Wednesday, June 10, 2015
EPA has just released a new environmental justice mapping tool. I gave it a test drive and found it to be easy to use and potentially quite useful. Here is a screenshot from the program of the PM2.5 exposure near my old residence in San Francisco:
More from the EPA press release:
EPA Releases EJSCREEN, An Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool
Washington — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool that uses high resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EJSCREEN’s simple to understand color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.
“EJSCREEN provides essential information to anyone seeking greater visibility and awareness about the impacts of pollution in American communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EJSCREEN has been a valuable resource for EPA to advance our commitment to protect Americans most vulnerable to pollution. I’m excited to share this tool with the public to broaden its impact, build transparency, and foster collaboration with partners working to achieve environmental justice.
“State environmental agencies appreciate EPA’s collaborative work on the use and release of this important tool,” said Dick Pedersen, Director of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and past President of the Environmental Council of States. “Citizens having access to environmental and demographic data is extremely important in helping states implement environmental programs and ensure public health and environmental protection for all. To that end, EJSCREEN facilitates vital citizen engagement.”
EJSCREEN can help governments, academic institutions, local communities, and other stakeholders to highlight communities with greater risk of exposure to pollution based on 8 pollution and environmental indicators, including traffic proximity, particulate matter, and proximity to superfund sites. These indicators are combined with demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community 5-year Summary Survey enabling users to identify areas with minority or low-income populations who also face potential pollution issues.
EJSCREEN’s capabilities could provide support for educational programs, grant writing, and community awareness efforts so that users can participate meaningfully in decision-making processes that impact their health and environment. While EJSCREEN is being shared publicly to improve work on environmental justice, EPA is not mandating state governments or other entities use the tool or its underlying data.
EJSCREEN does not direct EPA decisions; it does not provide a basis for identifying areas as EJ communities, and it is not an appropriate standalone tool for making a risk assessment. As a screening tool, its data may have levels of uncertainty, and is therefore incomplete in capturing the total number of pollution problems people face.
Today’s release of EJSCREEN initiates a stakeholder engagement period over the next six months. EPA will collect feedback on the datasets and design of the tool – as well as how it could be further enhanced – and will release a revised version in 2016.
Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA’s goal is to provide all people with equal access to the environmental decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
To access the tool, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/ejscreen.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
McKinsey, the business consulting firm, is taking on urbanism. From the new report's website:
The result is How to make a city great (PDF–2.1MB), a new report arguing that leaders who make important strides in improving their cities do three things really well:
- They achieve smart growth. Smart growth identifies and nurtures the very best opportunities for growth, plans ways to cope with its demands, integrates environmental thinking, and ensures that all citizens enjoy a city’s prosperity. Good city leaders also think about regional growth because as a metropolis expands, they will need the cooperation of surrounding municipalities and regional service providers. Integrating the environment into economic decision making is vital to smart growth: cities must invest in infrastructure that reduces emissions, waste production, and water use, as well as in building high-density communities.
- They do more with less. Great cities secure all revenues due, explore investment partnerships, embrace technology, make organizational changes that eliminate overlapping roles, and manage expenses. Successful city leaders have also learned that, if designed and executed well, private–public partnerships can be an essential element of smart growth, delivering lower-cost, higher-quality infrastructure and services.
- They win support for change. Change is not easy, and its momentum can even attract opposition. Successful city leaders build a high-performing team of civil servants, create a working environment where all employees are accountable for their actions, and take every opportunity to forge a stakeholder consensus with the local population and business community. They take steps to recruit and retain top talent, emphasize collaboration, and train civil servants in the use of technology.
Mayors are only too aware that their tenure will be limited. But if longer-term plans are articulated—and gain popular support because of short-term successes—leaders can start a virtuous cycle that sustains and encourages a great urban environment.
Download the full report, How to make a city great (PDF–2.1MB).
