April 7, 2006
Are Aesthetics Part of Ecological Sustainability?
The NYTimes reported today on the fate of the offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound:
A Senate-House conference committee has approved a measure that would effectively kill a proposal for the first large offshore wind farm in the United States, in Nantucket Sound south of Cape Cod, Mass. The measure, an amendment to a Coast Guard budget bill, gives the governor of "the adjacent state," Massachusetts, veto power over any wind farm in the sound. Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, opposes the wind farm, and most of the candidates running to replace him in the election for governor this fall have also come out against it, as have most of the state's prominent politicians. The budget bill now goes to the full Congress, and members are expected to consider it after their recess.Wind Farm
A decade ago, a student of mine Averill Rothrock wrote an article on whether Oregon's land use laws adequately reflected ecological sustainability. Obviously her task started with defining ecological sustainability and she chose to include aesthetic values as part of her definition of ecological sustainability. Then and now I disagree. And the battle in Massachusetts over the Nantucket offshore wind farm may be the perfect example of the danger of a policy that gives primacy to aesthetics.
I understand that the objections of Massachusetts politicians dooming this project are not based on adverse ecological impacts -- but rather they are based on the impact of the project on aesthetics and tourism (and, of course, the state's elite for whom the Sound is a playground).
To meet the challenge of moderating climate change, we will need extraordinary efforts harnessing carbon-neutral energy sources. Allowing aesthetic factors, rather than ecological impact or necessity, to determine whether such projects are built is a fatal error.
April 6, 2006
Clear Water Act: 1st Circuit Eliminates Evidentiary Hearing for NPDES Applicant
Dominion Energy Brayton Point, LLC v. Johnson, --- F.3d ----, 2006 WL 820405
(1st Cir. Mar. 30, 2006).
NEPA Caselaw: Soda Mountain
An illustration that hard look lives. The Eastern District of California held that BLM's decision to amend a resource management plan and withdraw its commitment to acquire private lands for wildlife violated FLPMA and NEPA because BLM inadequately analyzed the cumulative impact of the amendment and reasonable alternatives. Significantly, the court held that the decision was reviewable under the APA and that the plaintiffs had standing even though they lacked access to the private lands in question. Soda Mountain Wilderness Council v. Norton, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2006 WL 769080(E.D.Cal.,2006.
Mar 24, 2006) link
April 5, 2006
Environmental Law Prof Blog
Just checking in. I've learned more about sphenoid wing meningiomas en plaque during the past three weeks than I ever wanted to. No, despite the obvious signs, I'm not the one with a brain tumor. It's the other mother of my children and my (ex) partner of twenty two years. So, I've been somewhat absent from the blogosphere. I ve even missed the release of the Science study suggesting a 20 foot increase in sea level by the end of the century. But on one of our plane trips, I did read the Time special report. There is no argument about the problem. The question is what are we going to do about it! Especially when we have to wait two more years for an end to Bush league policy.
Link: Environmental Law Prof Blog.