor Provision to allow for an innovative interstate emission-reduction program. In UARG, although the Court invalidated EPA’s interpretation applying two CAA permitting programs to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, it nonetheless upheld the majority of EPA’s permitting scheme. UARG thus was, for all practical purposes, a substantive win for EPA. Yet the legality of EPA’s most ambitious rulemaking to date, the proposed Clean Power Plan for regulation of existing power-plant GHG emissions under CAA section 111(d), remains uncertain, and judicial review is inevitable.
Read together, the cases provide somewhat contradictory guidance about the application of Chevron to EPA’s CAA interpretations. Yet we believe that EME Homer and UARG share an important lesson: in reviewing an agency’s interpretation of statutory language, context matters significantly in deciding what a text allows. One could, indeed, go even further. Context matters even when the statutory text arguably points in another direction. This lesson, we suggest, will be extremely important as courts consider whether the Clean Power Plan is a permissible implementation of section 111(d).
Cite as: Ann E. Carlson & Megan M. Herzog, Text in Context: The Fate of Emergent Climate Regulation After UARG and EME Homer, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 23 (2015).
Richard J. Lazarus
By the time the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”), on June 23, 2014, the conventional wisdom about the most likely outcome was well settled. The Court would issue a split decision. It was also conventional wisdom that even such a “split” ruling would constitute a major win for EPA.
The Court issued just the “split” decision that Court watchers anticipated. And the Court did not question that EPA possesses authority to regulate GHG emissions under section 111. But then the Court’s opinion departed sharply from the expected script, and with very different longer-term implications than those forecasted and more in keeping with industry’s wish list. The celebratory language of Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court endorsed a sweeping view of EPA authority and indeed responsibility to address “the most pressing environmental challenge of our lifetime,” was replaced in UARG by some skepticism of future Agency efforts to use its authority in innovative ways, including some of the very ways that the Agency is currently contemplating under section 111.
The end result was a Court opinion that is significant in several unanticipated ways. First, it underscores the importance of which Justice receives the assignment to draft the “opinion of the Court” in any given case. Second, it suggests the emergence in recent years of a far more strategic Justice Scalia than before—willing to hedge his views in order to secure opinion assignments and thereby, as in UARG, promote policy outcomes he favors. Finally, the UARG opinion decreases the precedential force of Massachusetts v. EPA and will require EPA to marshal new arguments and invoke other precedent to sustain the Agency’s most ambitious plans to use the Clean Air Act to control GHG emissions.
Cite as: Richard J. Lazarus, The Opinion Assignment Power, Justice Scalia’s Un-Becoming, and UARG’s Unanticipated Cloud over the Clean Air Act, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 37 (2015).
Craig N. Oren
In his opinion for the Court in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”), Justice Antonin Scalia remarks that the Clean Air Act is not a “chef d’oeuvre” of statutory drafting. He is correct, as even the most casual reader of the Act will agree.
But the same may be said of Justice Scalia’s opinion as an example of statutory interpretation. The decision mischaracterizes the lower court opinion and includes dicta that disregard the words of the statute. Contrary to Justice Scalia’s assertion that the decision gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) virtually all it wanted, his opinion threatens grave damage to important agency programs. Yet paradoxically, Justice Scalia arrives at the right result. This Essay demonstrates how this can be.
Cite as: Craig N. Oren, UARG—Not a Chef d’Oeuvre of Opinion Writing, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 51 (2015).
William W. Buzbee
In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”), discerning an authoritative result is a challenge. Nevertheless, the most important opinion that garnered two different Court majorities—the opinion by Justice Scalia—provides a new interpretation of the reach of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), rejects longstanding regulatory approaches of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) program under the CAA, and castigates EPA for overreaching. Two major precedents that had found broad EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) under the CAA—Massachusetts v. EPA and American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (“AEP”)—have been undercut. The UARG majority that limits EPA’s power even reaches out to offer unnecessary views on several CAA terms central to upcoming climate regulatory actions.
But any Supreme Court decision’s effects flow from both its methodology and its substantive implications. And when a high-stakes decision is penned by Justice Scalia, the Court’s most outspoken champion of textualism and critic of judicial policymaking, that decision offers a testing ground: when the result really mattered, did the Justices hold true to those interpretive methods and demonstrate their claimed virtues? After briefly reviewing the UARG decision, this Essay offers a concise survey of several interpretive approaches championed by Justice Scalia and sometimes other Justices, also identifying the claimed virtues animating those methodologies. This Essay finds, however, that the UARG majority that limited EPA’s regulatory power over GHGs violates most of these aspirations.
Cite as: William W. Buzbee, Anti-Regulatory Skewing and Political Choice in UARG, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 51 (2015).
