PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New PLF Blog on The Endangered Species Act

This is outside of my main area of interest, but those of you interested in environmental issues might want to check out the Pacific Legal Foundation's new blog on the ESA.  The PLF folks, of course, have a clear agenda, but their analysis of property-related issues is often interesting and cogent.

Ben Barros

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June 17, 2008 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Property in Space

Asteroid The Boston Globe has a great article on property in space.  It raises a number of interesting theoretical issues about property, and might make a great teaching tool.

Hat tip:  Ilya at the VC.

Ben Barros

Asteroid Photo From NASA via Wikicommons

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May 19, 2008 in Natural Resources, Property Theory, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Frishmann on Environmental Infrastructure

Brett M. Frischmann (Loyola Chicago) has posted Environmental Infrastructure on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This essay explores how my recent work on infrastructure and commons applies to environmental resources. Part I briefly describes the core idea, which is developed extensively elsewhere. Part II suggests how it might apply to the natural environment. Specifically, Part II (a) frames the difficult environmental valuation and management problems; (b) applies the infrastructure criteria and delineates environmental infrastructure; (c) offers a few insights regarding environmental management and regulation; and (d) considers how infrastructure theory relates to the literatures on ecosystem services and multiple use management.

The essay is based on a presentation at a panel on infrastructure commons at the 2007 Law & Society Annual Conference in Berlin, Germany. It will be published in the Ecology Law Quarterly along with three essays on infrastructure commons written by David Driesen, Gregory Mandel, and Marc Poirier.

I saw this paper presented at Law & Society.  Very interesting!

Ben Barros

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May 9, 2008 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Progressive Case for Water Markets

Jonathan Adler has an interesting post on the subject.

Ben Barros

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April 11, 2008 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ruhl on Ecosystem Services and the ACF Dispute

J.B. Ruhl (Florida State) has posted Equitable Apportionment of Ecosystem Services: New Water Law for a New Water Age on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article examines the interstate water controversy between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama regarding allocation of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACF). The three states have been unable after 20 years of negotiation to resolve conflicts between urbanization in Atlanta, commercial uses in Alabama, and ecological protection in Florida. This article proposes that, were the states to seek apportionment of water by the Supreme Court under the Court's doctrine of equitable apportionment, the ecosystem services flowing within the ACF should be an integral allocation factor in deciding the flow regime Georgia and Alabama must ensure enters the Florida portion of the ACF.

Ben Barros

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March 24, 2008 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rose on Carbon Trading

Carol Rose (Arizona) has posted From H20 to C02: Lessons of Water Rights for Carbon Trading on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Interest in climate change has generated many proposals for cap-and-trade programs to control greenhouse gases. Longstanding American water rights regimes may have some lessons for these new proposals. Nineteenth century eastern water law focused on the cap - keeping water instream - and particularly illustrates the importance of mobilized constituencies in any program that entails capping resource use. Western water law focused on individualized and supposedly tradable rights, and its experience shows especially the significance of rights-definition both for the content and for the tradability of rights. As with water rights, both content and tradability in the new rights regimes are likely to match only imperfectly the goals that we want a cap-and-trade program to serve. For that reason, the historical experience of both water regimes also suggests the important role that surrounding and supporting institutions will play to facilitate trade under imperfect circumstances, and to reassure participants of the standards, accountability, and acceptability of the cap-and-trade regime.

Ben Barros

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November 30, 2007 in Natural Resources, Property Theory | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Colburn Lectures on Natural Resources

Jamison Colburn (Western New England) will give two Stegner Center Lectures at the University of Utah this week:

On October 1, he will speak at a Downtown Continuing Legal Education (CLE) brown bag lecture at Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough. His talk will address "Where the Fire Meets the Road: RS 2477 and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act." Advance registration and payment of $10 for lunch is required. To register, call 581-7356.

On October 2, at the College of Law, Colburn delivers his Stegner Center Young Scholar Lecture: "The Fire Next Time: Planning Land Uses in the Wildland Urban Interface." In this lecture, which is free and open to the public and members of the legal community, he will discuss the “not so aptly titled” Healthy Forest Restoration Act, the Forest Service planning rules, and the relationship each bears to local governmental authority to plan/zone/police land uses on private lands. One CLE credit is provided.