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Friday, June 5, 2015
National League of Cities releases major survey on short-term rental and ridesharing sectors of sharing economy
The National League of Cities just released a major survey of cities across the country detailing their approaches to short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, and ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft. The report also looks at statewide actions on these fronts as well.
This is the most comprehensive data yet on state and local governments' response to the sharing economy. I highly recommend the report, which is available here. Of particular use is the appendix, which provides the status of short-term rental and ride-sharing regulation in thirty major American cities.
My biggest take-away from the report is that states and cities are really "all over the map" in terms of their regulatory approaches. No one approach seems to have emerged as a dominant trend and, interestingly, there does not seem to be any particular political bent to those favoring--or disfavoring--the sharing economy. Perhaps this will change with time.
I would try to summarize the findings, but they are relatively complex; a few minutes with the report will be well worth your time.
Ilya Somin (George Mason) has just published The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Here is the book description:
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could condemn fifteen residential properties in order to transfer them to a new private owner. Although the Fifth Amendment only permits the taking of private property for "public use," the Court ruled that the transfer of condemned land to private parties for "economic development" is permitted by the Constitution - even if the government cannot prove that the expected development will ever actually happen. The Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London empowered the grasping hand of the state at the expense of the invisible hand of the market.
In this detailed study of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in modern times, Ilya Somin argues that Kelo was a grave error. Economic development and "blight" condemnations are unconstitutional under both originalist and most "living constitution" theories of legal interpretation. They also victimize the poor and the politically weak for the benefit of powerful interest groups, and often destroy more economic value than they create. Kelo itself exemplifies these patterns. The residents targeted for condemnation lacked the influence needed to combat the formidable government and corporate interests arrayed against them. Moreover, the city's poorly conceived development plan ultimately failed: the condemned land lies empty to this day, occupied only by feral cats.
The Supreme Court's unpopular ruling triggered an unprecedented political reaction, with forty-five states passing new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain. But many of the new laws impose few or no genuine constraints on takings. The Kelo backlash led to significant progress, but not nearly as much as it may have seemed.
Despite its outcome, the closely divided 5-4 ruling shattered what many believed to be a consensus that virtually any condemnation qualifies as a public use under the Fifth Amendment. It also showed that there is widespread public opposition to eminent domain abuse. With controversy over takings sure to continue, The Grasping Hand offers the first book-length analysis of Kelo by a legal scholar, alongside a broader history of the dispute over public use and eminent domain, and an evaluation of options for reform.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School invites applications from legal scholars, practitioners and government officials in environmental, energy and natural resources law to join us as a Visiting Scholar for a sabbatical semester, summer or other short-term visit. Visiting Scholars sponsored by the Sabin Center will conduct scholarly and applied research and write papers and blog posts in collaboration with the Center’s faculty and staff, and will otherwise participate in our events and activities. The Visiting Scholar will be given a desk, phone and desktop computer with internet access, along with a modest travel stipend. Further details are available here.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis – please send your cv and a one-page proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is generously supported by the David Sive Memorial Fund.
EPA draft assessment of effects of fracking on drinking water finds no "widespread, systemic impacts" but some "vulnerabilities"
From the EPA press release:
EPA Releases Draft Assessment on the Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities
Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.
WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a draft assessment today on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the request of Congress, shows that while hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water. The assessment follows the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and disposal [http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy/hydraulic-fracturing-water-cycle].
“EPA’s draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”
EPA’s review of data sources available to the agency found specific instances where well integrity and waste water management related to hydraulic fracturing activities impacted drinking water resources, but they were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country. The report provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities, some of which are not unique to hydraulic fracturing, to drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts.
These vulnerabilities to drinking water resources include:
water withdrawals in areas with low water availability;
hydraulic fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources;
inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids;
inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;
and spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.
Also released today were nine peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports (www.epa.gov/hfstudy). These reports were a part of EPA’s overall hydraulic fracturing drinking water study and contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment. Over 20 peer-reviewed articles or reports were published as part of this study [http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy/published-scientific-papers].
