Friday, December 16, 2005

19th Century Rules for the 21st Century: Are Growth and Development Outpacing Water Law

The 24th Annual Water Law Conference, entitled "19th Century Rules for the 21st Century: Are Growth and Development Outpacing   Water Law?" will be held on February 23-24, 2006  in San Diego.   ABA 24th Annual Water Law Conference

"The conference will focus on the Nation’s system of water laws in the face of an explosion of population growth and a real estate boom. Speakers will address   the central question of whether antiquated laws are flexible enough to provide policymakers with the tools needed to manage our water supplies in   the face of increasing demand and urbanization. Panels will contemplate how   institutions that manage water resources can successfully adapt to the   dynamic water world; how administrators can interpret historic water agreements with Indian tribes in the east and in the west; and how interested   parties should allocate water demands once federal projects are paid out.   Other speakers will debate the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act and will discuss implications of the Clean Water Act on water supplies.   Practitioners also will hear from developers, environmentalists and regulators who routinely find adequacy of water supplies to be the key component to urbanization and development."  Highlights will include

  • A keynote by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (invited) discussing her initiatives to provide water supply reliability in the face of tremendous population growth.
  • A closing address by Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water Mark Limbaugh        discussing the "View from Washington" on the relationship between water resources and growth.
  • Opening panel discussing "Who Owns the Water" that has been developed by the United States under the Reclamation Act, used by irrigators, regulated by States, claimed by Tribes and is now coveted by developers across the urbanizing West.
  • A conversation on what is an adequate water supply, both from a legal and practical perspective, and whether looking to assure an adequate water supply is really the best way to provide water necessary to meet the needs of a growing population.
  • Moot court debating the question of whether the federal Endangered Species Act is, in fact, constitutional under the Supreme Court’s recent Commerce Clause jurisprudence.
  • Discussion of the complicated ethical questions associated with multi-party negotiations and mediations in the context of new development and water resources.
  • Three distinguished practitioners discussing the similarities (and differences) of interstate adjudications and conflicts among the United States, Tribes and States taking place based on riparian water rights versus appropriative water rights.
  • Update on the latest developments on TMDLs and a discussion of using water quality to regulate growth and development. 

December 16, 2005 in Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Species meet a bumpy and precipitous end -- the extinction vortex



A quantitative study by Fagan and Holmes to be published in the January 2006 volume of Ecology Letters indicates that vertebrate populations approaching extinction have increased rates of decline and increased year-to-year variability. This lends empirical support to the “extinction vortex” that has been previously theorizedAbstract

December 16, 2005 in Biodiversity, Physical Science | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Loss of predator diversity accelerates trophic cascades

A study to be published in the January 2006 volume of Ecology Letters by Byrnes, et al. indicates that declining diversity of predators accelerates changes in community structure:

Although human-mediated extinctions disproportionately affect higher trophic levels, the ecosystem consequences of declining diversity are best known for plants and herbivores. We combined field surveys and experimental manipulations to examine the consequences of changing predator diversity for trophic cascades in kelp forests. In field surveys we found that predator diversity was negatively correlated with herbivore abundance and positively correlated with kelp abundance. To assess whether this relationship was causal, we manipulated predator richness in kelp mesocosms, and found that decreasing predator richness increased herbivore grazing, leading to a decrease in the biomass of the giant kelp Macrocystis. The presence of different predators caused different herbivores to alter their behaviour by reducing grazing, such that total grazing was lowest at highest predator diversity. Our results suggest that declining predator diversity can have cascading effects on community structure by reducing the abundance of key habitat-providing species.  Abstract


December 16, 2005 in Biodiversity, Physical Science | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is in danger of failing -- with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut failing to reach a final agreement on how the program would work. One issue is the level at which carbon credits would be capped, aka the safety valve. Business groups including the New England Council and the American Council for Capital Formation claim that if RGGI is ever enacted it would dramatically boost electricity costs -- and plants in RGGI states would be tempted to relocate to other states that would not have carbon dioxide limits. NY Governor Pataki predicts RGGI would only lead to a modest increase and would save customers money down the road as power plants get more efficient.

December 15, 2005 in Climate Change, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Tune into the discussion on sprawl sponsored by the Property Law Prof Blog: sprawl

December 13, 2005 in Economics, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Recovery

The topic of the AMS environmental science seminar this week is Disaster Recovery: A Post Disaster Reaction or Anticipatory Activity.  Download announcement (pdf)

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December 12, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)