Ben Barros

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October 1, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Klein and Zellmer on Property, Floods and Hurricanes

Christine A. Klein and Sandra B. Zellmer (University of Florida College of Law) have posted Mississippi River Stories: Lessons from a Century of Floods and Hurricanes on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the nation pondered how a relatively weak Category 3 storm could have destroyed an entire region. Few appreciated the extent to which a flawed federal water development policy transformed this apparently natural disaster into a “manmade” disaster; fewer still appreciated how the disaster was the predictable, and indeed predicted, sequel to almost a century of similar disasters. This article focuses upon three such stories: the Great Flood of 1927, the Midwest Flood of 1993, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005. Taken together, the stories reveal important lessons, including the inadequacy of engineered flood control structures such as levees and dams; the perverse incentives created by the national flood insurance program; and the need to reform federal leadership over flood hazard control, particularly as delegated to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Setting forth what we call the theory of “double takes,” this article argues that improvident coastal and floodplain development is facilitated by a pair of taxpayer-funded subsidies that unintentionally exacerbate the flood dangers faced by low-lying communities. First, floodplain developers “take” federal dollars in the form of subsidized flood control structures that enable construction in otherwise unbuildable areas. As a consequence, many floodplain residents are lured into harm's way. Alternatively, would-be developers may “take” federal dollars in the form of compensation under the Fifth Amendment, paid by states and local communities that forbid risky construction in flood-prone areas. Such claims for compensation are fostered by the 1992 decision, Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, in which the Supreme Court endorsed the view that coastal areas are “valueless” in their natural state - a glaring misconception laid bare by the post-Katrina awareness that wetlands and barrier islands instead perform an invaluable flood-taming function. We conclude with suggestions for reform of federal flood hazard policy, the national flood insurance program, and the regulatory takings doctrine.

Ben Barros

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August 30, 2007 in Land Use, Natural Resources, New Orleans, Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Driesen on Infrastructure Commons

David M. Driesen (Syracuse) has posted An Economic Dynamic Approach to the Infrastructure Commons on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This brief essay comments upon and extends Brett Frischman's idea of the infrastructure commons, i.e. that certain commons resources function as infrastructure. After suggesting some refinements of the infrastructure commons theory, this essay shows how an economic dynamic approach to law (see David M. Driesen, The Economic Dynamics of Environmental Law (MIT Press 2003) can help strengthen the case for proper management of the infrastructure commons, helping bolster the case for preserving the commons and identifying some of its limitations. The essay, like Professor Frischman's original article, applies infrastructure commons theory to both environmental and intellectual property resources.

Ben Barros

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August 17, 2007 in Intellectual Property, Natural Resources, Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rasband and Garrett on Public Land Policy

James R. Rasband and Megan Garrett (BYU) have posted A New Era in Public Land Policy? The Shift Toward Reacquisition of Land and Natural Resources on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

Traditionally, the history of public land law has been divided into periods of acquisition, disposition, a shift to retention, and then a period of management. The paper reviews these historical demarcations of public land law and then asks whether we have entered a new period of public land policy that might be termed a period of reacquisition. The paper considers the 19.8 million acre increase in the public land base (outside Alaska) since the 1964 passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Wilderness Act. It details this federal acquisition under the Land and Water Conservation Fund, by way of land exchanges, and under a variety of other statutes. The paper also suggests that the 37 million acres of land protected under the land trust and conservation easement movement can also be understood as part of this shift to reacquisition because of substantial federal tax expenditures in the form of deductions for conservation easements. Finally, the paper considers whether federal regulation can be characterized as a form of public reacquisition, even if the underlying fee is retained in private ownership, because the regulation shifts control over land and natural resources away from private parties and to the public. The paper, for example, considers whether Section 404 of the Clean Water Act might be understood as akin to a reverse of the federal Swamp Lands Grant Acts of the Nineteenth Century.

