FIELD REPORTS

Public Land Fight in Utah: Will the President Designate Bears Ears a National Monument?

5th May 2016 By: Michael Lehr

The fight over federal control of western land is on display in a large, remote area of southeastern Utah.  On one side is a coalition of Native American tribes, supported by conservation groups, urging the designation of a new national monument to protect 1.9 million acres of land including the culturally important area of Bears Ears.  On the other side are conservative federal, state, and county lawmakers seeking to advance a recently unveiled public lands bill titled the Public Lands Intuitive (“PLI”).   The proposed bill would protect 1.2 million acres of the Bears Ears area while also opening land for energy development and a wilderness area.  At one time, both sides where hopeful that the PLI could serve as a grand compromise, but the proposed bill, which involved years of meetings and planning, was not what environmental and tribal groups envisioned.  Instead, these groups now call the bill a “public land giveaway.”   The causes of the disagreement between the two sides are historical and structural, and after years of optimism, it seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached that will satisfy both sides.  At this point, the probable outcome seems to be President Obama designating a new national monument in the Bears Ears area.  If the Bears Ears area is indeed designated as a national monument, the designation is sure to ignite a firestorm of controversy in a state that has spent the last twenty years fighting against federal control of public lands.

Decreasing Building-Related Emissions in New York City: Attempts to Circumvent the Split Incentive Problem to Encourage Energy Efficiency Retrofits

30th April 2016 By: Christian Benante

In an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initiated the “80x50” program, committing the City to the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions by eighty percent, from a 2005 baseline, by the year 2050.  A cornerstone of the program is reducing emissions from residential, commercial, and municipally-owned buildings in the City.  Retrofitting these buildings to increase their energy efficiency is required in order to achieve 80x50’s reduction goals.

While the City can exercise its considerable regulatory authority over land use and building design to reduce building-related emissions,  significant economic barriers have historically discouraged private building owners from undertaking energy efficiency retrofits.  Foremost among them is the split incentive problem, which is a specific type of market failure that occurs when benefits of a transaction pass on to someone other than the party paying the cost.  While the City has pursued various avenues for addressing the split incentive problem to facilitate retrofits in private and commercial buildings, it is unclear whether present government subsidies are sufficient to incentivize commercial or residential building owners to undertake deep energy retrofits voluntarily.  Given that the City is limited in its ability to influence state and federal legislatures to increase funding for efficiency programs, a hybridized approach involving municipal regulation, incentives programs, and financing options is likely required to achieve 80x50’s GHG reduction targets. 

Technology, Curtailment, and Transmission: Innovations and Challenges Facing Today’s U.S. Wind Energy

6th April 2016 By: Kimberly E. Diamond

Scientific breakthroughs in design technology present today’s wind industry with unprecedented opportunities.  Innovative turbines, taller and with blades larger than those of any utility-scale turbines currently installed domestically, are opening up regions low in wind resources, such as the Southeastern United States, to large wind farm development.  

The issues raised as a result of the wind industry’s focus on building wind projects in the Southeast highlight the transformation that needs to occur regarding how the United States thinks about and approaches renewable energy.  Steps need to be taken promptly to smooth the renewable energy generation and delivery process, as well as surmount challenges arising from technical innovation, curtailment, and energy conveyance.  These changes can occur if we, as a country, devise creative solutions that will serve as a bridge between our current energy landscape and our envisioned renewable energy future.  Failure to do so will adversely impact the domestic wind industry as well as impede the potential for a wide-scale increase in energy generated from renewable sources, in both the short and long terms


Adapting Without a Voice in American Samoa

29th February 2016 By: Eli Keene

The United States has three unincorporated territories in the Pacific—American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”).  The effects of climate change imminently threaten all three of these territories.  In American Samoa, these threats are not only severe but also create cascading risk impacts.  Rising sea levels threaten to exacerbate coastal erosion and subsidence, damage vital transportation infrastructure, and destroy homes.  Rising seas also pose a threat to water and food security, as seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers decreases the quantity of clean water available for drinking and irrigation.  Threats to important reef ecosystems by ocean acidification impose yet further burdens on food and economic security. Though the federal government has increasingly provided financial and technical support for climate adaptation in American Samoa and its other Pacific Territories, it has done little to empower these territories to develop their own comprehensive plans for resilience in the face of climate change.  

New York to Paris: From REV to MOU

11th December 2015 By: Irene Blumberg

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

5th December 2015 By: Anthony Fares

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

The Curbside Commons: Parking and Property in Portland, Oregon

21st April 2015 By: Solomon Rotstein

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

FIELD REPORTS ARCHIVES: POPULAR POSTS

Technology, Curtailment, and Transmission: Innovations and Challenges Facing Today’s U.S. Wind Energy

By: Kimberly E. Diamond
06 April 2016 12:00 am

Scientific breakthroughs in design technology present today’s wind industry with unprecedented opportunities.  Innovative turbines, taller and with blades larger than those of any utility-scale turbines currently installed domestically, are opening up regions low in wind resources, such as the Southeastern United States, to large...

+New York to Paris: From REV to MOU

By: Irene Blumberg
11 December 2015 12:00 am

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...

Adapting Without a Voice in American Samoa

By: Eli Keene
29 February 2016 12:00 am

The United States has three unincorporated territories in the Pacific—American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”).  The effects of climate change imminently threaten all three of these territories.  In American Samoa, these threats are not only severe but also create cascading...

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

By: Anthony Fares
05 December 2015 12:00 am

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,...