States play a primary role in regulating most natural gas and oil development. EPA’s authority is limited by statutory or regulatory exemptions under the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Where EPA’s exemptions exist, states may have authority to regulate unconventional oil and gas extraction activities under their own state laws.
EPA’s draft assessment benefited from extensive stakeholder engagement conducted across the country with states, tribes, industry, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and the public to ensure that the draft assessment reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and utilizes all data and information available to the agency.
The study will be finalized after review by the Science Advisory Board and public review and comment. The Federal Register Notice with information on the SAB review and how to comment on the draft assessment will be published on Friday June 5, 2015.
For a copy of the study, visit www.epa.gov/hfstudy.
To submit comments on the report, see http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr_activites/HF%20Drinking%20Water%20Assessment?OpenDocument
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
"Largest bribe ever accepted by a public official" to fix land use decisions in a California city gets sentencing
From the US DOJ press release [link corrected] of June 1:
In a case stemming from what is believed to be the largest bribe ever accepted by a public official in an undercover operation, a former member of the Moreno Valley City Council was sentenced this afternoon to 60 months in federal prison for taking a $2.36 million cash bribe from an undercover operative posing as a real estate broker.
Marcelo Co, 64, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal. Co pleaded guilty last year to one bribery count and one count of filing a false corporate tax return.
The case against Co was the result of an investigation by the Inland Regional Corruption Task Force, which is comprised of prosecutors, agents and investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS – Criminal Investigation, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office.
Co was elected to the Moreno Valley City Council in November 2010 and resigned from his seat in August 2013 after being charged in state court in an unrelated case. Court documents filed in the federal case outline a bribery scheme in which Co told a businessman and an undercover FBI operative posing as a real estate broker that he would control a voting majority of the Moreno Valley City Council and would be able to guarantee land use decisions that would benefit the businessman and the land broker. Co also promised to always vote in favor of land use decisions that would benefit the real estate broker.
Co solicited campaign donations from the FBI undercover operative and the
businessman, who was cooperating with the investigation. Co eventually received payments of $5,000 and $10,000 that he said were to be used to finance the campaigns of individuals who would vote with him on land use issues.
In the fall of 2012, Co met with the undercover operative to discuss a multimillion dollar sale of a 30-acre parcel that he owned. Co told the real estate broker that once he had control of the City Council, he could change the zoning of the property and the land value would dramatically increase. With the City Council election in November 2012, Co told the undercover investigator that he had the votes to alter the zoning and increase the value of Co’s 30-acre parcel, which had been appraised at $710,000. Co proposed that the undercover operative purchase the property for $5.36 million, which would include a cash payment of $2.36 million.
At a meeting on January 30, 2013, Co agreed to sell the property for $5.36 million, but that the publicly filed documents would reflect a sale price of only $3 million. At this meeting, Co accepted $2.36 million in cash.
The tax charge concerns a federal Corporation Income Tax Return (Form 1120) that Co filed for his company, Qwik Pack Systems, for tax year 2010. In that filing with the IRS, Co failed to report well over $100,000 in income. This tax charge is not related to the bribery scheme.
Co must surrender himself to authorities on October 30 to begin serving his sentence.
Monday, June 1, 2015
May was a bang-up month for land use law review articles! Below is a list of all land use law articles posted to the SSRN Property, Land Use, and Real Estate Law eJournal in the month of May. The articles are listed here in reverse order of posting (e.g., articles at the bottom were posted earlier in the month), and the ordering does not reflect the number of downloads.
Congratulations to all on a productive spring!