Thomas O. McGarity
The State of Texas has had a long history of resistance to federal environmental regulation. For most of the past forty years, Texas’s political leadership has been far more concerned about the negative impact that environmental regulation could have on economic growth than with the effects that pollutants could have on human beings and the global environment. The state’s environmental protection agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”), has historically taken the position that its highly qualified staff is capable of achieving the Clean Air Act’s environmental goals with little oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). The state’s powerful congressional delegation has often persuaded EPA to look the other way when TCEQ failed to meet the state’s obligations under federal law. Despite frequent complaints from environmental groups that TCEQ was a “toothless lapdog” for the industries that it was supposed to be regulating, EPA has historically handled Texas with kid gloves.
That changed rather dramatically during the Obama Administration when a committed EPA Regional Administrator assumed permitting responsibilities for the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions of major stationary sources in Texas after TCEQ’s Chairman and the Attorney General of Texas informed EPA that Texas would have no part of a program that they believed to be wholly unlawful and illegitimate. At the same time that Texas refused to implement EPA’s GHG regulations, it vigorously challenged them in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas ultimately lost all of those appeals, the most recent of which was the Supreme Court’s decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”). But by no means is Texas resigned to following EPA’s lead in regulating GHG emissions to avoid climate disruption.
This Essay will recount the history of EPA’s efforts to deal with a recalcitrant state bureaucracy and EPA-bashing political leaders as EPA attempted to reduce GHG emissions in a state that emitted more GHGs than any other state. It will then offer some observations on the impact of UARG on the future of GHG regulation in Texas, a state that views UARG as a victory and remains adamantly opposed to regulating GHGs unless required to do so by federal law.
Cite as: Thomas O. McGarity, But What About Texas? Climate Disruption Regulation in Recalcitrant States, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 79 (2015).
Richard L. Revesz
During this past Term, the Supreme Court of the United States decided two significant cases, both interpreting the Clean Air Act, which together should be seen as producing a significant move toward rationality in environmental policy. And it did so with the full support of six members—Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan—and the partial support of Justice Scalia.
As is typical when environmental cases get litigated in federal courts, these two cases involved seemingly narrow questions of statutory interpretation. What is the meaning of “amount which will . . . contribute significantly to nonattainment,” which was central to EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. (“EME Homer”)? What is the meaning of “air pollutant,” which was central to Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (“UARG”)? Broader questions of policy were dealt with in passing in the briefs but, with one important exception, were not addressed explicitly by the Court. Nonetheless, in deciding these two cases, the Court significantly shifted environmental policy in a positive direction.
This Essay takes as its starting point the idea that, in order to achieve rationality, U.S. environmental policy should operate in accordance with five major components of rationality.Part I describes the aspects of the two cases that are relevant to the subsequent analysis and places them in historical context to better highlight the themes of this Essay. Parts II through IV discuss, respectively, the cases’ implications for three components of rationality—cost minimization, grandfathering, and the allocation of decision-making authority between the federal government and the states—and show how the Court significantly moved the dial in the right direction on these issues. The Conclusion shows that the Court’s approach to these three components is consistent with a rational approach to the remaining two components.
Cite as: Richard L. Revesz, Toward a More Rational Environmental Policy, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 93 (2015).
Amanda C. Leiter
The United States is in the midst of a natural gas boom, made possible by advances in drilling and extraction technologies. There is considerable disagreement about the relative benefits and costs of the boom, but one thing is certain: it has caught governments flat-footed. The federal government has done little more than commission a study of some associated public health and environmental risks and propose regulations for drilling on federal land. States have moved faster to address natural gas risks, but with little consistency or transparency.
Numerous private organizations are stepping into the resulting governance gaps with information-gathering and standards-setting efforts. As this Article documents, these private organizations are performing the functions once assigned to states in so-called “laboratory federalism”: developing innovative governance approaches and— perhaps more importantly—catalyzing the horizontal and vertical diffusion of successful governance strategies. In some cases, the likely outcome is a public governance regime with private origins; in others, private entities are likely to continue to play a role even as public entities enter the frame, creating a hybrid regime. Both outcomes highlight the need for process reforms to increase private entities’ openness, balance, and accountability. Familiar administrative procedures followed by public agencies offer one model for such reforms, but at least in the natural gas context, those procedures may be less effective for private entities than for the public agencies for which they were designed.
Cite as: Amanda C. Leiter, Fracking, Federalism, and Private Governance, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 107 (2015).
Coastal areas in the United States are already experiencing the effects of sea-level rise, and the best available science predicts significant additional sea-level rise this century. In addition to sea-level rise, storm intensity and storm surge are also increasing. In some coastal areas, continuing population growth is compounding the threats of climate change and sea-level rise.
At the same time, one in six of the federally listed endangered and threatened species in the United States is threatened by sea-level rise. Coastal species face displacement, extirpation, and even extinction due to loss of habitat. They are at risk of being trapped between rising sea levels and human development. This threat is exacerbated by unyielding human-made coastal fortifications. This coalescence of factors leads to the phenomenon known as “coastal squeeze”—the loss of transitional habitat between land and sea.
