Check out our new Alumni in the News section (updated November 2015) where we highlight alumni blogs, papers, videos, and quotes, etc.
New Report on the State of Accountability in Development Finance Institutions Released
On January 27, eleven organizations, including the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law released "Glass Half Full? The State of Accountability in Development Finance." The report examines the operations of eleven independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) at development finance institutions, including the World Bank Inspection Panel and the IFC Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, among others. The report found that while communities benefit from being able to bring complaints to the IAMs, ultimately more needs to be done to ensure adequate remedy for communities who are harmed by development projects funded by the DFIs. In additon to assessing the current state of accountability, the report offers recommendations for how the DFIs and their IAMs can improve as well as recommendations for what a more perfect system would be. SOMO and Accountability Counsel led the research and drafting of this report. PICEL Coordinator Erika Lennon helped author the report. Additionally, SDLP Editor-In-Chief Caitlin Buchanan ('16) and International Editor Tais Ludwig ('16) helped with the references throughout the report, and as an intern at Inclusive Development International, Emily Goldman ('16) helped produce various parts of the report.
In December, the ABA Section on Environment, Energy & Natural Resources along with other ABA sections published their newsletter with a focus on climate change and COP21. The newsletter featured articles from WCL International Legal Studies Program alumna Jennifer Anyaeji (LL.M, '15) and incoming WCL International Legal Studies Program student Kavell Joseph, who previously attended the Environmental Law Summer Session (2015). Jennifer's article, "Climate Mitigating Potential of Cool Roofs," focuses on the mitigation benefits of cool roofs. She notes the climate mitigation and energy efficiency benefits of cool roofs. Jennifer then highlights the important gains that cool roofs along with aggressive policies to tackle short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) can make to mitigate climate change. Kavell's article, "Confronting the Effect of Climate Change in the Caribbean: The Need for a Competent and Substantive Paris Agreement," takes a more regional approach and focuses on the impacts being felt in the Caribbean already, such as rising sea level and the growth of sargassum seaweed, the adaptation and mitigation steps Caribbean nations are already taking, and the policies that need to be adopted at COP21 to tackle climate change. Kavell highlights the Caribbean's Adaptation Action Plan and the national mitigation plans, such as Trinidad and Tobago's national climate policy, to explain what countries in the region are already doing. She then notes a number of potential policies that could be adopted at COP21 to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, including removing fossil fuel subsidies, financial aid to developing countries through the Green Climate Fund, and carbon pricing, among others.
Read their articles HERE.
From November 30 to December 11, 2015 the world came together in Paris for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-21 to determine what instrument to adopt to address climate change and it's causes. SDLP students Tais Ludwig ('16), Kimberly Reynolds ('17), Kelly Carlson ('16), and Caitlin Cutchin (LL.M '15) went to Paris to take part in events related to the official COP-21 negotiations. In addition to the official negotiations between states occurring inside the Blue Zone at the Le Bourget center, the Climate Generations area hosted a series of side events to engage with the public, negotiators, and others interested in COP-21 and climate change. While in Paris, the team attended a number of these events, including presentations on indigenous rights and climate change in the Brazilian Amazon, corporate social responsibility through the utilization of sustainable global supply chains, a town hall-style discussions about the impacts of the US Clean Power Plan on labor unions, and a discussion on Security and climate-cased migrations. Part of the team was lucky enough to be able to attend the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal speech about the importance of civil society and the public in global efforts to address climate change. Additionally, they participated in the wide-spread social media around COP-21. The SDLP staffers blogged about events and met with various delegates and representatives from academia and civil society organizations around the globe. (Photos: Top Left - Tais Ludwig and Caitlin Cutchin; Top Right - Kelly Carlson, Tais Ludwig, and Kimberly Reynolds. Photo Credit: Tais Ludwig).
For SDLP's updates and analysis about COP21 and the events they attended, check out their blog!
From December 7 to 9, the International Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) at the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) held their annual meeting in Paris. PICEL Coordinator Erika Lennon ('08) joined with other lawyers and activists from NGOs around the world to interact with the members of the IAMs and discuss the issues related to ensuring accountability and remedy for affected communities. Many DFIs now have an IAM, such as the World Bank Inspection Panel or IFC Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, that exist to ensure that the DFIs follow their environmental and social standards when conducting projects and to provide affected communities with a place to bring a complaint when they or their environment are harmed by a DFI funded project. For over 10 years, the IAMs have been meeting to discuss their work, and for the last few the IAMs annual meeting has also included an opportunity for the IAMs and CSOs to have a dialogue. During this year's meeting participants discussed the overlap between COP21 and the IAMs, particularly in regards to the development of the Green Climate Fund, the increasing problem of reprisals against human rights and environment defenders, and the current state of IAMs and ensuring remedy for project affected peoples. Following these panels, the IAMs and NGOs held a roundtable discussion. While in Paris, Erika also attended a consultation with the FMO/DEG complaints mechanism which is in the process of revising its procedures following its first complaint on the Barro Blanco dam in Panama. Given the similarity of their policies and their joint financing of projects, the FMO (Dutch Development Bank) and DEG (German Development Bank) recently developed a joint IAM rather than each developing one. Having learned lessons from handling the Barro Blanco complaint filed by communities in Panama, the complaints mechanism decided to revise its procedures and took advantage of interested CSOs and others being in Paris for this meeting to hold a preliminary consultation.
On November 13, the Climate Reality Project started its 24 Hours of Reality broadcast focused on urging world leaders to act on climate change now and at the upcoming UNFCCC COP21 in Paris. ILSP LL.M student Luciana Lepri, a Brazilian lawyer, was chosen to participate in this broadcast. Luciana participated in the segment on South America and presented live from Rio de Janeiro. During her discussion, she highlighted the importance of growth in the renewable energy area and the negative effects of climate change in South America. Additionally, she highlighted the classes on climate change and international environmental law that she is taking at WCL and her professors namely Professors David Hunter and Bill Snape. Luciana closed her presentation by urging world leaders to act and calling on everyone to urge them to do so.
On November 11, the Sustainable Development Law & Policy brief hosted its annual symposium and this year's timely topic was "All Eyes on Paris: The Global Agreement on Climate Change" given the upcoming international UNFCCC negotiations in Paris in December." Symposium Editor Katrina Tomecek ('16) and Editor-in-Chief Catilin Buchanan ('16) opened the symposium by welcoming everyone (picture at right). Then Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) President & CEO Carroll Muffett (photo at left) provided an overview and background for the international negotiations, starting with 1988 and testimony by James Hanson about the dangers and reality of climate change. He ended is welcoming remarks by noting that COP21 in Paris is just another step and that Paris is one stop on the road to addressing climate change and taking action. Following Muffett's introduction, panel one, moderated by Bill Snape, looked at U.S. Climate Action and the recently enacted Clean Power Plan. Public Citizen's Energy Program Director Tyson Slocum kicked off the discussion by noting that the Clean Power Plan gives the US more leverage and legitimacy in Paris. He was followed by Alex McDonough ('09), Senior Policy Advisor for Energy and Environment to Senator Harry Reid,who discussed the role of Congress (beyond appropriations and advice on consent for treaties) in COP21 and the US acting on climate. David Bookbinder followed with a more negative outlook as he pointed out that there is a shortfall in the US emissions reduction commitments between what they are and what is needed. Additionally, he (as did other panelists) pointed out that the Clean Power Plan still may face legal hurdles. Lastly, Duke Energy's Toby Short highlighted the need for greater regulatory certainty and the fact that the Clean Power Plan leaves much discretion to the states. During the question and answer, as they do on the Hot Air Show podcast, Public Citizen's Energy Program Director Tyson Slocum and Duke Energy's Toby Short, along with the other panelists, debated natural gas and renewables. In regards to renewables and natural gas, Caitlin Buchanan ('16) questioned Toby Short's assertion that we needed to rely on natural gas and instead focused on her hope for renewables. (Panel One Photo above right). Following, panel one Professor Steven Ferrey from Suffolk University Law School (photo at left) provided a look at the constitutionality of various climate actions. Additionally, he highlighted the potential conflict between the economy and environment in the Clean Power Plan and the potential legal challenges it may face. This wasfollowed by EPA Scientist Jeremy Martinich (pictured below right) introducing the EPA's Climate Impacts & Risk Analysis (CIRA) Report, which looks at the problems that the US will face if there is not global action on climate. The CIRA report highlights several major problems of climate inaction. The afternoon panels turned their attention to COP21 and the broad prongs of mitigation and adaptation. First, PICEL coordinator Erika Lennon ('08) moderated a panel about mitigation (pictured below left) and how to ensure global temperature rise stays below 2C or ideally 1.5C. Panelists including World Bank lawyer Charles DiLeva, CIEL Senior Attorney in the Climate and Energy Program Alyssa Johl, Friends of the Earth-US Climate & Energy Program Director Ben Schreiber, and World Bank Advisor and former UNFCCC negotiator Eduardo Dopazo agreed that mitigation actions are necessary, the current INDC pledges do not keep the temperature rise below 2C, and climate finance to help developing countriesmeet their mitigation goals will be a major issue at COP21. Charles DiLeva kicked off the panel and noted that there is more momentum going into COP21 than in Copenhagen in 2009, especially because both developed anddeveloping countries have released INDCs, however he also pointed out that in addition to the many brackets in the text (and a variety of other issues) one of the major hurdles is finance and scaling-up the money in the Green Climate Fund. Following this, Eduardo Dopazo, who has helped several countries develop their INDCs, highlighted the increased political will of the parties, especially as seen through the INDCs and the fact that developing countries are agreeing to make emissions reductions commitments. Alyssa Johl, noted the issues related to finance, but focused on human rights and the human rights implications of 2C including many people's loss of livelihood.She pointed out that the debate is all political and not based onscience and that 106 countries support the 1.5C target. Following up on Alyssa's points, Ben Schreiber focused on equity and justice. He pointed out that this is a global commons problem and the US and EU have already used their share of the commons and now need to provide payments to the developing countries who have not used up their share and need support to sustainably develop. During the Q&A, the panelists further discussed the potential ways to enforce INDCs, the urgent need to act to keep global temperature rise below 1.5-2C, and the many hurdles to overcome in Paris, but expressed some optimism that positive steps will be taken. The final panel of the day (pictured below right) was moderated by Professor David Hunter and focused on adaptation and compensation. Ira Feldman gave an overview of adaptation strategies and the need for large-scale adaptation policies, and he was followed by Alan Miller who discussed the challenges of adaptation projects. Then Adaptation Fund Secretariat Manager Marcia Levaggi (and current ILSP LL.M student) gave an overview of the various UNFCCC funds and highlighted how the Adaptation Fund works. The discussion then shifted to compensation for climate change harm. Columbia Law Professor Michael Burger noted the challenges of climate change lawsuits using several in the U.S. as examples. Then Greenpeace lawyer Naomi Ages, who heads its climate liability project, discussed both the negotiations around loss and damage and climate liability of countries and companies. Naomi touched on the Carbon Majors report and the recently launched NY Attorney General investigation into Exxon and its lies about climate change. As with the mitigation panel, all the panelists noted the need for adaptation financing, and while some acknowledge that some projects can be done at a low cost, there is still great need for funds. Professor Bill Snape then wrapped up the day. (Photo Credit Erika Lennon & Tais Ludwig for photo of panel 2)
Miss the event? Watch the WEBCAST!
Check out the following news stories quoting WCL professors and alumnae:
- Two WCL alumnae were recently quoted, CIEL Staff Attorney Melissa Blue Sky ('11) about the TPP and Larissa Liebmann ('13) about a new Waterkeeper Alliance (where she is a staff attorney) report on the dangers of railroad bridges. Check out the articles in the Alumni in the News Section.
- Following President Obama's decision to reject the Keystone XL Professor Bill Snape was quoted in E&E News about the potential for legal action. Read more in "TransCanada weighs legal options that some consider murky" (requires log-in).
- On November 4, Senator Bernie Sanders and others announced new climate legislation to prohibit new oil and gas drilling on federal land and waters. Professor Bill Snape called the legislation "historic" and highlighted the importance of keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Read the Common Dreams article, "Introducing 'Keep It In the Ground' Bill, Sanders Goes Big on Climate."
On October 27, WCL environmental and energy law alumni, professors (including many adjuncts), staff, and students met at Mission DC for the annual Environmental and Energy Law Networking event. Both JD and LL.M alumni working in intergovernmental organizations, government agencies, law firms, private business, and non-governmental organizations came to network with one another and with the current WCL students. Additionally, many of the adjunct professors who teach classes on environmental, energy, and land use took time out of their busy schedules to come. Current students had a chance to meet new people and learn more about what working in the field is like. More pictures can be seen on our Facebook page.
Photo (above left): Current WCL 2L Lauren Tavar ('17) (middle) mingles with Meyer, Glitzenstein & Eubanks Law Clerk Lizzie Lewis ('15) and Meyer, Glitzenstein & Eubanks Law Fellow Maggie Coulter ('14). (Photo Credit: Erika Lennon)
As part of Global Climate Change Week, PICEL joined with the Forum for Climate Engineering and Assessment at the AU School of International Service and the Center for Carbon Removal at UC Berkeley to host "What are the options for 2C?" on October 22. This panel discussion moderated by Professor David Hunter focused on both policy and technology for how to achieve the goal of not crossing the 2C temperature rise. As we look ahead to COP-21 in Paris, many, including President Obama, believe that even if it is a great success, we are " still going to fall short of what the science requires." Professor Bill Snape, who is Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, kicked off the discussion and highlighted the need to scale up renewables, the importance of mitigation, the need to shift away from fossil fuels, including keeping them in the ground. Then, the discussion shifted to genengineering options. Then the Center for Carbon Removal's Noah Deich focused on carbon removal options as an important tool to use to ensure we stay under 2C, while SIS Professor Simon Nicholson focused on the potential benefits of solar radiation management. All three panelists found common ground about mitigation and the need to stop burning fossil fuels as a necessary step. However, both Noah and Simon believe that carbon removal options can be an important piece. Watch the webcast of this lively panel HERE.
ELS & SALDF Host Illegal Wildlife Trafficking Discussion
On October 13, the WCL Environmental Law Society & Student Animal Legal Defense Fund hosted their first Speaker Series event of the year. The ELS speaker series provides a space for WCL students to meet with practitioners and other students to discuss a focused topic related to environmental law and advocacy. This first one focused on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking with Dr. Richard Ruggerio, Chief of the Division of International Conservation at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service International Affairs Program. Illegal animal trade and poaching are playing a significant role in the destruction of some of the world's most impressive and iconic species and contributing to their rapid extinction rates. Dr. Ruggeiro discussed the implications of trafficking and poaching, the on-the-ground efforts to combat these crimes in numerous states, and what citizens and young lawyers can do to stop the poaching and illegal animal trade. Picture at left: courtesy of Lauren Tavar ('17)
New IISCAL Bulletin on the AIIB & NDB-BRICS Banks
The China-Latin America Sustainable Investments Initiative (CLASII/IISCAL) released its second special bulletin on October 2. The special bulletin, co-written by Paulina Garzon and Erika Lennon, focuses on two new development banks, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB-BRICS) established by the BRICS countries. The special bulletin is available in Spanish, here.
Pope Francis's three-day visit to Washington, DC included a lot of discussion about climate change and the need to act on climate. Check out what Professor members of the WCL community have said.
- On September 23, Pope Francis visited the White House and many gathered to see him, including Frostpaw, the Center for Biological Diversity's polar bear, accompanied by Stephanie Kurose ('15). Stephanie, now a legal fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity, said Frostpaw was there "supporting the Pope, who's been a great climate supporter and climate activist." While Frostpaw, wasn't played by Professor Bill Snape today, he will be tomorrow when the Pope goes to Congress. Read more in E&E's "Polar bear groupie tails pope, scores wave" (requires log-in).
- On September 22, Pope Francis landed in DC for a three day visit in the nation's capital where climate change is expected to be one of the main points on the agenda. Check out Professor Bill Snape's blog "The Pope Gives Me Climate Hope," highlighting Pope Francis as a climate activist.
In September, climate change and the Arctic were high on the agenda with President Obama visiting Alaska.
- On September 18, the chief of the International Energy Agency said that drilling in the Arctic was not a smart business move due to cost and environmental concerns, among others. Professor Bill Snape agrees and refers to Arctic drilling as a "folly" in the Common Dreams article, "According to New IEA Chief, Arctic Drilling is Stupid Business."
- In early September, President Barack Obama went to Alaska. Professor Bill Snape wrote a letter to the editor published in the Washington Post entitled "Mr. Obama Visiting Alaska Skipped the Painful Facts on Climate Change."
Check out the new bulletin from the Iniciativa para las Inversiones Sustentables China-América Latina (China-Latin America Sustainable Investments Initiative) on updates related to Chinese investments in Latin America and the regulations governing them. Check out the Bulletin here (in Spanish).
Recently, both Professors Bill Snape and David Hunter have been quoted in articles. Check them out.
- As the 2016 presidential campaign begins, Professor Bill Snape and other environmentalists commented on Donald Trump's campaign and his history of climate change denial. Read the E&E News article, "Greens eye Trump's rise with 'amusement and horror'," here.
- Climate change litigation is growing and Professor David Hunter commented on the risks to companies and the potential use of offsets to address their climate contributions in the Ecosystem Marketplace article "More and More People Are Suing to Slow Climate Change, Will Companies Finally Recognize The Cost of Their Emissions." Read it here.
- Also related to climate change, Professor Bill Snape commented on a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society on ocean warming. Check out his comments in the Common Dreams article "Another Canary Squawks: Annual Report Shows Unstoppable Ocean Warming," here.
A Iniciativa para o Investimento Sustentável China-América Latina tem o prazer de anunciar que o manual, "Regulamentações Ambientais e Sociasis Chinesas Para Os Empréstimos e Investimentos No Exterior: um guia para as comunidades locais," agora está disponível em Português. Para acessar a versão Português, clique aqui.
The China-Latin America Sustainable Investment Initiative (CLASII/IISCAL) is pleased to announce that the "Legal Manual on Chinese Environmental and Social Regulations for Foreign Loans and Investments: A Guide for Local Communities" is now available in Portuguese. To access the Portuguese version, click here.
More of Professors in the News
The 2014-2015 U.S. Supreme Court term came to a close in late June and before it did, the court issued a decision about the EPA's regulation of mercury and toxic pollutants. Then a few days later, a major settlement was decided in the case against BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago. Professor Bill Snape commented on both.
- Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP reached a settlement agreement in which it will pay out $18.7 billion to victims over 18 years. While this is the largest settlement for an environmental disaster ever, Professor Bill Snape explains to ITV News why he thinks this is a light punishment for BP. Watch the video.
- In the Washington Post article "Supreme Court Strikes Down Obama Plan to Control Toxic Emissions," Professor Bill Snape was cautiously optimistic because the decision did not completely get rid of the regulation. Read the article.
- Then in the Huffington Post, Bill, along with others, were quoted in "Environmentalists Remain Hopeful After Supreme Court Emissions Ruling" because even though the Court ruled against the EPA, it did so narrowly. Read the article.
The Organization of American States Department of Sustainable Development and PICEL hosted their fifth annual joint seminar on Trade and Environment as part of the Environmental Law Summer Session. Fifteen participants representing NGOs, academia, business, and government, and hailing from thirteen countries (Antigua, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay) completed this year's seminar. Following a week of lectures, the seminar concluded with a negotiation simulation on June 19. The 2015 lecturers, including AUWCL alumni, were leading experts from intergovernmental organizations (including the Organization of American States and the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility), non-governmental organizations (the Center for International Environmental Law), business, academia, and government (including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Trade Representative). They also came from numerous countries throughout the Americas including Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, and the United States). In addition to attending lectures on a variety of issues related to trade agreements, the seminar participants went on a site visit to SPAGnVOLA, a Gaithersburg, Maryland based chocolatier that sources its cacao from their farm in the Dominican Republic. At SPAGnVOLA, participants learned more about how trade agreements, particularly DR-CAFTA, work in the real world and the steps that businesses take to promote sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Further, this year's seminar took place amidst debate in Washington, DC about the TPP, one of the proposed new trade agreements, which led to a lively panel discussion. The OAS's Oscar Ceville moderated a panel on post-negotiation issues, which featured Laura Devries Buffo (USTR), Alejandra Goyenechea (LL.M '01, International Counsel at Defenders of Wildlife), Cindy Squires ('01, Executive Director of the International Wood Products Association), and Rob Wing (Chief for the Environment and Trade in the U.S. Department of State's OES). Each of them discussed the difficulties of implementation of environmental agreements, how including environmental parts in trade agreements can be beneficial for advancing environmental policies, and how each of them address these challenges in their work. Having representatives from government, industry, and NGOs allowed for a rich discussion given the different perspectives. For example, Alejandra Goyenechea advocated for transparency to ensure that the environmental provisions are being applied and pointed out that the current trade negotiations for TPP are happening in secret. While the government representatives acknowledged the need for NGOs to act as watchdogs, they also defended the current processes. As it does each year, the seminar concluded with a simulation exercise in which everyone is assigned a different role to play in the negotiation of a trade agreement with environmental provisions. Participants are able to get a different feel for the challenges of negotiating agreements in which parties all have different interests. The simulation also gave everyone a chance to use what they learned in practice.
Professors in the News
Check out new articles on international trade and climate change with quotes from our faculty ...
- As Congress voted on bills related to trade promotion authority, environmentalists including Professor Bill Snape questioned the claims that new agreements such as TPP and TTIP have strong environmental provisions. Check out more in the Mongabay article from July 12: "Experts question White House claim that new trade agreements have strong environmental protections."
- New tools emerging to address climate change, including bringing lawsuits against companies that are major emitters. Recently, citizens of small island states, including Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and the Philippines, among others, announced they were going to bring legal action against fossil fuel companies for their climate change contribution. In a June 10 Think Progress article, "Why These Tiny Island Nations Are Planning To Sue Fossil Fuel Companies," Professor David Hunter comments on the merits of these cases. Read what he and adjunct professor and CIEL President Carroll Muffett have to say by reading the article.
- On June 10, Desmog Blog published "Republicans Seek to Block Any Attempt By Obama To Use Trade Deals to Combat Climate Change" in which Professor Bill Snape was quoted discussing the House republicans attempts to insert language into bills being considered along with trade promotion authority to ensure that President Obama doesn't use the trade agreements to push an environmental agenda. Read the article.
Check out the new bulletin from the Iniciativa para las Inversiones Sustentables China-América Latina (IISCAL) (China-Latin America Sustainable Investments Initiative, CLASII) on the green finance system in China. Read the Bulletin (in Spanish).
From May 26 to June 19, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law hosted its Eleventh Annual Summer Session. This year participants from over twenty countries participated in the eight seminars offered on a variety of environmental law topics. Participants included law students and professors at universities, and lawyers at law firms, governments, and non-governmental organizations on five continents. From Myanmar to Mozambique, Argentina to China, the UK to India, Nigeria to Colombia, and many places in between, participants came to expand their knowledge and share ideas with each other and the lecturers. In addition to the WCL full-time faculty members, distinguished professors from international organizations (including the World Bank and the Organization of American States), government (including the U.S. Department of the Interior), law firms (including Beveridge & Diamond and Akin Gump), and non-governmental organizations (including INECE and Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA)) taught seminars. Thus, those who took multiple seminars got a variety of perspectives on domestic and international environmental law issues. This year included seminars on human rights & environment in the Americas, international wildlife & biodiversity law, international business & the environment, development finance & the environment, international institutions & the environment, international climate change law, environmental compliance & enforcement, and trade & environment. The Summer Session does not just take place in a classroom. Over the first three weeks of the Summer Session, participants in David Hunter's International Institutions and Environmental Protection seminar went on site visits to see the various ways in which lawyers (including numerous Washington College of Law alumni) practice international environmental law and policy. The visits included trips to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Beveridge & Diamond, the World Bank Inspection Panel, the U.S. Department of State, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) for the IFC & MIGA, and the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA). Visiting an NGO, law firm, government agency, intergovernmental organization, and two independent accountability mechanisms gave participants a wide-range of perspectives on practicing law. Below, there are more detailed accounts of these visits. Additionally, EarthRights International lawyer Marco Simons spent an afternoon with the Summer Session participants discussing environmental and human rights lawyering. The participants in the 11th annual summer session came from a wide variety of backgrounds and this experience gave the participating WCL students and outside practitioners a unique opportunity to interact, network, learn, and share ideas with environmental professionals from around the world. For more information about the Summer Session see below and visit our Summer Session website. To see photos from the site visits, follow us on Twitter @auwclEnvLaw and like us on Facebook.
The summer session site visits came to a close on June 10 with a trip to the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA). Director Patricia Beneke greeted the group and began her talk with a discussion of UNEP's overall structure and function. She then explained what RONA does and how they work in the US and work with the US government to further sustainable development, environmental protection, and other goals of UNEP. Additionally, Director Beneke discussed two of the major upcoming environmental events: the release of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 and the international climate negotiations and the upcoming UNFCCC conference of the parties in Paris in December.
On June 9, summer session participants went to meet with another independent accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO). The CAO is the independent accountability mechanism for projects of the International Finance Corporation (IFC, the World Bank Group's private sector lending arm) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The CAO receives requests from communities alleging harm related to IFC or MIGA financing. Members of the CAO staff who work on the Ombudsman arm, Compliance arm, and Advisory arm all met with the summer the session participants. The site visit began with Emily Horgan explaining the history and development of the CAO and the eligibility requirements for accessing it. Additionally, Emily gave a brief overview of the IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standards that IFC-funded projects have to meet. Then Gina Barbieri explained the CAO Ombudsman work and how the CAO works with stakeholders to resolve grievances through a dispute resolution approach. When project-affected community members file complaints, they can choose to go to dispute resolution. When that happens, the CAO tries to facilitate a dispute resolution between the company (who has received the loan from the IFC) and the affected communities seeking redress. Gina gave an overview of this system, discussed benefits and challenges, and provided an example of a dispute resolution process involving sugar plantation workers in Nicaragua. Following Gina's presentation, Daniel Adler discussed the CAO Compliance function. Daniel explained the audits that take place when complainants choose to go to compliance (or when the CAO Vice President triggers an audit) and how the investigation goes forward to determine whether the project was in compliance with the Performance Standards. Additionally, he discussed the recent compliance audit related to Dinant in Honduras. Finally, Elizabeth Mensah explained the CAO's advisory function and how they develop lessons learned and advice based on the complaints received and addressed. Following the presentation by the members of the CAO, Andrea Repetto Vargas set forth details for an exercise in which the summer session participants play roles in a simulation of a ca typical situation leading to a complaint received by the CAO. The summer session students were then broken into groups to discuss the interests involved, what resolutions may be desired, and what dispute resolution techniques could be used. The session concluded with Andrea and Gina discussing the dispute resolution process in the case on which the simulation was based and the remedial actions that had been taken.
As everyone celebrated World Environment Day on Friday, June 5, Environmental Law Summer Session participants went to the U.S. Department of State to meet with Melanie Nakagawa ('05). Melanie is a member of Secretary John Kerry's Policy Planning Staff and advises the Secretary on issues related to the environment, energy, and climate change. She started by giving an overview of her work and the what the policy planning staff does. Then Melanie touched on a number of the environmental issues she has worked on including access to energy and the relationship between climate change and gender issues. Given the upcoming negotiations about the interational climate change regime in December, Melanie highlighted a few of the steps made by the US in conjunction with China regarding greenhouse gas emissions and how it relates to her work. She also discussed how the executive agencies interact with one another, for example when discussing treaty negotiations, and how they interact with Congress. Lastly, Melanie touched on the different roles she has had working for a major environmental NGO (the Natural Resources Defense Council), in the US Senate, and now at the State Department and how people in each of those places interact and influence environmental policy.