Ben Barros

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August 1, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Squillace on the Antiquities Act of 1906

Mark Stephen Squillace (University of Colorado School of Law) has posted The Monumental Legacy of the Antiquities Act of 1906 on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President of the United States “to declare by public proclamation, historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon [federal] lands . . . to be national monuments . . . ” The law was passed during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, and Roosevelt quickly set about designating a wide range of lands and resources as national monuments, including notably, the 800,000 acre Grand Canyon National Monument. Roosevelt's expansive interpretation of the law was embraced by later presidents and ultimately by the Supreme Court. In the latter part of the 20th century the use the law waxed and waned, reaching new heights with President Carter's spectacular designation of 56 million acres of land in Alaska as National Monuments, then falling dormant, only to become resurgent again at the end of President Clinton's first term with the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the designation of 21 new or expanded monuments in Clinton's second term. This article traces the history of the Antiquities Act and its remarkable legacy. It describes the many special places that have received protection under the law, and the many controversies that the law has sparked. It also addresses the myriad legal and policy issues raised by the law and its evolution as a conservation management tool. Finally, the article discusses proposals for reforming the Antiquities Act, ultimately concluding that the law should remain just as it is.

Ben Barros

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June 26, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Times on Cultural Property Dispute

Yesterday's NY Times Magazine has an interesting story on a dispute between Yale and Peru over artifacts from Machu Picchu.

Ben Barros

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June 25, 2007 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Blumm and Bosse on Norton v. SUWA

Michael C. Blumm and Sherry Bosse (Lewis & Clark) have posted Norton v. SUWA and the Unraveling of Federal Public Land Planning on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In 2004, in Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Association (SUWA), a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that environmentalists could not obtain injunctive relief against the failure of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to regulate growing off-road vehicle (ORV) use in federal wilderness study areas in Utah, despite a statutory directive that BLM prevent “impairment” of such areas, and despite BLM's promises in its land plan that it would monitor ORV use and close the areas if warranted. Justice Scalia's opinion for the Court acknowledged that the Administrative Procedure Act authorizes federal courts to compel action in the face of agency inaction, but decided that BLM's failure to act to prevent impairment was not actionable because Congress had not directed BLM to take a “discrete” action, instead leaving the agency with considerable discretion as to how to prevent impairment. The decision in SUWA has produced widespread ramifications: federal land managers have employed it to successfully insulate from judicial review a wide variety of federal actions as well as inactions. Moreover, the Bush Administration seized upon the decision as a justification for redefining national forest land plans as aspirational in nature, without any making any binding commitments as to particular authorized activities or land suitability. The Administration also moved to eliminate environmental review of national forest plans, claiming that under its redefinition plans produce no environmental effects, an effort that was subsequently stalled by the courts.

This article discusses these developments, maintaining that they are inconsistent with the congressional commitment to federal land planning made in 1976 in both the Federal Land Management and Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. Thirty years ago, Congress created modern federal land planning as the cornerstone of greater public involvement in public land decisionmaking. SUWA and its aftermath have destroyed that vision, making public land plans virtually irrelevant and a large waste of taxpayer dollars. If effective public participation in federal land planning requires that the public be able to enforce the promises made in land plans, Congress must amend the authorizing statutes to restore federal land plans as legally significant commitments of public resources.

Ben Barros

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June 7, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

British Government Sale of Waterways

From the London Times online:

The Government is considering a billion pound-plus sale of the country’s canals and waterways.

British Waterways, the government-controlled body responsible for 2,200 miles of canals and rivers in the UK, is running a beauty parade of banks with a view to kick-starting a strategic review in the summer. The review will examine all options for the business, including a sale of all or parts of the portfolio, a possible stock market listing or other partnership or funding structures.

A sale could raise as much as £1 billion for the Treasury.

British Waterways is sitting on a property goldmine that includes all the towpaths and land alongside the canals. The company last valued its portfolio at more than £500 million, but that figure could more than double over the coming years as it shares the spoils of housing and office regeneration schemes on its land.

Ben Barros

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May 24, 2007 in Natural Resources, Real Estate Transactions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Carpenter on Management of Sacred Sites

Kristen A. Carpenter (University of Denver) has posted The Interests of "Peoples" in the Cooperative Management of Sacred Sites on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This essay contends that there is a structural element of federal law and policy that sets up legal battles over American Indian sacred sites. The Supreme Court has held that whatever rights groups may have at sacred sites, the federal government's rights as owner and sovereign of the public lands ultimately prevails. Federal agencies can, if they choose, accommodate various interests on the public lands, but such decisions are left to fluctuating executive policy and the discretion of land managers. This approach reflects well-established doctrine in public lands law, but leaves various citizens and groups clamoring for the federal government to recognize their interests and battling one another in the process.

