Saturday, September 24, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
Debbie Sivas, Director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, and her students and staff won a major victory in
National Parks Conservation Association's legal battle against development of the
world's largest garbage dump adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park in
California's fragile Mojave Desert. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had agreed to
exchange nearly 4,000 acres of federal public land against
national park wilderness lands to a private mining company for the
purpose of creating an enormous solid waste landfill, in return for scattered desert lands elsewhere in the Mojave. The
exchanged lands provide important buffer habitat for dozens of species,
including the endangered big horn sheep and desert tortoise. The
proposed landfill would accept up to 20,000 tons
per day of trash from Southern California's densely populated coastal communities. Students drafted comments on the proposal, appealed the BLM decision to the IBLA, and ultimately filed suit, arguing that the federal government did not obtain fair market value for the exchanged
lands, and that the environmental review for the project was so narrowly
constrained that it failed to evaluate other management options for
these federal lands, especially its preservation as an important buffer
for wildlife and wilderness protection. In a September 20, 2005 decision, the district court found that BLM's decision was arbitrary,
capricious, an abuse of discretion and in violation of the FLPMA and NEPA. (HT Lawrence Marshall (Stanford), Warren Binford (Willamette), and lawclinic list).
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Eight former Chairs of the Council on Environmental Quality [Train, Peterson, Busterud, Warren, Speth, Deland, McGinty, and Frampton] along with two former General Counsels [Widman and Yost] have quietly taken exception to the NEPA bashing being done in Congress. The eight served in both Republican and Democratic administrations and have collectively served more than 30 years in those key CEQ positions. They wrote September 19th to the House Committee on Resources NEPA Taskforce, eloquently defending NEPA. (HT to Scott Schang, ELI) nepa letter - full text.txt The letter concisely summarized how key features of NEPA contribute to responsible government:
"First, consideration of the impacts of proposed government actions on the qualityof the human environment is essential to responsible government decision-making. Government projects and programs have effects on the environment with important consequences for every American, and those impacts should be carefully weighed by public officials before taking action. Environmental impact analysis is thus not an impediment to responsible government action; it is a prerequisite for it.
Second, analysis of alternatives to an agencys proposed course of action is the heart of meaningful environmental review. Review of reasonable alternatives allows agencies to evaluate systematically the potential effects of their decisions and to assess how they can better protect the environment while still fully implementing their primary missions.
Third, the public plays an indispensable role in the NEPA process. Publi ccomments inform agencies of environmental impacts that they may have misunderstood or failed to recognize, and often provide valuable insights for reshaping proposed projects to minimize their adverse environmental effects. The public also serves as a watchdog, ensuring that Federal agencies fulfill their responsibilities under the law. Public participation under NEPA supports the democratic process by allowing citizens to communicate with and influence government actions that directly affect their health and well-being."
Monday, September 19, 2005
Global designs for vehicles take the European and Japanese recycling regulations into account, so the US might achieve that goal without "regulating." But the US needs to find a way to take advantage of recyclability -- manufacturer take-back or other provisions -- so that it can free ride on those regulations. Coming: 95% Recyclable Cars - New York Times.
A companion law prof blog recently did a memorial tribute to a colleague. I'd suggest from the outpouring of concern expressed for Ollie Houck, he is a fitting candidate for "you don't have to die to have people say nice things about you." Link: TaxProf Blog: Tax Prof Memorial Tribute: Boris Bittker. Please contribute your tribute by commenting on this post.