Following the trip to Beveridge & Diamond and a stroll past the White House, the Environmental Law Summer Session participants reached the World Bank to meet with the Inspection Panel. The Inspection Panel is the independent accountability mechanism for IBRD and IDA (two parts of the World Bank Group) providing a place for project-affected communities to seek redress when they are harmed by a Bank funded activity. Upon receiving a complaint from people that a Bank-funded project is negatively affecting the environment or people in the community, the Inspection Panel determines if the claim is eligible for inspection and, if so, investigates whether the Bank has complied with its environmental and social safeguard policies in that project. Inspection Panel Chair Gonzalo Castro De La Mata provided an overview of the panel and its process, including eligibility requirements, how to file a complaint, the process of investigation, and recourse for the project-affected communities. Additionally, he discussed the new pilot process where the Panel can try to address the complainants' concerns without registering the complaint or doing a full investigation. Gonzalo also highlighted a few of the Panel's recent cases, including ones that went through the pilot process, ones that were deemed ineligible, and ones where there was a full investigation. Following this, he and Serge Selwan (LL.M '01), who is a member of the Inspection Panel Secretariat, answered questions and had a conversation with the summer session participants about the Panel process and challenges they face.
On June 4, Beveridge & Diamond associates Margo Ludmer and Ryan Carra welcomed Environmental Law Summer Session participants to their firm. Beveridge & Diamond is the largest environmental law (only) firm in the world with DC as its largest office. Margo and Ryan gave participants a glimpse into firm life and an overview of how to practice environmental and international environmental law at a firm rather than a non-governmental organization. For example, they highlighted the movement of electronic waste internationally as one of the issues on which the firm works. Margo and Ryan also discussed working with corporations and clients and how they advise them on environmental law matters, for example how to use eco-labels on products and not run afoul of truth in advertising laws. Additionally, they discussed the role they play at international treaty conventions of the parties, which is that of observer (similar to NGOs) keeping in mind the interest of their clients. Lastly they discussed what life is like at a law firm as a first year and fourth year associate, respectively, and how they work with local awyers in countries when necessary.
The Environmental Law Summer Session participants had their first site visit of the eleventh annual Environmental Law Summer Session on Friday, May 29 when they visited the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). The Summer Session participants met with several CIEL attorneys, who discussed what they do. CIEL President Carroll Muffett kicked off the visit, welcomed our participants to CIEL, and gave an overview of the organization. Carroll discussed the power of international environmental law and the ability for a small organization to have major impact. Additionally, he discussed CIEL's current work related to climate change litigation. He also discussed the work he has done in the organization starting as an intern and now as president. Then Marcos Orellana (LL.M '98, SJD '09), Director of the Human Rights and Environment Program, discussed the connections between people and environmental harm by highlighting the fact that in most places worldwide, when the environment is being harmed so are the people in the community. He also discussed the various international law tools used to protect human rights and the environment. Lastly, Marcos emphasized the right to a healthy environment as a human right and discussed the debate around it as many countries are unwilling to recognize it. The visit concluded with a discussion with Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97), Director of the People, Land, and Resources Program, who shared her experiences as an environmental lawyer as well as discussed what she does at CIEL. Carla began her talk by sharing her experiences starting an NGO in Mexico to protect people and workers from harm caused by pollution and new construction of oil terminals and other industry. She described the difficulties of the work as well as the importance of it. Additionally, Carla highlighted the importance of being part of a larger community and support network to help in the struggle to protect people and the environment. As part of this she discussed CIEL's work with the Bank on Human Rights campaign. Carla emphasized how tools, like the Early Warning System, can help alert communities to potential harms and connect them with organizations like CIEL who can assist them in using the independent accountability mechanisms at the various development banks, such as the World Bank Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman. All three lawyers took questions and had an interactive discussion with the summer session participants about the challenges of working at an NGO and the areas on which CIEL concentrates.
On Earth Day, April 22, the DC environmental community, including several people from American University Washington College of Law, came together in Washington, DC to celebrate the 2015 recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize. The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded each year to grassroots environmental leaders, one each from Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, Central and South America, and Island nations. The winners have all done work to protect the environment and their communities against environmental harms. The DC ceremony celebrated the inspiring environmental leaders on Earth Day. Many members of the DC environmental community including Professor David Hunter, several WCL alumni in the DC area, and current WCL students attended the ceremony to celebrate the winners. WCL was well represented at the ceremony by students: Tais Ludwig ('16) and Emelyne Calimoutou (LL.M '15); alumni Erika Lennon ('08), Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97), Yulia Genin (LL.M '13), Nada Naseri (LL.M '14), and Paulo Lopes ('11); and faculty and adjuncts: David Hunter and Katie Redford.
Pictures: At Right - the 2015 Goldman Prize Winners; At Left: Part of the WCL contingent, from left to right: Paulo Lopes ('11), Yulia Genin (LL.M '13), Nada Naseri (LL.M '14), Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon ('08), Tais Ludwig ('16), Emelyne Calimoutou (LL.M '15)
On April 21, the Environmental Law Society, Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication, and the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law hosted a screening and discussion of "The Law of Water: the New Forest Code," a new documentary. The recently released documentary discusses the adoption of a new Forest Code in Brazil, the impacts of those changes on deforestation, water, agriculture, and how the country reacted to the decision to pass the new law. Humphrey Fellow Raul Silva Telles do Valle, a Brazilian environmental lawyer, was one of the creators of the documentary and provided legal commentary throughout. Brazil is home to the largest rainforest of the planet, the Amazon, which has lost 20 percent of its original area to agriculture just in the last 40 years. In 2004, the Federal Government decided to really enforce the Forest Code, an old law that had existed for many decades, but had low rates of compliance. Since then deforestation dropped by 80 percent to the lowest levels since the monitoring system began. Then in 2012, after three years of intense dispute, the National Congress approved a new Forest Code. Agricultural representatives say it was modernized. Environmentalists and scientists say it was weakened. "The Law of Water: the New Forest Code" not only discusses many of the environmental problems related to this new law, including continuing deforestation of the Amazon, water pollution, and flooding, amongst others, but also discussed the reaction of the people to the new law. Prior to the law's passage, the people of Brazil urged President Dilma Rousseff to veto the proposed legislation, which she did not. This highlighted the impact of the legislation on a wide-range of people and the importance of the ability to organize and protest when trying to be heard. Additionally, it chronicled the impact the environmental degradation has on people. The filmmakers met with farmers and other people who were impacted by the legislation to hear their stories and to see the real world impact of the legislation. Following the screening of the film, which will be available on iTunes soon, Raul do Valle answered questions from the audience.
Photo: Top Left: SDLP International Editor Tais Ludwig ('16) introduces Raul and the documentary. Top right: Raul do Valle discussing the film.
From April 16 to 18, James Rios, Jeanna Lee, and Roxane Regis represented WCL at the International Finals of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition at Stetson University in Florida. This year's competition was focused on shark finning and international trade. The team wrote a memorial last November discussing customary international environmental law and international trade. Then, in February they competed in the North America Regional. At the international finals the team competed against schools from the U.S., China, India, Ireland, and the Philippines. The competition gave them the opportunity to practice their oral advocacy skills and to network with law students and lawyers practicing environmental law. Learn more about the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition. You can read more about the international finals, the winners (the Law Society of Ireland), and see pictures of the finals by clicking here.
Congrats to the WCL team on all of their hard work!
Picture (from left to right): James Rios ('15), Jeanna Lee ('15), and Roxane Regis ('15) (Photo Credit: Jeanna Lee)
The World Bank and IMF held their 2015 Spring Meetings and Civil Society Policy Forum from April 14 to 18. PICEL Program Coordinator Erika Lennon ('08) and several current JD and LL.M students attended sessions during the policy forum along with people from civil society organizations around the world, including WCL alumni. Adam Arnold (LL.M '15), Emelyne Calimoutou (LL.M '15), Emily Goldman ('16), Sean Harriton ('16), and Tais Ludwig ('16) followed up on their early work helping to contribute to the PICEL submission during the Environmenal and Social Safeguard Policy review by attending the meetings. Sessions focused on a variety of topics including many related to the safeguards and accountability. There was also an update on the safeguards review process that Erika, Tais, and Emily attended, and both Tais and Emily asked questions about the process and the next phase of the review. During the policy forum many discussions focused on the need to strengthen the environmental and social safeguards, the need to include human rights protections in the safeguards, and the need for strong accountability mechanisms all of which would help ensure that WBG funded projects do not harm communities and the environment. Other attendees included alumni of WCL's International Legal Studies Program who now work at both NGOs who focus on environmental and social standards and accountability mechanisms at IFIs, and who work at the World Bank, primarily in the World Bank Inspection Panel, which is the independent accountability mechanism for the World Bank. Additionally, Erika and several students participated in meetings with other lawyers and policy advocates from non-governmental organizations around the world.
Photos: Top Left: Meeting on Accountability; Bottom Left: Safeguards Policy Update; Right: Discussion of Safeguards and Forests moderated by CIEL Attorney, Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97)
On April 2, a group of lawyers from Thailand came to WCL to meet with environmental law faculty, students, and alumni and to discuss illegal wildlife trafficking. The Thai lawyers were on an official State Department visit. This group of lawyers who work in environmental enforcement came to WCL to discuss endangered species and combating illegal wildlife trafficking. Professor Bill Snape along with alumae Melissa Blue Sky ('11), now an attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, and several environmental law students, welcomed the delegation to WCL. The conversation centered on illegal wildlife trafficking and CITES, as southeast Asia is currently a place where a significant amount of illegal wildlife trade is ongoing.
Photos: At right, Melissa Blue Sky receives a gift from a Thai lawyer. Below: Professor Bill Snape and Melissa Blue Sky with the Thai lawyers (Phtotos courtesy of Bill Snape)
Professors in the News
Check out the following articles featuring quotes from our faculty:
- In preparation for the upcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP21 in Paris in December 2016, countries are releasing plans for how they are going to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. Professor Bill Snape and others comment on the need for action. Read his comments in the National Journal, What Should Nations Pledge Ahead of Paris?
- The Department of Interior released new rules for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on federal and tribal lands on Friday, March 20. Professor Bill Snape was quoted critiquing the new rules in numerous articles:
- The Hill: Green's: Obama Caved on Fracking
- Natural Gas Intel's Shale Daily: Interior Unveils Final Fracking Rule, Hits Swift Opposition
- eNews Park Forest: Americans Against Fracking: Obama Admin. Releases Toothless Fracking Rules; Give Away to Oil and Gas Industry
- As the World Bank reviews its Environmental and Social safeguards, a new World Bank report found that it had little oversight or knowledge about resettlement occuring due to the projects it funds. Professor David Hunter commented on this report and the lack of accountability. Read more in the Wall Street Journal: World Bank Chief Vows Stronger Oversight of Resettlement Policies
- Professors Bill Snape and David Hunter joined other leading environmentalists including lawyers and actors, among others, in calling for the immediate release of the former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, a climate hero who has been arrested. Read the Open Letter.
On March 23, PICEL and the Faculty Practice Group on Environment, Energy, Oil & Gas, Land Use & Natural Resources, and Construction Law hosted its second annual career mentoring and networking event. Over 20 students and 10 adjuncts (including Barry Breen, Robert Solomon, and Josh Hurwitz), alumni (both JD and LL.M), and faculty participated. For the first part, students met one-on-one with an attorney mentor to discuss their resume and overall career advice for getting into the field. In addition to the WCL Faculty members, mentors came from government agencies, law firms, and non-governmental organizations. Following the formal session, alumni and adjuncts joined our students for a networking reception during which students could practice their networking skills by interacting with practitioners they did not know and with one another, meet practitioners, and learn more about the different areas of law.
New Manual on Chinese Investments (CLASII)
As part of the IISCAL project, Paulina Garzon has updated the "Manual Legal Sobre Regulaciones Ambientales y Sociales Chinas Para Los Prestamos e Inversiones en el Exterior: Una Guia para las Comunidades Locales" (en espanol).
On March 1, PICEL submitted comments to the World Bank on its draft Environmental and Social Framework. Since 20..., the World Bank has been engaged in updating its Environmental and Social safeguard policies. Phase two of this process included worldwide consultations and a comment period that concluded on March 1. PICEL Director David Hunter and Coordinator Erika Lennon have engaged in the review by attending consultations and submitting comments during phase 1 (read more, and also participated in consultations during phase 2. David and Erika worked with five students (Adam Arnold, Emelyne Calimoutou, Emily Goldman, Sean Harriton, and Tais Ludwig) to draft PICEL's comments on the proposed framework.
Read PICEL's comments. Additionally, David and Erika signed on to comments from the Center for International Environmental Law, Accountability Counsel, and other NGOs regarding the new environmental and social standard 10, grievance mechanisms, and accountability.
PICEL Launches New Project: IISCAL/CLASII
Recently, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law launched a new project with Paulina Garzon, an environmental advocate: la Iniciativa para las Inversiones Sustentables China-América Latina (IISCAL) or China-Latin America Sustainable Investment Initiative (CLASII). China is investing substantially in Latin America and little is known about Chinese regulations overseas investments. Part of IISCAL's mission is to provide information about these investments and the regulations governing them. Check out IISCAL's first Bulletin (in Spanish)!
The Environmental Law Society held its annual "State of" Founder's Day event on March 3. This year, the panel focused on the "State of Extractive Industries on Federal Lands." Panelists discussed fracking and offshore oil and gas exploration, among others. Jon Freedman from GE's Government Policy & Affairs department moderated the discussion as GE provides technology for many of the activities discussed. Following his opening, Jill Lewandowski (Director of Environmental Assessment, Bureau of Ocean Management) outlined the US plans for drilling off-shore with a focus on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. She not only described some of the environmental concerns they deal with, but also described the lengthy leasing process. Next, Elizabeth Schuster (LL.M 2013), who is a Senior Legislative and Policy Analyst at Food & Water Watch, outlined the many environmental problems of extractive industries activities onshore. Liz focused primarily on the dangers of fracking and its impacts on the land, water supply, and wildlife, among other things. Following that, Matt Lee-Ashley (Center for American Progress) continued to discuss the environmental impact extractives industries have on federal lands, but focused primarily on greenhouse gas emissions. He also highlighted the positive impact that reducing these emissions would have on climate change. Finally, Brett Marston (Associate, Arnold & Porter) highlighted recent legal developments and cases involving extractives. Additionally, he discussed how the nature of a firm lawyer advising clients about their activities on public lands. Following the discussion of extractive industries, the panelists generally shared career advice with the students in the audience.
Want to hear the discussion? Listen to it as an episode of "The Hot Air Show podcast" available HERE!
The Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication (SDLP) hosted its Founder's Day event on February 10 and focused on biodiversity. The panel entitled "Looking Forward: Biodiversity Challenges Around the World" brought together panelists discussing Africa, Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Arctic and the biodiversity challenges each faces. The panel began with an introduction by Kelly Carlson, SDLP's Symposium Editor, and she introduced Professor Bill Snape who moderated this important discussion. The panel began with Kip Knudson from the Office of the Governor of Alaska who discussed how the state tries to balance its desire to protect the vast numbers of species it has and the desire to develop its natural resources, particularly oil. Following that Neil Cox of the IUCN discussed the species losses in Southeast Asia and its causes including illegal poaching and wildlife trade. Kirk Talbot from the Environmental Law Institute elaborated on that issue and the particular problems of elephant and rhino poaching. Lastly, Richard Huber from the Organization of American States focused on biodiversity losses in the Americas and highlighted how climate change affects biodiversity loss. Many of the panelists discussed the international laws related to protecting biodiversity, namely CITES.
More photos coming soon!
PICEL Hosts North America Regional of the 19th Annual Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition
From February 6 to 8, eleven teams from across the U.S. and the Caribbean came to American University Washington College of Law to participate in the North America Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition. Eleven teams competed over the course of three days for the right to represent the region at the International Finals in April at Stetson University School of Law. This year the teams focused on the issue of shark finning and international trade. In addition to the teams, we had numerous lawyers (including many WCL alumni) who served as volunteer judges. The following people generously gave their time to participate in the competition: Durwood Zaelke, Alejandra Goyenechea (LL.M ’01), David Downes, Niranjali Amerasinghe, Priscila Rodriguez Bribiesca, Carl Bruch, Emelyne Calimoutou, Monica De Diego, Claudia de Windt (LL.M. ’01), Cristiane Dias, Charles Di Leva, Laura Drummond (‘11), Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Kim Gros (LL.M ’13), Brett Grosko, Julio Guity-Guevara (LL.M ’07), Joe Hernandez (’14), Rosa Indenbaum, Adriana Jáuregui (LL.M ’14), Tom Kane, Elana Katz-Mink (’14), Young Hee Lee (LL.M. ’13), Andrea Martinez (’11), Angie McCarthy (’13), Marcia Porras Garzon (LL.M ’14), Olivia Radics, Miora Rakotonirina, Sambhav Sankar, Serge Selwan (LL.M ’01), Raul Silva Telles Do Valle, Kim Smaczniak, Bill Snape, Marie Soveroski, Daniel Squire, Michael Stone (‘92, LL.M ‘12), Marya Torrez (LL.M ’14), Tom Wetterer, Winfield Wilson (‘11), and Elizabeth Zgoda (‘10). The picture above and at right is of the final round judges: David Downes, Durwood Zaelke, and Alejandra Goyenechea (LL.M '01).
More pictures and details about the award winners will be posted following the International Finals in April.
On November 12, the Environmental Law Society hosted the second of its lunch-and-learn sessions, which focused this time on DC environmental issues. Karim D. Marshall ('08) was the guest speaker and he focused some of his discussion on his work as Legislative Director at the District Department of the Environment, including current initiatives. Additionally, he offered career advice to the students and informed them of various internship opportunities that would allow them to network and gain experience in the field. Karim also discussed specific projects of DDOE and how students could potentially get involve. This interactive roundtable gave students the chance to hear more about local government and the environment, and to get advice from an American University Washington College of Law alumnus.
The Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication held its annual symposium on November 6 choosing to focus this year on "A Quest for Clean Energy." The event started with an opening panel discussion on the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan. Panelists discussed the implications of the proposed rules nationally and locally. The discussion was kicked off by Ethan Shenkman (Environmental Protection Agency) who gave an overview of the Clean Power Plan and other recent developments related to clean energy. He also discussed the EPA's engagement with the public during the comment period and throughout the development of the Clean Power Plan. He was followed by Scott Schang (Environmental Law Institute) who noted that the courts, government, states and people all have a role in making sure the Clean Air Act works and works the way it should. While they provided a broader national view, Karim D. Marshall ('08), the Legislative Director at the District Department of Environment (DDOE) gave a local perspective. He discussed the unique role it has as the environmental agency in the federal district. Karim highlighted that while DC does not necessarily have any power sources that will be subject to the new requirements, DC will face consequences of climate change, particularly increased flooding. Additionally, Ann Weeks of the Clean Air Task Force discussed the urgent need to take greater steps to combat climate change, including through the Clean Air Act. She emphasized the moral imparative for the US to act on reducing carbon emissions and to act now, rather than to wait for the rest of the world to address it, even though that is needed to. The first panel discussion was rounded out by Roger Martella, a Partner at Sidley Austin, who highlighted the global nature of climate change and the need for other countries to take steps because the U.S. cannot do it alone. He also noted that taking these steps, which could have negative effects elsewhere, would not be enough because climate change would continue to happen. Chris Berendt of Drinker Biddle & Reath moderated the discussion. The first panel was followed by a keynote address from Joseph Goffman, Associate Assistant Administrator and Senior Counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He went into greater detail of the Clean Power Plan and noted the importance of the first step, determine the best system of emissions reduction (BSER). Goffman also highlighted that the EPA has more it will do, for example related to methane emissions, and that there is still a lot to do to make the Clean Power Plan successful. The symposium concluded with a panel on the challenges of access to clean energy. In a discussion moderated by PICEL Coordinator Erika Lennon ('08), panelists discussed both domestic and international problems associated with clean energy. Tom Swanson from Pew Charitable Trust kicked off the discussion and highlighted the shifts in the clean energy sector, namely that solar is the emerging clean energy technology. Swanson noted that solar is growing more than wind energy, for example. Then Jennifer Rohleder ('08) highlighted the challenges faced by businesses who are trying to provide clean energy especially because of inconsistent regulations. She noted that regulatory policies have a huge impact on business and that different states all provide different incentives for renewables and energy efficiency. Then Mia Warner (Corporate Council on Africa) and Scott Lyons ('04) both provided their perspectives on Power Africa, which is an initiative to improve access to electricity in Africa. Scott highlighted the many challenges including of development in Africa including corruption and inadequate information access, among others. He also noted the potential for the renewable energy sector to be a "resource curse." Mia also discussed the challenges of access to electricity in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, and the challenges for companies engaging in energy projects there. The symposium concluded with remarks from Kelly Carlson, SDLP's symposium editor, and a networking reception for students to meet the panelists and other practitioners who attended. Pictures: Panel One (top right); Joseph Goffman (top left); Panel Two (bottom right); current SDLP Editorial Board (bottom left)
On November 4, WCL faculty, staff, students, and alumni focused on environment and energy law gathered for our annual networking happy hour. Approximately 50 people, many of whom were DC area alumni working at non-governmental organizations, international organizations, in government, or at private firms in the environmental or energy law field, gathered on this election night to reconnect or meet for the first time. Both JD and LL.M alumni participated and came from a variety of places including the Organization of American States, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of State, FERC, Akin Gump, Skadden, and the Ocean Conservancy, amongst others. Additionally, adjunct professors Bill Eubanks, Elisabeth Myers (who is also an alum), and Charles DiLeva came out to support the event and meet students who they did not know already. This annual networking happy hour was a great opportunity for the WCL environmental and energy law people to gather as a community. Current WCL students had an opportunity to meet with many of these alumni, discuss the work they do, and learn more about how they came to do it and getting into the field. Further, alumni working in similar areas, but who did not know one another, got a chance to connect.
On October 30, Amanda Leiter and seven students attended the Environmental Appeals Board oral argument at the US Environmental Protection Agency. This gave students an opportunity to see administrative law in action. The EPA Environmental Appeals Board was hearing In re elementis Chromium, which is about non-compliance with sections of the Toxic Substances Control Act. You can read the 2-page appeal order here and the decision on appeal, which was written by WCL alum and current Chief Administrative Law Judge at EPA Susan Biro, is available here.
The International Legal Studies Program (ILSP) LL.M Board hosted "Yasuni: A Struggle for Conservation and Democracy," a discussion with members of the Yasunidos movement in Ecuador, including Pablo Piedra Vivar (LL.M '13), about their struggle for conservation and democracy in Ecuador. Pablo, who is a lawyer helping the Yasunidos, and his colleagues were in DC to urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hear their case. While in DC, Pablo, Eduardo, and Patricia came to WCL to present the history of the Yasunidos movement and explain their ongoing stuggle for conservation and democracy. In 2013, President Correa, the President of Ecuador, announced it would open areas in Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, to oil drilling, which ended an initiative launched in 2007 by President Correa, which promised to leave Yasuni undisturbed and not open for fossil fuel exploration in exchange for international investment in Ecuador. Yasuni National Park has a tremendous amount of biodiversity and two communities of indigenous peoples who live in voluntary isolation. These indigenous communities have been living in Yasuni for hundreds of years and move around to preserve the forest and be near familial or ancestral grounds. Following the announcement that Yasuni would be open to oil drilling many in Ecuador reacted by protesting this decision. Then they worked to gather thousands of signatures in order to get an initiative on the ballot to protect Yasuni. Pablo and Patricia explained this effort and how the government has ignored these calls and repressed the movement by, among other things, invalidating the signatures gathered and trying to undermine the movement by criticizing them in local media. They also explained that this movement, which started out as one based on conservation of the Yasuni national park, has grown to be about democracy and political rights too and that has lead them to look for redress outside of Ecuador and petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Professor David Hunter introduced the panel and served as moderator.
On October 28, many in the environmental community came together at the U.S. Botanic Gardens to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). CIEL and PICEL have had a long-standing joint research project and work together on various projects. Over the years, many CIEL attorneys have taught at WCL and many WCL students have interned at CIEL. Currently, three WCL alumni, Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97), Marcos Orellana (LL.M '98, SJD '09), and Melissa Blue Sky ('11), are attorneys at CIEL. During the celebration, CIEL honored Phillip Allot and James Hanson for their work related to international environmental law and protection. Several current WCL students including Tais Ludwig, Lizzie Lewis, Adam Arnold, and Marcia Porras volunteered at the event. Many WCL alums joined former PICEL Director Durwood Zaelke, current PICEL Director David Hunter, and Summer Session professors Stephen Porter and Astrid Puentes to celebrate CIEL's great work over the last 25 years. During the celebration Philip Allot and James Hanson received awards for their contributions to international environmental law. Congrats to CIEL!
Photo Courtesy of the Center for International Environmental Law
On Friday, October 24 Professor Bill Snape, in his capacity as Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, argued on behalf of the appellants in Trumpeter Swan Society v. EPA at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case relates to the EPA's ability to regulate bullets and shot under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The court stems from a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Trumpeter Swan Society, and many other organizations asking the EPA to regulate the lead in bullets under TSCA. For more on the arugment check out the following articles:
- InsideEPA: "Appellate Judges Wrestle with Scope of TSCA Exclusion for Ammunition" (requires log-in)
- Greenwire: "Toxics: Judges See No Silver Bullet in Bid to Regulate Lead Shot" (requires log-in)
On the evening of October 21, Professor David Hunter participated in "Building a Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda for the Americas" hosted by the Organization of American States. The dialogue, opened by Assistant Secreatary General of the OAS Albert Ramdin, was part of the OAS's attempts to define the action areas for the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development and the development of the post-2015 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. Professor Hunter joined a distinguished panel of speakers including Ninfa Salinas, President of the Commission of Environment and Natural Resources of the Senate of Mexico; Juan Antonio Hernández, Chair of the Social Development Committee of the Congress of Honduras; and Donnalyn Charles, Officer from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology of Santa Lucia. The discussion touched on issues related to income inequality in the region, environmental damage, environmental protection, addressing the impacts of climate change, and the challenges of having enough resources in the countries to promote sustainable development and engage in the necessary long-term planning. Despite the challenges, Professor Hunter urged governments prioritize the post-2015 development agenda because sustainable development is important and necessary to address both poverty and environmental protection. Additionally, he emphasized the role government could play to ease tensions between private investors and communities. This dialogue helped to kick off the Fourth Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development.
Read more and check out the photos HERE!
On October 14, the WCL Environmental Law Society and Student Animal Legal Defense Fund co-hosted a lunch-and-learn conversation on marine mammal captivity with Humane Society US (HSUS) attorney, Ralph Henry. He discussed the work that he does at HSUS to protect the rights of animals. Ralph mainly focused on the laws and issues around marine mammals, including the issues related to places like Sea World and the laws related to keeping marine mammals in captivity. Further, Ralph discussed how he became a wildlife and then animal rights lawyer. He also mentioned opportunities for students to get involved and to intern with the HSUS legal team.
At right, SALDF President Catherine Riedo ('15), HSUS Attorney Ralph Henry, Lauren Tavar ('17), and ELS President Lizzie Lewis.
Professor Bill Snape Travels to Korea for CBD COP12
Once again, Erika Lennon and Professor David Hunter participated in the World Bank/IMF's Annual Meetings. From October 8 to 11, they participated in the civil society policy forum during which members of civil society, academia, governments, and World Bank staff host panels on timely topics. Primarily they participated in sessions related to the World Bank environmental and social safeguards, independent accountability mechanisms, and climate change. Several WCL alumni also participated in the meetings as members of civil society or because they are World Bank staff. During the week, Erika also worked with other members of civil society to discuss collaboration especially in regards to the review of the environmental and social safeguards. Then on October 11, Erika and David joined with other members of civil society from around the globe to participate in a consultation on the new draft safeguards policy, which has numerous problems. The consultation was the first in-person consultation the World Bank has hosted in DC during the second phase of the consultation following the release of a draft in July 2014. Erika and David have participated in earlier consultations and will be submitting written comments. Additionally, they participated in a demonstration outside the World Bank urging the Bank to protect people by having strong safeguards.
Photos: Left: Erika Lennon with other members of civil society during the safeguards consultation. Top Right, Professor David Hunter at the safeguards consultation. Bottom Right, CIEL Attorney Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97), Professor David Hunter, and Erika Lennon ('08) outside the World Bank (photo courtesy of CIEL). More photos to come!
