FIELD REPORTS

New York to Paris: From REV to MOU

11th December 2015 By: Irene Blumberg

On October 8th, 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore met at Columbia University to deliver a much anticipated announcement:  the state of New York was to become a signatory of the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding (“Under 2 MOU” or “MOU”), which aims to prevent the average global temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to limit greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions to below two metric tons per capita by 2050. Signed on May 19, 2015, the agreement was intended to provoke discussion of climate change issues prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris scheduled for December, 2015. The goal of the Under 2 MOU is to unite governments across the globe that are willing to make substantial changes in the face of global warming.  

A Divided Court Decides the Future of Demand Response: Oral Argument of FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association

5th December 2015 By: Anthony Fares

In May 2014, the D.C. Circuit held, by a vote of 2-1, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) Order 745 governing demand response resources in the wholesale energy market exceeded FERC’s authority under the Federal Power Act and was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.  FERC, alongside three aggregators of electricity consumers and two parties representing customers of wholesale market operators, petitioned for certiorari.  I attended oral argument on October 14, 2015; having seen the attorneys argue and the Justices react to their arguments, I gained a unique perspective on this case.  This Field Report will present a brief background of the relevant facts and law, analyze the arguments presented in court, and predict how the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the case.

On Thin Ice: Will the International Court of Justice’s Ruling in Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening End Japan’s Lethal Whaling in the Antarctic?

7th October 2015 By: Julia Bedell

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice (the “ICJ”) declared that Japan’s whaling activity in the Antarctic did not satisfy the scientific exemption to a global whaling moratorium and ordered Japan to cease its current operations.  Japan complied with the ICJ’s ruling and ended its expedition for that year; however, it also revealed a new scientific research program in November 2014 to resume whaling in the Antarctic.  The International Whaling Commission (“IWC”) in June 2015 rejected Japan’s new proposal, citing that the planned lethal research continues to violate international regulations.

It is not clear how Japan will respond to this recent rejection.  The best-case scenario would be for Japan not to conduct any lethal whaling in the Antarctic until such whaling is approved by the IWC.  However, because international whaling agreements are self-regulating, neither the ICJ nor other countries will directly be able to stop Japan from administering its new program.

 

Such a result does not mean that the ICJ ruling was futile.  Although the ICJ lacks official mechanisms with which to enforce its opinions, the Court has been shown to have strong unofficial methods of enforcement.  In prior disputes, ICJ opinions have successfully incited political action toward legal compliance.  Even if continued external political pressure is insufficient to bring about Japan’s total abstention from lethal whaling, the ICJ’s ruling echoes global disapproval of the whaling trade.  On the other hand, if internal changes eradicate Japan’s market for whale meat, Japan’s government may be forced to reconsider its lethal whaling practices.

The Curbside Commons: Parking and Property in Portland, Oregon

21st April 2015 By: Solomon Rotstein

Long-heralded as a "green" city with an almost-mythical quality of life, Portland, Oregon, unsurprisingly, is inscribing concerns over climate change into the very fabric of its land use planning. By 2035, city planners hope that eighty percent of Portlanders will live within a "complete neighborhood," defined as one in which all essential goods and services are available within a twenty minute walk from a resident's home. Planning documents expressly cite concerns over GHG emissions as a rationale for this vision. One set of seemingly innocuous policies with the potential to play an outsized role in the actualization of the complete neighborhood are minimum off-street parking requirements, and, as a corollary, a regime for allocating on-street parking space. When buildings are pushed further apart to make room for parking lots, the feasibility of twenty-minute walkability in the neighborhood decreases. More fundamentally, parking is the "terminal" of the very car-based transportation system whose negative environmental effects the complete neighborhood attempts to mitigate.

Finding Fault: Induced Earthquake Liability and Regulation

1st April 2015 By: Emery Gullickson Richards

Bridge (Loan) Over Troubled Water

13th March 2015 By: David Ullman

Green Energy and Green Banks: Governance Policies on Climate Change

11th January 2015 By: Anthony Fares

Should Universities and Pension Funds Divest from Fossil Fuel Stocks?

7th January 2015 By: Gregg Badichek

The Environmental Threat of Cuba’s Deep Water Exploratory Drilling Under the Embargo

21st December 2014 By: Leo Oppenheimer

Hot Air Rises Through the Courts

3rd June 2014 By: Rees Alexander and Elizabeth Ewing

FIELD REPORTS ARCHIVES: POPULAR POSTS

On Thin Ice: Will the International Court of Justice’s Ruling in Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening End Japan’s Lethal Whaling in the Antarctic?

By: Julia Bedell
07 October 2015 12:00 am

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice (the “ICJ”) declared that Japan’s whaling activity in the Antarctic did not satisfy the scientific exemption to a global whaling moratorium and ordered Japan to cease its current operations.  Japan complied with the ICJ’s ruling and ended its expedition for that...

+Finding Fault: Induced Earthquake Liability and Regulation

By: Emery Gullickson Richards
01 April 2015 12:00 am

Man-made earthquakes have followed the hydraulic fracturing boom into the twenty-first century. In recent years, operators have hydraulically fractured more than 100,000 wells in the U.S. In tandem with the current increase in unconventional oil and gas production in the U.S., the number of earthquakes in the central and eastern parts of...

The Curbside Commons: Parking and Property in Portland, Oregon

By: Solomon Rotstein
21 April 2015 12:00 am

Long-heralded as a "green" city with an almost-mythical quality of life, Portland, Oregon, unsurprisingly, is inscribing concerns over climate change into the very fabric of its land use planning. By 2035, city planners hope that eighty percent of Portlanders will live within a "complete neighborhood," defined as one in which all essential...

+Bridge (Loan) Over Troubled Water

By: David Ullman
13 March 2015 12:00 am

On September 16, 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") rejected the vast majority of a low-cost loan request from the administration of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to help finance a replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River approximately 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The decision...