For coastal areas this means that some of the most imperiled species will be pushed closer to the brink of extinction. “Assisted migration” refers to one policy prescription to address this problem. The federal government, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has the authority—and responsibility—to consider active and passive assisted migration under the Endangered Species Act in managing species threatened with habitat loss due to sea-level rise. The federally protected Florida panther, loggerhead sea turtle, Key tree-cactus, and Lower Keys marsh rabbit inhabit critically imperiled habitat in south Florida and are analyzed to examine this issue from the perspective of species from differing taxa, habitat types, and natural histories. This Article concludes that assisted migration, coupled with preserve and corridor protection and dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, are necessary for the conservation of imperiled species threatened with sea-level rise.
Cite as: Jaclyn Lopez, Biodiversity on the Brink: The Role of “Assisted Migration” in Managing Endangered Species Threatened with Rising Seas, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 157 (2015).
Courtney R. McVean & Justin R. Pidot
The Obama Administration has come under increasing fire for its decisions to settle lawsuits brought by environmental organizations. Industry groups and Republican politicians claim that such settlements, negotiated behind “closed doors,” unfairly exclude regulated entities from regulatory decisionmaking that tangibly affects economic interests. Environmental organizations and their political allies made similar complaints during the Administration of George W. Bush, arguing that the federal government at that time settled lawsuits on terms overly favorable to economic interests and without the participation of environmentalists or the public.
Objections to environmental settlements are often expressed as process concerns. Opponents of an administration’s political direction argue that settlements allow agencies to make policy choices from the shadows while evading, or perhaps even violating, the process established by the Administrative Procedure Act, including the Act’s public participation requirement. This Article is the first to objectively assess those concerns, and it reveals that environmental settlements rarely circumvent norms of administrative law, and that when they do so, courts can—and do—intervene.
To establish that environmental settlements are consonant with administrative law, this Article develops a novel typology of settlements based on the types of obligations they impose on federal agencies. Settlements can involve agency commitment to resource allocation, procedural obligation, or substantive rule. The Article then considers unique aspects of those categories of commitment and explains why none are generally problematic from the perspective of administrative law. Many decisions made in settlements are of a type excluded from notice-and-comment rulemaking. Others involve preliminary matters that are subject to subsequent judicial challenge once the agency has reached a final decision. And others still involve opportunities for public notice and comment. In the rare circumstance where a settlement violates otherwise-applicable notice-and-comment requirements, courts already possess ample authority to either decline to enter the settlement beforehand or to vacate the settlement afterward. Administrative law demands no more.
Environmental settlements have distinct advantages because they provide federal agencies with the opportunity to control litigation risk and overcome bureaucratic inertia. In the absence of a compelling justification for limiting the discretion of agencies to enter into settlements, Congress and the public should allow environmental settlement practices to persist.
Cite as: Courtney R. McVean & Justin R. Pidot, Environmental Settlements and Administrative Law, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 191 (2015).
It has long been a truism that China’s environmental legislation is plentiful and powerful, but only unevenly enforced. Given China’s reputation as an authoritarian state with immense capacity to regulate its citizens, this is counter-intuitive. To understand the latest environmental legislation in China, we must make sense of this seeming paradox. The lack of enforcement is a product of a governance structure that entrusts local governments with substantial power over the local environmental protection organs and local courts, incentivizing short-term economic development at the cost of environmental protection. Public-interest litigation can help to mitigate this problem because China’s new Environmental Protection Law encourages action by citizens, who are directly affected by pollution and therefore difficult to coopt. However, litigation cannot guarantee regulation without a stronger judiciary. This reality suggests that the national government might instead intend environmental suits to serve as a monitoring, rather than a regulatory, mechanism.
Cite as: Daniel Carpenter-Gold, Castles Made of Sand: Public-Interest Litigation and China’s New Environmental Protection Law, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 241 (2015).
Christopher J. Bateman & James T.B. Tripp
America’s electricity industry is at the heart of some of the nation’s and world’s biggest environmental challenges, including climate change. Yet the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), which has regulatory jurisdiction over wholesale sales and transmission of electricity in interstate commerce and is charged with ensuring that rates and other aspects of the industry are “just and reasonable,” has an official policy of excluding environmental considerations from its regulation of the industry. This Article traces the evolution of this policy and argues that it is time for a new and better approach—one that integrates economic and environmental regulation of the industry, helps the United States achieve a clean energy future, and reduces excessive environmental impacts.
This Article explores the possibility of such an approach under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), which provides FERC’s mandate. In doing so, it addresses FERC’s reasoning for its current policy and finds these reasons unpersuasive as a matter of law and policy. Contrary to FERC’s position, it is plausible to view the FPA alongside other federal laws as being silent or ambiguous about FERC’s environmental authority, thus permitting an environmentally inclusive approach within reasonable constraints. This reading of the FPA is reinforced by a host of policy considerations: the urgent need to address the U.S. electricity industry’s significant contribution to climate change; the inadequacy of and continuing uncertainty surrounding existing regulatory efforts on this front; FERC’s expertise in aspects of the electricity industry important to effective design and implementation of regulatory solutions; the unique nature of greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants and the feasibility of FERC regulation of carbon emissions in particular; and the glaring problems with our schizophrenic approach to energy regulation, in which environmental regulation and traditional utility regulation often undermine each other, creating inefficiencies.