To foster a more cooperative approach to sacred sites management, it may help to transcend the model of absolute federal control with various groups left fighting over the crumbs of accommodation. Instead, federal land management should recognize the concerns of groups on all sides of sacred sites disputes, make those concerns an explicit part of legal analysis, and develop models to recognize the various interests at stake. It will be immensely challenging to reform the management of sacred sites in these ways, and this essay aims only to offer some preliminary thoughts on the topic.

In particular, this essay argues for analysis of sacred sites problems through the language of “peoples” and “peoplehood.” A people is often defined as a body of persons united by a common culture, tradition, politics, or kinship. And peoplehood means the sense or state of belonging to a people. The concept of peoplehood thus helps to explain and validate why human beings group themselves in certain ways and why certain things may be important to them. In the sacred sites context, peoplehood has at least two important ramifications: it can expand the discussion beyond the power of the federal government to include the interests of subnational groups, and it can inspire those groups to recognize and accept one another's interests. Thus, considering the interests of peoples might lay the groundwork for an attitude of cooperation at sacred sites.

Ben Barros

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April 6, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Colburn on Public Lands and Ecology

Jamison E. Colburn (Western New England College School of Law) has posted Habitat and Humanity: Public Lands Law in the Age of Ecology on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Public lands law in this country has been gridlocked for more than a decade at the intersection of democracy and ecology. The public is still made to believe that the "conservation" versus "preservation" of our discrete, bounded parcels of public land is the central issue and that political success is defined by the capturing of a parcel of public land and its being put under the preferred legal regime. Experts and activists have largely seen past that definition of success and have adopted open-textured notions of ecosystem- and adaptive management on which everyone agrees in the abstract but not in application. Nevertheless, public confidence in administrative agencies is very much contingent upon confidence in professional expertise, even as agency governance grows increasingly incompatible with any truly ecosystemic approach to public lands. Indeed, while active management and ecological restoration are superior frames of reference for most public lands today, the only way these can even possibly frame the conservation agenda will be from the bottom up. Thus, I argue that public land management agencies are facing a dilemma if they hope to respond both to ecological reality and democratic accountability in our pluralist society. This dilemma is presented most immediately in their many legal duties to generate formal, comprehensive plans for the lands they administer by which they must protect biodiversity at the same time they serve a diverse public according to the terms of almost a dozen very different enabling statutes. The dilemma is that land health is increasingly incompatible with democracy, at least so long as our democracy views the administrative agency as the solution to its problems.

Ben Barros

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March 30, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Klein on Law of the Lakes

Christine A. Klein (University of Florida College of Law) has posted Law of the Lakes: From Protectionism to Sustainability on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

There is something in the human spirit that responds with great passion and outrage when outsiders—however defined—look beyond their own back yards for a useable source of water. Ironically, that same outrage is conspicuously absent when nearby neighbors use water wastefully, as by excessive lawn watering during rainstorms, neglect of leaky faucets, or failure to modernize outdated bathroom fixtures that use large amounts of water simply to transport waste. Curiously, the outsider-neighbor distinction seems to be rooted in artificial human boundaries (such as state lines), rather than in meaningful ecological boundaries (such as watershed limits). In a well publicized Michigan dispute, for example, residents were outraged by a proposal of Nestlé Waters (a subsidiary of the Perrier Group of America) to construct groundwater withdrawal and water bottling facilities within the state. In that case, citizens responded with organized protests, blocking truckloads of bottled water by lying in the streets, and carrying banners with slogans, such as our water is not for sale. Presumably, the same response would not be triggered by the consumption of an equal amount of water by Michigan irrigators, or even by the incorporation of similar quantities of water into products sold outside the state as baby food or soft drinks.