Photos at left and bottom right: Courtesy of the Center for International Environmental Law
The AUWCL Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and its President, Catherine Riedo ('15) arranged for Pee Wee, a pot-bellied pig, to visit AUWCL on Tuesday, September 15. Pee Wee came with his owner, Cheryl Rotondi, to represent the Pig Placement Network, which finds home for abandoned pigs. The visit helped highlight the increasing problem of people ordering tea-cup pigs and then abandoning them when they can no longer care for them or realize the difficulties of having a pig. Catherine also hoped the event would raise awareness about vegetarianism.
Check out the WTOP story, "Pot bellied pig plays piano to raise awareness in NW" about Pee Wee's visit to see videos and pictures!
Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon submitted comments on the revision of the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) independent accountability mechanism, the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (ICIM). Since 2010, the ICIM has been the independent accountability mechanism for the IDB and served as a mechanism for project-affected communities to bring complaints based on harm caused by IDB financed projects. Last year, the IDB began a review and revision of the ICIM to address problems it encountered in its first years of operation. In September 2013, David and Erika attended an in person consultation at the ICIM to provide input into the drafting of a new policy. Recently (August 2014), the IDB released a Revised Draft Policy of the ICIM and held a six-week consultation period during which they received comments online. David Hunter and Erika Lennon submitted comments on the draft policy to offer guidance on how to improve it so as to have a responsive, transparent, accessible, and effective independent accountability mechanism that project-affected communities can use. Read their comments.
Earthjustice Attorney Discusses Being an Environmental Lawyer with Students
On September 2, Neil Gormley, an Associate Attorney at Earthjustice, met with current students for a brown-bag lunch to discuss practicing environmental law. Neil works in Earthjustice's Washington DC office where he works on a variety of issues including fighting against mountain-top removal mining. He discussed what it was like to work at an environmental NGO and how the lawyers at Earthjustice work together on litigation issues. He also discussed the connection between litigation, advocacy, and media campaigns, and how the various departments at Earthjustice work together to help protect the environment and human health. After discussing his work, Neil gave insight into the opportunities for law students to do internships and to be summer associates at Earthjustice while in law school. Lastly, Neil discussed his own career path and shared some career advice with the students about entering the environmental law field, including courses to take amongst other things.
Both the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club named American University as one of the greenest colleges in the country. The Princeton Review included American as one of 24 schools on its 2015 Green Honor Roll. Then, on August 12, Sierra Club released its list of America's Greenest Colleges and American University ranked Number 2. Check out Sierra Club's list of Cool Schools. You can check out all that AU is doing to be green (including ensuring that WCL's Tenley Campus will be LEED certified) by visiting the Office of Sustainability.
On July 24, American University announced that it, along with George Washington University and GW Hospital, had signed an agreement to purchase solar energy and that by 2015, AU would get 50 percent of its power from solar energy sources. This is one step of many that AU is taking to acheive carbon neutrality by 2015. Read MORE.
The fourth annual American University Washington College of Law and Organization of American States Department of Sustainable Development Trade and Environment seminar concluded on June 20 with a negotiation simulation. This year, nineteen people from thirteen countries (including Italy, Chile, Argentina, Malaysia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Tanzania, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Guatemala) completed the seminar. Participants came from government, academia, law firms, business, and NGOs. Additionally, we had leading lecturers, including the former Minister of Trade for Costa Rica, from six countries in the region (Mexico, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Costa Rica). Lecturers represented a variety of experiences and views and work in a variety of sectors including intergovernmental organizations (including Organization of American States), government (including trade ministries and the US EPA), and non-governmental organizations (including CEMDA). In addition to lectures, the seminar included a site visit to ExxonMobil's Virginia office to meet with one of their lawyers. It also included a panel discussion on post negotiation issues moderated by alumnus Gustavo Alanis (LL.M '92), the founder and president of CEMDA. Sarah Stewart ('02), Director for Environment and Natural Resources at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the Executive Office of the President (USTR), discussed environmental issues following trade agreements from her perspective in the government. Then Joe O'Donnell, Manager of Government and Public Affairs at International Wood Products Association (IWPA), discussed how IWPA works with their members (businesses) to ensure they understand and comply with provisions in agreements. Finally, Alejandra Goyenechea (LL.M '01), International Counsel at Defenders of Wildlife, discussed the work of NGOs in ensuring compliance with agreements (for example CITES) and the challenges faced. Sarah also touched on the interaction of USTR and NGOs like Defenders of Wildlife to work together to ensure compliance with agreements. As always, the seminar concluded with a simulation exercise in which participants were assigned different roles to try and negotiate a trade agreement with environmental provisions. The simulation gave participants a chance to explore the different views and concerns that go into a negotiation.
Professors in the News
- On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency and held that while the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, that authority was not absolute. Professor Bill Snape commented on the Supreme Court's decision in Common Dreams's article "SCOTUS Further Weakens EPA Power to Regulate Greenhouse Gases." You can read his take on the "half-disappointing" ruling here.
- Professor Amanda Leiter also commented on the Supreme Court's decision noting that the ruling does undercut EPA's authority even though it does still allow the EPA to regulate GHGs. In the E&E article Supreme Court trims EPA Greenhouse Gas Permitting, Professor Leiter noted: "I don't think it's unfair to say that, EPA lost the power it wanted to wield." Read the article (requires log-in).
- On June 13, Professor Bill Snape was a guest on the show "Living on Earth" during the segment 'EPA Rules Ignore Methane' discussing the new carbon rules. Read the transcript of the show or listen to it HERE.
From May 27 to June 20, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law held its Tenth Annual Summer Session on Environmental Law. The Summer Session welcomed participants from thirty-two countries on five continents. Participants included law students, international policy scholars, and lawyers working at law firms, in government (including the Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia and the Mexican Senate), in business (including AES, a Brazilian energy company), and at non-governmental organizations (including ELAW). This year's summer session included ten seminars, including a new one on Human Rights and Environment in Latin America taught by Astrid Puentes, Co-Director of the Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense. Having Astrid also gave us the opportunity to work with the Academy on Human Rights & Humanitarian Law to host a panel on Belo Monte and the interaction between Human Rights and the Environment. In addition to Human Rights & Environment in Latin America, there were seminars on environmental law & the U.S. Congress, fracking law & policy, international wildlife & biodiversity law, international business & the environment, development finance & the environment, international institutions & the environment, international climate change law, environmental compliance & enforcement, and trade & environment. In addition to the WCL full-time faculty members, distinguished professors from international organizations (including the World Bank and the Organization of American States), government (including the U.S. Department of the Interior), law firms (including Beveridge & Diamond and Akin Gump), the private sector (American Chemistry Council), and non-governmental organizations (including INECE, CEMDA, AIDA, and the Western Energy Project) taught seminars. This gave participants who took multiple seminars a variety of perspectives on domestic and international environmental law issues. As can be seen below, participants in David Hunter's International Institutions and Environmental Protection seminar went on site visits to Beveridge & Diamond, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA), and two independent accountability mechanisms (the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman for IFC & MIGA and the World Bank Inspection Panel). Below there are more details about the lawyers participants met with and the topics they discussed on these site visits. Additionally, several seminars included guest lecturers who came from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other universities, and city offices, among others. The participants in the 10th annual summer session had a wide-variety of experience. This gave both the WCL students and the outside practioners who participated a unique opportunity to interact, network, learn, and share ideas with environmental professionals from around the world. For more information about the Summer Session see below and visit our Summer Session website. To see photos from the site visits, follow us on Twitter @auwclEnvLaw and like us on Facebook.
For their final site visit, our Summer Session participants met with the IFC Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), which is the independent accountability mechanism for the IFC and MIGA. We were greeted by the fantastic CAO Vice President Meg Taylor, who is retiring from the CAO later this summer, and she provided an overview of the office. Then Emily Horgan discussed the CAO's efforts related to outreach and letting the communities know they exist and the challenges of doing so. She was followed by Gina Barbieri who discussed the CAO's dispute resolution function and gave examples of cases they've received. Next Midori discussed the CAO's compliance function and Daniel Adler discussed the recent compliance audit related to the Dinant case in Honduras. Finally, Elizabeth discussed the CAO's advisory function. Following the presentation on what the CAO does, Gina and Emily presented the students with a simulation exercise based on complaints they've received. During the simulation the students had to consider who the various stakeholders were, what their interests were, and potential outcomes they wanted. Then the CAO highlighted the challenges and opportunities for success that the dispute resolution provides.
Top left: WCL Summer Session Participants and Professor David Hunter with the fabulous CAO team.
Left: CAO VP Meg Taylor works with Summer Session participants from Ecuador and the Philippines during the case simulation exercise
On June 11, the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law hosted a panel on "The Belo Monte Case: Challenges and Opportunities for the Protection of Human Rights and Environment in the Inter-American Human Rights System" as part of its Human Rights Month series. Environmental Law Summer Session professor Astrid Puentes, who is co-director of Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), worked with the Academy to put together this panel to discuss the implications of the Belo Monte dam on the environment and the people living in the region in Brazil, as well as the broader lessons that could be drawn from the case about the intersection of environmental and human rights law. Astrid was joined on the panel by Katya Salazar, Executive Director of the Due Process of Law Foundation, and WCL alumnus Marcos Orellana (LL.M '98, SJD '09), Director of the Human Rights and Environment Program at the Center for International Environmental Law. Professor David Hunter moderated the discussions. Following an overview of the case by Astrid, the panelists discussed the need for rights, including the procedural access rights, and considerations of environmental concerns (including environmental impact assessments) to be addressed before a project begins so as to avoid irreversible harm. Additionally, they discussed Brazil's reaction to the Commission's rulings and the potential implications. Lastly, the panelists highlighted the many links between human rights concerns and environmental concerns.
Patty Beneke kicked off her sixth week as Regional Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office of North America (RONA) by meeting with our summer session participants on June 11. She provided an overview of the main priority areas of UNEP, including its history and how it has worked over the years. Then, Patty highlighted the focus areas of the UNEP RONA office. Lastly, she discussed the upcoming UN Environmental Assembly, which will be held later in June in Nairobi and is the first time that all the UN countries will be invited to join in a discussion about the environmental issues facing the world. UNEA has universal membership and the hope is that it will be a way in which the countries can provide a collective voice for how to address certain environmental issues. The focus of UNEA is on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which may be decided on as the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, and the illegal wildlife trade.
Following the Sunday night BBQ, on Monday, June 10, the Summer Session participants went to the World Bank to meet with the Inspection Panel, which is the independent accountability mechanism for IBRD and IDA. The Inspection Panel provides project-affected communities with recourse when a World Bank funded project harms the environment or the rights of the community. The Panel investigates whether the Bank has complied with its environmental and social safeguard policies. To begin the site visit, the Panel Chairperson Eimi Watanabe greeted the participants and briefly introduced the Inspection Panel. Then WCL alumnae Tatiana Tassoni (LL.M '01) and Dilek Barlas (LL.M '92) described how the Panel works, how to file a complaint, the process of investigation, and recourse for project-affected communities. They also discussed the difficulties the Panel faces including the difficulty of letting potentially affected communities know about them and therefore highlighted the importance of outreach.
Professor Hunter Hosts Environmental Law Summer Session BBQ
On June 9, Professor David Hunter hosted a BBQ for the Environmental Law Summer Session participants to allow them time to relax, get to know one another better, and meet environmental activists and lawyers. In addition to the summer session participants, WCL alumna Carla Garcia Zendejas (Director of the People Land and Resources Program at the Center for International Environmental Law) attended as did Earthrights International Co-Founders Katie Redford and Ka Hsaw Wa. Participants enjoyed good company, food, and a pickup soccer game.
Image on left (from L-R): David Hunter, Tais Ludwig, Caio Barcaroli, Pete Zywot, Ka Hsaw Wa, Benjamin Parsalaw, Giuseppe Franze, and Erika Lennon. (Photo Credit: Katie Redford)
Paul Hagen ('90) met with Environmental Law Summer Session participants when he hosted them at Beveridge & Diamond on Friday, June 7. Beveridge & Diamond is a U.S. law firm that focuses on domestic and international environmental law. Paul heads the international environmental law practice groups and works on a variety of issues including treaty negotiations and giving advice to clients. During the site visit, Paul discussed international environmental law treaties, and the U.S.'s general reluctance to ratify them. Additionally, he discussed what it was like to participate in treaty negotiations representing business rather than being part of the government or an NGO. Paul's presentation further focused on new regulations related to e-waste and the problems it poses for the international agreements dealing with waste. Lastly, he spoke about some of the pro bono work he has gotten to do, including related to the International Whaling Commission and in the DC community. During this site visit, participants got to see a different perspective from the previous two (government and NGO) and gained insight into practicing international environmental law at a firm.
On Wednesday, June 5, Melanie Nakagawa ('05) hosted the Environmental Law Summer Session participants for their second site visit to the U.S. Department of State. Melanie discussed her work as a member of Secretary John Kerry's Policy Planning team. She discussed her work on oceans, climate change, and other international environmental law issues that are priorities of the State Department. Additionally, Melanie talked about how the agencies work together and how they work with the administration and Congress. Prior to joining the State Department, Melanie worked in the U.S. Senate and for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and she discussed the differences between those jobs when it comes to influencing environmental policies and highlighted the different roles each group has in the process. Melanie touched on a variety of issues ranging from treaty negotiations, including the problem the U.S. faces in treaty negotiations because Congress has been reluctant to sign onto international agreements, to a variety of U.S. policies.
On Tuesday, June 4, the Environmental Law Summer Session students met with lawyers at the Center for International Environmental Law, as the first in a series of site visits that those taking International Institutions and Environmental Protection go on. CIEL President Carroll Muffett and Director of the People, Land & Resources program, Carla Garcia Zendejas (LL.M '97) met with the summer session participants to discuss the work they do. Carroll discussed the structure of CIEL, their focus areas, and the accomplishments they have had over the years. While Carla focused on her work related to strengthening World Bank environmental and social safeguards, including the Bank on Human Rights campaign, and using the accountability mechanisms at the international financial institutions to help communities being harmed by development projects. Additionally, they discussed the work CIEL does to create tools for people and lawyers around the world to use, including the Early Warning System for IFC projects, www.forestdefender.org, and the Know Your Rights related to REDD+ guide, amongst others. They also highlighted the work they do to help communities and the community-driven approach they take when helping a community file a claim, for example, to independent accountability mechanisms such as the World Bank Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (both future site visits). Additionally, Carroll and Carla took questions from the summer session participants about the challenges of working at an NGO, their work, and their successes.
On Monday, June 2, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced new carbon rules for the U.S. calling on individual states to reduce their emissions. Read quotes from Professor Bill Snape in Law 360's "Fate of the EPA Carbon Rule Lies with Next President" and Professor Amanda Leiter in Bloomberg News's "EPA Rule to Find Support at Business Friendly Court." Click on the articles to see their quotes.
On Tuesday, May 27 the Tenth Annual Summer Session on Environmental Law began and on Friday, May 30, the Summer Sessions on Environmental Law and on International Commercial Arbitration held a joint reception to welcome their participants. The summer session includes AUWCL JD and LL.M students, as well as lawyers and law students who come from around the world for this three to four week session. This year's summer session has participants from five continents including people from the Philippines and Malaysia, Tanzania and Madagascar, Ecuador and Brazil, Canada, and Italy, amongst others. The reception served as a conclusion to the first week of seminars, including one on Environmental Law and the U.S. Congress (taught by Laurel Angell), Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (taught by Ken Markowitz ('91)), and International Climate Change Law (taught by Stephen Porter).
Pictures: Top left: Natalia (Peru), Benjie (Tanzania), and Maria Fernanda (Colombia); Top right: Steve Porter, David Hunter, and Ken Markowitz; Bottom Right: Professor Ken Markowitz chats with Godfrey (Tanzania), Laetitia (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Annica (Cote d'Ivoire)
More pictures will be posted soon here and on Flickr. You can also see them on Facebook!
- On May 21, James Mitchell ('08), an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace US, was quoted in the the LA Times article "Shopping for Sustainable Seafood is Getting Easier in Southern California." James commented on the sustainable seafood list, which highlights what grocery stores sell the most sustainable seafood, that Greenpeace has published for the last few years. Check it out HERE!
- On May 21, a number of green groups urged Hillary Clinton to take a stand and oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and Professor Bill Snape, also Senior Counsel at Center for Biological Diversity, was quoted in The Hill and the Wall Street Journal.
- This May, Daniel Brindis ('08), a Greenpeace US Forests Campaigner is shedding light on the problem of illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon. Check out his blog post and a YouTube video, both of which highlight the damage that illegal logging is causing in the Para region.
- In mid-May, Greenpeace released "Carting Away the Oceans VIII," which ranks the seafood sustainability of supermarkets in the US and James Mitchell ('08), a Greenpeace US Oceans Campaigner, was one of the authors. The report points out which stores sells the most "red list" species, which this year is Kroger.
- On May 2, Professor Amanda Leiter commented on the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's cross-state air pollution in the E&E Publishing Greenwire article "High Court Cross-State Ruling Leaves Much Unsettled for EPA." Read the article.
- On April 30, Professor Bill Snape was on NPR discussing the problems of fracking in the piece "Concerns Raised Over Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas." Listen to the story.
- On April 21 an article in The Nation , "Want to Stop Climate Change? Take the Fossil Fuel Industry to Court" mentioned a confidential workshop of lawyers that was held at American University. Read the article.
- On April 18, Professor Bill Snape commented on the many Americans who've spoken out against the Keystone XL pipeline in the article "U.S. Further Delays Final Decision on Keystone XL pipeline." Read the Reuters article.
On May 18, students at American University Washington College of Law received their JD and LL.Ms in International Law and Law & Government. Several of those students wore a small green ribbon on their gown signifying that they took a green graduation pledge. The AU Office of Sustainability created the green grad pledge to encourage students to consider sustainability in their lives and careers. Kim Gros, Susan Johnson, Brandon Roman, Nada Naseri, Maggie Coulter, Veronica Kennedy, Hannah Pagan, Joshua Axelrod, Samina Bharmal, Pedro Etcheverrigaray, Jonna Hung, and Clara Pereira Amarilla all pledged "to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job or other position I consider, and will improve these aspects within any organization to which I belong." Congrats to these and all the WCL students that graduated. Read more about the Office of Sustainability's Green Grad Pledge.
On May 6, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon joined Lauren Bartlett, Director of the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project at the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, for a webinar on the Right to a Healthy Environment as part of the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project. Since the early 1970s, numerous environmental laws, international environmental treaties and agreements, and constitutional provisions have been developed that incorporate or relate to a right to a healthy environment. While the US has yet to explicitly recognize the right, it has been incorporated in many constitutions worldwide. Additionally in 2012, the UN appointed John Knox as the first Independent Expert on Human Rights and Environment. Through the webinar, they provided a background on the development of environmental law and the ongoing development of the right to a healthy environment for the legal aid attorneys and others who joined the webinar. Then Lauren discussed how to incorporate the human rights arguments into a case. You can read more about the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project and the chapter on the Right to a Healthy Environment HERE.
You can listen to the webinar!
Professor David Hunter hosted the annual end of the year BBQ for environmental law students, alumni, and friends of the program working in the field on Wednesday, April 23. Current JD and LL.M students, including many who are graduating in May and several who are members of the Environmental Law Society and/or Sustainable Development Law & Policy. All of the students have focused on environmental law and the BBQ provides a way to celebrate finishing another year as well as a way for the students to network with environmental professionals, including many who are alumni. In addition to the students, numerous WCL alumni currently working in environmental law at various places including Greenpeace, Potomac Riverkeepers, Center for Biological Diversity, The Ocean Conservancy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, and one who was in town from Chad where she works on human rights and environment issues. Several environmental lawyers who are friends of the program, including ones from the Center for International Environmental Law and the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, came as well. Rounding out the BBQ were adjunct professors Dan Squire and Carroll Muffett, as well as Professors Amanda Leiter and Bill Snape, and program coordinator Erika Lennon.
From April 9 to 12, the World Bank and IMF held their annual spring meetings and civil society policy forum. Given the ongoing review of the World Bank's Environmental and Social Safeguards, many of the discussions focused on safeguards (including ones related to human rights and climate change) and accountability. PICEL coordinator Erika Lennon attended many of the sessions focused on climate change, human rights, and improving accountability as part of her work related to strengthening global safeguards. The civil society policy forum concluded with an update on the safeguards review process, which has been going on for several years. PICEL has engaged in the safeguards review by attending consultations and submitting written comments. While at the spring meetings, Erika coordinated with lawyers working at non-governmental organizations including several WCL alumni working in the field. In addition to safeguards, there were a number of sessions related to accountability and the accountability mechanisms for IBRD/IDA and IFC/MIGA, the Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, respectively. Both the Panel and the CAO provided updates on current work and the CAO discussed their findings in their investigation into the loan to Dinant in Honduras, where they found a number of violations. Further, alumna Delphine Djiraibe (LL.M '01), a lawyer from Chad, discussed the importance of accountability and safeguards based on her first hand experience with the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, which ended up being a very destructive project. Current students Elana Katz-Mink ('14) and Tom Richards ('14), who attended past annual and spring meetings with PICEL formally, attended several sessions in their own capacity and/or in conjunction with current internships. Additionally, adjunct faculty and numerous alumni who currently work at the World Bank engaged in the policy forum as attendees and panelists.
Yakov Bragarnik and Tom Richards, students in the Energy Law Society, represented American University Washington College of Law at the 2014 Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition at West Virginia University College of Law. At the competition, which was held from March 27 to 29, Tom and Yakov competed against twenty-two other teams from law schools across the nation and they advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" before being eliminated. The competition featured four preliminary rounds and a dinner with a keynote speech delivered by Alex Dapolito Dunn, a WCL adjunct professor. To prepare for the competition, Tom and Yakov did practice moots with their coach, Professor Dan Squire, and other environmental and energy law alumni and adjunct faculty.
From March 24 to 27, the World Bank held its annual Land and Poverty Conference, which focused this year on "Integrating Land Governance in the Post-2015 Agenda: Harnessing Synergies for Implementation and Monitoring Impact." This year's conference included Danielle Edwards, a current International Legal Studies Program LL.M student specializing in International Environmental Law. Originally from Dominica, Danielle first came to WCL to participate in the North America Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in February 2013 and then participated in the 2013 Environmental Law Summer Session before beginning her LL.M. Last December the World Bank selected Danielle as one of the presenters for the Land and Poverty conference based on the abstract of her paper on "Land Use Planning for Climate Change Adaptation in Small Island Caribbean States." Thus, on March 25, Danielle presented her paper as part of the panel on Linking Land Use and Land Tenure. She presented alongside other speakers, including a climate finance specialist from the World Bank. After presenting her paper, Danielle and the other panelists took questions from the audience which included the UNDP sustainable development program head for Sao Tome and Principe. While at the conference Danielle had the chance to interact with people from the World Bank, other international organizations such as UNDP, FAO, and UN Habitat, NGOs such as OxFam, and scholars from around the globe.
Photos courtesy of Danielle Edwards. At right: Danielle with two colleagues from the World Resources Institute.
Read Danielle's Paper and PowerPoint Presentation!
On March 26, Sustainable Development Law & Policy and Law Students for Reproductive Justice hosted "Humans and the Extinction Crisis: Population, Sustainability, and 21st Century Solutions," which featured a discussion led by Stephanie Feldstein and Taralynn Reynolds of the Center for Biological Diversity's Population and Sustainability Program. The discussion centered on the effects of human population growth on the environment and, particularly, endangered species. Stephanie and Taralynn highlighted the stress on the environment due to the fact that 7 billion people now live on the planet. In particular, they discussed the connection to the extinction crisis since 2009. Further, they highlighted the fact that this linkage and issue is not often discussed among environmental groups, activists, or the media. So in addition to discussion the program, they discussed the work that they do at the Center for Biological Diversity to try and develop campaigns to both inform people about the issue and spur them to think about how population is linked to sustainability and extinction.
(Photo credit: Bill Snape)
The Faculty Practice Group on Environment, Energy & Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Land Use, and Construction Law hosted its first official mentoring and networking session on March 24. Twelve adjunct professors and alumni joined Professors Amanda Leiter, David Hunter, Bill Snape, and Ezra Rosser to provide one-on-one career counseling, resume review, and overall mentoring to twenty-nine current WCL students. This session was part of the effort by the faculty to assist WCL students in finding a career in their chosen field. Each of the students who participated was paired with a practitioner doing work in the area of law, or in a closely related area, that the student is interested in going into following graduation. Three of our adjunct faculty, Barry Breen, Robert Solomon, and Elisabeth Myers (who is also an alumna), mentored students one-on-one either before or after their class on Monday. Additionally alumni from law firms, the government, business, and non-governmental organizations met with students interested in fields related to their own to provide career advice and guidance. Practitioners came from a wide-variety of areas ranging from energy to international environmental to green building, among others. Following the formal one-on-one mentoring session, students and alumni participated in a networking reception, which allowed students to practice their networking skills and meet practitioners they had not already. Additional students and alumni who were unable to come earlier joined in this reception.
On Thursday March 6, Professor Amanda Leiter joined Michael Gerard from Columbia University for the Environmental and Energy Study Institute's Congressional Briefing on "The Supreme Court and EPA Carbon Rules." During the briefing the two professors discussed the Supreme Court case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, which is about whether the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles extends to stationary sources such as power plants. They discussed the arguments from February 24, what could be gleaned from the justices' questions, the potential outcomes of the case, and what is at stake.
Read highlights and watch a video of the briefing HERE!
On Wednesday, March 5, PICEL welcomed German Vera to WCL for a discussion entitled "Looking Ahead to the International Climate Negotiations," which was cohosted by the International Legal Studies Program, the Program on International Organizations, Law, and Diplomacy, and the Organization of American States Department of Sustainable Development. In December 2014, Peru will host the Twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP20) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the last COP before 2015 when an agreement is supposed to be signed in Paris. Thus, Peru is preparing for its role in being the host country. German Vera is serving as an advisor to the Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru for COP20. Additionally, he has just published a new book Climate Change in International Law: A Vision for Citizens and Businesses in Peru and Latin America, which has a forward written by Professor David Hunter. At the March 5 discussion, German was joined by Professor David Hunter. The two of them presented background information about the UNFCCC process and the previous COPs. Then they discussed the major issues at play for COP20, including capitalizing the Green Climate Fund, technology transfer, and other issues related to the mitigation of climate change and countries making real committments to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 30 people, including representatives from the Peruvian Embassy, international financial institutions, the Organization of American States, environmental NGOs, and WCL students and alumni. Following their presentations German and David took questions from the audience and discussed the need for their to be greater awareness in Peru about COP20 and the issue of climate change.
See the flyer for the event. More pictures will be posted soon.
Environmental Law Students Win Best Brief for Their Side and Advance to the Quarterfinals of Moot Court Competition
From February 20 to 22, three environmental law students competed in the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition held at Pace Law School in New York. The WCL team of Susan Johnson ('14), Mitchell Lowenthal ('15), and Rose Monahan ('15), and coached by Professor Amanda Leiter, advanced to the quarter-finals in a competition with 78 teams from law schools across the country. Additionally, the team won Best Brief - Respondent, Maleau, which was the party they represented on brief (each school writes a brief for one of three parties to the case). Rose Monahan also won Best Oralist in one of their preliminary rounds. The team began preparations for the competition in the Fall semester by writing and submitting their brief, and beginning to do practice moots. The preparation switched focus to orgal advocacy in the Spring semester when the team did weekly practice moots with their coach, Professor Leiter, and various lawyers and former competitors who volunteered their time to help to prepare for the oral argument competition rounds, in which the team had to represent all three different parties involved in the problem. See the results of the overall competition.