This Article offers a number of concrete examples of the types of progressive industry reforms that would be possible if FERC adopted an environmentally inclusive approach, while also acknowledging and exploring the limits and challenges of this approach. On balance, the rewards seem to far outweigh the risks. Incorporating environmental considerations would allow FERC to make better informed decisions about how to maximize social welfare in areas such as transmission planning and organized electricity markets, and could create possibilities for productive collaborations with other regulatory authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to guide the nation toward smarter energy policy.
Cite as: Christopher J. Bateman and James T.B. Tripp, Toward Greener FERC Regulation of the Power Industry, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 275 (2014)
Caswell F. Holloway, Carter H. Strickland, Jr., Michael B. Gerrard & Daniel M. Firger
Faced with mounting infrastructure construction costs and more frequent and severe weather events due to climate change, cities across the country are managing the water pollution challenges of stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows through new and innovative “green infrastructure” mechanisms that mimic, maintain, or restore natural hydrological features in the urban landscape. When utilized properly, such mechanisms can obviate the need for more expensive pipes, storage facilities, and other traditional “grey infrastructure” features, so named to acknowledge the vast amounts of concrete and other materials with high embedded energy necessary in their construction. Green infrastructure can also provide substantial co-benefits to city dwellers, such as cleaner air, reduced urban temperatures, and quality of life improvements associated with recreation areas and wildlife habitats.
This Article examines the opportunities and challenges presented by municipal green infrastructure programs in the context of Clean Water Act (“CWA”) enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). First, it explores new thinking in urban sustainability and identifies opportunities for greater federal-municipal cooperation in the management of environmental problems, including stormwater runoff. Second, it unpacks the challenges presented by the relative inflexibility of federal environmental enforcement in the context of urban stormwater management under the CWA, and compares the differences between traditional federal approaches and newer local initiatives in terms of adaptability, responsiveness to community needs, preferences and trade-offs, cost effectiveness, and innovation. Third, it describes a recent consent agreement between New York State and New York City, identifying key features and best practices that can be readily replicated in other jurisdictions. In recent years, EPA has taken big steps forward to encourage and support municipal green infrastructure initiatives, including the release of its Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework. The Article concludes with a specific proposal for further regulatory and policy reform that would build upon this framework to develop truly comprehensive, municipally-led plans to prioritize infrastructure investments that improve public health and the environment.
Cite as: Caswell F. Holloway et al., Solving the CSO Conundrum: Green Infrastructure and the Unfulfilled Promise of Federal-Municipal Cooperation, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 335 (2014).
Climate change and efforts to address it have put the electric utility system under increasing pressure to adapt and evolve. Key to the success of these efforts will be the support of public utility commissions, the state agencies that oversee retail electric utilities. In an effort to determine how these commissions will make decisions, this Article explores the history, enabling legislation, and jurisdiction of commissions. It concludes that the authority and purpose of commissions has been narrowly defined to focus almost exclusively on short-term rate impacts to current utility customers. As a result, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, modernize or transform the electric grid, or expand the path for new technologies such as electric vehicles, will not come from commissions and in fact may be blocked by the same. Accordingly, this Article offers options for modernization, ultimately recommending a melding of economic and environmental goals through a long-term planning process that balances cost and risk, yet remains squarely within the jurisdiction and historical purpose of the regulatory commission.
Cite as: Inara Scott, Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Adapting Public Utility Commissions to Meet Twenty-First Century Climate Challenges, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 371 (2014).
Josephine van Zeben
Since the 1970s, the influence of the European Union in the area of environmental law and policy has steadily expanded, even though environmental policy continues to be a shared competence between the European Union and its Member States. As such, the allocation of competences between the European and national levels is governed by the principle of subsidiarity, which is aimed at maintaining a high level of decentralization. As it stands, subsidiarity is tested primarily, if not exclusively, against the presence of, or potential for, economic or environmental externalities of the regulated activity. Notwithstanding recent changes in the Lisbon Treaty to strengthen ex ante political control over the application of the subsidiarity principle, a rebuttable presumption in favor of an ever-increasing European role in environmental policy has developed.
This Article aims to move beyond this rebuttable presumption by introducing additional criteria for competence allocation: heterogeneity of preferences and conditions between regulated jurisdictions and activities, and the potential for economies of scale and scope. In addition, a distinction is made between the different phases of the regulatory process—specifically, norm setting, implementation, and enforcement—also referred to as regulatory competences. By distinguishing between these stages of regulation, the relative importance of externalities, and the additional criteria mentioned above, each stage of regulation is explicated. Finally, this Article discusses the extent to which instrument choice can act as an alternative for the centralization or decentralization of competences. The potential of this complementary “competence allocation” approach to the interpretation of subsidiarity in European environmental law is illustrated by a case study of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.
