FIELD REPORTS

Hot Air Rises Through the Courts

3rd June 2014 By: Rees Alexander and Elizabeth Ewing

This Field Report previews Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, a pending Supreme Court case that will address whether the EPA permissibly concluded that a group of stationary sources are subject to permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act. For decades, the EPA has operated with the understanding that once a particular type of air pollutant becomes regulated under any section the Clean Air Act, the EPA could take the next step and regulate the same pollutant with respect to other sources in other sections of the Act. Accordingly, EPA determined that because it had started to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, it could also regulate these emissions from larger stationary sources. This interpretation has generated controversy because if these permitting requirements applied immediately, the costs would be so staggering that the EPA itself has decided to phase-in the permitting requirements.

 

The “Lone Grid” State: Texas as the Ideal Location for State-Level Climate Regulation

13th December 2013 By: James D. Friedland

States face a hurdle in regulating greenhouse gas emissions that the federal government does not:  the dormant Commerce Clause. Most states import considerable amounts of electricity, so a state that desires to enact a strong climate program must regulate its imported power.  Yet emissions from electricity generation must be measured at the emitting power plant because it is impossible to retroactively measure the emissions associated with electricity once it is on the grid.  Therefore, because imports come from facilities beyond state borders, it is difficult for a state to regulate imported power using the same methodology used to regulate instate power.  Unfortunately, any difference in the treatment of out-of-state electricity is likely to prompt a dormant Commerce Clause challenge, as evidenced by recent developments in California.  This Field Report discusses how just one contiguous state does not face this challenge: Texas.  Because Texas has a mostly isolated electrical grid and physically cannot import large quantities of power, this Field Report argues that Texas is the state best positioned to implement a strong and indisputably constitutional climate regime.

Conflict in the Air? Federalism, the Clean Air Act, and Arkansas's Act 1302

13th December 2013 By: Christian D. Petrangelo

Air pollution is now the world’s “most important environmental carcinogen.”  So concluded a recent expert panel on cancer research at the World Health Organization (WHO).  Governments have responded to such unsettling statistics in part through increased regulation.  In March 2013, Washington D.C.-based environmental consulting firm Enhesa reported that global environmental, health, and safety (EHS) regulation has risen 35% over the past four years.  In particular, global regulation of air emissions increased 26% between 2009 and 2012—the fourth highest rate of change by regulatory area surveyed.  While North America passed over 70 air-related regulations in 2009, it adopted nearly 90 in 2012.  Similarly, while Europe passed almost 150 air-related regulations in 2009, it adopted nearly 180 in 2012.  Clearly, air emissions regulation is on the rise in North America and throughout the world.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Winners and Losers

24th April 2013 By: Marc Legrand

On October 22, 2012, the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School hosted a forum to discuss the future of RGGI. The event addressed results from the first three years of RGGI’s existence, some perceived problems with the program, and potential solutions. The speakers gave a wide range of assessments of the impact of RGGI, from Mr. Snyder arguing that “by just about any measure, [RGGI] has been a success,” to Mr. Stavins stating, “I don’t think it deserves credit for much.”  This Field Report will discuss the perspective of the various speakers to determine who the winners and losers have been under the program, its effectiveness as a tool against climate change, and its future.

Nanoparticles: Regulating a Tiny Problem with Huge Risks

23rd April 2013 By: Kirill Lebedev

5th Circuit Reverses Itself on Hurricane Katrina Liability Lawsuit

22nd April 2013 By: Willis Hon

Field Notes from the Superstorm Sandy Catastrophe

8th January 2013 By: Elizabeth Burleson

Avoiding Albuquerque: How Incentive-Based Green Building Codes May Regulate Appliance Efficiency Standards and Avoid Federal Preemption

19th December 2012 By: Elliot Harvey Schatmeier

Nuclear Power and New York City: Columbia's Forum on the Environmental Consequences and Catastrophic Risks of Indian Point

7th April 2012 By: Andrew Kirchner

Advocating for Local Exhaustion: The Amicus Brief Submitted on Behalf of the U.K. and Australian Governments in Sarei v. Rio Tinto

28th March 2012 By: Elizabeth Sheargold

FIELD REPORTS ARCHIVES: POPULAR POSTS

Conflict in the Air? Federalism, the Clean Air Act, and Arkansas's Act 1302

By: Christian D. Petrangelo
13 December 2013 12:00 am

Air pollution is now the world’s “most important environmental carcinogen.”  So concluded a recent expert panel on cancer research at the World Health Organization (WHO).  Governments have responded to such unsettling statistics in part through increased regulation.  In March 2013, Washington D.C.-based...

+Nanoparticles: Regulating a Tiny Problem with Huge Risks

By: Kirill Lebedev
23 April 2013 12:00 am

The continuing advancement of nanotechnology represents a tremendous opportunity for society because of the unique traits that nanoscale materials possess.  Unfortunately, the same physical traits that give nanotechnology its economic and scientific value also make it a potentially dangerous emerging form of pollution that is particularly...

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Winners and Losers

By: Marc Legrand
24 April 2013 12:00 am

On October 22, 2012, the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School hosted a forum to discuss the future of RGGI. The event addressed results from the first three years of RGGI’s existence, some perceived problems with the program, and potential solutions. The speakers gave a wide range of assessments of the impact of...

+5th Circuit Reverses Itself on Hurricane Katrina Liability Lawsuit

By: Willis Hon
22 April 2013 12:00 am

This Field Report provides background on the MRGO and its role in Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Gulf region, the subsequent district court litigation, and compares the initial Fifth Circuit ruling with the panel’s current ruling on the case. Although the reasons why the Fifth Circuit withdrew its initial ruling may never be...