Friday, September 2, 2005
Recent beach access cases in Michgan, New Jersey, and California (reported in a good article law.com - Now, a Day at the Beach Can Mean a Day in Court) may ultimately come to the Supreme Court as takings claims. Remember the Court denied cert in the Oregon beach access case, Stevens v. Cannon Beach, 510 U.S. 1207 (March 21, 1994), but J. Scalia dissented, sharply criticizing new found common law rights. He may get a crack at beach access assuming Judge Roberts is confirmed.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The best science link I can suggest regarding climate change is RealClimate � Climate Science. It is not easy to read if you don't immerse yourself in climate science, but it provides a much better rounded view than the pronouncements of any one climate scientist. The discussion on storms can be found here. Climate change and storms
Science reported a study by Pezza and Simmonds that indicates the South Atlantic experienced its first hurricane in March 2004. The hurricane, which hit Brazil, was caused by unusual metereological conditions associated with large scale atmospheric circulation patterns. These patterns are being influenced by climate change so perhaps this hurricane is the first of many. Science review of study published in Geophys. Res. Lett.
Science published a study by Korner showing that growth in mature deciduous trees does not improve their ability to absorb CO2. So tree growth caused by elevated CO2 levels will not increase the ability of forests to serve as carbon sinks. Link: Carbon Flux and Growth in Mature Deciduous Forest Trees Exposed to Elevated CO2.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The European satellite Envisat shows that the ozone hole over antarctica is currently 4 million square miles -- about the size of Europe. It still has 2 - 3 weeks of seasonal expansion. For a great graphic, see the Envisat photo. Link: BBC NEWS - Major ozone loss over Antarctic.
Monday, August 29, 2005
There's more than one way to skin the standing cat. The Northern District of Califonia refused to dismiss a NEPA suit against the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States for funding fossil fuel power projects without analyzing global warming effects. Link: Planet Ark : Court Allows Suit Linking US Aid and Global Warming. See the decision at plaintiffs' site. FOE Decision
Some of you may have been amazed by the data reported by John McGinnis of Northwestern University about political preferences of law school faculty. See the NY Times report If the Law Is an Ass, the Law Professor Is a Donkey. Based on the NY Times coverage, 70-90% of us are flaming Democrats. That might typify environmental law faculty, but.... Consider Al Leiter's response. Another meaningless study
The battle between the Interior political management and career National Park Service officials is raging. See LA Times article. Controversy Over Plans for Changes in U.S. Parks.
A draft NPS management policy circulating within Interior radically affects NPS policies in favor of snowmobiles, cell towers, grazing, and other public uses. Links to draft NPS management policy
The NY Times editorial today discusses just a few policy adjustments. NY Times editorial My review of the draft NPS management policy indicates that it would:
- change the mission of National Parks from preservation to conservation,
- expand the purposes of the park
- stress public use of parks over protection of park resources,
- change the impairment standard to only prohibit "irreversibly" harm to the integrity of park resources,
- remove the policy that requires NPS to err on the side of resource protection when in cases of doubt as to resource impacts
- only require restoration of natural functions and process "whenever feasible, reasonable, and practicable" and inserts similar language throughout the policy
- preclude designation of parks as World Heritage sites or Biosphere Reserves if such a designation would impair public enjoyment of the park
- control park access to protect endangered species only as "a last resort"
- minimize the assertion of water rights for the park and allow long term leasing of water rights unless the leasing would impair park resources
- provide less stringent requirements to protect natural light, sound, and smells
- will no longer minimize the use of motorized equipment and modes of transportation to protect natural ambient sound conditions
- allow off road vehicle use on roads and other routes unless it is necessary for public safety or to prevent impairment
- more readily allow expansion of Park roads and non-NPS roads in parks
Retired career NPS personnel have produced a revealing and strongly analysis of the policy. NPS career employee analysis. Arnold and Porter has opined that it is illegal. A & P opinion. And Interior is backpedalling from the firestorm over the draft as quickly as possible.
Stay tuned -- now I wonder: do clearcuts "permanently and irreversibly" affect national park resources ????