Whatever its explanation, this protectionist response is powerful and widespread. The underlying energy can be harnessed for good, or allowed to express itself in ultimately unproductive ways. Residents of the Great Lakes basin, for example, have long feared that water users from other states will seek to acquire their lake water, exporting it to arid regions of the country. Basin residents have channeled that emotional energy into the development of the Law of the Lakes—a series of treaties, compacts, agreements, state and federal legislation, and common law designed to regulate and protect Great Lakes resources. To date, those documents have struck a precarious balance between the impulses of protectionism (regulating outsiders) and sustainability (regulating water use by basin residents, as well as by outsiders). Resolving the tension has taken on a new urgency, as the Great Lakes states and provinces recently agreed to develop a new and consistent series of state and provincial water laws.

This Article has a practical goal: to convince state lawmakers of the need to regulate in a comprehensive and evenhanded manner, avoiding short-sighted fixes or politically appealing shortcuts. To accomplish that goal, Part I focuses upon another region of the country—the Colorado River basin—where residents have also undertaken the task of managing a water system that includes two nations (the United States and Mexico) and numerous states. Learning from the successes and failures of the resultant Law of the River, this Article derives guiding principles for the emerging Law of the Lakes. Part II makes a crucial distinction between protectionism and true sustainability, examining the existing Lake documents for evidence of each. Part III offers a description of six essential components of any sustainable state water code, and provides references to a menu of draft legislative provisions available for adoption (with or without modification) by the Great Lakes states. This Article concludes with the hope that the Great Lakes states and provinces realize the tremendous opportunity now facing them, and take full advantage by developing a sustainable body of water law.

Ben Barros

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March 9, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Adler on Rapanos and SWANCC

Jonathan Adler (Case Western Reserve) has posted Once More, with Feeling: Reaffirming the Limits of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The Supreme Court's decision reaffirming limits on federal regulatory jurisdiction in Rapanos v. United States was significant, but hardly revolutionary. The Court's holding that the Clean Water Act only reaches those wetlands with a "significant nexus" to navigable-in-fact waters followed directly from its prior decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in which the Court held the CWA did not extend to isolated, intrastate waters because they lack a "significant nexus" to navigable waters. Rapanos and SWANCC suggest the Court is reluctant to conclude Congress has authorized far-reaching federal regulatory controls over private land use, absent explicit statutory language to the contrary. Such a federalism "clear statement rule" may be in tension with some environmental concerns, but it need not hamper environmental conservation. Environmental progress is wholly consistent with meaningful limits on federal power. If the federal government is to play an optimal role in the protection of wetlands, and match its efforts to those aspects of wetland conservation that require action of a federal scope, it would concentrate its efforts in those areas where non-federal efforts are most likely to be insufficient. The challenge to policy makers is to adapt conservation measures to the broader legal landscape and recognize that environmental protection can live within legal limits.

Ben Barros

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March 8, 2007 in Land Use, Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Glennon et al. on Water Resources

Robert Glennon (University of Arizona) and collaborators have posted four articles on water resources on SSRN.  Here they are:

Robert Glennon, Jedidiah Brewer, Alan P. Ker, and Gary D. Libecap, Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms:

Rising urban and environmental demand for water has created growing pressure to re-allocate water from traditional agricultural uses. But, for a variety of reasons, water markets are more complicated than are those for other resources. In this paper, we first explain these differences by examining water rights and regulatory issues. Second, we place our research in the context of other economics literature on water marketing. Third, we present new, comprehensive data on prices and the extent, nature, and timing of water transfers across 12 western states from 1987-2005. Prices are higher for agriculture-to-urban trades versus within-agriculture trades, in part, reflecting the differences in marginal values between the two uses. Prices higher for urban use are also growing relative to agricultural use over time. Markets are responding. The number of agriculture-to-urban transactions is rising over time, whereas the number of agriculture-to-agriculture transfers is not. Further, there is a shift from using short-term leases to using multi-year leases of water and permanent sales of water rights. This pattern underscores the need to consider the amounts of water obligated over time, rather than examining only annual flows in assessing the quantities of water traded as is the common practice in the literature. Considering committed water, we find that more is transferred and the direction of trading is different than if the focus is on annual flows. Finally, the data reveal considerable variation in water trading across the states.

Robert Glennon and Michael J. Pearce, Transferring Mainstem Colorado River Water Rights: the Arizona Experience:

As one of the fastest growing states in the country, Arizona faces a problem: where is it going to find water to support this growth? The problem arises because most surface water supplies are completely allocated and groundwater is being pumped at an unsustainable rate. This leaves, as the only viable source of new water, Colorado River water available through the sale, lease or exchange of existing water rights.