Cite as: Josephine van Zeben, Subsidiarity in European Environmental Law: A Competence Allocation Approach, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 415 (2014)
For nearly a decade, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) considered its National Environmental Performance Track to be its “flagship” voluntary program — even a model for transforming the conventional system of environmental regulation. Since Performance Track’s founding during the Clinton Administration, EPA officials repeatedly claimed that the program’s rewards attracted hundreds of the nation’s “top” environmental performers and induced these businesses to make significant environmental gains beyond legal requirements. Although EPA eventually disbanded Performance Track early in the Obama Administration, the program has been subsequently emulated by a variety of state and federal regulatory authorities. To discern lessons useful for similar voluntary programs, we report here the findings from a multipronged, multi-year research effort assessing business participation in Performance Track. We find no evidence to support the sweeping assertions EPA made about the program’s achievements. Facilities participating in Performance Track simply could not be shown to be top performers. Rather, what most distinguished these participants was a factor distinct from environmental quality, namely their propensity to engage in outreach with government and community groups. Furthermore, drawing on an extensive analysis of business participation in Performance Track and other EPA voluntary programs, we show how Performance Track faced inherent limitations in its ability to induce any dramatic environmental gains, making its model more of a poor substitute for the conventional regulatory system than a plausible means for the system’s transformation.
Cite as: Cary Coglianese & Jennifer Nash, Performance Track’s Postmortem: Lessons from the Rise and Fall of EPA’s “Flagship” Voluntary Program, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (2014)
James W. Coleman
It is now plain that decades of negotiation toward a binding global climate treaty have failed. Yet, at the same time, many nations are adopting a range of unilateral policies to address climate change. The existing literature on climate policy neglects these unilateral climate regulations because it focuses on the necessity and possible design of a multilateral climate treaty. But these domestic regulations present a unique puzzle: Given that climate outcomes are determined by global emissions, and that unilateral regulations inevitably influence incentives to regulate elsewhere, how can domestic action achieve the greatest marginal reduction in global emissions? In other words, how can regulators encourage, rather than discourage, action in other countries?
This Article answers this question by describing three ways that unilateral regulation influences incentives to regulate in other countries. First, domestic regulations can interact with other nations’ regulations in a way that increases those countries’ incentives to regulate. Second, unilateral regulation can support incentives to regulate elsewhere by limiting the incentive for polluters to move, or “leak,” to countries with weaker regulation. Third, unilateral regulations that are modular and simple will serve as potential model rules in a wider swath of countries. These considerations have important implications for regulators looking to maximize the global impact of their unilateral actions. They suggest that, contrary to the received wisdom in climate policy, regulators should prefer regulation with publicly transparent costs. They also suggest that, contrary to the current state and federal preference for cap-and-trade systems and energy-efficiency standards, unilateral regulators should prefer carbon taxes and funding for green technology.
Cite as: James W. Coleman, Unilateral Climate Regulation, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 87 (2014)
Cass R. Sunstein and Lucia A. Reisch
Careful attention to choice architecture promises to open up new possibilities for environmental protection — possibilities that may be more effective than the standard tools of economic incentives, mandates, and bans. How, for example, do consumers choose between environmentally friendly products or services and alternatives that are potentially damaging to the environment but less expensive? The answer may well depend on the default rule. Indeed, green default rules may be a more effective tool for altering outcomes than large economic incentives. The underlying reasons include the powers of suggestion, inertia, and loss aversion. If well-chosen, green defaults are likely to have large effects in reducing the economic and environmental harms associated with various products and activities. Such defaults may or may not be more expensive to consumers. In deciding whether to establish green defaults, choice architects should consider consumer welfare and a wide range of other costs and benefits. Sometimes that assessment will argue strongly in favor of green defaults, particularly when both economic and environmental considerations point in their direction. But when choice architects lack relevant information, when interest group maneuvering is a potential problem, and when externalities are not likely to be significant, active choosing, perhaps accompanied by various influences (including provision of relevant information), will usually be preferable to a green default.