Pictured: Susan Johnson, Professor Amanda Leiter, and Rose Monahan pose with their awards. (Photo Credit: Susan Johnson)
On Monday, February 24, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, which is the combination of a number of challenges brought by groups and individuals who believe that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overreaching by making rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Melisa Talamas, Nada Naseri, Jonna Hung, and Pedro Etcheverrigaray, current students enrolled in the International Legal Studies Program and the Program on Law and Government LL.M programs, went to the Supreme Court early in the morning so as to attend the hearing. Also at the Supreme Court were Professor Bill Snape and Frostpaw, the Center for Biological Diversity's polar Bear. Bill and Eric Fox, a student portraying Frostpaw, were there to remind the justices and the public gathered outside that climate change is dangerous for the planet. While there, Bill was interviewed by a number of newspapers. Watch his interview with Dallas News Biz Beat accompanying the article "Texas Makes Case Before Supreme Court in EPA case; Justices Appear Undecided" (video). He was also quoted in Voice of America's article "US Supreme Court Considers Environment, Presidential Power," the Christian Broadcasting Network's article "EPA's Climate Control Too Much for Americans?," and the McClatchyDC article "Supreme Court Hears States' Objections to Greenhouse Gas Rules." In the articles, Bill comments on the case, including the fact that he thinks the case will not change EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and that the optics of the case are also at play here.
Additionally, prior to the case being heard, Professor Amanda Leiter was quoted in the Al Jeezera America article "Supreme Court to look at EPA's Authority and Obama's Use of Power" and the New York Times article "As Obama Vows to Act on Climate Change, Justices Weigh His Approach." In both articles, she says that the case seems to be more important politically and more about challenging the Obama administration's authority, and less about the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the case may not have many actual ramifications on the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases. Prior to being quoted in these two articles, Professor Leiter participated in SCOTUSblog's symposium on the gas and wrote "The Greenhouse Gas Cases and the Importance of Deference."
Photos by Chelsea Tu and Melisa Talamas.
On February 20, the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law along with the American Red Cross's International Humanitarian Law Program, the WCL War Crimes Research Office, and the International Legal Studies Program hosted "Pillage: Exploring the Links Between Armed Conflict and Natural Resource Exploitation." Approximately fifty people attended this stimulating discussion moderated by Professor David Hunter in which panelists discussed the law of pillage, conflict minerals, the relationship to international humanitarian and human rights law, and how the multilateral development banks could help address the problem of pillage and natural resource exploitation related to armed conflict. The panel began with a welcome from Christie Edwards (LL.M. '10), Director of the International Humanitarian Law Program at the American Red Cross. Then, Corinna Gilfillan, head of the U.S. office of Global Witness, began the discussion by providing an overview and background about the exploitation of natural resources and conflict minerals (especially in Africa), and how they can help fund armed conflict. Next, Carl Bruch, Environmental Law Institute, provided an overview of the law of pillage and its history. Holly Dranginis, Policy Associate at The Enough Project, shifted the discussion to issues of armed conflict, the horrors of pillage, and international humanitarian law, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Lastly, Ilona Coyle, a consultant at the Environmental Law Institute, discussed the potential positive role the multi-lateral development banks could play in combating pillage and the negative exploitation of natural resources. A robust question and answer session followed with discussion of corruption, environmental peacebuilding, and using natural resources to benefit people, amongst other topics.
Interested in hearing the discussion? Watch the Webcast!
Recently, environmental law program faculty and staff have been in the news commenting on a variety of things. Check them out (updated March 7):
- On March 7, Professor Bill Snape was quoted in the National Journal article "Obstacles and Opportunities," about Senators Mary Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski heading the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Bill warned about the potential problems this pairing could pose given their support for drilling. Read the article (log-in required).
- On Monday, February 24, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and whether the Obama administration overreached in issuing rules to combat climate change. Professor Amanda Leiter says that even if the Court decides against the EPA, it will only have modest impact because they have other tools to regulate emissions and it will instead mainly be the Court saying that the administration overreached. Read Professor Leiter's quote in the New York Times article "As Obama vows to act on Climate Change , Justices Weigh His Approach."
- As the debate (and the protest against) continues about whether President Obama should or should not approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Professor Bill Snape weighed in on FuelFix's "Environmentalists Debate Substance of Keystone XL Fight." In this article, environmentalists debated whether the protest against the pipeline was good or bad for the overall goal of addressing climate change. Check out Bill's thoughts by reading the article.
- Professor Bill Snape is quoted in On Earth Magazine in the February 10 article, "Howls of Outrage," explaining reasons to continue listing wolves as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Read the article, which highlights the problems with the Interior Department's scientific review about whether to delist the gray wolf. You can also check out the article in Salon.
- WCL alumna and Center for Biological Diversity legal fellow Chelsea Tu ('13) was quoted in the February 6 BNA article, "Carbon Capture is Not Demonstrated by Technology, Industry Groups Tell EPA," which focuses on the proposed emissions regulations for new power plants. Chelsea commented on the fact that the proposed EPA rules for new power plants need to be stronger than proposed for natural gas power plants because those are more likely to be built. If you have a BNA subscription, you can read the article.
- Following the U.S. House of Representatives passing a bill to protect hunting rights, Professor Bill Snape was quoted in the February 7 Idaho Mountain Express article "U.S. House Passes Bill to Protect Hunting Access." Bill commented on the need for the U.S. EPA to regulate and eliminate lead bullets under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the House bill also tries to prevent. Read the article.
Environmental Faculty Participates in International Law Review Symposium on Trade & Environment
On February 18, the American University Washington College of Law International Law Review and International Trade and Investment Society held an excellent symposium entitled "Managing the Global Environment Through Trade: WTO, TPP, and TTIP Negotiations, and Bilateral Investment Treaties Versus Regional Trade Agreements." Throughout the symposium environmental law faculty participated and contributed to the discussion. Adjunct Professor (and alumnus) Marcos Orellana moderated the opening panel on the WTO and environmental protection, which focused on the numerous disputes the WTO has heard under Article XX. Later in the day Professor Bill Snape moderated a panel in which they discussed the ongoing Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations including issues relating to transparency, weakening of environmental standards, and fast-track trade authority, amongst other topics. In the final panel of the day, Adjunct Professor David Downes (who teaches in the Summer Session) and Adjunct Professor Carroll Muffett served as panelists discussing the differences between bilateral investment treaties and regional trade agreements. This included a discussion of the dispute resolution mechanisms available and how they have been used over the course of time.
On February 4, following the Monday night vigils across the country held by opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, Professor Bill Snape was on The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio discussing the issue. Bill was the second of two guests and he discussed why President Obama should reject the Keystone XL pipeline following the State Department's release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement on January 31. Bill pointed to the significant environmental harms of extracting and transporting tarsands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, including its contributions to climate change, the damage caused by the extraction, and the potential for an oil spill, amongst others. Bill's segment followed Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation.
Listen to Bill on the Joy Cardin Show! (His segment begins at approximately 22 minutes)
On February 4, the WCL Environmental Law Society held a Founders Day event on "The State of the Environment in the Chesapeake Bay." The event featured a keynote from Ridgeway Hall, co-founder and Vice-Chair of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance, and a panel discussion with other legal experts. Ridge Hall's keynote provided background on how the Chesapeake Bay became so polluted including an overview of sources, including agriculture and stormwater run-off, types of pollutants, and their effects, and introduced how the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in consultation with states and others. His keynote helped provide background for the case the panel discussed, American Farm Bureau v. EPA, in which the American Farm Bureau challenged the Bay TMDL and EPA's ability to create it the way it did under the Clean Water Act. The panelists, including Jim Curtain (U.S. EPA, Office of General Counsel), Jon Mueller (Vice President for Litigation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation), and Brooks Smith (Partner, Troutman Sanders LLP), discussed the challenges of the Bay TMDL, the importance of protecting the Bay, and the decision in AFB v. EPA, which was issued in September 2013. They also discussed the appeal of that case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently receiving briefs. Panelists speculated about the outcome and about its potential to affect other watersheds, such as the Gulf of Mexico or Mississippi River Delta, and potential TMDL developments for those waters. The event also featured opening remarks from Elizabeth Lewis ('15) and Professor Amanda Leiter. The event concluded with the panelists giving a brief statement of career advice for the students in the audience and was followed by a networking reception in which students had a chance to talk with the panelists and other lawyers in attendance.
See more pictures from the event by visiting our Facebook page.
SCOTUSblog is hosting an online symposium about the greenhouse gas cases the Supreme Court will hear on February 24. Professor Amanda Leiter contributed to this symposium with "The greenhouse gas cases and the importance of deference." In her post, Professor Leiter discussed traditional agency deference, the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and the tailoring rule being challenged in these cases.
Following the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the State Department on January 31, environmental advocates and others took action to urge President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline. Two of the people who participated were Chelsea Tu ('13), a WCL alumnae and a current law fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity, and Stephanie Kurose, a current WCL student studying environmental law. If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will bring oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. Over the last couple years there has been considerable debate around the Keystone XL pipeline and Professor Bill Snape has contributed quotes to many articles about it, dressed as Frostpaw and followed President Obama on his 2013 Hawaiian vacation urging him to say no to the pipeline, participated in numerous National Journal Energy Experts blog debates, and submittted comments on the State Department's SEIS draft in 2013, all of which you can read about below. Chelsea and Stephanie joined with others urging the administration to say no to the proposed pipeline because it will contribute to climate change and negatively impact the environment. Additionally, they follow in the footsteps of other WCL students and alumni who participated in NoKXL rallies 2011 and 2012. A decision on whether the pipeline will be approved is expected later in 2014.
On January 31, the Huffington Post published Kate Sheppard's "In the American West, A Battle Unfolds Over Bugs, Climate Change, and the Fate of an Iconic Species" in which Professor Bill Snape was quoted. Snape commented on the need to continue listing the grizzly bear on the endangered species list so as to ensure its continued existence and recovery.
Read the article.
On the eve of President Obama's State of the Union address, Professor Bill Snape wrote "State of the Climate: 5 Steps President Obama Should Announce to Avert Global Disaster." Last year, President Obama indicated that we needed to tackle the climate crisis, however, Bill argues that he has done little to curb dangerous pollution. Bill Snape (as an Energy Insider) contributed this plan for 5 things the President can and should do to combat climate change and its effects, to the National Journal's debate "What's the State of Obama's Energy and Climate Agenda?" Read Bill's post.
Bill's five step plan is also detailed and he's quoted in the Wisconsin Gazette, "Obama urged to announce bold environmental plan."
From January 24-25, Maggie Coulter ('14), Joe Hernandez ('14), and Sarah Lobe ('14) represented American University Washington College of Law and competed in the North America Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. The team began preparing for the competition in the Fall semester by writing a memorial addressing the issue of sea turtle protection and cultural practices. After submitting their memorial, Maggie, Joe, and Sarah spent time doing practice moots with their coaches David Hunter and Erika Lennon, as well as other international environmental lawyers. The team competed in the North America Regional in Denver, Colorado where they faced off against teams from law schools across the U.S. and the Caribbean. Congrats to the team for all their hard work!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new proposed rule regulating and limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. While some are praising the new rule because it may mean that new coal-fired power plants can no longer be built. However, Professor Bill Snape believes that the proposed rule does not go far enough because it is too lenient in its rules for natural gas power plants. While he acknowledges that regulating emissions and reducing the use of coal is important for the fight against climate change, Professor Snape believes that it embraces natural gas, which burns cleaner, but is increasingly extracted using fracking techology. Check out the various interviews and quotes from Bill Snape in the articles below:
- Read DeSmog Blog's "New Carbon Rules for Power Plants A Missed Opportunity to Rein in Natural Gas Emissions, Critics Say" quoting Bill.
- Bill was interviewed by The Real News Network's Jaisal Noor! Check out the interview: Coal Industry's Loss is Fracking Industry's Gain.
- Bill was also quoted in "Study: Natural Gas Plants Release 40 Percent Less CO2" posted by both the Wall Street Cheat Sheet and Nasdaq.com.
Recently, there have been a variety of publications, blogs, or television segments featuring our Environmental Law Faculty. Check them out:
- Looking ahead to what 2014 may bring for the environmental movement, Professor Bill Snape was quoted in the National Journal's "Environmentalists Face a Day of Reckoning on Keystone Pipeline." Check out the article.
- Professor Bill Snape spent part of the holiday break as Frostpaw (the Center for Biological Diversity polar bear) greeting President Obama on his Hawaiian vacation. Frostpaw urged the President to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Read more about Frostpaw's adventures in Hawaii by clicking here and here!
- Professor David Hunter's blog was quoted by Ben Adler in his Grist article "Could You Sue Chevron or Exxon for Screwing Up the Climate?" Adler questions the notion that the carbon majors report will be a game-changer in regards to climate change litigation. However, Hunter points out that while federal litigation efforts may not be significantly impacted, claims in state court may be strengthened by the report as may claims in other countries. Read the Grist article.
- Professor Bill Snape was on NPR's All Things Considered discussing the "Unrealized, Unforeseen Environmental Results of NAFTA" on the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Listen to the segment.
- Professor David Hunter wrote a blog (published on the Center for Progressive Reform's blog) about the future of climate litigation in light of the release of the Carbon Majors report, entitled "Making Private Companies Pay for Climate Change: A New Study Could Revive Climate Change Litigation." Read Professor Hunter's blog.
- Professor Bill Snape appeared on CCTV's Biz Asia America show to discuss whether environmental risks from the oil industry's activities outweigh the benefit. Watch Professor Snape's interview (via You Tube).
- Professor Amanda Leiter was quoted in the Washington Post article, "Senate's Filibuster Rule Change Will Help Obama Achieve Key Second-Term Priorities" commenting on how the change in the filibuster rule may bring balance back to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Read Professor Leiter's quote.
- Professor Bill Snape wrote "Willful Ignorance at Interior?," published on The Hill blog, discussing the Department of Interior's proposed rule on fracking. Read Professor Snape's blog.
- Professor Bill Snape and Rose Braz (from the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Program) wrote an Op-Ed Blog urging California Governor Jerry Brown not to allow fracking in California. Read their blog.
PICEL hosted "A Discussion with Gaoxiang Pan, Asia Environmental Counsel for GE" on November 19. Gaoxiang Pan is the main lawyer at GE's office in China focused on environmental health and safety. While at WCL, Mr. Pan discussed environmental governance in China and the challenges for environmental lawyers working there. As part of this discussion, he introduced information about the current laws and regulations, but emphasized that they frequently changed. Additionally, he discussed his role as in-house counsel for a large multinational organization, General Electric (GE), and what his work is like in that capacity. Mr. Pan concluded his discussion with advice on career searches and choosing your path, which included some discussion of how he chose environmental law.
On November 18, the American University Law Review held its annual symposium and this year's topic was "Climate Power Play: Financial, Legislative, and Regulatory Moves Toward a New Energy Economy" and it was held at McDermott, Will & Emery. Given the topic, Professors David Hunter and Bill Snape each moderated a panel. Professor Hunter moderated the day's first panel, "Energy Finance and Policy: Incentives and Investments" in which panelists Reed Hundt (CEO, Coalition for Green Capital), Phyllis Cuttino (Director, Pew Charitable Trusts Clean Energy Program), and Roger Ballentine (President, Green Strategies, Inc.) discussed the developments in the U.S. related to clean energy. Additionally, the panelists discussed ways in which to increase investment in clean energy such as tax incentives and a more stable legislative framework. This panel was followed by "EPA's Proposed Clean Air Act Rules and Potential Effects on Industry and the Environment," which was moderated by Professor Bill Snape. The four panelists included David Doniger (Policy Director, NRDC's Climate and Clean Air Program), Michael Gerrard (Director of the Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School), Stephen Fotis (Partner, VanNess Feldman), and Jacob Hollinger (Partner, McDermott, Will & Emery) and they discussed EPA's proposed rules under the Clean Air Act 111(B) and (D) to regulate emissions from new and existing power plants. Additionally, they discussed how the potential rules may lead to litigation. The two panels were followed by brief remarks and a Q&A with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who is focused on Congress taking actions to address climate change. Finally, the symposium concluded with Professor Perry Wallace interviewing Carol Browner, who was the EPA Administrator during the entire Clinton administration. Professor Wallace asked Ms. Browner about pressing environmental issues including fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, and how the new EPA rules will help combat climate change. Both Senator Whitehouse and Ms. Browner emphasized the fact that climate change is real and we need to take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, and Ms. Browner discussed the need for adaptation plans. In addition to the professors, PICEL staff, alumni, and current students attended this timely symposium, which discussed ongoing domestic discussions about climate change while countries are meeting in Poland for the international climate change negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Domestic actions will influence what the U.S. can commit to in the international arena. See the Program!
One of the most obvious negative effects of climate change is the increasingly alarming melting of the Arctic sea ice. Not only will this melting contribute to climate change, result in sea level rise, and disrupt the biodiversity of the region, it will also lead to increased commercial activity, which could also have negative consequences. On November 14, His Excellency Børge Brende, the Foreign Minister of Norway, came to American University Washington College of Law to discuss this very issue in a discussion entitled "The Arctic: Major Opportunities-Major Responsibilities." His Excellency highlighted the fact that a more accessible Arctic is leading to more commercial activity, which could have negative consequences for the Arctic environment. Brende stressed the need for following the precautionary principle and not engaging in activities, such as drilling, without the necessary knowledge to engage in the activities in a sustainable way. He also discussed the developments in the Arctic Council and its increased role in governance.
On November 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a "listening session" in DC to allow the public to come and give statements. Professor Bill Snape delivered a statement on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, where he is senior counsel. Bill's testimony highlighted the negative impacts that climate change is having and will have on Washington, DC. He then stressed the importance of regulating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also stressed the importance of the Clean Air Act and the need for the EPA to issue new rules for new power plants. Additionally, Bill emphasized the importance of education and ending the attack on the EPA.
Read Bill Snape's statement.
Sustainable Development Law & Policy Hosts Symposium on "Putting People First: Regulating Big Industry for Environmental Health"
The Sustainable Development Law & Policy (SDLP) publication, a student-run brief, held its annual symposium on November 6 and focused on regulating big industry as a means to protect environmental health. "Putting People First: Regulating Big Industry for Environmental Health" was comprised of three panels and a keynote lecture on wildlife trafficking. The symposium began with a panel moderated by Professor Amanda Leiter on Big Energy: Costs and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking"). The three panelists Jon D. Sohn (McKenna, Long & Aldridge), Amy Hall (Natural Resources Defense Council), and Courtney Abrams (Environment America) discussed the current state of regulations in the U.S. regarding fracking and both the push to increase the amount of fracking and the push by some communities to ban fracking, including cities voting to ban fracking in their area. They also discussed the potential health and environmental impacts, many of which are unknown, and how careful regulation before engaging in fracking may be necessary to protect people. This panel was followed by a panel on Big Food: Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture, which was moderated by Erika Lennon. The three panelists, Professor T. Garrett Graddy (AU School of International Service), Genna Reed (Food & Water Watch), and Ken Roseboro (author and GMO expert) discussed the impacts that GMOs can have on human health, the environment, and biodiversity. The panelists discussed the lack of precise knowledge about the affects of GMOs on people and, therefore, the need to at the very least label GMOs and to consider using the precautionary principle in thinking about how to improve the current regulation of GMOs in the US. Rodger Schlickeisen, a consultant and former Executive Director of Defenders of Wildlife, discussed the difficulties of regulating illegal wildlife trafficking and elephant poaching in the Africa, even with a number of regulations including CITES. Dr. Schlickeisen also discussed his current work to improve the capabilities of agencies in Africa to prevent illegal poaching. The symposium concluded with a panel on Big Chemicals: A Comparison of International and National Regulation moderated by Professor Bill Snape. This panel discussed the regulation of toxics, chemicals, and pesticides at the international, national, and local level. Baskut Tuncak (Center for International Environmental Law) discussed how the current EU-US Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) negotiations may affect the regulation of chemicals in both regions and worldwide. Then Brett Hartl (Center for Biological Diversity) discussed FIFRA and TSCA, two U.S. statutes, and the ways in which they could be more effective. Finally, Kent Slowinski (a local activist) discussed the problems of buried munitions in Spring Valley, the part of DC in which American University is located, and the damaged to the soil the chemicals have, which in turn affects human health. Overall the conference reminded attendees that strong regulations of big industry can help protect environmental and human health.
See the webcast (coming soon).
On October 29, Bill Snape testified before the DC Council Committee on Government Operations regarding the "Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2013" (B20-418). In his testimony, Snape voiced his support for DC passing the bill and re-allocating subsidies to favor cleaner technologies.
Read his testimony!
On Thursday, October 17, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law hosted a networking event for alumni in the DC area and current JD and LL.M students concentrating in environmental law. Approximately 50 alumni and students joined PICEL faculty and staff at One Lounge. Alumni from government agencies, environmental NGOs, and law firms came and met some of our current students and shared with them their experiences in job-searching and developing their careers.
From September 9 to 12, the World Bank and IMF held their 2013 Annual Meetings including the Civil Society Policy Forum. Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, and several students participated in a variety of sessions with members of civil society, World Bank management, and Executive Directors from around the world. The policy forum included sessions on a variety of topics including indigenous peoples rights, climate change, safeguards, human rights impact assessments, and grievance mechanisms, amongst others. Additonally, on Friday, Professor David Hunter moderated a panel in which the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation discussed their work over the last 13 years including requests from communities, problem-solving, compliance audits, and lessons learned, amongst others.
Directors of Friends of the Earth Middle East Discuss Environmental Peacebuilding on the Jordan River
On Tuesday, October 1, the three co-directors of Ecopeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) came to American University Washington College of Law to discuss environmental peacebuilding on the Jordan River. FOEME is a tri-national organization headed by three co-directors: Gidon Bromberg (ILSP '94, Israel), Nader al-Khateeb (Palestine), and Munqeth Meyhar (Jordan). The Jordan River is one of the most polluted, revered, and fought over rivers in the world, yet FOEME has turned it into a symbol of peaceful cooperation through their efforts. During their trip to the U.S., the three co-directors spoke at a lunchtime discussion moderated by Professor Ken Conca and co-sponsored by the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law, the Global Environmental Politics Program, the Kay Spiritual Life Center, Middle East Studies@AU, the Center for Israel Studies, and the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, and explained the work they have done to help clean-up and preserve the Jordan River. (Photo Credit: Donna Minha)
Watch the Webcast!
The World Bank Inspection Panel turned 20 last week and in honor of this occasion, there was a celebratory dinner on September 24. Professor David Hunter, who was one of the people who advocated for the creation of the Inspection Panel and was instrumental in its development, served as the emcee for the evening, which featured a speech by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Many environmental and human rights lawyers and advocates who work on improving the accountability mechanisms and bring cases to them attended the celebration dinner. Among those attending were two of our adjunct professors (Natalie Bridgeman Fields and Katie Redford) and other friends of the WCL Environmental Law Program!
In the picture above, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and friends. From left to right: Lori Udall (independent consultant), Kris Genovese (Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law), Natalie Bridgeman Fields (Founder & Director, Accountability Counsel & AUWCL Adjunct), Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Katie Redford (Co-Founder & Director, EarthRights International & AUWCL Adjunct Professor), Professor David Hunter, and Chad Dobson (Executive Director, Bank Information Center)
The World Bank Inspection Panel, which is the independent accountability mechanism, celebrated its Twentieth Anniversary last week on September 22 and held a public event on Friday, September 27. Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, current students, and a PICEL alumnus joined in the event. The Inspection Panel was created twenty years ago to provide a recourse mechanism for people and communities to complain when they believe that a World Bank project is negatively affecting them. When it receives an eligible complaint, the Panel investigates whether the World Bank has complied with its environmental and social safeguard policies. The Panel's creation was advocated for by civil society, including Professor David Hunter, as one of the primary people pushing for it. Friday's public celebration included remarks by former Congressman Barney Frank and World Bank President Jim Kim, and a panel discussion featuring members of the Bank management, the CAO, and a couple requesters who have filed complaints with the Inspection Panel. Following the event, David Hunter and Erika Lennon participated in a civil society discussion with members of the Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) (who were in DC for the 10th annual meeting of the IAMs) to discuss recourse and remedy at the international financial institutions. David Hunter gave opening remarks to begin the discussion which was planned by the Center for International Environmental Law, Accountability Counsel, Human Rights Watch, and Inclusive Development International.
Photo: David Hunter alongside the team at Accountability Counsel post-the day's events. (Credit: Erika Lennon)
On Thursday, September 26 WCL alumna (and 2013 JD Distinguished Fellow) Chelsea Tu ('13) joined with other environmental groups and the Center for Biological Diversity's Frostpaw to urge President Obama to stop drilling for oil in the Arctic. The Arctic ecosytem is fragile and home to several endangered species. Drilling for oil has the potential to significantly disrupt the Arctic ecosystem and the potential for an oil spill is a constant threat. Thus, several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Earthjustice, among others, gathered at the White House on Thursday to urge the Obama administration to stop drilling in the Arctic. As part of this demonstration several activists donned polar bear costumes as polar bears are currently losing their habitat due to climate change and decreasing Arctic sea ice, which will likely be exacerbated by the continued drilling in the Arctic.
The Long Island Newsday reported on the event, "Exiled Polar Bears Converge on D.C. to Rally for Climate Action." Professor Bill Snape (who looks an awful lot like Frostpaw) was quoted discussing the problems of oil drilling for the polar bear, the Arctic ecosystem, and the planet as a whole given the importance of the Arctic to Earth's weather patterns.
Above left, Frostpaw meets Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ). Above right: Chelsea Tu ('13) and Frostpaw. Bottom Right: Polar Bears gather today.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Tu
On September 24, Program Director David Hunter and Coordinator Erika Lennon participated in the Inter-American Development Bank's public consultation on its Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (ICIM, more commonly known as MICI, its Spanish acronym). MICI, which has been in place since 2010, is the independant accountability mechanism that hears complaints from communities affected by IDB funded projects. Currently, the IDB is engaging in consultations with governments, civil society, and others to get feedback on the current MICI policy and ways to change it. MICI has faced numerous problems and is being revised to make it more effective and to ensure accountability. David and Erika joined with other members of civil society, international organizations, and current MICI staff for a consultation in DC about the mechanism and its update. International Legal Studies Program LL.M alumni also participated.
Photo credit: Ashley Gardana.
On August 22, people gathered outside the White House and participated in an anti-fracking rally to urge the Obama administration to ban fracking on public lands. WCL alumni, Ashley Gardana ('12), Chelsea Tu ('13), and Winfield Wilson ('11), joined other concerned citizens and environmentalists outside the White House. Ashley and Chelsea are both working (or have worked) with the Center for Biological Diversity as JD distinguished fellows following their graduation from WCL. Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") is a way of releasing natural gas from shale rock and has seen a boost in recent years. The uncertainty about the negative effects of fracking on public lands, water supplies, and climate change, have led many environmentalists and others to urge caution in expanding fracking on public lands. The rally culminated in the delivery of comments and petitions to the Bureau of Land Management.
Bill Snape Gives Lecture to Visiting Japanese Students
On August 19, just before the new school year starts, Professor Bill Snape met with a group of Japanese students visiting from Ritsumeikan University. While with them, he gave a lecture on environmental law and fielded questions from the group. The group is visiting American University Washington College of Law and meeting with various professors and departments, and learning more about the U.S. legal system.
At right, Bill poses with the students.
"The Hot Air Show" Podcast Experts Discuss President Obama's Climate Plan
On July 29, experts gathered at WCL to record the latest episode of "The Hot Air Show" podcast. As always, Chris Berendt, who is Of Counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, hosted the show. This episode focused on President Obama's climate plan, which he laid out in June, and the confirmation of Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator. Experts including Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners, Jean Chemnick, a reporter with Environment & Energy Publishing, and Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen's Energy Program, discussed the climate plan and the potential for its implementation. They discussed the work of the agencies, the role of Congress, and what the plan does and does not contain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Listen to Episode 13!
Bill Snape Blogs About the Challenges the New EPA Administrator Faces
Last week, the Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. On July 23, Bill Snape wrote "McCarthy's Next Challenge at EPA: Confront Climate Chaos" for The Hill's Congress Blog. In his post, Snape highlights the need for Gina McCarthy to act quickly at EPA to start implementing President Obama's climate plan and to take steps beyond that plan to help protect communities and the environment from the dangerous effects of climate change.
Read Bill's Blog!
