Thursday, October 25, 2012
On November 14-15, 2012, the Marine Affairs Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law is putting on its 9th Bi-Annual Marine Law Symposium. This year's theme is...climate change! (Shocking, right?) But even with all the attention given to climate change at similar events, this symposium fills an important gap: The symposium will specifically address climate change's impacts on the oceans, and the ways in which coastal and ocean law and policy are (and are not) responding. We have scientists, policymakers, practitioners, and a good helping of legal scholars to talk about ocean acidification, rising sea levels, state and munipal adaptation efforts, the implications for the maritime industry, and emerging issues in the Arctic. You can find the agenda here. And here is the description:
This Symposium will examine the laws and policies that are implicated as climate change impacts coastal and ocean environments. The land-sea boundary is shifting, ocean water is warmer and more acidic, fluctuating weather conditions and storms increasingly impact coastal communities, and the melting Arctic ice cap raises new international boundary and resource exploitation issues. These changes trigger many corresponding legal considerations for natural resource managers, planners, attorneys, insurers and law enforcement entities. At this Symposium, experts and legal practitioners from governmental bodies as well as private industry, academia and non-profit organizations will explore the state of the law, how disputes have been handled to date, and what may be on the horizon. Attendees can expect to walk away with the law and policy tools necessary to engage in these rapidly changing issues, and an understanding of the natural and social science behind changing coastal and ocean conditions.
You can contact me if you have any questions. And I hope to see you in Bristol!
- Michael Burger
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
We previously announced the upcoming Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainability: A Call to Stewardship conference at Brigham Young University, which is scheduled for November 8-10 in Provo, Utah.
The conference agenda is now available and promises to be very thought-provoking gathering. The full agenda is available online, but here are some highlights:
- A keynote address by J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas
- Panels on:
- Environment of the American West
- Sustainability in Business and Urban Planning
- Energy, Religion, Ethics, and the Law
- Cosmology and Sustainability
- Post-structuralist Environmentalism
- Mormon Environmental Ethics
- Economics, Private Property, and Sustainability
- Literature and the Environment
- Religion and the Environment in the Public Sphere
- A closing keynote by Margaret Palmer, University of Maryland
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Alabama is the undisputed king when it comes to freshwater mollusks . . . There are 182 species of mussels living the in the state’s rivers. No other state comes close. In fact, nowhere else in the world comes close in terms of the number of mussel species living in a single river basin . . . But Alabama tops another list, this one the list of mussel species being lost to extinction. Every year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists a few more Alabama mussels as extinct. Dozens are already gone forever.
...And that's the latest news out of Alabama, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently listed eight more mussel species as protected under the Endangered Species Act - species which had been up for listing since 2004. Scientists are making efforts to restore threatened and endangered mussel species through a variety of reintroduction plans in rivers across the state. Yet rivers that were once clear before the 1950's, with water filtered by up to 100 year old mussels, are now muddied and brown. Mussel decline has been attributed to numerous factors, but primarily the dams that have taken over waterways in the state.
Alabama is in the top five most biodiverse states by species richness. The Nature Conservancy listed the Cahaba River Valley as one of 8 biodiversity hotspots out of over 2,000 watersheds in the U.S. A few other notable data points from the Cahaba River Society website:
- The World Wildlife Fund designated the Mobile/Tennessee/Cumberland river system as among the 19 highest priority places to save on the planet in the next decade.
- The National Geographic Society College Atlas of the World notes that the Cahaba River is one of six biologically rich areas in the world threatened by “habitat loss and fragmentation, invasion by non-native species, pollution, and unsustainable exploitation…” which follow from economic activity and population growth.
- The Sierra Club published America’s Wild Legacy, which designates “The 52 most important places to protect within the next 10 years." In Alabama, the Upper Cahaba River was selected as that focus.
Though beautiful and biodiverse, the species richness of Alabama is under great strain. This is why the upcoming November 6 vote on Alabama's "Forever Wild" program is so important. The vote would renew the wildlife preservation program for another 20 years, though it is faced with opposition from the same political ideologues that have influenced the dialogue from the extreme right at the federal level. The program should be renewed, as Alabama's public conservation lands only amount to 4% of the state's total land area - far less than the 12% average in other southeastern states, and a drop in the bucket, of course, compared to western lands. Hopefully Alabama will overcome the short sighted influences of those who refuse to think of future generations and will renew Forever Wild. As Paul Johnson of the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center stated, "Alabama is an aquatic biodiversity haven, not only nationally, but globally…We’re trying to protect that, preserve it.”
- Blake Hudson
As noted by many others, climate change was MIA at the presidential debates and, to a large degree, throughout the election season. So let's ask the two key questions and let their (past) words speak for themselves:
What causes climate change?
September 2012, Charlotte, NC: “My [energy] plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet - because climate change is not a hoax.”
October 2011, Pittsburgh, PA: “My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet.”
Do you support US policies to reduce carbon emissions?
November 2011, Canberra, Australia: “As we move forward over the next several years, my hope is, is that the United States, as one of several countries with a big carbon footprint, can find further ways to reduce our carbon emissions,”
November 2011, Manchester, NH: “Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be... managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.”
- Lesley McAllister
- No, you didn't miss it. Other than a sideswipe at the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and some love for the coal industry, environmental issues were't much of a part of the second presidential debate (or the third).
- Authorities in Hong Kong confiscated an enormous shipment--one of the largest ever--of illegal ivory.
- EPA's air quality standards for hydraulic fracturing were challenged from all sides.
- EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published their final rule raising fuel economy standards.
- The Journal Nature Climate Change published a study predicting that climate change will substantially decrease the productivity of rice plants and substantially increase greenhouse gas emissions from rice farming.
Monday, October 22, 2012
The 15th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations will be held this year on Friday, November 9 from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at UC Hastings in San Francisco.
The conference description: "This conference explores the regulatory takings issue as it relates to land use and environmental regulations. The conference brings together a diverse group of leading scholars and experienced practitioners to discuss cutting-edge issues raised by recent decisions and pending court cases. Some of the topics to be discussed include the pending U.S. Supreme Court case of Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States, recent and pending court cases arising from regulation of surface and groundwater resources, current issues in assessing the economic impact of regulatory action in takings cases, sea level rise due to climate change and its effects on coastal development, and the latest takings developments on the international stage including the current status of investor-state expropriation claims under international trade agreements."
Sunday, October 21, 2012
"Laying the Foundation for a Sustainable Energy Future," which will be held April 10-11 in Washington, D.C. Papers presented at the symposium will be published in the GW Journal or Energy and Environmental Law.
Here is a snippet of the announcement: "We will explore the economic, national security, and social justice aspects, as well as the environmental implications of the concept of sustainable energy. Sustainable energy implies that decision makers must take into account the significant benefits and risks of conventional energy resource development, the need for improving our energy infrastructure, and the cost and uncertainties of emerging technologies. Coming to grips with today’s energy challenges will test the patience of investors, the resilience of energy consumers and competitive markets, and the prudence of government policymakers and industry leaders over the quarter century. This may prove to be a transformative period for the U.S. energy economy. The program will explore how we might design an improved energy system that is 'built to last' and serves the broadest public interests – reliability, security, cost, minimal harm to the physical environment, human safety, competition and ease of market entry, technological innovation, equitable burden sharing, regard for intergenerational impacts – while minimizing regional conflicts and short-term 'stimulus and response' stratagems."
Abstracts for proposed papers are due November 19, 2012.
Questions should be addressed to Jessica Wentz.