August 17, 2012
More on the NRC
Following up on Dave's post yesterday, also see this New York Times article on the NRC's new leadership. As reported by the Times, the NRC has suspended some licensing decisions until it can prove that the lack of storage for nuclear waste does not threaten public health and safety (order available here). What exactly is being suspended is of interest: any licensing decisions dependent on the Waste Confidence Decision and Temporary Storage Rule. Of further interest is how this issue was brought to a head--through litigation in the D.C. Circuit. It is fascinating to watch as all the branches play a part in moving the conversation about nuclear energy--and spent nuclear fuel--forward.
August 16, 2012
Yucca Mountain Reading
Today on the New York Times' Green Blog, Matthew Wald has a short piece on Allison Macfarlane, the newly-appointed chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The post includes a few quotes from Ms. Macfarlane, each of which highlights the rather challenging positions in which the NRC currently finds itself.
Readers interested in getting a sense of the new chairwoman's background--and, perhaps, some clues about how she'll handle her new role--would do well to check out Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste (The MIT Press, 2006). Ms. Macfarlane co-edited the book, contributed two chapters, and co-authored the introduction. The compilation is thorough, thoughtful, and, considering the density of the subject matter, surprisingly readable. It's indispensable for anyone interested in going beyond the political rhetoric and press accounts and developing a real understanding of the scientific, engineering, and policy challenges raised by nuclear waste disposal. And it's encouraging, I think, that someone with such in-depth knowledge of those challenges is the new chairwoman of the NRC.
August 15, 2012
Where has India's "tryst with destiny" brought us so far...
August 15th is India's Independence Day. On the eve of the nation's independence, its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his famous speech, " A Tryst with Destiny." He noted:
"The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratice and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman."
In 1947 the role of environmental policy in achieving the goals set out by Prime Minister Nehru were far from the minds of politicians. Now, sound environmental policy is quintessential for achieving "justice and fullness of life." From illegal mining of natural resources to increased lack of access to water and clean air, India faces challenges that reveal an unpleasant tryst with destiny. The nation's institutions are grappling with the daunting task of reigning in corruption and ensuring some form of equity in resource distribution. Droughts and floods beleaguer several states. Power failures are attributed to slow environmental clearances.
Yet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day speech primarily stressed the link between economic development and national security. No doubt important, but inadequate. This is perhaps a time for all of us to pause and think what true independence means. I will not impose my version of the same, but will simply conclude with a thought that we can never be truly independent from nature and natural resources. So, perhaps, as we strive to achieve the goals that were at the foundation of so many nations, we should not forget the importance of sound environmental policy in achieving those goals.
August 14, 2012
In Case You Missed It -- Week of August 5 - August 11
* Mitt Romey selected Paul Ryan as a running mate, and analysis of Ryan's environmental and energy positions began.
* A new study by James Hansen and others claiming that recent heat waves were caused by climate change was published.
* Japan is struggling with energy shortages this summer due to all but two of its nuclear reactors off-line in the wake of the Fukushima accident.
* Harvard Law School's environmental clinic won a victory on behalf of solar developers in Massachusetts.
* New emails written by Energy Department staff members discussing White House involvement in the clean energy program about two months before the Solyndra scandal were released.
* Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened a fifth annual green energy conference in Las Vegas by announcing a new wind energy farm will begin producing electricity.
This semester, I’m teaching Climate Change Law and Public Land & Natural Resources Law, and I thought that an updated list of casebooks for these two courses might be useful to some readers. I count three choices for Climate Change Law (one of which I am particularly proud to list) and four choices for Public Land Law. Let me know if I’ve missed something!
Climate Change Law Casebooks
Richard G. Hildreth, David R. Hodas, Nicholas A. Robinson, and James Gustave Speth, Climate Change Law: Mitigation and Adaptation, 2009 (West).
(NEW!) Hari M. Osofsky and Lesley K. McAllister, Climate Change Law and Policy, 2012 (Aspen/ WoltersKluwer).
Chris Wold, David Hunter, and Melissa Powers, Climate Change and the Law, 2009 (Lexis-Nexis).
I use the book I wrote with my fellow blogger Hari Osofsky of course, but I have also used Wold et al., and I liked it quite a bit. Our book is different in that it is part of the Aspen Elective Series, so it’s shorter and cheaper than a traditional casebook. It’s going to press in late August and will be on shelves by late September. If you’d like to get a PDF of the book to use until print copies are available, you can email Ellen Shapiro at WoltersKluwer.
Public Land & Natural Resources Law Casebooks
George C. Coggins, Charles F. Wilkinson, John D. Leshy, and Robert L. Fischman, Federal Public Land and Resources Law, 6th ed., 2007 (Foundation Press).
Christine A. Klein, Federico Cheever, and Bret C. Birdsong, Natural Resources Law: A Place-Based Book of Problems and Cases, 2d ed., 2009 (Aspen/WoltersKluwer).
Jan G. Laitos, Sandra B. Zellmer, Mary C. Wood, and Daniel H. Cole, Natural Resources Law, 1st ed. 2006, 2nd ed. 2012 (Thomson-West).
James Rasband, James Salzman, and Mark Squillace, Natural Resources Law and Policy, 2d ed., 2009 (Foundation Press).
I use Klein et al., and I really like it, but I haven’t used the others. For some commentary and comparative analysis, see the fine articles by Blumm, Becker, Gable, Fischman, and Krakoff from the symposium "From Martz to the Twenty-First Century: A Half-Century of Natural Resources Law Casebooks and Pedagogy," published by the University of Colorado Law Review (Volume 78 Issue 2, Spring 2007).