David Hunter and Erika Lennon Contribute to ABA Year-in-Review
Professor David Hunter and Erika Lennon co-wrote the section on international finance for the 2012 year-in-review of International Environmental Law. Every year the ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER) and the Section on International Law (SIL) publish a Year-in-Review that covers a wide range of topics related to their specific areas. Within each issue is a section on international environmental law that is co-authored by a collection of international environmental lawyers and professors who each write on an area of expertise. David and Erika contributed to this article by writing the section on developments in international finance as they relate to broader international environmental law issues. For example, developments at the World Bank, the G20, or stemming from international agreements such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Read the ABA SEER "International Environmental and Resources Law: 2012 Annual Report" chapter and the ABA SIL "International Environmental Law" section.
Amanda Leiter Welcomes Environmental Law Professors to AUWCL
On June 28-29, Professor Amanda Leiter hosted environmental law professors from around the country at a two-day workshop at American University Washington College of Law. Attendees came from Denver University, University of Maryland, and Villanova, among other schools. Each attendee submitted a draft article and received feedback from the rest of the group. Article topics ranged from architectural segregation to the current controversy over so-called “sue and settle” environmental litigation. This was the second annual workshop of its kind. Last year's was also hosted by Amanda Leiter at AUWCL
International Professors and Participants Join WCL and the Organization of American States for the Third Annual Seminar on Trade and Environment
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law and the Organization of American States Department of Sustainable Development held the Third Annual intensive seminar on Trade and Environment from June 17 to June 21. The seminar concluded the Environmental Law Summer Session. Participants from governments, non-governmental organizations, law schools, and the private sector and coming from twelve different countries completed this week-long seminar that focused on issues surrounding the intersection between trade and the environment. Participants engaged in intensive study of topics related to trade and environment including trade law, international environmental law, regulation of agriculture, intellectual property issues, enforcement of environmental standards, regional free trade agreements, multilateral environmental agreements, and sustainable development, amongst others. Additionally, participants learned about negotiating agreements and issues that arise post-negotiation. Participants were taught by lecturers from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Canada. Lecturers included the President of CEMDA, WCL Professors, a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, a trade negotiator, and representatives from the OAS, amongst others. In addition to listening to lectures, the participants visited ExxonMobil in Fairfax, Virginia where they met with representatives who discussed the work they do, including their environmental practices as a large energy company. This gave the participants a chance to learn more about how multinational companies fit in to the international trade regime and how or if they use environmental standards. The seminar also featured a panel discussion on post-negotiation issues featuring Alejandra Goyenechea (Defenders of Wildlife, ILSP LL.M '01), Sarah Stewart (Office of the US Trade Representative, WCL JD '02), and Ashley Amidon (International Wood Products Association). The intensive seminar concluded with a Trade Simulation Exercise in which participants were assigned roles to play and engaged in mock negotiations. This simulation exercise allowed participants to use the lessons they learned about negotiations and the information they learned about trade and environment instruments. The intense and all-day nature of the seminar gave the WCL students a unique opportunity to get to know one another and practicing attorneys from around the world. For more information about the program and lecturers, visit our website.
PICEL Hosts Ninth Annual Environmental Law Summer Session
From May 28 to June 21, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law held its Ninth Annual Summer Session on Environmental Law. The Summer Session welcomed participants from twenty-seven different countries. Participants included law students, international policy scholars, and lawyers working in a variety of organizations, including governmental agencies in the U.S. and other countries (including the Department of State and Japan's Ministry of the Environment) and non-governmental organizations (such as the CIEL and EarthRights International). This year's summer session featured nine courses, including one new one on Development Finance and the Environment which was taught by Charles DiLeva, Chief Counsel, Environmental and International Law in the Legal Vice Presidency of the World Bank. Additionally, there were courses on fracking law and policy, international business and the environment, environmental compliance and enforcement, international climate change negotiations, environmental law and the U.S. Congress, international wildlife law, trade and environment, and international institutions and environmental protection. In addition to full-time faculty members from WCL, distinguished professors from the government (including the Department of Interior), inter-governmental organizations (the Organization of American States), the private sector and law firms (including Beveridge & Diamond and the American Chemistry Council), and NGOs (including INECE, CEMDA, and the Western Energy Project) taught courses. As detailed below, the participants in the Professor David Hunter's International Institutions and Environmental Protection class went on site visits to Beveridge & Diamond, the IFC Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, the U.S. Department of State, the World Bank Inspection Panel, the Center for International Environmental Law, and the UN Environment Programme Regional Office of North America. Information about all of the site visits including about the lawyers and alumni they met with, and the topics discussed can be found below. The wide-variety of participants who participated in the Summer Session gave both WCL students and the outside practitioners the unique opportunity to interact with other environmental professionals from around the world, network, and share ideas. For more information about the Summer Session, please see below and visit our Summer Session website. To see photos from the site visits, follow us on Twitter @auwclEnvLaw.
Summer Session Participants Finish Their Site Visits by Meeting with CIEL and UNEP RONA
On the final day of the International Institutions and Environmental Protection seminar, participants visited the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA). Niranjali Amerasinghe and Allie Silverman, two attorneys from CIEL's Climate and Energy Program, described their work and the challenges of being a small NGO of international environmental lawyers. Additionally, they shed light on NGO participation in international conferences of the parties of multilateral environmental agreements, primarily the UNFCCC, and how they work with communities as clients, for example ones who work with CIEL to file claims with the Inspection Panel or CAO. After visiting CIEL, the summer session participants took a short walk to UNEP RONA to meet with Amy Fraenkel, the Director, to learn more about UNEP, its creation, and how it works to improve environmental protection worldwide.
Photos: At right, CIEL attorneys, Nira and Allie, welcome students to CIEL. At left, Amy Fraenkel outlines the structure of UNEP at the UNEP RONA office.
WCL Alumna, Kelly Rain Dodge, Welcomes Summer Session Participants to the U.S. State Department
On Tuesday, June 11, Environmental Law Summer Session participants visited the U.S. Department of State and met with Kelly Rain Dodge ('07) who described her work on international chemicals treaties and treaty negotiations. She described her work related to the Basel Convention, POPs Convention, Rotterdam Convention, and the ongoing negotiations to sign a treaty on mercury, which are scheduled to conclude with the signing of a treaty in Fall 2013. Kelly further discussed the differences between being a member of a government at international conferences of the parties of multilateral environmental agreements rather than a representative of a non-governmental organization. She provided students with a government perspective and the challenges of both negotiating with other governments and negotiating within the various agencies and departments of the U.S. government that focus on the relevant issues.
Environmental Law Summer Session Visits Independent Accountability Mechanisms at the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank
Participants in the International Institutions and Environmental Protection seminar visited the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, and the Inspection Panel at the World Bank. Both the CAO and the Inspection Panel provide a recourse mechanism for communities who believe that a project funded by one of these entities are harming them and their environment in violation of environmental and social standards in place at the institution. However, the CAO and the Inspection Panel do this in different ways. At the CAO, participants met with Vice President Meg Taylor who is the head of the CAO, and with other members of the office who described the process of mediation between companies and communities that often occurs following the filing of a claim, as well as their role as advisors and as investigators into the IFC's compliance with its policies. The CAO explained how they work to help ensure accountability with the IFC Social and Environmental Performance Standards and help communities affected by IFC-funded projects. Additionally, they lead the seminar in a role-playing exercise to demonstrate the complexities of claims and what it's like when the CAO goes into a community where someone has filed a claim related to an IFC-funded project. A few days after visiting the CAO, the seminar participants met with members of the Inspection Panel Secretariat including Peter Lallas, the Executive Secretary, and two other members including an alumna of American University Washington College of Law. The Inspection Panel explained how they operate and how they hear and investigate claims filed by communities or representatives of communities who believe they are being harmed by a World Bank funded project. At both the CAO and the Inspection Panel, they spoke about how they operate and how they work to ensure that the institutions are following their respective environmental and social policies.
Photos: Top right, Meg Taylor of the CAO describes their work. Left, Students participate in a role-play exercise with members of the CAO. Bottom right, Mishka describes the work of the Inspection Panel.
Environmental Law Summer Session Participants Visit Beveridge & Diamond
On June 3, the participants in Professor David Hunter's International Institutions and Environmental Protection seminar visited leading environmental law firm, Beveridge & Diamond, to learn more about their international environmental law practice. Participants met with Paul Hagen (’90) and Russ Fraker both of whom work on domestic and international environmental law. The discussion centered around the Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste, the growing problem of how to regulate e-waste, and the ongoing problems related to conflict minerals. Hagen and Fraker discussed how they work with clients and advise them on international environmental law issues including how to address issues that may be governed by regulations stemming from multilateral environmental agreements, domestic regulations, or industry best practice. They also discussed that, often, in order to improve sustainability and protect the environment there have to be many actors involved and buy-in from countries and companies. They noted that multilateral environmental agreements can help create worldwide acceptance for certain standards, which is generally helpful. However, companies are not bound by international treaties. The robust discussion allowed students to learn more about the daily work that some international environmental lawyers do and the challenges of environmental law generally. Additionally, the participants learned about the structure of U.S. law firms and what it’s like to work there.
More photos can be found in our Photo Gallery (coming soon) and on Flickr!
Environmental Law Faculty and Alumni In the News
Recently there have been a variety of publications, blogs, or television segments featuring Environmental Law Faculty and Alumni. Check them out:
- James Mitchell ('08) writes a blog introducing the newest Greenpeace USA report on where to shop if you want to buy sustainable seafood. Read James's Blog.
- Professor Bill Snape writes an Op-Ed in the Georgetown Current entitled "District Becomes a Leader in Climate Policy" about DC's new Climate Change Resolution. Read the Op-Ed (on page 12)!
- Professor Amanda Leiter was quoted in an E&E Publishing ClimateWire article on the Supreme Court's decision in City of Arlington v. FCC. The article, "EPA gets surprise boost from ruling on cell towers," quotes Prof. Leiter in its discussion of how this decision, which upheld an FCC rule due to deference to the agency, may be helpful for the EPA when it makes rules interpreting and applying statutes such as the Clean Water Act. Read the article!
- Professor Bill Snape discusses wind turbines, their effects on birds, how to better site wind farms to reduce impacts on endangered species, and other issues on Sun News, a Canadian television program. Watch the video!
- Professor Bill Snape discusses why fracking is bad for California and the proposed bill to ban it on Fox Business. Watch the video!
- Professor Bill Snape quoted regarding the importance of protections under the Endangered Species Act to protect critical habitat in E&E Publishing ClimateWire article, "Interior Sends Critical-Habitat Rules to White House." Read the article.
Environmental Law Faculty, Alumni, and Students Help Moot Bill Snape and Attorneys from the Center for Biological Diversity in Lead Bullets Case
On May 22, WCL held a moot court to help lawyers from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Adam Keats (Senior Counsel, Urban Wildlands Program Director), Jacki Lopez (Staff Attorney), and Bill Snape, prepare for their oral argument in Center for Biological Diversity v. Jackson, which is a case involving whether lead bullets can be regulated under toxics law. Professor Bill Snape organized the moot court and gathered WCL students, alumni, faculty, and other members of the environmental law community to help moot the CBD lawyers to help them prepare for their May 23 court date. The CBD lawyers were preparing for Disposition of Motions to Dismiss, which was the following day in front of Judge Sullivan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. CBD lawyers support regulating lead bullets under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) so as to protect the environment and species who suffer when lead contaminates water and food sources. Other groups, including the NRA, oppose this regulation. Those participating in the moot court and helping to prep the CBD lawyers were Professor Amanda Leiter; alumni Laura Peterson ('11), Laura Drummond ('11), and Ashley Gardana ('12); current JD and LL.M students; and members of the environmental law community including Greg Buppert (Defenders of Wildlife) and Michael Brock Evans (Endangered Species Coalition).
Images: Left - Alumna Laura Drummond and Laura Peterson listen to the argument. Right - Adam Keats makes his point. (Photo Credit: Bill Snape).
See more photos by checking out the Facebook Photo Album!
Professor Amanda Leiter Discusses the Future of Standing in Environmental Law Cases at ELI
On May 15, Professor Amanda Leiter participated in a panel entitled "The Future of Standing in Environmental Cases: Trends in the D.C. Circuit and Beyond," a Professional Practice Seminar held by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Over the last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has issued a number of dispositive rulings on standing in evnironmental cases. In light of that, this panel looked at what this means for environmental lawyers and whether there will be a change in how they have to demonstrate standing and what it might mean for climate litigation. Amanda participated as a panelist along with lawyers from law firms, the Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and a lawyer from Public Citizen, a non-governmental organization.
Program Submits Comments During Phase 1 of the World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies Update Process
In October 2012, the World Bank began the process of reviewing and updating its set of Environmental and Social safeguard policies. During Phase 1 of the review and update, the World Bank has engaged in numerous consultations (see below for information about David Hunter and Erika Lennon participating in the Washington, D.C. consultation last Fall) and accepted written submissions. Phase 1 ended shortly after the World Bank Spring Meetings (see below for details about the participation of PICEL faculty, staff, and students), on April 30, 2013. In addition to participating in the first Washington, DC consultation, the Spring Meetings, and other meetings regarding the safeguard policies review, David Hunter and Erika Lennon submitted written comments to the World Bank. Our comments focused on the need for the safeguard policies to protect affected communities and the environment. The safeguard policies need to help ensure that affected communities have a voice in the implementation and design of development projects. Thus, our comments stressed there need for there being mandatory minimum safeguards that must be met to help guarantee that World Bank projects do not place the burden of risk on the communities its projects are designed to help. At a minimum the updated safeguard policies should not dilute its current standards, should maintain standards that are clear, mandatory, and enforceable, and these minimums should be based on international law and norms. Additionally, the Bank should improve its framework where it is currently lacking. The safeguards review is ongoing and is expected to continue for the next two years and have at least two more rounds of consultations. PICEL plans to stay engaged in the process to ensure that the World Bank adopts mandatory, robust safeguards to protect communities and the environment.
Read our comments!
Experts Discuss the Human Rights Implications of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Decision
On April 23, the WCL Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law and the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law, and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute hosted a 1-hour webinar on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. Experts including Paul Hoffman (lead counsel for the plaintiffs), Katie Redford (Co-Founder & U.S. Office Director of EarthRights International and Adjunct Professor), and Professor Diane Orentlicher (American University Washington College of Law) talked about this decision and its implications for the future of Alien Tort Statute in a discussion moderated by Hadar Harris (Executive Director, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law). The Panelists agreed that while the decision in Kiobel is bad and setback the gains of the past decades in regards to this litigation, they also agreed that it was not the death of the Alien Tort Statute. Panelists noted the ambiguity of the Court's decision and foresee considerable amounts of litigation in the coming years to clarify the decision. So, while the Kiobel decision does set-back the ability to use the ATS to hold people and corporations accountable for human rights and environmental abuses, it does not end it, and the litigation will continue.
Listen to the Discussion!
WCL Celebrates Earth Day with Second Car-Free Day
To celebrate Earth Day (April 22), the Environmental Law Society arranged for WCL to have its second car-free day! The Environmental Law Society enticed people to go car-free by using public transportation, walking, or biking to get to work/school, and rewarded those who did by giving them baked goods and coffee. Encouraging people to go car-free helps each individual reduce his or her carbon footprint as a small step to combat climate change. Over 50 people participated in car-free day (more statistics to come). This event went along with a series of events across the American University campus to celebrate April as Earth Month. Earlier in the month, members of the WCL community participated in Campus Beautification Day and helped clean up the outdoor area in front of the law school. Additionally, celebrating Earth Day as car-free day is one of the many events that the Environmental Law Society hosts and promotes to help protect the environment in addition to learning about the laws that can be used.
At right, ELS president Chelsea Tu ('13) and treasurer Tom Richards ('14) have Veronica Kennedy ('14) record how she got to WCL without a car, today on her bike, and how far she traveled to get to school. (Photo Credit: Chelsea Tu)
Members of the AUWCL Community Participate in the World Bank Spring Meetings
David Hunter and Erika Lennon led a team of students at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings held in Washington, DC from April 17 to April 20. Held each year, the Spring Meetings give members of civil society organizations, governments, and the public from around the world an opportunity to interact with World Bank staff and participate in a policy forum. Throughout the policy forum, we went to panel discussions and interactive meetings. This year, many sessions focused on the World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies, which are currently being reviewed and updated. Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon have spent the semester working with a small team of students including Neil Saunders, Robert Maes, Elana Katz-Mink, and Young Hee Lee, conducting research related to the safeguards review. The Environmental and Social Safeguards help to ensure that communities and the environment are not hurt by the development projects funded by the World Bank. The students accompanied Professor Hunter and Erika to the spring meetings where they participated in a variety of discussions and interactive sessions including ones on comparing safeguards, the accountability mechanisms, climate change, and land tenure, amongst others. For example, Professor David Hunter, Erika Lennon, and alumna Andrea Martinez all attended a lunch with the Inspection Panel to discuss their important work in ensuring accountability and how the Panel's work relates to the safeguard policies. Additionally, Erika Lennon and Neil Saunders attended a Saturday report-back and feedback session on the ongoing safeguards review and update. During this session, members of the World Bank safeguards team presented their findings from the consultations they have been hosting (including one that Erika and Professor Hunter participated in) and members of civil society gave feedback about the policies and the process. PICEL will continue to engage in the safeguards review and update by submitting written comments and attending future consultations.
Along with AKSI-Indonesia, World Resources Institute, Bank Information Center, and Ulu Foundation, we co-sponsored a panel on "Drawing Lessons from the Safeguard Standards of other Multilateral Development Banks," which Professor David Hunter moderated. The panel featured presenters from the International Finance Corporation (the private sector lending arm of the World Bank), the Asian Development Bank, World Resources Institute, and from the World Bank Legal Department , which was represented by Adjunct Professor Charles DiLeva. The panelists discussed the safeguards at the IFC, ADB, and World Bank, and their implementation.
American University Washington College of Law was well represented at the Spring Meetings beyond the participation of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Professor Juan Mendez participated on a panel on preventing mass atrocities through development policies. Additionally, former Professor Danny Bradlow was a panelist discussing IMF reform. Students in Professor Anna Gelpern's International Finance and Financial Institutions courses also participated in the Spring Meetings and attended a variety of sessions.
Bill Snape Comments on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Three Years Later and the Overall
Professor Bill Snape, also Senior Counsel at Center for Biological Diversity, discusses the long-term and ongoing consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as how the spill relates to the fossil fuel industry as a whole. He points out that the Gulf environment is still trying to recover and that there are ongoing impacts related to the spilling of the oil itself and related to the use of chemical dispersants. The interview, which was part of Platts Energy Week TV, then went on to discuss the fossil fuel industry as a whole. Bill emphasized that when engaging in large fossil fuel extraction, including drilling for oil or fracking for natural gas, the country needs to be very careful because the potential negative effect are enormous. He also emphasized the fact that it is impossible to drill safely in the Arctic, which has a very delicate ecosystem. Additionally, Bill pointed out that public lands would be better used for eco-tourism and renewables than for fossil fuel extraction. As Senior Counsel for Center for Biological Diversity, Bill is often engaged in litigation, which he thinks is an important tool to protect the environment. Though, he did point out that all litigation is different and is often case specific focusing on the habitat at risk and the scale of the proposed project. The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf emphasized the danger of fossil fuel extraction and supports Bill's proposition here that we need to slow down because the fossil fuel extraction is moving so quickly that the government and companies are underestimating its injurious effects and its affect on climate change. One way to address these problems is by looking at subsidies and reducing the fossil fuel subsidies given so as to help level the playing field for renewables. Finally, Bill reiterated what he's been saying for awhile (see stories below), that approving the Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong thing to do and that there is no demonstrated need for why the pipeline is necessary.
Watch Bill's interview!
Staff, Faculty, Students, and Alumni Attend the Goldman Prize Award Ceremony in DC
On Wednesday, April 17, members of the WCL environmental law community joined the greater environmental community at the Goldman Environmental Prize Ceremony, which was held that evening in Washington, DC (following one earlier in the week in San Francisco). The Goldman Prize is given annually to honor grassroots environmentalists from around the world. The ceremony in DC featured videos about the inspiring work of the six recipients and speeches from each. Additionally, attendees were able to meet the current recipients, past recipients, and other members of the environmental law community at a reception immediately following the presentation. Professors David Hunter and Bill Snape attended the awards ceremony along with Program Coordinator Erika Lennon ('08), alumna Yulia Genin ('12), Ashley Gardana ('12), and Laura Peterson ('11), and current LL.M. students Kim Gros and Joana Abrego.
Tom Richards is First Recipient of the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program Summer Internship
The Sierra Club and the American University Washington College of Law are pleased to launch the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program Summer Internship. Under this partnership, WCL environmental law students will have the opportunity to intern with the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program. Tom Richards (’14) is the first recipient of the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program Summer Internship. Tom is a rising 3L and the current Treasurer of the Environmental Law Society. During his time at WCL, Tom has interned at the Center for International Environmental Law and participated in the 2012 World Bank Spring Meetings with the Environmental Law Program.
Professor Bill Snape's Externship Class Attends Argument at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
On Monday, April 8, members of Professor Bill Snape's Environmental Advocacy Externship seminar attended an oral argument before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, which is between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, focused on biomass and the Clean Air Act. The issues in the case focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rule exempting stationary sources of biogenic carbon dioxide pollution from the constructing and operating permit requirements of the Clean Air Act. The suit questions EPA's authority to authorize this exemption.
Standing outside the courthouse, from left to right: Maggie Coulter, Kim Gros, Joana Abrego, Phattharaporn Phetphong, Chelsea Tu, Stacey Garfinkle, Professor Bill Snape, Caitlin Weinstock, Elizabeth Corey, and Eleonore Belemlilga.
Photo credit: Caitlin Weinstock
Bill Snape Chimes in on Debate Over Whether the Keystone XL Pipeline Is Too Risky
On April 8, the National Journal's Energy Experts Blog opened a debate on "Is the Keystone XL Pipeline Too Risky?" to which Professor Bill Snape replied with an emphatic yes in "All Risks, No Benefit." For months, whether the State Department should approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring dirty tarsands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast has been a topic of discussion. The debate has included an increase in environmental activism in which hundreds of people have risked arrest to demonstrate their desire for the Obama administration to reject the pipeline. Meanwhile, the proponents of the pipeline have argued that building the pipeline will create jobs and help decrease U.S. meet its oil needs. (More information about various debates and protests related to the Keystone XL pipeline can be seen below.) In this blog, the questions posed center on weighing the costs and benefits of the pipeline. In his entry, Professor Bill Snape argues that the costs of the pipeline are far too high and the benefits far too few. As he sums up, "So just [so] we have this all straight: 1) We are being told we need the Keystone dirty tarsands pipeline when we don’t; 2) The State Department has admitted the pipeline will spill and harm the American people; 3) Every climate expert in the world believes that the tarsands bitumen of the Keystone pipeline will gravely exacerbate global warming; and 4) When there is an Keystone oil spill, the fossil fuel industries won’t pay to clean it up (think higher taxes here, folks); and 5) There are far more jobs available in renewable energy technologies than the temporary Keystone XL pipeline."
Read Bill's entire post!
Environmental Law Students and Faculty Clean Up Rock Creek Park
On Saturday, April 6, the Rock Creek Conservancy held the 5th Annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup. As part of the cleanup, Rock Creek Conservancy mobilized volunteers, including members of the Environmental Law Society and Environmental Law Professors at WCL, to pick up trash at 50+ locations along the full 33-mile length of Rock Creek to achieve a total stream cleanup of Rock Creek and its tributaries and the parks connected to Rock Creek. The WCL students awoke bright and early to help keep Rock Creek clean and beautiful.
At right, a photo of much of the trash collected during WCL's contribution to the clean-up. (Photo Credit: Chelsea Tu)
Sustainable Development Law & Policy Publication Hosts Annual Symposium -Update
On March 27, the Sustainable Development Law & Policy Publication hosted its Annual Symposium! This year's topic was Global Perspectives on Environmental Justice. Organized by Chelsea Tu ('13) and Cynthia Wildfire ('13), the symposium featured an opening discussion of the history of the environmental justice movement, three panels, and a lunchtime keynote on climate change and environmental justice. Mike Ewall of the Energy Justice Network gave the opening discussion and outlined the history of the environmental justice movement. Professor Bill Eubanks (Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal) moderated the first panel of the day featured a discussion of Food and Environmental Justice, including access to good food and food deserts, how subsidies affect sustainable growing, and sustainable and urban farming. Panelists included Helen Dombalis (National Farm to School Network), Elise Golan (U.S. Department of Agriculture), and Sophie Milam (Feeding America). Then, Professor Bill Snape introduced Professor Alice Kaswan from the University of San Francisco School of Law who delievered her keynote address on the "Seven Principles of Equitable Climate Adaptation." The first panel of the afternoon, moderated by Mark Borak (SDLP Editor in Chief, '13), featured authors discussing the articles they wrote in the most recent issue of SDLP on Environmental Justice and Equity. Panelists included Elana Katz-Mink ('14) discussing her feature on water, Tendai Zvobgo (ILSP LL.M. '13) discussing her article on free, prior, and informed consent and peoples in Nigeria, and Mike Ewell. The symposium concluded with a panel discussing land rights and environmental justice. Professor Ezra Rosser moderated this panel on environmental justice issues related to indigenous peoples and the land, including displacement, restrictions on use of resources, and how these populations interact with governments and corporations. Topics included discussion of both domestic and international issues including Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, self-identifying, and REDD+. Panelists included Marissa Vahlsing (Earthrights International), Derrick Beetso (National Congress of American Indians), Gretchen Gordon and Karla General (Indian Law Resource Center), James Grijalva (University of North Dakota School of Law), and Danny Gogal (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Justice).
Read the current issue of SDLP. Professor Kaswan's Keynote Address was recorded as an episode of our Hot Air Show Podcast series. Listen to the episode to hear her Seven Principles of Equitable Climate Adaptation!
WCL Student, Elana Katz-Mink, Writes Guest Post on International Water Law Project Blog
Elana Katz-Mink ('14) explored the links between water and environmental security and national security in her post, "Water Security, National Security, and Israel's Separation Wall: The Case of Battir." In her post, Elana discusses Israel's proposal to build a separation wall on the edge of Battir, a Palestinian village. She explores the impacts that this wall may have on the water supply to villages on both sides of the wall and how the wall may actually undermine national security, which it is designed to protect, because it will harm the fresh water supplies. In her blog, Elana notes the importance and need to consider environmental impacts, including long-term effects, of building the wall. This blog was a guest post on the International Water Law Project Blog, which was created by Gabriel Eckstein ('97, '95) who received his JD and his LL.M from American University Washington College of Law.
Read Elana's Blog Post.
Bill Snape on President Obama's Nominees for Energy Secretary and EPA Administrator
President Obama, on Monday, March 4, announced his nominees for two of key positions in the administration, Energy Secretary and EPA Administrator. He nominated Professor Ernest Moniz from MIT to head the Department of Energy and Gina McCarthy, current Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, to be the new EPA Administrator. Professor Bill Snape released a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity about the nominations. He was also quoted in the Huffington Post about his concerns about Moniz being named to lead the Energy Department.
You can listen to Gina McCarthy in her appearance on our "The Hot Air Show" podcast from August 2011. She appeared on Episode 7 discussing the Clean Air Act at climate change at the EPA, including the EPA's major regulatory efforts in regards to clean air. Read about the episode and Gina's appearance.
On Friday, March 1, the U.S. Department of State released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (see the NY Times story). The Draft SEIS declared that the pipeline will not significantly increase the rate of development of the oil sands and worsen climate change. Bill Snape, along with other environmentalists, made several statements about the Draft SEIS. On a radio program, Bill noted that James Hansen, a scientist, "has said that if this pipeline is approved and this oil is burned, it's game over for fighting climate change. That's the world's leading climate expert saying that we cannot make this decision." Hear Bill on the program. Bill is also quoted in the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, where he is Senior Counsel. The release of the draft SEIS seems to clear the way for the pipeline to go forward despite protests from the environmental law community (see below for information about the February 2013 climate rally).