Cite as: Cass R. Sunstein and Lucia A. Reisch, Automatically Green: Behavioral Economics and Environmental Protection, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 127 (2014)
David M. Uhlmann
Prosecutorial discretion exists throughout the criminal justice system but plays a particularly significant role for environmental crime. Congress made few distinctions under the environmental laws between acts that could result in criminal, civil, or administrative enforcement. As a result, there has been uncertainty about which environmental violations will result in criminal enforcement and persistent claims about the overcriminalization of environmental violations. To address these concerns — and to delineate an appropriate role for criminal enforcement in the environmental regulatory scheme — I have proposed that prosecutors should reserve criminal enforcement for violations that involve one or more of the following aggravating factors: (1) significant environmental harm or public health effects; (2) deceptive or misleading conduct; (3) operating outside the regulatory system; or (4) repetitive violations. By doing so, prosecutors can focus on violations that undermine pollution prevention efforts and avoid targeting defendants acting in good faith or those who commit technical violations of the law. This Article presents the results of an empirical study to determine how often those factors were present in cases investigated by EPA that resulted in criminal charges from 2005–2010. My empirical research demonstrates that prosecutors charged violations involving these aggravating factors for nearly every defendant prosecuted over a six-year period. Indeed, most defendants engaged in conduct that involved multiple aggravating factors. These findings suggest that prosecutors are exercising their discretion reasonably under the environmental laws and provide empirical evidence that should inform our understanding of the role of criminal enforcement and lessen concerns about over-criminalization.
Cite as: David M. Uhlmann, Prosecutorial Discretion and Environmental Crime, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 159 (2014)
STUDENT NOTE & CASE COMMENTS
Benjamin E. Apple
This Note posits a framework with which to analyze U.S. fracking development at local and regional scales. It aims to illuminate the ways in which three legal regimes — private rights, public government regulation, and local government law — influence the interactive dynamics between local and regional actors, which in turn determine the distribution of fracking impacts across a regional mosaic of municipalities. Deploying this framework, the Note first concludes that law and economic-based disparities in bargaining power across municipalities should result in unequal exposure to fracking development and its suite of consequences, both beneficial and detrimental. It then sketches the substantive motivations, powers, and stakes of the most common actors in fracking development. Finally, it analyzes the stakes of a pending Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, regarding the scope of municipal power to regulate fracking development.
Cite as: Benjamin E. Apple, Mapping Fracking: An Analysis of Law, Power, and Regional Distribution in the United States, 38 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 217 (2014)
Molly Cohen & Rachel Proctor May
|313||Administrative Proxies for Judicial Review: Building Legitimacy from the Inside-Out
Emily Hammond & David L. Markell
|365||The Search for Sustainable Legitimacy: Environmental Law and Bureaucracy in China
Alex L. Wang
|441||“A Blunt Withdrawal”? Bars on Citizen Suits for Toxic Site Cleanup
Margot J. Pollans
|487||Subsidies with Responsibilities: Placing Stewardship and Disclosure Conditions on Government Payments to Large Scale Commodity Crop Operations
Linda Breggin & D. Bruce Myers Jr.
|539||Internal Agency Review and Mead
Brendan C. Selby
|577||Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States
|589||New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Hillary H. Harnett
|Smart Regulation and Federalism for the Smart Grid
Joel B. Eisen
|Ten Ways States Can Combat Ocean Acidification (and Why They Should)
Ryan P. Kelly & Margaret R. Caldwell
Stephen R. Miller
|Responses to Climate Migration
Katrina M. Wyman
|Perpetuity Is Forever, Almost Always: Why It Is Wrong to Promote Amendment and Termination of Perpetual Conservation Easements
Ann T. Schwing
|247||Understanding When Perpetual Is Not Forever: An Update to the Challenge of Changing Conditions, Amendment, and Termination of Perpetual Conservation Easements, and Response to Ann Taylor Schwing
Jessica E. Jay
|Changing Climate, Unchanging Act, Improvising Agency, Enabling Court: The Story of Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA
|Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA
|301||Sackett v. EPA
Turner Smith & Margaret Holden
|305||Ocean Governance for the 21st Century: Making Marine Zoning Climate Change Adaptable
Robin Kundis Craig
|351||Toward an International Aviation Emissions Agreement
Brian Havel & Gabriel Sanchez
|387||Carbon Offsets: A Bridge Too Far in the Tradable Property Rights Revolution?