Buying Back the West
Journal of Land, Resources & Environmental Law, Vol. 24, pp.179-86, 2004
James R. Rasband
Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School
Old Suburbs Meets New Urbanism
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1512
Nicole Stelle Garnett
Notre Dame Law School
The Ecosystem Approach Under the Convention on Biological Diversity: A Legal Research Agenda
E Morgera, 'Ecosystem and Precautionary Approaches' in J Razzaque and E Morgera (eds), Encyclopedia of Environmental Law: Biodiversity and Nature Protection Law (EE, 2016), Forthcoming, Scottish Centre for International Law Working Paper Series No. 7, Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2015/17
University of Edinburgh
'Economic Property Rights' as 'Nonsense Upon Stilts': A Comment on Hodgson
Journal of Institutional Economics, Forthcoming
Daniel H. Cole
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Habitat Restoration on Private Lands in the United States and the EU: Moving from Contestation to Collaboration?
Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 33-60, January 2015
Department of Public International Law, Ghent University (Belgium)
Date Posted: May 28, 2015
Accepted Paper Series
The Bunk House Rules: Housing Migrant Labour in Ontario
Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 11, 2015, Forthcoming, Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18/2015
Adrian A Smith
York University - Osgoode Hall Law School
Planning for the Future: The Creation of New Corridors for Energy Infrastructure in Alberta, Canada
(2014) 1:2 University of Petroleum & Energy Studies Law Rev 175-216
Allan Ingelson and Chilenye Nwapi
University of Calgary - Faculty of Law and University of Calgary
Economics-Based Environmentalism in the Fourth Generation of Environmental Law
21 (University of Missouri) Journal of Environmental & Sustainability Law 47 (2015)
Donald J. Kochan
Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Non-Compliance in a Dangerous Time: The Pitfalls of Section 27 of the Surface Rights Act
The Negotiator, February 2015
Fenner L. Stewart
University of Calgary, Faculty of Law
Natural Resource Restoration
Tulane Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2015
Kanner & Whiteley, LLC
Housing as Holdout: Segregation in American Neighborhoods
Tulsa Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 329-339 (2015), Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 227-2015
Northeastern University - School of Law
Solar Rights in the United States
Delivering Energy Policy in the EU and US: A Multi-Disciplinary Reader, (Raphael Heffron & Gavin Little, eds.), Edinburgh University Press, 2015, Forthcoming
Sara C. Bronin
University of Connecticut - School of Law
Reassessing Joint Use Agreements to Promote the Public's Health
Preventing Chronic Disease, Volume 12, E52, 2015
James G. Hodge Jr.
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
The Resource Management Act - How We Got It and What Changes are Being Made to It
 RM Theory & Practice at 22.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC
Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law
The Evolution of Relational Property Rights: A Case of Chinese Rural Land Reform
Iowa Law Review, Vol. 100, 2015, Forthcoming
Shitong Qiao and Frank K. Upham
University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law and New York University School of Law
Keeping Track of Conservation
42 Ecology Law Quarterly 79 (2015)
State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo - Law School
Coordinating the Oil and Gas Commons
Forthcoming in the Brigham Young University Law Review (symposium, 2015), FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 754
Hannah Jacobs Wiseman
Florida State University - College of Law
Penn Central 2.0: The Takings Implications of Printing Air Rights
Columbia Business Law Review, Forthcoming
Samantha Peikoff Adler
Columbia University - Columbia Business Law Review
Common Property Resource Dependency: Forests and Village Commons
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Students
Making Towns More Sustainable by Incorporating Metrics in the Town Plan
Henry August Bonges III
Sustainability and Environmental Management
Charles E. Colman
New York University School of Law
Property as a Cultural Tool
When the Shale Gale Hit Ohio: The Failures of the Dormant Mineral Act, Its Heroic Interpretations, and Grave Choices Facing the Supreme Court
Capital University Law Review, Forthcoming
Fenner L. Stewart
University of Calgary, Faculty of Law
'Indigeneity' as Self-Determination
Indigenous Law Journal, Vol. 4, 2005
Mark J. Bennett
Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law
Natural Disasters: Land Use and Insurance
Céline Grislain-Letrémy and Bertrand Villeneuve
National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST) and Université Paris Dauphine
As Natural Landscaping Takes Root We Must Weed Out the Bad Laws - How Natural Landscaping and Leopold's Land Ethic Collide with Unenlightned Weed Laws and What Must Be Done about It
John Marshall Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 4, 1993
Rights at Risk in Privatized Public Housing
Tulsa Law Review, Vol. 50, 2015, pp. 759-801.