Bill Snape Contributes to the discussion "What Does the Keystone XL Pipeline Represent"
On Monday, February 25 the National Journal's Experts and Energy Blog opened the discussion on ""What Does the Keystone XL Pipeline Represent?". The State Department and President Obama will likely make a decision about whether to approve this controversial pipeline later in 2013. As the country watches and waits for that decision much debate continues about whether the U.S. should import extremely dirty oil from the Canadian tar sands. The Experts and Energy blog opens the discussion of Keystone XL by asking its experts what the pipeline means for both the U.S. economy and efforts to curb climate change? As well as, how this decision may affect America's relations with Canada, where the pipeline originates? Lastly, the blog asks what the battle over this one pipeline mean for future efforts to build energy infrastructure? Bill Snape participated in this debate and in his response tells President Obama to say "NO" to the pipeline. Bill begins by pointing out that the tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in the world and rather than importing it, the U.S. needs to follow the science and decrease dependence on fossil fuels to help curb climate change. Bill argues that the Keystone debate is not about energy independence or creating jobs (which the U.S. could do by investing in developing cleaner technologies), but rather about energy companies wanting to increase their profits at the expense of the world. He concludes by urging President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline because while saying no will not mean we win the climate change battle immediately, saying yes will be a devastating blow in the fight.
Bill Snape Attends Workshop on Chesapeake Bay Planning
On February 25 and 26, the Chesapeake Bay Program's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee held a workshop on "Using Multiple Management Models (M3.2) in the Chesapeake Bay." Bill Snape spoke at this workshop and discussed the legal aspects related to managing and cleaning-up the ecosystem that is the Chesapeake Bay.
Read more about this workshop and see the agenda.
Environmental Law Society Hosts an Environmental Law Career Panel
Four American University Washington College of Law alumni and a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency discussed careers in environmental law at a career panel hosted by the Environmental Law Society. Professor Bill Snape moderated this important panel advising students about how to start a career in environmental law. Panelists who discussed their work and how they got there included: Melissa Blue Sky ('11), Staff Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law; Addie Haughey ('10), Government Relations Manager, The Ocean Conservancy; Winfield Wilson ('11), Trial Attorney, Mine Health and Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; Mike Walker, Law Clerk Program Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Asha Venkataraman ('09), Associate, VanNess Feldman, LLP. Each panelist discussed the varied ways that they got to their current job and gave advice to WCL students about how to get to the jobs they want.
WCL Team Competes in the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
From February 21 to 23, Elizabeth Corey and Anna Christensen will represent American University Washington College of Law and compete with approximately 70 other schools at Pace University's National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. The team is coached by Professor Amanda Leiter.
Environmental Law Program Faculty and Students Participate in Climate Forward Rally
On Sunday, February 17, approximately 40,000 people gathered on the National Mall for the Climate Forward Rally. Organized by 350.org, Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus, and a multitude of other environmental organizations, the Climate Forward Rally urged President Obama to take action now to address climate change and introduce policies to mitigate, including to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This rally followed less than a week after President Obama's State of the Union address in which he noted that climate change was a threat that needed to be addressed. Thus, the rally centered on urging the President to take action and not approve projects that will continue to exacerbate climate change.
Pictures to come!
Experts Come to WCL to Discuss Washington, D.C.'s Sustainability Issues and Initiatives
On Thursday, February 14, the Environmental Law Society and Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law hosted "State of Environment in Our Nation's Capital: Sustainability Issues and Initiatives in Washington, DC." This event featured a keynote address and panel discussion on sustainability issues and initiatives in DC. Approximately 50 people, including alumni, WCL students, and members of the environmental law community came to participate in this informative discussion. The event, moderated by Professor Amanda Leiter, opened with a keynote address from DC City Councilwoman Mary Cheh who is the Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Transportation, and Public Works. Councilwoman Cheh discussed the progress that DC is making towards becoming a more sustainable, healthy, livable city, including bike share, green building, the plastic bag tax, using more solar energy, green roofs, and improving public transportation, amongst others. She noted that in some instances is to require a shift to clean energy, as the District did with solar energy, rather than merely suggesting it. Additionally, she touched on the Sustainable DC Act, which Mayor Gray signed into law in January 2013. Councilwoman Cheh focused on the relationship between environment and health as well by emphasizing the need for schools to not only have physical education, but also to serve healthy breakfast and lunches so that kids were getting healthy food at school and being taught about sustainability. Councilwoman Cheh's remarks were followed by a panel discussion featuring representatives from DC government, non-governmental organizations, and universities. First, Brendan Shane of the DC Department of the Environment provided more information about what DC was doing and the soon to be released Sustainability Plan for the district. He recognized the importance of different sectors working together with the District to improve sustainability, for example the initiatives of American University's Office of Sustainability. Additionally, Shane pointed out that sustainability initiatives were having a positive effect including the tax on plastic bags which has led to a 60% decrease in plastic bag use. Following Brendan Shane, two NGO representatives, Chris Weiss (Executive Director of the DC Environment Network) and Gary Belan (Director of Clean Water Programs at American Rivers) discussed what more the nation's capital could do to improve sustainability. While both recognized the efforts being made, they also called on the District to be an example for the nation and take the lead on becoming the greenest city in the country. Belan highlighted the need for effective stormwater policies to make the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers fishable and swimmable. Lastly, Josh Lasky (Department of Sustainability at University of the District of Columbia) discussed the sustainability plans being implemented at UDC and other DC universities as well as the initiative between the city and the universities in the District to make the campuses sustainable. Josh and representatives from the AU Office of Sustainability noted that they are striving to make DC the greenest college town in the nation. The discussion covered a wide-breadth of issues and highlighted the many steps DC is taking, however, there is more to do (as several panelists noted) before DC will be one of the greenest city in the nation.
Talk Radio News Interviews David Hunter About President Obama's State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term on Tuesday, February 12 and spent a considerable amount of time discussing climate change. Three days later, Talk Radio News interviewed Professor David Hunter about President Obama's statements related to climate change. In "SOTU Provides Few Clues to U.S. Climate Strategy," Hunter discussed the potential for domestic climate change legislation and the potential for the U.S. having greater engagement in the international negotiations. However, they also discussed that the rhetoric of the State of the Union does not necessarily mean that action is eminent.
Read the interview here.
WCL Hosts North America Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
From Friday, February 8 to Sunday, February 10 WCL was filled with competitors, coaches, and "judges" all participating in the North America Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition. The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law proudly hosted the regional, which welcomed 16 teams from across the United States and the Caribbean. This year's competition was co-sponsored by the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER), who generously supported the competition and helped us recruit judges. The ABA Section on International Law's International Environmental Law Committee also helped recruit "judges" for this year's regional. The weekend was not all work. On Saturday, we hosted a welcome reception (seen below) during which teams were able to relax and meet one another, international environmental lawyers and advocates, and WCL alumni. Additionally, during the reception, two students won a book on climate change adaptation provided by ABA SEER. Throughout the weekend, teams adeptly presented their "case" related to transboundary haze pollution and an endangered (fictional) orangutan. The regional consisted of four rounds. On Friday and Saturday, we held a preliminary round during which each team argued three times. That was followed on Sunday by the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the finals to determine which teams would represent the North America Region in the International Finals, which will be held in March at the Stetson University School of Law. To help determine the winners we had leading international environmental lawyers from government (including the Department of State, Department of Justice, US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor, Food & Drug Administration, the Treasury Department, and the US Congress, amongst others), international organizations (including the Organization of American States), law firms (including VanNess Feldman and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, amongst others), trade associations (including the American Coatings Association, the Associated General Contractors of America), and non-governmental organizations (including the Center for International Environmental Law, Center for Biological Diversity, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Ocean Conservancy, Due Process of Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Association of Clean Water Administrators, and Environmental Law Institute). The judges for the final round (seen above with the two teams in the finals) were Tess Bridgeman (Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Legal Advisor of the U.S. Department of State), Carroll Muffett (President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law), and Durwood Zaelke (President of the Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development). Other lawyers who served as judges for the moot court competition included: Joana Abrego, Niranjali Amerasinghe, Abbey Baker ('11), Lauren Bartlett ('07), Priscila Rodriguez Bribiesca, Carl Bruch, Susana Castiglione ('97), Alicia Cate, Carrie Ciliberto, Elizabeth Dawson, Andrew J. Doyle, Laura Drummond ('11), Alexandra Dunn, Renée-Lauren Ellis, Carla García Zendejas ('97), Ashley Gardana ('12), Yulia Genin ('12), Alejandra Goyenechea ('01), Brett Grosko, Addie Haughey ('10), Michael Heintz, Kristen Hite, Adriana Jáuregui, Alyssa Johl, Thomas Kane, Edward Kulschinsky, Young Hee Lee, Amanda Leiter, Douglas Earl McLaren, Brittany Meyer Driscoll ('09), Melanie Nakagawa ('05), Laura Peterson ('11), Whitney Phend ('08), Phattharaporn Phetphong, Melanija Radnovic ('08), Anet Rivera, Yuri Romaña, Cari Shiffman ('07), Bill Snape, Daniel Squire, Michael Stone ('92, '12), Asha Venkataraman ('09), Alexandra Whittaker, Jennifer Wills, Winfield Wilson ('11), and Elizabeth Zgoda ('10). The Finals saw Team 1306 prevail over Team 1327. Then the competition concluded with an Awards Ceremony during which one team won Best Memorial (Team 1304) and individuals won awards for Best Oralist in both the preliminary rounds (Craig Radoci) and in the finals (Austin Ward).
Bill Snape Urges Regulation of Lead Ammunition in Another Side to the Gun Control Debate
Practitioner-in-Residence Bill Snape, who is also Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, is urging the end to the use of lead bullets. Lead bullets used for hunting harm animal and human health because the lead contaminates land, water, and the animals who are shot (and whose bodies are not always taken by the hunter). Bill Snape and other environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get the lead out of bullets, similar to how we now have lead-free paint and unleaded gasoline. Read more about Bill's comments to Fox News here.
Amanda Leiter Participates in a D.C. Bar Panel Discussing Environmental Cases This Supreme Court Term
Professor Amanda Leiter joined other attorneys to discuss the environment and energy cases the Supreme Court has chosen to hear this term. This term the Supreme Court is hearing quite a few environment and energy cases including ones related to clean water and the Fifth Amendment takings clause. However, it has also denied certiorari in Clean Air Act cases. The DC Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section hosted this informative panel on Thursday, January 24, 2013, that was cosponsored by other DC Bar sections as well as the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Young Lawyers Division, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Litigation Division, and Federal Bar Association Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In addition to looking at the cases the Supreme Court is hearing and what the outcomes may be, the panel looked at what denials of certiorari in various cases showed about trends in the Court. Read more about the panel.
Bill Snape Discusses the Lack of U.S. Action on Climate Change and the Recent Paper on the Climate Movement by Professor Skocpol on the Progressive Radio Network
Two days after President Obama highlighted the need to address climate change in his second inaugural address, on Wednesday, January 23, Bill Snape joined Theda Skocpol on an episode of "Political Analysis," a Progressive Radio Network show, guest-hosted by Karyn Strickler of Climate Media Challenge. Bill and Professor Skocpol discussed her recent paper, "Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight Against Global Warming." The two debated the strategies of the mainstream environmental NGOs and whether they have been or can be successful. Additionally, they discussed the lack of climate change legislation and major administration action to address climate change thus far. This discussion focused on who was at fault for the lack of legislation as well as what needs to be done to pass climate legislation in the future. Bill also pointed out that the Obama administration could use the Clean Air Act to make progress on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. Though both Bill and Professor Skocpol agreed that climate change needs to be addressed, there was substantial debate about the best way to do so.
Listen to Bill on Political Analysis!
Bill Snape Contributes to The Environmental Forum Issue on President Obama and the Environment
As President Obama gets ready to begin a second term, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) published an issue of The Environmental Forum on President Obama and the environment. Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape contributed to this issue with "A Poor Track Record, but A Chance to Excel." Bill focused on the lack of progress made by President Obama on his first term in addressing climate change and environmental protection. He does though acknowledge that some progress was made, for example with vehicle standards. However, there was also an increase in oil and gas production and decisions made to lease land in the Arctic for offshore drilling, which could be potentially catastrophic for the Arctic environment. He notes that one primary reason for this was that the administration consistently engaged in a cost-benefit analysis without defining an environmental bottom line. However, despite this lack of progress, Bill concludes that President Obama could still have a positive environmental legacy by taking huge strides in his second term to address climate change, both with domestic legislation and by constructively participating in the international negotiations, and to protect public lands, natural resources, and wildlife. Only time will tell.
Bill Snape Discusses the Lead Bullet Provision in the Sportsman Bill on an Atlanta Radio Show
From the steps of the U.S. Capital on the eve of a Senate vote, Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape, who is also Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, participated in an interview on the radio show "In Tune to Nature," which airs on WRFG-Atlanta. Bill discussed the Sportsman Bill, which is a wide-ranging bill with numerous provisions relating to hunting. While the House of Representatives passed the bill earlier in 2012, the Senate continued to narrow the bill and to debate numerous amendments before voting in late November. However, as Bill pointed out, though the Senate narrowed the bill, it still contained provisions of concern to environmentalists. Of primary concern is the provision that prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating lead in bullets. As Bill explained, lead, a neurotoxin, hurts human health in addition to hurting wildlife. For example, eagles and condors, both of which are endangered, suffer and die from consuming lead in the environment. Lead does not decompose and thus remains in the environment for a long time, which can contaminate water supply and other animals that scavenge and eat the carcasses of animals that have lead in them. Additionally, Bill also mentioned that the Sportsman Heritage Act contained a provision that would allow approximately 50 polar bear hides to be exported into the US from Canada, which would violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) even though the bears were killed prior to the polar bears being listed.
*Please note, Bill's segment begins at approximately 4:30
Bill Snape Testifies at Public Hearing on CITES
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held a public meeting on December 13 to discuss the provisional agenda for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16), which will take place in March 2013. Bill Snape, a Practitioner in Residence and Senior Counsel at Center for Biological Diversity, testified at this meeting to discuss increasing protections for polar bears and freshwater turtles. At the meeting, he supported the U.S. proposal for the polar bear being moved to Appendix I because it meets the biological and trade criteria necessary to move a species to Appendix I to further restrict its trade. He noted that while the polar bear population is predominantly threatened by climate change, it is also threatened by unsustainable sport hunting and scientists have indicated that controlling hunting will help reduce the risk of the polar bears becoming extinct. Additionally, Bill supported the listing and uplifting of various species of freshwater turtles. He noted that overharvesting is a major threat to freshwater turtles, which are taken to be sold in food and medical markets in Asia and growing international pet trade. He also noted that the U.S. is now a significant exporter of turtles. Given the threats to polar bears and various species of freshwater turtles, Bill expressed gave support to the U.S. proposals regarding in which CITES appendix to include these turtles and the polar bears.
Watch the hearing here.
David Hunter Blogs About the World Bank's Safeguards Review and Its Risk of Weakening its Environmental and Social Standards
As mentioned below, the World Bank is in the midst of a two-year process to review and update its Environmental and Social Safeguards. Many, including PICEL, are skeptical that this review will result in the weakening of the World Bank's environmental and social safeguards. In its approach paper, the Bank indicates that it is moving away from clear standards that must be followed to deference to its borrowers and their policies. Professor David Hunter, a Center for Progressive Reform member scholar, blogs on this very topic in "World Bank Risks Weakening Environmental and Social Standards." While he acknowledges the Bank's need to update its safeguards, he argues that in doing so the Bank must start by "build[ing] from a floor of clear enforceable standards that protect the rights and interests of affected communities from disproportionate and unacceptable harm."
Read the Blog!
On KPCC, Amanda Leiter Discusses the Supreme Court case LA County Flood Control District v. NRDC
Today, December 4, the Supreme Court is hearing the case LA County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Counsel. Professor Amanda Leiter, on behalf of herself and other law professors wrote an Amicus Brief in support of Respondents (NRDC) on deference to permit limits. Additionally, today on KPCC (LA's public radio station), Professor Leiter commented on the case and her surprise that the Supreme Court decided to hear it given that the issue focuses on a very narrow permit and the Supreme Court's decision is unlikely to be relevant beyond the parties to this case.
Professor David Hunter Discusses COP18 on the Kathleen Dunn Show on Wisconsin Public Radio
As the climate negotiations got underway in Doha, Qatar, Professor David Hunter discussed the history of international environmental law and the climate change negotiations and what's at stake at COP-18 on the "Kathleen Dunn Show" on Wisconsin Public Radio. From November 26 to December 7, the countries of the world will meet in Doha for the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). On November 27, David Hunter discussed the history of the international climate change negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in 1992, and what the future may hold. Professor Hunter highlighted the roots of the international climate change negotiations and the foundation based on common but differentiated responsibilities, which is the concept that acknowledges the position of different countries in their ability to address climate change. While discussing the history, he also discussed the Montreal Protocol as a model for international environmental treaties, though pointed out that the frameworks exist, it is the political will that is needed. Additionally, he discussed the Kyoto Protocol, how the U.S.'s inability to ratify it has hindered the negotiations, and the potential for a second commitment period starting in January 2013. Primarily, Professor Hunter focused on the fact that climate change exists, the world is feeling its effects, and action needs to be taken because, as he stated "you can't be too alarmist about climate change." In regards to COP18, he discussed the role of the U.S. and that while the U.S. administration seems to indicate that they are serious about addressing climate change, the lack of federal climate legislation hinders the international negotiations because other countries are wary that the U.S. can take international commitments without legislation. Professor Hunter pointed out the difficulties of getting 180+ countries to agree to a climate change agreement given their differing priorities and starting positions. These differences and countries' own interests have created an "ambition gap," whereby the current emissions reductions pledges under the Copenhagen Accord, even if met, would not be enough to combat the devastating effects of climate change. Looking ahead to COP18 and what may happen in Doha over the next two weeks, he discussed his hope that the parties will create building blocks for future action, including operationalization of the Green Climate Fund, create specific milestones leading to a binding agreement with emission reduction targets in 2015, and that willing countries (namely the European Union, Australia, and the developing countries) will agree to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Lastly, Professor Hunter noted the positive effects of civil society and people pushing for action on climate change at the international, national, and local level because all efforts and emissions reductions help. In two weeks, we'll see whether the world will take steps towards a future agreement to address climate change.
Listen to David Hunter on WPR's Kathleen Dunn Show!
On Sunday, November 19 WCL students and alumni joined 350.org and other environmental groups as they marched around the White House, urging President Obama to take a stand against climate change and reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Thousands of people gathered in D.C. on Sunday to urge the administration to continue to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas. Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest crude oils and the refining of it is energy and water intensive. Ashley Gardana ('12) and Maggie Coulter ('14) both participated in the rally. The rally followed one of Bill McKibbon's, the founder of 350.org, stops on his "Do the Math" tour.
See more photos from the rally!
At right: People gather on Freedom Plaza to prepare to head to the White House. (Photo Credit: Ashley Gardana)
David Hunter and Erika Lennon Participate in World Bank Consultation on Environmental and Social Safeguards Review
On November 15, David Hunter and Erika Lennon, along with many other representatives from civil society, participated in the World Bank's Multi-stakeholder consultation on its safeguard policies review and update. This was the first official consultation on the Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies Review and Update since the release of the World Bank's Approach Paper. The consultation is expected to take two years and involve online consultations as well as in person consultations around the world. PICEL plans on participating in this consultation to help ensure that the World Bank does not weaken its existing safeguards by shifting away from safeguards with specific markers and clear, enforceable standards that protect the rights and interests of affected communities from harm. Learn more about the World Bank's Safeguards Review and Update.
Bill Snape Pens Op-Ed on Top Environmental Priorities for President Obama's Second Term
Now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected there are many questions about what the next four years will bring. Bill Snape, WCL Practitioner-in-Residence and Senior Counsel at Center for Biological Diversity, highlighted five proposals to help the environment and move towards a sustainable path for the future in “Five Ways to Fuel Sustainable Growth.” Though the U.S. has numerous environmental laws, we continue to see increasing effects of climate change, pollution, environmental destruction, and the extinction of species. In this article, Bill highlights the five following ways to move to sustainable growth: tackling climate change and ocean acidification through, amongst others, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; curbing the extinction crisis, including by joining the 193 other countries in ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity; keeping politics out of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (including not allowing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline with insufficient environmental impact assessment); better protecting our public lands; and decreasing our use of fossil fuels.
Read Bill’s Politico Article.
Bill Snape, Practitioner-in-Residence, Discusses the Upcoming Election, Hurricane Sandy, and Climate Change
On Election Day, November 6, 2012, Environmental Law Practitioner-in-Residence Bill Snape appeared on E & E News to discuss climate change, subsidies, and the election. Throughout the election there was little discussion of climate change, however the devastating hurricane that hit the East Coast the week prior changed that. In light of all that, Bill discussed the need for the next president (unknown at the time) to take action to combat climate change. As part of this, he also discussed the debate about government subsidies for both renewables and fossil fuels and the problems with the subsidy system, including the differing amounts. Further he discussed how subsidies related to climate change.
Environmental Law Program Alums Return for ILSP 30th Anniversary Panel on Trends in International Environmental Law
From October 10 to 12, the International Legal Studies Program (ILSP) celebrated its 30th anniversary with an alumni conference and celebration. Throughout the conference there were panels on trends and developments in many aspects of international law, including commercial arbitration, human rights, torture, intellectual property, women's rights, and, of course, international environmental law. On Thursday, October 11, WCL welcomed back alumni from the JD and LL.M program to speak about trends in international environmental law. Additionally, this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the international environmental law specialization in ILSP and of the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law, both of which were launched at the Earth Summit in 1992. Panelists included Paul Hagen (JD '90), Marcos Orellana (LL.M '98, SJD '09), Claudia de Windt (LL.M '01), and Gidon Bromberg (LL.M '94). The panel was moderated by the creator of the Program on International Environmental Law and the international environmental law specialization in the LL.M program, Professor Durwood Zaelke. Panelists touched on a variety of issues including improving effectiveness of environmental agreements, the relationship between international agreements and domestic legislation, and the development of international environmental and social standards and accompanying accountability mechanisms in international financial institutions. Paul Hagen discussed supply chains and the relationship between business and environmental protection including the development of international standards. Additionally, he discussed how multilateral environmental agreements can help push domestic legislation. On a related topic, Marcos Orellana discussed how to use a rights-based approach to drafting multilateral environmental agreements and the difficulties of doing so, especially in areas where there is more difficulty seeing the linkages such as the Basel Convention. Claudia de Windt commented on the need to improve access to information, justice, and public participation. She discussed how improving meaningful public participation helps improve environmental compliance and enforcement, and the efforts of the OAS in the Americas. Then, Gidon Bromberg discussed environmental protection in a conflict zone and how people have come together across borders to help protect the Jordan River. Lastly, Durwood Zaelke briefly discussed the need to address short-lived climate actors and the movement being made to regulate these, including black carbon.
See more photos from the panel!
A webcast of the panel will be available soon and this site will be updated with that information.
Environmental Law Program Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
On October 6, the Environmental Law Society held its annual hike. Professor Amanda Leiter, Professor David Hunter, and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon joined WCL students for a hike in Shenandoah National Park. Approximately 40 people hiked up Little Devil's Stairs and enjoyed a beautiful fall day out of the city and enjoying nature. The Environmental Law Society traditionally holds a hike each fall to get out of the academic setting and enjoy the natural world that is often the focus of environmental law. The group spent the day on the six-mile little devil's stairs hike, which begins with a hike up a ravine and crisscrossing a creek and then is followed by hiking down a fire road past an old cemetery from a community that was forced to leave the Blue Ridge Mountains when the national park was created. Organized by the Environmental Law Society, the hike brought together LL.M and JD students (along with environmental law faculty and staff) who had the opportunity to interact with one another and learn more about each others' interests and backgrounds. Being in Shenandoah National Park gave students the opportunity to explore one of the wilderness areas near Washington, DC. Additionally, students were able to learn more about the plants and animals in the surrounding areas. See more pictures on our Flickr page and in our photo gallery.
(Photo credit: Monika Fidler)
Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape Discusses Why Everyone Loses if the U.S. Continues to Refuse to Sign the Convention on Biological Diversity
With the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) of the Convention on Biological Diversity beginning, Environmental Law Fellow and Practitioner-in-Residence Bill Snape penned an Op-Ed for China Dialogue on "Why everyone loses from U.S. boycott of the UN Biodiversity Agreement." The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that has not ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed in 1992 following the Earth Summit. The Convention on Biological Diversity has a difficult task of trying to form responses to the current problems and threats to biodiversity, including increasing changes to ecosystems due to climate change. Bill Snape's op-ed discusses the potential for the CBD and the problems created by the U.S. continuing not to ratify it.
Experts Discuss and Assess Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum the Day-After the U.S. Supreme Court Hears Re-Argument
On Tuesday, October 2, experts discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's rare re-hearing of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum on Monday, October 1. The discussion featured Katie Redford (Co-Founder & U.S. Office Director of EarthRights International), Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs Paul Hoffman (Partner, Schonbrun, De Simone, Seplaw, Harris, Hoffman & Harrison), Former Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State John Bellinger (Partner, Arnold & Porter), and Andrew Grossman (Litigator at BakerHostetler and Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation). The lively discussion, moderated by Steve Vladeck (Associate Dean for Scholarship), featured discussion of the Alien Tort Statute, the oral arguments, and the potential ramifications of a Supreme Court decision for holding human rights violators accountable.
More information about this discussion is forthcoming.
Environmental Law Society Holds First WCL Car-Free Day
On September 20, the Environmental Law Society held it's first WCL Car-Free Day to coincide with the DC-Wide Car Free Day, which occured on the following Saturday, September 22. Approximately 140 students, faculty, and staff reported to ELS that they had either walked, biked, car-pooled, or used public transportation to get to WCL. Approximately half of the people who went car-free chose to use public transportation (either bus or Metro) to get to WCL, though for many people using public transportation also involved walking. Additionally, 28.4 percent of the people walked, twenty percent biked, and one percent carpooled. The Environmental Law Society encouraged people to be aware of and reduce their carbon footprint as a small step to help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions; and encouraged people to have more individual car-free days. Thanks to everyone that participated!
Professor Lindsay Wiley Contributes Chapter to a New Book on Climate Change Adaptation
Professor Lindsay Wiley (Director of the Health Law & Justice Program) contributed a chapter to the American Bar Association’s recently published book, The Law of Climate Change Adaptation: United States and International Aspects (eds. Michael Gerrard and Kristina Fischer Kuh). This important book discusses current and proposed laws aimed at adapting to the impacts of climate change, including drought, periodic flooding, wild fires, and sea-level rise, among others. Professor Wiley’s chapter is “Global Health and Disaster Preparedness.” It surveys international and comparative domestic legal frameworks for global health and natural disaster preparedness and response. Professor Wiley points to the lack of adequate legal frameworks to address the intensification of routine, non-emergency public health threats—such as water-related and vector-borne diseases—as a significant climate adaptation challenge.
For more information about this book and Professor Wiley’s contribution, please click here.
The "Hot Air Show" Podcast Records Tenth Episode on Election, Energy, and Climate Politics
The tenth episode of "The Hot Air Show: Carbon Policies, Politics and Markets" featured a discussion of U.S. energy and greenhouse gas politics heading into the 2012 Elections. There have been several significant Clean Air Act judicial decisions over the past few months, and both major candidates have mentioned clean energy and climate change as part of their overall approach to government. What U.S. energy and climate policies are most at stake in the elections? The discussion included the need for climate and energy policy to be a topic during at least one of the presidential debates, the potential (plus pros and cons) of developing a national energy policy, the potential for implementing and merits of a carbon tax, and energy industry subsidies, amongst others. Listen to our Hot Air experts blowing some steam on these important subjects! The podcast features Chris Berendt (Of Counsel, Drinker Biddle and Reath, LLP & Head of the Environmental Markets Team) as host and panelists Kevin Book (Managing Director, Research, ClearView Energy Partners, LLC), Toby Short (Duke Energy), Tyson Slocum (Director, Public Citizen's Energy Program), and Bill Snape (Center for Biological Diversity and Practitioner-in-Residence at WCL).
David Hunter Discusses Palau and Climate Change in "Ask the Experts"
Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific, has asked for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to try and hold other nations accountable for environmental damage caused by climate change. On August 10, 2012, PBS produced an episode of "Need to Know" focusing on Palau's decision to turn to the ICJ as part of its attempts to address the threat of climate change. As a small island state, Palau is vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Professor David Hunter participated in the "Ask the Experts" section related to this episode. There, Professor Hunter comments on Palau's attempt to hold other nations accountable for environmental damage.