|445||New Day at the Pool: State Preemption, Common Pool Resources, and Non-Place Based Municipal Collaborations
|487||The Endangered Species Act’s Fall from Grace in the Supreme Court
|553||In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon”
|567||Minard Run Oil Co. v. United States Forest Service
|1||When Perpetual is Not Forever: The Challenge of Changing Conditions, Amendment, and Termination of Perpetual Conservation Easements
Jessica E. Jay
|79||Debt, Nature, and Indigenous Rights: Twenty-five Years of Debt-for-Nature Evolution
Jared E. Knicley
|169||American Natures: The Shape of Conflict in Environmental Law
|229||The Geography of Trading Ecosystem Services: A Case Study of Wetland and Stream Compensatory Mitigation Markets
Philip Womble & Martin Doyle
|297||American Electric Power Co. v Connecticut
David R. Brody
|263||New Directions in Environmental Law: A Climate of Possibility
|275||Wilderness, the Courts, and the Effect of Politics on Judicial Decisionmaking
Peter A. Appel
|313||Two Cheers for Feasible Regulation: A Modest Response to Masur and Posner
David M. Driesen
|343||The Obama Administration’s National Auto Policy: Lessons from the “Car Deal”
|375||Commerce in the Commons: A Unified Theory of Natural Capital Regulation Under the Commerce Clause
|433||Can the ESA Address the Threats of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition? Insights from the Case of the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly
Zdravka Tzankova, Dena Vallano & Erika Zavaleta
|477||Expanding Regional Renewable Governance
|541||Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection
|555||Howmet Corp. v. EPA
|1||Eyes on a Climate Prize: Rewarding Energy Innovation to Achieve Climate Stabilization
Jonathan H. Adler
|47||Notional Generosity: Explaining Charitable Donors’ High Willingness to Part With Conservation Easements
|91||Transition Policy in Environmental Law
Bruce R. Huber
|131||The Dormant Commerce Clause and Water Export: Toward a New Analytical Paradigm
Christine A. Klein
|155||Capturing Individual Harms
Katrina Fischer Kuh
|205||Rules Without Reasons: The Diminishing Role of Statutory Policy and Equitable Discretion in the Law of NEPA Remedies
|247||North Carolina v. Tennessee Valley Authority
|335||State Standards for Nationwide Products Revisited: Federalism, Green Building Codes, and Appliance Efficiency Standards
Alexandra B. Klass
|369||The More We Know, the Less Intelligent We Are? — How Genomic Information Should, and Should Not, Change Toxic Tort Causation Doctrine
Steve C. Gold
|425||The Sounds of Silence: Cost-Benefit Canons in Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc.
|461||Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in the United States and Europe: A Persistent Environmental Problem
Charles de Saillan
|521||Voices from the Desecrated Places: A Journey To End Mountaintop Removal Mining
*Winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award for the Journalism Category, presented by the Southern Environmental Law Center
|577||Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co.
Nikhil V. Gore & Jennifer E. Tarr
|593||Piedmont Environmental Council v. FERC
Michael S. Dorsi
|1||The Administrative Process and the Rule of Environmental Law
The Honorable David S. Tatel
|9||“Stationarity is Dead” — Long Live Transformation: Five Principles for Climate Change Adaptation Law
Robin Kundis Craig
|75||Property and Liberty
Eric T. Freyfogle
|119||Reconciling Development and Natural Beauty: The Promise and Dilemma of Conservation Easements
|179||Private Management of Public Spaces: Nonprofit Organizations and Urban Parks
|257||Saying What the Law Isn’t: Legislative Delegations of Waiver Authority in Environmental Laws
Kate R. Bowers
*Winner of the Stephen E. Herrmann Environmental Writing Award, presented by the American College of Environmental Lawyers
|311||Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States
Rachel K. Evans
|321||Summers v. Earth Island Institute
|297||Climate Change and Global Justice: Crafting Fair Solutions for Nations and Peoples
|303||Micro-Offsets and Macro-Transformation: An Inconvenient View of Climate Change Justice
Michael P. Vandenbergh, Brooke A. Ackerly & Fred E. Forster
|349||Confronting a Rising Tide: A Proposal for a Convention on Climate Change Refugees
Bonnie Docherty & Tyler Giannini
|405||Problems of Equity and Efficiency in the Design of International Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Schemes
Jason Scott Johnston
|431||Climate Change and Human Rights: An Introduction to Legal Issues
|439||Human Rights and Climate Change: Constructing a Case for Political Action
|477||Linking Human Rights and Climate Change at the United Nations
John H. Knox
|499||The Design of a Carbon Tax
Gilbert E. Metcalf & David Weisbach
|557||Climate Policy: Separating Fact from Fantasy
Robert W. Hahn
|593||Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
|1||Too Many Things To Do: How to Deal With the Dysfunctions of Multiple-Goal Agencies
|65||The Missing Instrument: Dirty Input Limits
David M. Driesen & Amy Sinden
|117||Assuming Personal Responsibility for Improving the Environment: Moving Toward a New Environmental Norm
Hope M. Babcock
|177||Unmasking Chinese Business Enterprises: Using Information Disclosure Laws to Enhance Public Participation in Corporate Environmental Decision Making
Timothy Riley & Cai Huiyan
|225||Expanding Ecotourism: Embedding Environmental Sustainability in Panama’s Burgeoning Tourist Industry
|263||New Jersey v. Environmental Protection Agency
|283||North Carolina v. Environmental Protection Agency
|293||A Meaningful U.S. Cap-and-Trade System to Address Climate Change
Robert N. Stavins
|373||Tribes as Trustees Again (Part I): The Emerging Tribal Role in the Conservation Trust Movement
Mary Christina Wood & Zachary Welcker
|433||Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Pragmatic Reorientation
Sidney A. Shapiro & Christopher H. Schroeder
|503||The Problem With Wilderness
Jan G. Laitos & Rachael B. Gamble
|571||Carbon: Commodity or Currency? The Case for an International Carbon Market Based on the Currency Model
|597||Possessing the Pacific: Land, Settlers, and Indigenous People from
Australia to Alaska, by Stuart Banner
|1||Risk Equity: A New Proposal
Matthew D. Adler
|49||Political Externalities, Federalism, and a Proposal for an Interstate Environmental Impact Assessment Policy
Noah D. Hall
|95||The Killing Fields: Reducing the Casualties in the Battle Between U.S. Species Protection Law and U.S. Pesticide Law
Mary Jane Angelo
|149||Digging Out of the Holes We’ve Made: Hardrock Mining, Good Samaritans, and the Need for Comprehensive Action
|217||Rebuilding Our Power Without Procedural Safeguards: A Federal Response to the 2005 Hurricanes That Outlasted the “Emergency”
Sarah McQuillen Tran
|263||National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife
|279||United States v. Atlantic Research
|349||Size Matters: Regulating Nanotechnology
Albert C. Lin
|409||Generally Illegal: NPDES General Permits Under the Clean Water Act
Jeffrey M. Gaba
|475||Co-Management or Contracting? Agreements Between Native American Tribes and the U.S. National Park Service Pursuant to the 1994 Tribal Self-Governance Act
Mary Ann King
|531||Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency
|545||Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd.