University of Baltimore - School of Law
New Approach or Business as Usual? Protection of Aquatic Ecosystems Under the Clinton Administration's Westside Forests Plan
Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, Vol. 10, No. 309, 1995
Henry B Lacey
Conservation Contracts and Political Regimes
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5334
Bård Harstad and Torben K. Mideksa
University of Oslo - Department of Economics and Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO)
Holes in the Dike: The Global Savings Glut, U.S. House Prices and the Long Shadow of Banking Deregulation
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5332
Mathias Hoffmann and Iryna Stewen
University of Zurich - Department of Economics and University of Mainz - Gutenberg School of Economics and Management
The Public Trust Doctrine, Private Water Allocation, and Mono Lake: The Historic Saga of National Audubon Society v. Superior Ct.
Environmental Law, Vol. 45, 2015
Lewis & Clark Law School
When Local Government Misbehaves
Utah Law Review, Forthcoming
Shelley Ross Saxer
Pepperdine University School of Law
84 U. Cincinnati L. Rev., 2015 Forthcoming, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-19
Kevin J. Lynch
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Date Posted: May 05, 2015
Lessons from Area-Wide, Multi-Agency Habitat Conservation Plans in California
UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-50
Alejandro E. Camacho , Elizabeth M. Taylor and Melissa L. Kelly
University of California Irvine School of Law , University of California, Irvine School of Law and University of California, Irvine School of Law
Date Posted: May 05, 2015
Dancing in Place: The Clinton Administration and Aquatic Ecosystem Protection in the Pacific Northwest
Henry B Lacey
Date Posted: May 05, 2015
Governing the Ungovernable: Integrating the Multimodal Approach to Keeping Agricultural Land Use from Swallowing Ecosystems
McGeorge Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2014, Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper; No. 15-14
Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law
Contracting for Control of Landscape-Level Resources
Iowa Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 101, 2015, Forthcoming
Karen Bradshaw Schulz and Dean Lueck
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and University of Arizona
The Institutions of Roman Markets
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Economics and Business Working Paper Series 1471
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Race and Decolonization: Whiteness as Property in the American Settler Colonial Project
Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice, Forthcoming
Natsu Taylor Saito
Georgia State University College of Law
'Unclear' Initial Delineation of Property Boundaries and the Third Coase Theorem
Lai, Lawrence W.C., Chau, K.W. and Lorne, Frank T., 'Unclear' initial delineation of property boundaries and the third Coase Theorem. Land Use Policy, Forthcoming
Lawrence Wai-Chung Lai , K.W. Chau and Frank T. Lorne
The University of Hong Kong - Department of Real Estate and Construction , The University of Hong Kong and Universitas 21 Global - Economics
Legal Institutionalism: Capitalism and the Constitutive Role of Law
University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 26/2015
Simon Deakin , David Gindis , Geoffrey M. Hodgson , Huang Kainan and Katharina Pistor
University of Cambridge - Centre for Business Research (CBR) , University of Hertfordshire - Business School , University of Hertfordshire , Shandong University and Columbia University School of Law
The Future of Fannie and Freddie
New York University Journal of Law and Business, Vol. 10, p. 339, 2014, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper, No. 407
Mark A. Calabria , David J. Reiss , Lawrence J. White , Mark A. Willis and Michael E. Levine
Cato Institute , Brooklyn Law School , New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business , New York University (NYU) and New York University School of Law
Cracking the Citadel Walls: A Functional Approach to Cosmopolitan Property Models within and Beyond National Property Regimes
Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (3): 770-794 (2014)
Central European University (CEU) - Department of Legal Studies
The Boston City Pilot Task Force: An Emerging Best Practice?
New England Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2010
Eric A. Lustig
New England Law | Boston