Reed D. Benson – The Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation spent much of the twentieth century building large dams that dramatically altered the nation’s rivers.  The “big dam era” of federal water policy may have ended decades ago, but the dams that went up in that era are still in place today.  These dams form reservoirs that provide a range of benefits including water supply, flood control, and hydropower, and whatever the arguments in favor of taking out some specific ones, few if any major federal dams will be removed anytime soon.  Yet each existing dam faces an important question about its future: should it be operated differently than it is now? Every reservoir stores and releases water to serve specific purposes, and an operating plan directs the timing and rate of storage and releases from a particular reservoir.  Many federal water projects—dams, reservoirs and associated […]

Reviewing Reservoir Operations: Can Federal Water Projects Adapt to Change?

Joshua Ulan Galperin – Pragmatism is a robust philosophy, vernacular hand-waving, a method of judicial and administrative decisionmaking, and, more recently, justification for a certain type of political activism.  While philosophical, judicial, and administrative pragmatism have garnered substantial attention and analysis from scholars, we have been much stingier with pragmatic activism—that which, in the spirit of the twenty-first century’s 140-character limit, I will call “pragtivism.”  This Article is an introduction to pragtivism—environmental pragtivism in particular—a critique of the practice, and a constructive framework for addressing some of my critiques. As a central principle of their philosophy, pragmatists reject absolutes.  Pragtivists, likewise, reject perfect environmental outcomes in deference to those that are, at least arguably, directionally correct.  The idea of engaging private business is a more applied, but equally important principle.  Pragmatists advocate that decisions are good if they work, if they are based on lessons from experience.  Pragtivists believe that […]

Trust Me, I’m a Pragmatist: A Partially Pragmatic Critique of Pragmatic Activism

Carrie A. Scrufari, Esq. – While agriculture is a main contributor to climate change, it can also be part of the solution if we can capitalize on agriculture’s mitigation potential.  For example, agriculture can assist with removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via carbon sinks—a process called soil carbon sequestration.  Through photosynthesis, plants assimilate carbon and return some of it to the atmosphere through respiration, but the remaining carbon resides in plant tissue and returns to the soil when the plants die.  Experts have recognized that building the capacity of soils to continue storing carbon (through the use of cover cropping, crop rotation, and other organic practices) can be an important ally in battling climate change.  Soil sequestration could substantially relieve our atmospheric impact, with some estimates predicting that soils have the capacity to mitigate climate change by matching anthropogenic emissions at an equal rate for the next forty years.  […]

Tackling the Tenure Problem: Promoting Land Access for New Farmers as Part of ...

William Bolgiano – “Community solar,” a method for financing local solar energy projects, has recently gained a foothold in many states.  It is a promising method of promoting both renewable energy and distributed generation.  Religious congregations are often uniquely able and motivated to implement these projects to realize the direct benefits of the infrastructure investment and a reduced carbon footprint, as well as the indirect benefits that derive from the concerted action of an ethically motivated community.  In fact, local community solar implementation by established and well regarded institutions, as religious congregations often are, may inspire congregants and other community members to do the same, or to support public policy measures aimed at expanding renewable energy. A potential problem arises when congregations use their tax-exempt property (such as church rooves) to host community solar projects: how does a community solar project fit within the limited uses allowed under the tax-exempt […]

Is Generating Renewable Energy a Religious Use of Property? A Question as Congregations ...