The United States is entering an era of water reallocation, when demand for new supplies will be satisfied by shifting water use from existing users to those with new demands. Voluntary transfers between willing sellers and willing buyers is, we believe, the best way to bring about this reallocation. Water marketing should be especially embraced by the environmental community because the alternatives are unsatisfactory: more diversions of water from the few remaining free-flowing rivers; an increase in groundwater pumping; or the construction of new dams.

This paper explores the opportunities for marketing Colorado River water by examining case studies of individual transfers that have occurred or been proposed. We consider a recent proposal by the seven Colorado River Basin States that would alter the Law of the River with a set of incentives that would encourage water conservation by allowing cities to pay farmers and irrigation districts to undertake extraordinary conservation measures. We conclude that there substantial impediments to water marketing: the legal constraints are formidable; the transaction costs substantial; and the emotions highly charged. Procedural pitfalls and bureaucratic oversight of transfers constitute substantial impediments to the transfer of even modest quantities of water. These regulatory obstacles drive up transaction costs and discourage the development of a market in water.

Robert Glennon, Tales of French Fries and Bottled Water: the Environmental Consequences of Groundwater Pumping:

This article is a substantially revised version of the 19th Annual Distinguished Visitor lecture at Lewis and Clark Law School in September 2006. Drawing on my 2002 book, Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters (Island Press, 2002), I use stories about common activities in our daily life, such as drinking bottled water and eating French fried potatoes, to illustrate the horrible environmental consequences of groundwater pumping. Excessive groundwater pumping has dried up rivers and lakes around the country, including some very surprising areas, such as Florida and Massachusetts. The phenomenon comes from a disconnect between law and science: the science of hydrology understands that surface and groundwater are integrated parts of the hydrologic cycle, but the legal system governs ground and surface water by different legal doctrines. Rather than reforming the system, we have devised Rube Goldberg solutions, such as refilling dried-up lakes by pumping more groundwater. This illustrates a remarkable trait of human beings: we have an unlimited capacity to deny reality.

Robert Glennon, Christopher Avery, Carla Consoli, and Sharon B. Megdal, Good Intentions, Unintended Consequences: The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District's Search for Renewable Supplies of Water:

The 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act is widely celebrated as a progressive piece of legislation that attempted to halt excessive groundwater pumping. A key component of the Act was its requirement that developers demonstrate an “assured water supply” [AWS] before receiving permission to build. In the early 1990s, the legislature created an optional method for securing AWS compliance: membership in the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District [CAGRD]. This option has turned out to be far more attractive than was originally envisioned. This paper explores the good intentions but unintended consequences brought about by the CAGRD option.

As membership in CAGRD has skyrocketed, so has the CAGRD's obligation to obtain additional supplies of renewable water. From where, and at what price, CAGRD will obtain these supplies is very problematic. This article offers a set of options that would reform how CAGRD operates. Without significant change, CAGRD will find itself required to accept additional members but without access to long-term water supplies to meet it replenishment obligations.

Ben Barros

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February 26, 2007 in Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 1, 2006

Keiter on The Law of Fire

Robert B. Keiter (University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law) has posted The Law of Fire: Reshaping Public Land Policy in an Era of Ecology and Litigation on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article explores the relationship between law, fire, and resource management policy on the public lands. It offers an overview of federal fire policy, describing the evolution of that policy and how the current forest health debate has shaped policy options. It reviews and analyzes the legal framework governing fire policy on public lands, focusing on relevant organic legislation and site-specific statutes, the interface between environmental law and fire management including recent Healthy Forests Initiative reforms, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, tort liability and other compensation doctrines, and the role of state law in shaping federal policy. It then places the fire policy debate in a broader public land policy context, arguing that the current legal framework is not fundamentally flawed though some reforms are necessary to better accommodate fire on the public domain. It concludes that clear legal standards and procedures are necessary to ensure legitimacy and promote accountability in the uncertain and risk-laden wildfire policy setting.

Ben Barros

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December 1, 2006 in Land Use, Natural Resources, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)