Program Coordinator Erika Lennon Participates in Civil Society Consultation with the CAO
On July 23, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon participated in a Civil Society Consultation with the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) regarding its operational guidelines. The CAO is the accountability mechanism for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is the World Bank's private sector lending arm, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Currently the CAO is revising its operational guidelines, which establish how the CAO works and interacts with communities and individuals who have concerns about the social and environmental impacts of projects of IFC or MIGA. The consultation was held at the IFC and is part of a longer comment process, which ends on August 24. To learn more about the consultation and comment period visit the CAO, www.cao-ombudsman.org. At the consultation, Erika Lennon and other members of civil society provided feedback, praise, and criticism about the new policies and suggested ways to improve them to ensure that affected peoples and communities have easy access to the CAO when IFC or MIGA projects are adversely affecting their environment.
Professor Amanda Leiter Blogs on Fracking
Following her Environmental Law Summer Session course on Fracking (see below), Professor Amanda Leiter wrote a piece on the Environmental Law Professors blog about the dangers of fracking, including new and old environmental and public health issues surrounding this type of extraction. She also discusses the readings she and Professor Sankar used to help give a picture of the issue to students in her course.
Read Professor Amanda Leiter's Blog on Her Fracking Course!
Summer Session Students Meet Experts in New Course on Fracking
This summer, Professors Amanda Leiter and Sambhav Sankar taught a new course on Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") Law and Policy, in which students learned about the complex science and unsettled law of hydraulic fracturing and met with experts from industry, local government, and an environmental NGO to hear various perspectives about this timely topic. Khary Cauthen, the Director of Federal Relations at the American Petroleum Institute (API), discussed environmental and health risks of natural gas drilling. Students also had the opportunity to learn about fracking law in two states that have very different approaches to the issue: New York and Pennsylvania. Haley Stein, Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department, discussed fracking policy in New York as well as the risks that natural gas drilling upstate poses to New York City's water supply. Jessie Thomas-Blate, Coordinator of the Most Endangered Rivers Campaign at American Rivers, provided a perspective from an environmental NGO. She focused on both national fracking policy and fracking in Pennsylvania, which has large deposits of natural gas in shale rock. The course and guest speakers gave students a broad overview of the fracking issue and a range of perspectives to consider when thinking about the costs and benefits of the ongoing natural gas boom.
Local, state, and national governments in the U.S. and abroad are currently wrestling with fracking law and policy. To learn more about this topic, click here for a list of readings from this class. If you're interested in viewing the course syllabus, please contact Professor Leiter at email@example.com.
PICEL Faculty and Staff Participate in IUCN Academy on Environmental Law's Annual Colloquium
Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon participated in the 10th Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy on Environmental Law. The IUCN Academy on Environmental Law, of which WCL is a member, held this year's colloquium at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law in Baltimore from July 1 to 5. This year's colloquium focused on Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads. Distinguished speakers and panelists discussed a variety of pressing topics including the outcome of Rio+20. Additionally, many presented research papers during the breakout sessions which had topics related to all aspects of environmental law including public participation, the marine environment, global environmental governance, forests, and improving environmental enforcement, amongst others. The colloquium brought together professors, scholars, and international environmental lawyers from around the globe. Additionally, Erika participated in the Colloquium on Environmental Justice, Access to Information, and Public Participation held on July 5 at the World Bank in conjunction with the IUCN Academy's Colloquium. This event is part of the Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and it discussed the evolution of environmental justice and the implementation of Rio Principle 10 worldwide, as well as what happened at Rio+20. Keynote speakers at this event included Brazilian Superior Court of Justice Judge Antonio Benjamin, U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno, and Professor John Bonine.
PICEL Hosts the Eighth Annual Environmental Law Summer Session
From May 29 to June 22, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental held its Eighth Annual Summer Session on Environmental Law. The Summer Session welcomed participants from over twenty different countries and included law students, international policy scholars, and lawyers working in a variety of organizations. This year's summer session featured nine courses, including two new ones on Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") Law & Policy and on International Climate Change Law. Additionally, there were courses on environmental compliance and enforcement, climate change and emissions trading, international business and the environment, environmental law and the U.S. Congress, trade and the environment, and international wildlife law. Distinguished professors from government (including the Department of Interior), inter-governmental organizations (the Organization of the American States) the private sector and law firms (including VanNess Feldman, Beveridge & Diamond, and the American Chemistry Council), and NGOs (including INECE, CEMDA, and Western Energy Project) taught courses. The International Institutions and Environmental Protection course again featured site visits to numerous international organizations including the the U.S. Department of State, IFC Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, the World Bank Inspection Panel, UNEP Regional Office of North America, the OAS Department of Sustainable Development, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), and the World Resources Institute (WRI). At each of these organizations, our summer session participants met with lawyers, including several WCL alumni, and experts working on environmental issues. They learned about a wide-range of topics including international chemicals negotiations, mediation, accountability mechanisms at international financial institutions, the international climate regime and negotiations, working with communities to ensure their rights, and Rio+20, amongst others. The site visits allowed participants to learn what it was like to participate in international negotiations from various perspectives, including being an NGO, an IGO, and the government official actually negotiating. They also gave participants a chance to understand how the accountability mechanisms at two leading international financial institutions worked. The wide-variety of participants gave WCL students a unique opportunity to interact with other environmental professionals from around the world. For more information about the Summer Session, please visit our Summer Session website. To see photos from the site visits, follow us on Twitter @auwclEnvLaw.
Visit the Photo Gallery Here!
Professor Amanda Leiter Hosts Junior Environmental Law Scholar Works-in-Progress Workshop
On June 1-2, Professor Amanda Leiter hosted the first Junior Environmental Law Scholar Works-in-Progress Workshop at WCL. Five law professors submitted works in progress prior to the workshop, and the participants all read the works and provided in-depth comments. Participants came from as close as UMBC and as far away as BYU. Additionally, Professor Leiter led everyone on an excursion to the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River. Read more here.
Professor David Hunter Blogs About Rio+20
On the eve of the high level segment of Rio+20 being held from June 20 to 22, Professor David Hunter blogs about "Meeting Low Expectations at Rio+20" on the Center for Progressive Reform's Member Scholars blog. Professor Hunter highlighted the differences between the excitement and expectations going into the Earth Summit in 1992 as compared to Rio+20 this year. However, he does point out that while expectations are low, there is some value to having these international summits focused on issues of sustainable development. To read his blog, click here.
International Participants and Professors Participate in the Second Annual Seminar with the Organization of American States
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law and the Organization of American States Department of Sustainable Development held the Second Annual intensive seminar on Trade and Environment from May 29 to June 2. The seminar is part of the Environmental Law Summer Session at WCL. This week-long seminar brought together participants from ten different countries and from various professional backgrounds to study issues surrounding trade and the environment. Having participants from around the world, gave WCL students the chance to interact with people from all different countries and backgrounds in a unique way. Participants engaged in intensive study of topics related to trade and environment including trade law, international environmental law, regulation of agriculture, intellectual property issues, enforcement of environmental standards, regional free trade agreements, multilateral environmental agreements, and sustainable development, amongst others. Additionally, participants learned about negotiating agreements and issues that arise post-negotiation. Participants were taught by lecturers from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Ecuador, and Canada. Lecturers included the President of CEMDA, WCL Professors, and representatives from the OAS, amongst others. In addition to listening to lectures, the participants had a “site visit” from ExxonMobil representatives who came to discuss the work they do, including their environmental practices as a large energy, primarily oil, company. This gave the participants a chance to learn more about how multinational companies fit in to the international trade regime and how or if they use environmental standards. The seminar also featured a panel discussion on post-negotiation issues featuring Alejandra Goyenechea (Defenders of Wildlife, ILSP LL.M '01), Amy Karpel (Office of the US Trade Representative, WCL JD '99), and Ashley Amidon (International Wood Products Association). The intensive seminar concluded with a Trade Simulation Exercise in which participants were assigned roles to play and engaged in mock negotiations. This simulation exercise allowed participants to use the lessons they learned about negotiations and the information they learned about trade and environment instruments. For more information about the program and lecturers, visit our website.
Visit the Photo Gallery Here!
Practitioner in Residence Bill Snape Participates in Congressional Briefing
Bill Snape, a practioner in residence at WCL and Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, participated in a Congressional Staff Briefing on "Whatever Happened to Biodiversity?" The briefing discussed and highlighted the importance of biodiversity initiatives. You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Ky7uu5FWU.
Professor David Hunter Comments on Executive Order "Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation"
Program Director David Hunter wrote a blog, "Executive Order Embraces International Regulatory Race to the Bottom as Official Administration Policy," warning people about the potential negative ramifications of President Obama's new Executive Order. The Executive Order is designed to "reduce, eliminate or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements," which, on its face, does not seem to be a problem; however, it will likely lead to more deregulation and fewer environmental protections. Regulations help protect the environment, public health, and safety. Professor Hunter points out that an Executive Order designed to promote international regulatory cooperation and to eliminate differences in country's regulatory requirements could lead to an upward harmonization of policies that would promote efficiency and environmental protections. However, he also points out that is not the case here.
Read more about Professor Hunter's take on the new Executive Order at the Center for Progressive Reform's blog. David Hunter is a Member Scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform and occasionally blogs on topics related to environmental law.
ELS Celebrates Earth Day
Every April 22, people across the country celebrate Earth Day! As part of this celebration the Environmental Law Society encouraged their fellow law students, their professors, and all at WCL to pledge to do their part to protect the environment. At right, ELS students collect people's pledges for what they will do to reduce their carbon footprint, for example, riding a bike to law school rather than driving a car. ELS knows that every little bit counts and everyone can do something small in an effort to have a greener future for our planet and future generations.
PICEL Staff and Students Participate in the World Bank Spring Meetings
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund held their annual Spring Meetings and coinciding Civil Society Policy Forum from April 18 to April 21, 2012. Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon lead a WCL team of students including Tom Richards (JD candidate, '14), Yulia Genin (ILSP LL.M. candidate), and Gregory Arnoult (ILSP LL.M. candidate, '12). During the Spring Meetings the WCL team interacted with Bank staff and other civil society organizations in discussions about topics ranging from jobs for youth and coal development to environmental and social safeguards and accountability mechanisms. The discussions allowed for learn opportunities, networks, and advocacy. Additionally, Professor David Hunter served as a moderator for a number of panels including ones on the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline (a World Bank project that highlights the downfalls of the resource curse) and a new grievance mechanism at the World Bank focused on problem-solving. He also moderated a panel at an event on EIR+10, which looked at where we've come since the Extractive Industries Review ten years ago, and his panel focused on affected communities and indigenous peoples.
PICEL Co-Hosts Conference on Rio+20 and Beyond with the International Environmental Law Committee of the ABA Section on International Law and CIEL, amongst others
On April 10, 2012, the Program on International & Comparative Environmental Law co-hosted a half-day conference with the Committee on International Environmental Law of the ABA Section on International Law, the International Environmental Law Committee of the ABA Section on Energy, Environment, and Resources, the Center for International Environmental Law, the American Society for International Law, the WCL Environmental Law Society, and the WCL Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication on the Road to Rio+20 and Beyond. The conference featured two panels of experts discussing the development of international environmental law and sustainable development. The first panel looked at where we've come since the Earth Summit in Rio in 2002 and what advances, or lack there of, have been made in international environmental law and looked ahead to what may happen this June in Rio. The first panel was moderated by Kim Smaczniak (DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division) and panelists included: Jacob Scherr (NRDC), David Downes (Dept. of Interior), Marcos Orellana (CIEL), and Claudia de Windt (OAS Dept. of Sustainable Development). The panelists all acknowledged that there has been a lack of leadership from anyone, including Brazil, in the lead up to this conference and that unlike in 2002, there was significant less excitement and hope. Additionally, the panelists discussed the fact that the principles of the Rio Declaration are still not as widely accepted as one might have hoped. Panelists provided a variety of perspectives including the state of the world and the variety of actors now involved in the discussion, the role of science and movement into the anthropocene era, the relationship between human rights and the environment and the need to use human rights as a lens, and the development of environmental law in Latin America. Following this discussion, the second panel looked at where we are going and what was going to happen in international environmental law following Rio+20. The panel was moderated by Ken Markowitz (Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement) and panelists included: Amy Fraenkel (UNEP Regional Office of North America), Charles DiLeva (World Bank), and Niranjali Amerasinghe (CIEL). This discussion focused on the need for better enforcement of environmental laws and the movement away from treaties as the main source of international environmental law.
Watch the Webcast!
See the Agenda.
Professor Amanda Leiter Publishes Article
Professor Amanda Leiter and Kevin Haroff published "On the Merits: EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," in On the Merits, an educational publication of the Washington Legal Foundation that provides a concise and timely analysis of pending litigation. Professor Leiter and Haroff discuss EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, which is a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that focuses on the Clean Air Act.
SDLP Hosts Annual Symposium, "On the Brink: Environmental Conflicts Along the Path Towards Sustainable Development"
On March 19 the Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication held a symposium entitled "On the Brink: Environmental Conflicts Along the Path Towards Sustainable Development." This event focused on challenges and opportunities in the development of alternative energy resources, development of public lands and natural resources, and international resources conflicts. The opening panel focused on the development of energy resources. Panelists from the Sierra Club spoke about oil development and the environmental movement's fight against oil development, especially the Keystone XL pipeline, while her co-worker discussed the transportation bill being discussed in Congress. They were followed by panelists who discussed wind energy development, carbon taxes, and solar development. The second panel focused specifically on the development of public lands and extraction of natural resources. Representatives from the government, law firms, and NGOs debated this topic. Lastly, the symposium concluded with a keynote address from Carl Bruch who discussed international resources conflicts. His discussion touched on issues such as water wars, post-conflict resource development, and international environmental law.
The event is also available as a podcast as part of The Hot Air Show.
PICEL Co-Hosts Post-Kiobel Celebration with EarthRights International and Harvard Law School's Human Rights Clinic (update)
On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell) to decide whether corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute. The case arose following the execution of Nigerian citizens who were protesting the oil exploration and exploitation that Royal Dutch Petroleum was undertaking. The majority of cases involving corporate accountability for human rights abuses in the U.S. have been litigated under the ATS, which is a statute created by the Founders in 1789. In celebration of Kiobel being argued, EarthRights International (which has been working on this case and frequently litigates cases using the ATS), Harvard Law School's Human Rights Clinic, and WCL held a celebration at Busboys and Poets to honor Paul Hoffman, lead counsel at the Supreme Court, and all those who have worked to help bring the corporation to justice for human rights abuses. The celebration brought together law students and lawyers. This celebration allowed everyone to discuss the case and re-connect, and celebrate the on-going work begin done to protect human rights and the environment.
To read a transcript of the oral argument in Kiobel, click here. The Supreme Court announced on March 5 that it would not be issuing a decision in Kiobel this term as was expected, but instead ordered the re-argument of the case and asked parties to brief the issue of "whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute ... allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States." Thus, Kiobel will know likely be re-heard in the October term.
Images: At top right, Katie Redford, Co-Founder and U.S. Office Director of EarthRights International, discusses the case with WCL students Chelsea Tu and Upasana Khatri. At bottom left, a view of the celebration.
David Hunter Blogs About Reasons the U.S. Should Ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrol
Professor David Hunter, PICEL Program Director and a Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) member scholar blogged about the reasons the United States should ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrol. The U.S. signed the agreement to protect these two migratory bird species, but the Senate has yet to ratify the Agreement. Both the Bush and Obama administrations supported the ratification of this Agreement, however, as is often the case with environmental agreements, the Senate has failed to ratify.
Read CPR's blog to find out the many reasons that the U.S. should ratify the Agreement and show its willingness to cooperate internationally to protect these birds.
Women and the Law Program Hosts "Fertile Ground: Exploring the Intersection Between the Reproductive and Environmental Justice Movements"
On Thursday, February 23, the Women and the Law Program hosted an event on exploring the intersection between the reproductive and environmental justice movements. Women and communities living in economically disadvantaged areas, disproportionately suffer exposure to harmful chemicals from environmental hazards which pose serious consequences for their reproductive health. Both the reproductive justice and environmental justice movements focus on improving socioeconomic and environmental conditions for communities living in poverty. Despite their similarities, these movements have historically operated on parallel tracks, often working in isolation. The panelists discussed the intersection of these two movements and strategies for future collaboration. The panel was moderated by Daniela Kraiem, Associate Director of the Women and the Law Program, and included Kimberly Inez McGuire (Policy Analyst, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health); Jill C. Morrison (Senior Counsel, National Women's Law Center); Michele Roberts (Campaign & Policy Coordinator, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights); and Vernice Miller-Travis (Vice-Chair, Maryland State Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities). Daniela Kraiem, Associate Director of the Women and the Law Program, will moderate the panel.
Watch the Podcast!
WCL Environmental Law Students Compete in the Pace Law School National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
Josh Fieldstone, Jacqui Shelton, and Chelsea Tu represented WCL at the Twenty-Fourth Annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (NELMCC) held by Pace Law School from February 23-25, 2012. Professor Amanda Leiter coached the team and worked with them to prepare them for the competition. The WCL team traveled to White Plains, NY to compete against over 60 law schools from across the United States. Prior to going to Pace Law School for the oral rounds of the competition, the team worked together to write an appellate brief that required them to do extensive research into environmental law, including the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act, and administrative law. This competition allowed the WCL team to take a detailed look at some of the environmental statutes and how courts have interpreted them. Additionally, the team worked with numerous professors and environmental lawyers who helped them do practice moots to prepare them for the rounds of oral competition, where they had to argue for all three parties and not just the party for which they wrote their brief.
(Picture, from left to right: Professor Amanda Leiter, Josh Fieldstone, Jacqui Shelton, Chelsea Tu)
Professor David Hunter Discusses the Challenges of Reducing Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions at California Western School of Law
On February 23, PICEL Director David Hunter spoke at California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA about the challenges of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. His talk focused on the international climate negotiations and what has happened since the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol. Professor Hunter also discussed the challenges of negotiating an international climate agreement that countries with different interests can all agree to and implement domestically.
Read California Western's blog about the event.
WCL Environmental Law Students Compete in the Pacific Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition
Ashley Gardana, Larissa Liebmann, and Norah Patrick represented WCL at the Pacific Regional of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition, which was held at the University of Denver (Colorado) from February 17-18, 2012. The team competed against teams representing a number of law schools from the western United States. Earlier in the academic year, the team completed a written memorial for the competition and while in Denver they competed in two rounds of oral arguments. During the preparation for the competition, Ashley, Larissa, and Norah worked with a variety of professors and environmental law practitioners who generously donated their time to help moot the team. Additionally, they did extensive research about nuclear accidents, customary international environmental law, sovereign bonds, the law of treaties, and the rules of the International Court of Justice.
Environmental Law Society Hosts Environmental Law Career Panel
The WCL Environmental Law Society and the Office of Career and Professional Development hosted an Environmental Law Career panel on February 13, 2012. The career panel featured lawyers from government agencies, law firms, and non-profits who are shared their experiences in how they got their jobs in environmental law. They also shared advice with current law students about strategies for getting a job in the environmental field. The panel also featured an alumna of WCL. Panelists included: Stacy Coleman (Associate Attorney, Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section); Dan Squire (Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale Dorr LLP); Carroll Muffett (President & CEO, Center for International Environmental Law); Stacey VanBelleghem ('08) (Associate, Latham & Watkins, LLP); and Mike Walker (Director, National Enforcement Training Institute, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Professor Amanda Leiter chaired the panel. Watch a webcast of the panel.
Bill Snape, Environmental Law Practitioner-in-Residence, Files Amicus Brief with WTO on Dolphin-Safe Tuna
Bill Snape, a Practitioner-in-Residence in the Program on International Environmental Law, and the Humane Society of the United States filed an amicus brief with the World Trade Organization in regards to Dolphin-Safe Tuna.
Read the amicus brief.
Environmental Law Program Hosts Atlantic Regional Qualifying Round of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition - UPDATE
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law is proud to host the North America Atlantic Regional Qualifying Round of the 16th Annual Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition. WCL welcomed 9 teams from law schools in the United States, the Bahamas, and Trinidad & Tobago to compete in this regional to determine what two teams will advance to the International Finals in March. Leading international environmental lawyers from government (including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Interior, and the Department of Justice), law firms (including Beveridge & Diamond), and non-profits (including the Center for International Environmental Law, EarthRights International, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, amongst others) served serve as judges for the Atlantic Regional. The judges for the final round (as seen above) were Carroll Muffett (President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law), Durwood Zaelke (founder and President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and Director of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement), Katie Redford (Co-Founder and US Office Director of EarthRights International). Other lawyers who served as moot court judges included: Niranjali Amerasinghe, Zugeilly Coss Sanz, David Downes, Yulia Genin, Milos Hrnjaz, Alyssa Johl, Russ LaMotte, Amanda Leiter, Marco Simons, Kim Smaczniak, Marie Soveroski, Surya Subedi, Tom Wetterer, and Glenn Wiser. WCL alumni who helped as judges included: Abbey Baker ('11), Melissa Blue Sky ('11), Daniel Brindis ('08), Laura Drummond ('11), Alejandra Goyenechea ('01), Paul Hagen ('90), Addie Haughey ('10), Rachel Kirby ('10), Chris Kyle ('11), James Mitchell ('08), Marcos Orellana ('98, '09), Michael Stone ('92), and Beth Zgoda ('10). The competition was held from February 4 to 5, 2012. The preliminary rounds consisted of three rounds in which the nine teams argued at least three times on Saturday, February 4. Then on Sunday, the top 4 teams competed in the semi-finals and the competition ended with the final argument of the two winning teams from the semi-finals. The Atlantic Regional was kicked off with a Welcome Reception co-sponsored by the Center for International Environmental Law for participants, WCL alumni, and environmental lawyers and advocates.
See photos from the Atlantic Regional.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Participates in the International Climate Negotiations - UPDATE
Program Coordinator Erika Lennon is leading a team of WCL students participating in the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa. Zugeilly Coss, Emmett Pepper, Ashley Gardana, and Braunson Virjee will be participating in the Durban Climate Project. Emmett, Ashley, Braunson, and Erika will be working with the Center for International Environmental Law and other environmental NGOs on numerous issues related to the international climate regime. This work will cover a variety of issues including climate finance (with a focus on safeguards and accountability mechanisms in the Green Climate Fund and other financial mechanisms), reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and applicable safeguards and accountability, compliance (MRV), the legal framework, public participation, and the future of the Kyoto Protocol, amongst others. As the world enters the final year of the first commitment period, which ends on December 31, 2012, of the Kyoto Protocol, COP-17 represents an opportunity to ensure that there is a framework moving forward that includes legally binding emissions reduction commitments from most, if not all, countries and a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Zugeilly Coss, an LL.M. student in the International Legal Studies Program, will be participating in COP-17 as a member of the Dominican Republic delegation. As such, she will be working towards an agreement that will help the Dominican Republic and the world take steps to combat climate change by mitigating the causes, and to also adapt to the changes that countries face due to climate change. (Pictured at left: Ashley Gardana, Emmett Pepper, Zugeilly Coss, the Dominican Republic's Head of Delegation, and Erika Lennon). COP-17 will be held from November 28 to December 9 in Durban, South Africa.
Four Days After Thousands of People Encircle the White House, the Administration Announces that a Decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline from the Tarsands to the Gulf of Mexico Will Be Delayed
On November 6, 2011, thousands of people, including WCL students, alumni, and Professor Bill Snape, gathered at the White House to urge President Obama to say no to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run from the tarsands in Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This protest culminated in the people forming a circle around the White House. Four days later, the Obama administration announced that it was going to delay making a decision on approving the Keystone XL pipeline in order to examine alternate routes. This delay means that any decision on the Keystone XL pipeline likely will not be made until 2013 because examining alternate routes will involve new environmental assessments and consultations. However, this delay in making a decision does not necessarily mean that the Keystone XL pipeline will not be built, but that could, and hopefully, will be the case. It does though allow for the continuation of the discussion of the negative impacts and proposed benefits; and it could allow for time to discuss other alternative proposals for energy sources. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will transport dirty tarsands oil, the extraction and use of which will contribute to global climate change, through the midwest where it could potentially spill oil and pollute the land and water. It is important to consider all of the effects of this pipeline, including conducting proper environmental impact assessments, which is something that the State Department and developers had been criticized for not doing for the proposed pipeline so far. In its media release, the State Department indicated that it would consider all the "relevant issues" to determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest, and that these issues would include "environmental concerns (including climate change)." It is encouraging to see that the State Department is committed to considering climate change in its determination about whether to approve any Keystone XL pipeline. These environmental concerns, after all, have led to the many protests, which ultimately contributed to the Obama Administration r econsidering its approval of the pipeline by the end of the year, the deadline they had previously been working towards. It is a positive step that the Obama administration has decided to delay making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline in order to do a more thorough investigation into the environmental impacts of this endeavor and to reexamine whether it is in our national interest. (Photo above includes Veronica Gonzales (ILSP LL.M candidate), Laura Peterson ('11), Chelsea Tu ('13), Center for Biological Diversity's polar bear, Professor Bill Snape, Joel Scata ('13), Jacqui Shelton ('13), and Ashley Gardana ('12).
See photos of WCL students and Professor Bill Snape at the November 6 protest #nokxl.
AU President Highlights AU's Committment to Environmental and Social Responsibility
In a message to the AU Community, President Neil Kerwin, highlighted American University's Committment to Social Responsibility and Service by issuing a "Statement of Social Responsibility Principles for AU Business Partners." This statement includes expectations for AU business partners to conduct business in socially responsible ways and to have policies in place to acheive this. Additionally, it calls for environmental compliance by which AU business partners will conduct business in a way that shows their committment to the "protection and preservation of the global environment." Read President Kerwin's statement.
David Hunter and Bill Snape file an Amicus Brief on Behalf of 14 International Environmental Law Professors and Practitioners - Update
David Hunter and Bill Snape filed an amicus brief on behalf of 14 international environmental law practitioners and professors including Erika Lennon, Coordinator of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law in Arias et al v. DynCorp et all, which is being heard in the D.C. District Court. The amicus brief primarily focuses on the obligation to prevent significant transboundary environmental harm as part of customary international law. Fourteen international environmental law professors and practitioners signed on to this brief including: Carroll Muffett, Marcos Orellana, Carl Bruch, Chris Wold, John Bonine, Svitlana Kravchenko, Jacob Werksman, Durwood Zaelke, John Pendergrass, Dr. Wil Burns, and Victor Flatt, along with David Hunter, Bill Snape, and Erika Lennon.
On November 21, United States District Court Judge Richard Roberts granted our Motion for Leave to File an Amicus brief despite the Defendants' opposition.
Erika Lennon and Two WCL Students Attend Consultation with UNEP RONA on Key Messages Leading Up to Rio+20
Program Coordinator Erika Lennon along with Braunson Virjee and Chelsea Tu, the co-Editors-in-Chief of the Sustainable Development Law & Policy Publication, represented the WCL environmental law program at a one and a half day consultation with the United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) to help establish key messages leading up to Rio+20, which is the UN Conference on Sustainable Development being held 20 years after the Rio Conference that resulted in the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, and various other multilateral environmental agreements. Rio+20 is being held in June 2012. In preparation for that, UNEP RONA held a consultation with major groups and stakeholders so as to receive input from civil society about the key messages to take from the region to the UNEP Governing Council meeting in 2012. The focus of the consultation was the two themes for Rio+20, the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development. During the consultation Braunson, Chelsea, and Erika, alongside civil society members and government representatives from both the U.S. and Canada, were able to give their input on these themes and what would be good policies to bring to the table for discussion in the lead up to Rio+20. Much of the discussion centered on the governance necessary to ensure that the goals of sustainable development could be met and that the economic growth needed for poverty alleviation is green. This included a focus on law especially as it relates to environmental compliance and enforcement. The consultation included presentations from civil society, U.S. government representatives, UNEP, and international lawyers, as well as a number of working groups. For more information about the consultation, please visit UNEP RONA. The WCL environmental law program also got to contribute to the formation of key messages that will be reflected in a forthcoming document about the key messages that UNEP RONA will take to the Governing Council meeting next year.
