On October 22, 2012, the Center for Climate Change Law at
Columbia Law School hosted a forum to discuss the future of RGGI. The event addressed results from the first
three years of RGGI’s existence, some perceived problems with the program, and
potential solutions. The speakers gave a wide range of assessments of the impact
of RGGI, from Mr. Snyder arguing that “by just about any measure, [RGGI] has
been a success,” to Mr. Stavins stating, “I don’t think it deserves credit for
much.” This Field Report will discuss
the perspective of the various speakers to determine who the winners and losers
have been under the program, its effectiveness as a tool against climate
change, and its future.
advancement of nanotechnology represents a tremendous opportunity for society
because of the unique traits that nanoscale materials possess. Unfortunately, the same physical traits that give nanotechnology its
economic and scientific value also make it a potentially dangerous emerging
form of pollution that is particularly difficult to regulate under current
law. After discussing the properties of
nanoparticles and the current, problematic legal framework surrounding their
environmental regulation, I will explore an alternative regulatory regime that
could prove to be more successful in confronting the environmental risk posed
This Field Report provides background on the MRGO and its role in Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Gulf region, the subsequent district court litigation, and compares the initial Fifth Circuit ruling with the panel’s current ruling on the case. Although the reasons why the Fifth Circuit withdrew its initial ruling may never be known beyond the walls of the judges’ chambers, a comparison of the two rulings suggests that there was a change from emphasis on what the Corps actually did to an emphasis on the nature of the decision the Corps had to make. This revised opinion brings the Fifth Circuit back in line with its other decisions requiring the government merely to show that “the acts or omissions that form the basis of the suit are susceptible to a policy-driven analysis, not whether they were the end product of a policy-driven analysis.
Climate justice has many synergistic and sometimes competing dimensions. Superstorm Sandy struck a strategically important city in a strategically important country within days of a strategically important election. Irrespective of the degree to which climate change contributes to any given weather event, climate change has an aggregate effect of increasing the need for effective disaster response. This essay argues that prioritizing human rights and environment in the context of energy, climate, and water decision making offers a best practice model for climate mitigation and adaptive resilience.
The rise in building energy consumption is a growing problem. Today, buildings make up
roughly 40% of total U.S. energy con-sumption. Some state and local legislatures have
responded by enacting residential and commercial green building codes, which
they hope will make buildings more sustainable and more energy efficient. Recently, however, a federal court voided
the City of Albuquerque’s green building code because federal law preempted its
appliance efficiency standards. This is
problematic because energy efficient appliances are a key component to energy
use reduction strategies in green building codes. Further, current federal standards are
inadequate because they are out-of-date
and do not address regional climate diversity. Federal reform is also unlikely. Accordingly, this field report will explore
the limits the Albuquerque decision places on non-federal regulation and will
argue that market-based incentive codes (MBI Codes) can nonetheless effectively
improve appliance efficiency standards without violating federal law.
The Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant located just thirty-four miles from New York City in Buchanan, New York, has recently been the subject of intense debate. On March 1, 2012, the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School hosted a forum on the future of Indian Point. Paul Gallay of Hudson Riverkeeper and Ashok Gupta of Natural Resources Defense Council spoke in opposition to Indian Point. Arthur "Jerry" Kremer of the Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York) and John Kelly, the former Director of Licensing at Indian Point, spoke in support of relicensing the plant. Michael Gerrard, the Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, moderated the panel discussion at the forum. This Report reviews and analyzes the claims made during the forum, highlighting the conclusion that Indian Point presents serious risks that must be addressed before the plant is relicensed.