|1||Of Montreal and Kyoto: A Tale of Two Protocols
Cass R. Sunstein
|67||When Is Two a Crowd? The Impact of Federal Action on State Environmental Regulation
Jonathan H. Adler
|115||Trading Grandfathered Air – A New, Simpler Approach
Brian H. Potts
|163||Bringing “Top-Down” to “Bottom-Up”: A New Role for Environmental Legislation in Combating Desertification
Alon Tal & Jessica A. Cohen
|219||Working With Mixed Commons/Anticommons Property: Mobilizing Customary Land in Papua New Guinea the Melanesian Way
|279||Much Ado About Decoupling: Evaluating the Environmental Impact of Recent European Union Agricultural Reform
|321||Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States Army Corps of Engineers
Matthew A. MacDonald
|333||Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy Corporation
|309||The Ownership Society and Takings of Property: Castles, Investments, and Just Obligations
Joseph William Singer
|339||The Penn Central Test and Tensions in Liberal Property Theory
Eric R. Claeys
|371||Lingle’s Legacy: Untangling Substantive Due Process From Takings Doctrine
Robert G. Dreher
|407||You Can’t Pay Them Enough: Subsidies, Environmental Law, and Social Norms
|441||NEPA Compliance in Fisheries Management: The Programmatic Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Alaskan Groundfish Fisheries and Implications for NEPA Reform
Beth C. Bryant
|481||Reversing the Flow: The Interconnectivity of Environmental Law in Addressing External Threats to Protected Lands and Waters
James M. Auslander
|551||S.D. Warren Co. v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection
|565||Toxic Torts: Science, Law, and the Possibility of Justice, by Carl F. Cranor
|1||Champions of Change: Reinventing Democracy Through Land Law Reform
John R. Nolon
|51||Planning the Funeral at the Birth: Extended Producer Responsibility in the European Union and the United States
|99||Defending Overstatement: The Symbolic Clean Air Act and Carbon Dioxide
Christopher T. Giovinazzo
|165||Bridging the Divide: The Role of Science in Species Conservation Law
|261||Kelo v. City of New London
|281||Lingle v. Chevron USA, Inc.
Sarah B. Nelson
|296||City of Rancho Palos Verdes, California v. Abrams
Benjamin M. Gerber
Michael C. Blumm & Lucas Ritchie
Jeremy Nathan Jungreis
|1||Theme and Variations in Statutory Preclusions Against Successive Environmental Enforcement Actions by EPA and Citizens
Part Two: Statutory Bars on EPA Enforcement
Jeffrey G. Miller
|117||The False Promise of the Genomics Revolution for Environmental Law
David E. Aldeman
|179||Choosing How to Regulate
Andrew P. Morriss, Bruce Yandle & Andrew Dorchak
|251||Liquidation Timber Harvesting in Maine: Potential Policy Approaches
Charles R. Scott
|1||The Judicial Resolution of Conflicts Between Trade and the Environment
John H. Knox
|79||The Law of Words: Standing, Environment, and Other Contested Terms
David N. Cassuto
|129||The Economics of Endangered Species: Why Less Is More in the Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Designations
|215||What Regional Agenda? Reconciling Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law and Environmental Protection
|249||The Perils of the Property Rights Initiative: Taking Stock of Nevada County’s Measure D
Mark E. Sabath
|295||Givings Recapture: Funding Public Acquisition of Private Property Interests on the Coasts
|377||Environmental Regulation During the 1990s: A Retrospective Analysis
Robert Hahn, Sheila Olmstead &Robert Stavins
|417||Mountains Without Handrails … Wilderness Without Cell Phones
|471||No More Parking Lots: How the Tax Code Keeps Trees Out of a Tree Museum and Paradise Unpaved
|519||Proposed Rule Changes to Federal Civil Procedure May Introduce New Challenges in Environmental Class Action Litigation
Ken Rivlin & Jamaica Potts
Cori S. Parobek