Erika Lennon and David Hunter Submit Comments to the World Bank on their Proposed Program-For Results (P4R) Financing Plan
Program Coordinator Erika Lennon and Professor David Hunter of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law submitted comments to the World Bank about their proposed Program-For-Results (P4R) Financing Plan. The comments were submitted as part of the World Bank's official consultation period on their recent draft for the P4R Financing Plan. P4R would shift the way that the World Bank invests in programs and projects and would likely mean that many projects will be funded without having to comply with the valuable environmental and social safeguards that the Bank has put in place to protect local communities and the environment. Given our concern with strengthening global environmental and social standards, we submitted comments to express concern about shifting a large portion of the World Bank's portfolio into a lending system that would not apply the environmental and social safeguards to its programs even though it has the potential to fund projects that would require compliance with those safeguards if the money came through a different World Bank financing plan.
Read the Submitted Comments.
Ashley Gardana, Elana Katz-Mink, and Joel Scata at the World Bank Annual Meetings.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law's David Hunter and Erika Lennon, accompanied by Environmental Law Students Participated in the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF
Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, and four students, Ashley Gardana, Joel Scata, Elana Katz-Mink, and Tom Richards participated in the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF. They joined civil society organizations from around the world who were in Washington, DC for the Annual Meetings. From September 21 to 24, 2011, the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law joined many in the Civil Society Policy Forum during which they were able to interact with other members of civil society and World Bank staff members, and discuss important environmental and social issues related to activities of the World Bank. Further participants were able to interact with members of the World Bank Inspection Panel and the International Finance Corporation's Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman to learn about how these important accountability mechanisms work to ensure the World Bank Group entities comply with their environmental and social standards.
Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape's Gulf Oil Spill Lawsuit Allowed to Continue In Part
Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling in Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, which Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape argued in March (see below). In his September 13, 2011 decision, Judge Hogan ruled that the case could go forward, at least in part. Judge Hogan only allowed three of the Center for Biological Diversity's claims, all regarding Lease Sale 213, which occurred during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to proceed forward. Thus, the Center for Biological Diversity's claims that Lease Sale 213 in the Gulf of Mexico violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be able to go forward on the merits, and survive the Defendants' motions to dismiss. The case will move forward on the merits of these claims, even though the larger legal and policy issues regarding oil drilling will not be litigated here.
For more information, read the Opinion.
Ninth Circuit Overturns Lower Court in a FOIA case (about the US-Canada softwood lumber agreement) in which Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape is co-counsel
On Friday, September 16, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's judgment in Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Office of the United States Trade Representative, which Senior Counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity and WCL Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape had argued, as co-counsel, on behalf of the environmental groups. Four years ago, in 2007, the environmental groups submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for information about the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement particularly in relation to how the USTR handed out funds to "meritorious initiatives" under the agreement. The FOIA request asked for information in regards to the USTR's allotments for these "meritorious initiatives" and the selection of the organizations to receive the funds. After not receiving the information about how the funds were used and the deals being made between the governments and the timber industry, the environmental groups filed this lawsuit claiming that the USTR had failed to release all the documents that would be necessary to satisfy a request. A lower court agreed with the USTR that it had adequately complied with the request and granted its request for summary judgment. However, the Ninth Circuit vacated the lower court's ruling and held that the USTR improperly withheld documents, thus it remanded the case to the lower court where the USTR will have to provide more information about its searches and why it did not conduct additional searches in order to prove that it complied with the FOIA request accurately.
EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy (Office of Air and Radiation) Participates in "The Hot Air Show" Podcast
On Thursday, August 25, 2011, Gina McCarthy, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined "The Hot Air Show: Carbon Policies, Politics & Markets," the serial podcast co-produced by WCL's Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law and the American Bar Association's Energy and Environmental Markets and Finance Committee. Episode 7 of "The Hot Air Show" focused on the Clean Air Act and how the EPA is addressing climate change. Alongside Gina McCarthy, the panel of experts included Bill Snape, an Environmental Law Fellow at WCL and Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, Peter Glaser, a Partner at Troutman Sanders, and host of the show, Chris Berendt, Of Counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. The discussion focused on the regulatory efforts of the EPA, primarily the Office of Air and Radiation, to address climate change including proposed regulations to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, mandatory greenhouse gas reporting, and the Ozone rule. Also, for the first time ever, the show was taped before a live studio audience and featured a question and answer session. Listen to Episode 7 and Subscribe to the Hot Air Show.
WCL and the World Bank Inspection Panel Host an Independent Accountability Mechanisms Conference
On Friday, June 24, the Washington College of Law and the World Bank Inspection Panel held a Conference on Challenges of International Accountability: Lessons from Independent Accountability Mechanisms. The Conference started with a market place that allowed the various independent accountability mechanisms to bring materials about what they do and for participants to talk to representatives from the mechanisms. The Conference then featured a multiple panel discussions and presentations from both members of the Independent Accountability Mechanisms at the various multilateral development banks and members of civil society who work on issues related to the international financial institutions. For details about the panelists, please see the agenda.
Watch the webcast of the conference. You can see the Conference by panel discussion. Click on the links below to watch the video.
Welcome Remarks and Comparative Presentation
IAM's Effectiveness and Credibility
Soverignty and Accountability
Accountability and the Private Sector
Trade and Environment Seminar Ends with a Joint Reception with the Independent Accountability Mechanisms Conference
On Friday, June 24, the Program on International Environmental Law hosted a closing reception for the Conference on Challenges of International Accountability: Lessons from Independent Accountability Mechanisms and the Trade and Environment Seminar held in conjunction with the Organization of American States (OAS). Participants from the Conference, which included members of the independent accountability mechanisms at the international financial institutions, and the Trade and Environment seminar were able to interact with one another and share experiences.
Albert R. Ramdin, OAS Assistant Secretary General
Date: June 21, 2011
Place: Washington, DC
Credit: Patricia Levia/OAS
OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin Welcomes Participants in Trade and Environment Seminar at Welcome Reception
The Organization of American States and the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law hosted a Welcome Reception for their jointly-sponsored Trade and Environment Seminar. The reception, held at the Organization of American States Main Building, featured welcome remarks from OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin. At the reception participants in the seminar had a chance to interact with lecturers from the seminar, OAS staff members, and WCL faculty and staff. Please see the press release and photographs for more details about the reception.
Inaugural Trade and Environment Seminar with the Organization of American States Welcomes International Participants and Professors
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law worked in conjunction with the Department of Sustainable Development at the Organization of American States (OAS) to hold an intensive seminar on Trade and Environment from June 20 to June 24, 2011. This week-long seminar brought together participants from fifteen different countries to study various aspects related to international trade and the environment including regional free-trade agreements, multilateral environmental agreements, intellectual property issues, market access issues, sustainable development, and enforcement of environmental standards, amongst others. The participants were taught by lecturers from various countries in the Americas including Canada, the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Lecturers included the Vice Minister of Trade from Costa Rica, the President of CEMDA (the Mexican Environmental Law Center), and various people from the Organization of American States, amongst others. In addition to attending seminars, participants visited the Domino Sugar Factory in Baltimore, MD, where they learned about sugar processing, the factory's environmental practices, and the international nature of the sugar trade. For more information about the program and lecturers, visit our website.
Environmental Law Summer Session Welcomes International Participants
The Seventh Annual Environmental Law Summer Session, which was held from May 31 to June 17, welcomes participants from eighteen different countries. These lawyers came with a variety of experiences from their work at non-governmental organizations, government, or law firms. During the three-week Environmental Law Summer Session, the participants visited the World Bank Inspection Panel, the World Resources Institute, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for North America (RONA), the Department of Sustainable Development at the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). At each of these organizations, participants interacted with lawyers and experts who work there. Additionally, the participants interacted with lawyers and interns from Accountability Counsel. These site visits were coordinated in conjunction with the seminar on International Institutions and Environmental Protection. The Environmental Law Summer Session offered participants the opportunity to engage in seminars focused on a wide-variety of topics ranging from the legal implications of the gulf oil spill to international wildlife law to environmental compliance and enforcement, and the relationship between international business and the environment. Additionally, three seminars focused on various topics related to climate change including climate change and the European Union, climate change litigation, and climate change and emissions trading. The Environmental Law Summer Session has also collaborated with the Organization of American States to organize a special seminar on Trade and Environment. Participants were taught by leading practitioners from non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and law firms, including international professors. For information about the seminars and faculty, please visit this website.
Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape Argues Against DOJ and Oil Industry in Hearing on BP Oil Spill Lawsuit
On Wednesday, March 9, Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape, representing the Center for Biological Diversity, will argue in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that all existing and future Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling operations, particularly those with some form of existing authorization, must comply with environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In a lawsuit filed July 26, 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity says Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and the Minerals Management Service have failed to comply with environmental laws when authorizing off shore drilling both before and after the April 20, 2010 blowout of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig which led to the BP Oil Spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. History. “The Secretary has continued to implement an unlawful policy of exempting drilling plans…from any meaningful [National Environmental Policy Act] review,” the lawsuit says.
“This case is about accountability. While the Obama Administration says it has corrected its ways, none of its promises are yet legally binding and dangerous oil drilling by ravenous oil companies continues in the Gulf of Mexico to this day,” says Snape, who is senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity and lead counsel on this case. “The American public and the fragile Gulf ecosystem deserve iron clad assurances that a disaster like the BP blowout will never occur again.”
In its lawsuit, the Center for Biological Diversity is asking the Court to declare Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act stemming from their approval of deep water drilling and exploration in the Gulf, and to issue an order halting all outer continental shelf drilling operations approved by the Department of Interior after the BP oil spill.
The case, Center for Biological Diversity v. Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of the Interior, et al, is set for a hearing on the motions to dismiss filed by both the Department of Interior and several oil industry intervenors, Wednesday, March 9, at 2 p.m. before Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Snape is an environmental law fellow and practitioner-in-residence at American University Washington College of Law and senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. Previously, Snape was vice president and chief counsel at Defenders of Wildlife for almost a decade. He has litigated both NEPA and global warming cases in federal court, and argued Center for Biological Diversity v. Interior (D.C. Cir. 2008), which rejected the federal government's plan for oil and gas drilling off the coast of Alaska in part because of climate change concerns.
WCL Students Compete in Pace Moot Court
In February, three students from the Environmental Law Society represented WCL at the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Jessica Goldstein ('12), Liesel Stanhope ('11), and Emmett Pepper ('12) spent their Fall semester writing an environmental law brief and their spring semester mooting in preparation for the competition. At Pace NELMCC, Jess, Liesel, and Emmett competed against over 60 other law school teams.
Professor Perry Wallace's Article on the BP Oil Spill and Environmental Justice Issues Published
Professor Perry Wallace's article, Commentary: Environmental Justice and the BP Oil Spill: Does Anyone Care About the "Small People" of Color, was published in the Fall 2010 Volume 6, Issue 2 of The Modern American. The article explores the effects of the BP oil spill on people of color and the ways in which this environmental catastrophe as contributed to the environmental injustice in the Gulf Region. Professor Wallace discusses the power imbalance that is affecting the livelihood of small business owners and people of color, including the United Houma Nation, who's livelihood and culture are largely dependent on fishing in the Gulf. Further, Professor Wallace's article touts the need to spend the time and money to implement the Recommendations made by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their report, BP Oil Drilling Disaster - NAACP Investigation.
WCL Students Move on to the Final Round of the Stetson University International Environmental Moot Court Competition
The American University Washington College of Law's team won Best Memorial and placed second overall in the Atlantic Regional Round of the Stetson University International Environmental Moot Court Competition held from January 20 to 21. The WCL team comprised of Laura Drummond, Pablo Forray, and Mina Trudeau also qualified for a place in the finals, which will be held from March 17 to March 20 at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. There they will compete against moot court teams from law schools around the world.
Professor Perry Wallace Served as Legal Counsel and Helped End EPA's Use of Sulfuryl Fluoride on Food
Professor Perry Wallace served as legal counsel for the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) in its administrative proceedings that resulted in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposing to end the use of sulfuryl fluoride, an insecticide and food fumigant. The US EPA has agreed to announce the end of the use of sulfuryl fluoride in the Federal Register, which will give the public 90 days to comment on the proposed rule. Once the Final Order is issued, the EPA plans to phase out the majority of its uses on food within 90 days and the complete phase out will take three years. Professor Wallace helped FAN achieve its goal of ending the use of sulfuryl fluoride, which is harmful to human health especially the health of infants and children, by providing legal advice. Read here for more information about the EPA's decision to end the use of sulfuryl fluoride.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Participates in International Climate Negotiations - Update
Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon will be leading a team of WCL students participating in the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-16) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico. Abbey Baker, Adam Burrowbridge, Sarah Bury, Laura Drummond, Ashley Gardana, Chris Kyle, Paulo Lopes, Lawrence Palmer, Braunson Virjee, and Winfield Wilson will be part of the Cancun Climate Project. They will be working with non-governmental organizations including the Center for International Environmental Law and the Center for Biological Diversity on a variety of issues related to the future of the international climate regime. Students will be working on issues related to climate finance, reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), human rights, compliance, and technology transfer, amongst others. COP-16 is being held from November 29 to December 10 in Cancun, Mexico.
While at COP-16, David Hunter was interviewed by a reporter from the Norwegian Broadcasting Company who is doing a daily video blog from COP-16. To watch the video, please click here. He is interviewed in the video from 8 December.
Follow the WCL Students at COP-16 in Cancun on Twitter @COPout16_BeLive.
New Book on International Financial Institutions and International Law
International Financial Institutions and International Law co-edited by Professors Daniel Bradlow and David Hunter, with editorial assistance from Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, is now available. This book explores the legal obligations of the World Bank and other international financial institutions, and the role they play in making and interpreting international law. This relationship has not yet been thoroughly explored, thus this book should contribute to the work of the IFIs, Member States, and other organizations and people that work with and are affected by the IFIs' operations. With chapters by expert contributors representing academic, policy, and activist perspectives, this book covers a wide array of subjects ranging from the general principles of international law applicable to IFIs to such issues as IFIs and human rights, labor rights, environment, and indigenous peoples' rights, as well as analysis of the complex topics of consequences for violations of internal policies, impacts on economic policies in Member States, and immunity before national courts. In addition to the two editors, contributing authors include: B.S. Chimni, Charles Di Leva, Steven Herz, Jerry Levinson, Fergus MacKay, Siobhán McInerney-Lankford, August Reinisch, Eisuke Suzuki, Celine Tan, and Jakob Wurm. International Financial Institutions and International Law's detailed and critical overview demonstrates the important responsibilities IFIs have under international law and their capacity to influence international law's development. It is hoped that this book will stimulate thought, debate, research, and increased action on the topic, and will encourage more rigorous engagement between the IFIs and international lawyers. The book can be purchased through Kluwer Law International.
Professor Heather Hughes's Article Honored in the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review
Professor Heather Hughes's article, “Enabling Investment in Environmental Sustainability,” Ind. L. Rev. 2010, was honored by being chosen for inclusion in the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR). ELPAR, a joint publication between the Environmental Law Institute's Environmental Law Reporter and the Vanderbilt University Law School, chooses the best environmental law or policy ideas each year in order to make them more accessible to policy-makers and practitioners. Heather Hughes's article proposes an environmental practices money security interest to grant priority to creditors that finance improvements in environmental impact. Her article was one of four articles chosen for this honor.
Environmental Law Society Coffee Hour: Discussion of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf
The Environmental Law Society on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. in Room 500 hosted a discussion of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape, senior counsel at Center for Biological Diversity, and John Dupuy, assistant inspector general for investigations at the Department of Interior, will discuss the environmental NGO and governmental perspectives, respectively, on bringing BP to justice. Dupuy, a WCL alumnus, is leading the civil investigation into the oil spill and is very involved in the criminal investigation as well. See more photos from the event.
Environmental Law Student Attends the Convention on Biological Diversity's Tenth Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan
This October, Halley Allaire, a third-year student, attended the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP-10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan. She attended as part of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) delegation with whom she successfully worked to influence the COP to adopt working papers on IPBES. Halley worked with a network of NGOs from around the world that met every morning to brief each other on recent developments and to discuss various issues and upcoming events, and then would work on tracking issues throughout the day. COP-10 was an on-the-spot learning experience for Halley who got to see first hand how international agreements are developed and witnessed the subtle nuances, for example the hidden issues underlying a certain country's stance on a specific issue, that play in to the negotiations because every country has an agenda and wants certain language to come out of the COP. Halley predominantly worked on IPBES, "international platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services." IPBES would be a science-policy tool existing outside of the CBD, and therefore useful to other international treaties (essentially the IPCC of the CBD). IPBES, which has been gaining attention in the international community, is designed to take political pressures off scientists so information can get out into the world faster and without agenda, thereby better informing policy making. Concentrating on this issue, meant Halley followed it each day to see where and how it popped up in various in-session working papers so that the SCB could convey that information to decision makers and influence them to further IPBES. As a result of these efforts, IPBES now exists in a number of adopted plenary papers, including one entirely devoted to the issue that states that IPBES “should be established” (UNEP/CBD/COP/WG.2/CRP.6). Halley's efforts as part of the NGO network helped push IPBES and influenced the COP's decision to include it in plenary papers. Additionally, Halley got to meet with the U.S. delegation, which was small since the U.S. has not ratified the CBD, including Assistant. Secretary Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones. This meeting allowed NGOs to reach out to the U.S. delegation and for information to be exchanged between the two groups.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law submits comments on the U.S. Department of State's Review of the U.S. OECD National Contact Point
Director David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon submitted comments to the U.S. Department of State as part of its review of the U.S. OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) National Contact Point. The OECD has Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises that lay out rules addressing the actions taken by multinational enterprises. The U.S. OECD National Contact Point is the government's corporate accountability mechanism. Our comments focused on strengthening the U.S. OECD National Contact Point so that it can better serve communities that are harmed by activities of the multinational enterprises. To read our submitted comments, please click here.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law submits comments on the U.S. Department of State's Review of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Director David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon submitted comments to the U.S. Department of State regarding the administration's review of its position on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The UNDRIP was adopted by the UN in 2007 and has been adopted by 147 countries. David Hunter and Erika Lennon's comments focused on the U.S. adopting the UNDRIP and how its adoption will help improve policies at the international financial institutions. To read their comments, please click here.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law and CIEL Host a Reception for Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM) - Panamá
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) are hosting a reception honoring the Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM) - Panamá. CIAM is Panamá's leading public interest environmental law organization. Please come and join the American University Washington College of Law and the Center for International Environmental Law in honoring CIAM and its Executive Director, Félix Wing Solís, at a reception on Tuesday, November 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. The reception will be held at the CIEL. For details, click here.
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Participates in the World Bank Annual Meetings
Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, and three students, Melissa Blue Sky, Julia Torres, and Winfield Wilson, participated in the Civil Society Forum held in association with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings held in Washington, DC from October 6 to October 9. The students participated in meetings regarding the environmental and social development policies of the World Bank Group.
Laura Drummond, an Environmental Law Student, Attends the 18th Section Fall Meeting for the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resource Law
Laura Drummond, a third-year environmental law student, participated as a law student scholar in The ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resource Law Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana from September 29 to October 2, 2010. The meeting includes CLE sessions and presentations with government lawyers from within the Obama administration, NGO representatives, policy leaders, academics, and practitioners from around the country. Several sessions will focus on rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Laura was chosen to attend the event as a law student scholar. For more information about the meeting, click here.
Professor Bill Snape Discusses Biodiversity at a Congressional Briefing
On September 29, 2010, Professor Bill Snape participated in a Congressional Briefing entitled "Whatever Happened to Biodiversity?," which was sponsored by Conservation International. This Congressional Briefing, which featured welcoming remarks from Senator Tom Udall, brought together a panel of experts to discuss the upcoming Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the importance of biodiversity, and the future of U.S. legislation regarding biodiversity. Snape discussed the arguments and prospects for the U.S. ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Launches Podcast on Carbon Issues
The Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law announces the premiere of "Hot Air: Carbon Policies, Politics & Markets," a one-hour podcast featuring a roundtable discussion on carbon issues. The show is co-produced by Bill Snape. The show is co-sponsored with the American Bar Association's Committee on Carbon Trading and Energy Finance. For more information and to subscribe to "The Hot Air Show," visit its website.
Bill Snape to be Honored as a "Hero of the Gulf Coast"
Environmental Law Fellow Bill Snape is being honored as a "Hero of the Gulf Coast" at "Care for Community," a week-long commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hosted by Marc. H. Morial, Warren Ballentine, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Cedric Bailey. Snape will be recognized at a red carpet fundraiser, "Hailing the Heroes of the Gulf Coast," on Thursday, September 2 along with Lenny Kravitz, Anderson Cooper, Spike Lee, and Brad Pitt among others. Snape, who is also senior counsel to the Center for Biological Diversity, has been in the forefront of identifying the legal violations that caused the BP Gulf oil disaster, and is litigating two pending suits against the U.S. Department of the Interior for that agency's role in turning a blind eye to offshore drilling problems. For more information, visit the 5th Katrina Anniversary website.
American University Washington College of Law Earns Green Law School Ranking by Pre-Law Magazine
American University Washington College of Law has been ranked "Summa Cum Laude," as one of the top four Greenest Law Schools by Pre-Law Magazine. Evaluation criteria included law schools' curriculum, campus environment, building trends, faculty, and academic offerings including externships, legal journals, and summer programs. The environmental externship program, which was highlighted as an important aspect of the program, "not only gives students exposure to practical skills and practicing lawyers but gives them a network to find jobs in the process," said David Hunter, American University Washington College of Law was also noted for its partnership with CIEL, its summer program, and AU's commitment to a Zero Waste Policy. View the listing.
Practitioner-in-Residence Bill Snape Speaks about the EPA "tailoring" rule
Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, discusses the EPA's "tailoring" rule and the Center for Biological Diversity's lawsuit about the EPA's weakened final rule, as it relates to large corporations, on E & E TV. Professor Snape also discusses the use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas pollutants and EPA's role, as well as the role of legislation regarding regulation of pollutants. The interview also discusses the potential for new environmental legislation being passed by Congress in 2010. View the video.
Professor Bill Snape Discusses the Gulf Oil Spill on Swedish Television
Professor Bill Snape was interviewed on a Swedish news program Rapport, svt. in regards to the Gulf Oil Spill. He discusses the need to accurately account for the amount of oil spilled and the potential ramifications for BP. The program is in Swedish, though Professor Snape's (and other interviewees') answers are in English. View the video.
Professor David Hunter delivers keynote at a conference in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
On Thursday, July 8, 2010, Professor David Hunter delivered a keynote speech on the role of environmental law in achieving sustainable development at a conference held by Instituto de Derecho Ambiental de Honduras (IDAMHO), an ELAW partner, in conjunction with the Honduran Bar Association. IDAMHO held the conference to raise the profile in environmental law in Honduras and to inspire lawyers to work on behalf of affected communities in the country. David Hunter's speech focused on environmental law lessons learned from British Petroleum's tragic Gulf Oil Spill. More than 100 lawyers, students, and community leaders joined with high government officials at this conference to learn about the environmental challenges facing Honduras both nationally and at the community level.
Professor Bill Snape Discusses the Gulf Oil Spill on CNN with Joe Johns
On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Professor Bill Snape, Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, discussed the tragic Gulf Oil Spill and the role of the Fish and Wildlife Service in allowing the leases for BP's drilling to be approved on CNN with Joe Johns (WCL '02). In this interview, Bill Snape discussed the recent revelation that the Fish and Wildlife Service found no significant risk to wildlife from the proposed drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, this has proven untrue and has brought into question the environmental review undertaken by the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Minerals Management Service and other government agencies prior to leasing the seabed for drilling.
View the video.
Environmental Law Summer Session Participants and Professor David Hunter Participate in Consultation with the International Finance Corporation (IFC)
On June 15, 2010, Professor David Hunter and participants from the Environmental Law Summer Session participated in the open house consultation that the IFC held in Washington, DC as part of its ongoing review of its Environmental and Social Performance Standards. The public consultation allowed stakeholders to provide input on the proposed drafts of the Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability, Policy on Disclosure, and Performance Standards. David Hunter and the Environmental Law Summer Session students joined other members of the NGO community in voicing their opinions about the proposed policies in order to ensure that the final Environmental and Social Policy and Performance Standards serve to protect the environment and people subject to development projects.
Environmental Law Summer Session Brings Participants from 15 different countries to Washington College of Law
The Sixth Annual Environmental Law Summer Session brought legal scholars from around the world to participate in a variety of sessions that took place from June 1 to June 18, 2010. Participants came from many different countries including Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Panama, Nigeria, El Salvador, China, Mexico, India, Uruguay, Indonesia, Denmark, Colombia, Thailand, and Turkey. These practitioners attended lectures on a variety of topics related to environmental law, including climate change, biodiversity, the intersection of international business and the environment, the intersection of trade and the environment, and the role of international institutions in environmental protection. Additionally, these participants went on site visits to and met with representatives from the World Bank Inspection Panel, Organization of American States, United Nations Environment Programme, and Compliance/Advisor Ombudsman for the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Additionally, they met with lawyers at the Center for International Environmental Law.
Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Practitioner-In-Residence William Snape Submits Brief to Protect Dolphin-Safe Tuna Labeling from an International Trade Attack
Practitioner-in-Residence William Snape and the law school's Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law submitted a potentially historic legal brief to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, along with Humane Society International. Snape is a member of President Obama's Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee and, in that capacity, filed an amicus curiae submission in the matter of United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products, which concerns U.S. laws requiring truthful labeling about dolphin protection for American tuna consumers. “The effort to green the World Trade Organization continues with this piece of legal advocacy, which seeks to protect both marine wildlife and seafood consumers,” said Snape, who has been closely involved in the effort to keep tuna dolphin-safe for almost two decades. Snape hopes that this brief will help ensure that tuna is safe for both consumers and dolphins.
Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Director David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon Submit Comments on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's Environmental and Social Policy Revision
In March 2010, Professor David Hunter and Program Coordinator Erika Lennon submitted comments on the draft Environmental and Social Policy of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). OPIC began an Environmental and Social Policy Revision process in January 2010 and accepted comments on their draft policy. PICEL's comments focused on strengthening OPIC's Environmental and Social Policy so as to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of development projects, protect and promote human rights, and help combat the negative effects of climate change, particularly by phasing out the financing of fossil fuel projects.
Read the submitted comments.
WCL Students Compete in Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
This February, Addie Haughey ('10), Rachel Kirby ('10), and Winfield Wilson ('11) represented WCL at the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Coached by Professor Bill Snape, this team wrote and brief and did many practice moots before environmental lawyers to prepare for the competition, where they competed against law students from over 50 law schools across the U.S.
Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law Staff and Students Attend COP-15 in Copenhagen, Denmark
From December 7-18, 2009, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held its Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Professor David Hunter, Program Coordinator Erika Lennon, and six WCL students: Nicolas Boittin ('10), Skye Bougsty-Marshall ('10), Addie Haughey ('10), Rachel Kirby ('10), Blake Mensing ('10), and Winfield Wilson ('11) participated in the international negotiations. As part of the Copenhagen Climate Project, the team from WCL helped support the work of the Climate Law & Policy Project and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). While at COP-15, we worked closely with environmental NGOs to monitor the negotiations. This included monitoring various issues including ones related to climate finance, adaptation, mitigation, human rights, the Kyoto Protocol, and compliance through monitoring, reporting, and verification. Two years before COP-15, parties agreed to the Bali Action Plan, which laid out a plan for negotiations, including topics, and set up two negotiating tracks (one related to Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention and one related to the Kyoto Protocol). Furthermore, the Bali Action Plan called for a two-year negotiating plan, making Copenhagen and COP-15 the location where a new protocol or treaty was to be signed. Thus, COP-15 had the potential to be a major moment in the international climate regime, however it ended up being a major disappointment where civil society was not allowed inside the negotiations and a back-room deal, the Copenhagen Accord, was put forth despite the fact that not all countries were present in the room.
See more pictures of the WCL team at COP-15.