Health Benefits and Cost Savings of Renewable Energy in China and India
By Richard Flannery, Staff Contributor
Economic development is widely considered to be one of the best tools to improve quality of life in developing nations, but it often comes at a high price. Raising factories, developing new industries, and encouraging workers to move to more urban areas can improve life for people in developing countries, it can also degrade that quality of life. In 2010, air pollution in China contributed to nearly 1.2 million premature deaths. In 2013, an eight-year-old girl became the youngest person in China to be diagnosed with lung cancer, which doctors say was caused by air pollution. The pollution problem is not solely from airborne pollutants, but from water contamination as well. According to estimates, around 11 percent of all digestive system cancers are the result of contaminated drinking water. Although economic development has helped improve the economic situation of millions of Chinese citizens, the negative environmental impact on the world is far greater than the negative impact of any other single country.
The Sine Qua Non of Climate Diplomacy
By Kevin Spinella, Staff Contributor
Momentum is finally building. Amidst the unlikely backdrop of a historic agreement in November of 2014 between the United States and China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expectations loom large for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December of 2015. (more…)
Image: Tis Abey Falls on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. (Photo by wo de shijie, licensed under CC BY 2.0)
International Law Approaches to Ethiopian Water Rights
By Maryanne Mundy, Administrative Editor
A. Navigating the Issues
This article is an overview of the international law issues that govern recent concerns regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It provides a brief look at the history of the region and the controversy over the dam. Then, it examines sources of applicable law and sources of water law concepts. Finally, it provides some insight into possible avenues for conflict resolution. (more…)
Obama’s Green Legacy: New Possibilities in Light of Regulatory Challenges
By Sydney Menees, Guest Contributor
President Obama’s power plant rulemakings have dominated the perception of his environmental legacy, but recently these rulemakings have faced significant administrative challenges: On June 29th, the Supreme Court remanded the EPA’s mercury rule for power plants back to the EPA for consideration of cost, and, as a proposed rule, the Clean Power Plan has already faced a DC Circuit challenge questioning EPA’s authority to create such a rule. While the President’s high profile environmental agenda may ultimately prevail, there are a number of discreet actions the Obama administration can facilitate to enhance his environmental record in the areas of land management, truck emissions, and renewable energy.
The Georgetown Environmental Law Review
July 17, 2015
Over the last several years, members of the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (GIELR) have discussed omitting the word “International” from the journal’s name to reflect the greater depth and breadth of both our journal and the Georgetown environmental law curriculum. This spring, our journal members pursued this change, and we are pleased to announce that the GIELR is now officially the Georgetown Environmental Law Review (GELR).
Aesthetic Zoning: Who Said Rainbows Were Beautiful?
By Nicholas Nunn, Staff Contributor
The home is the center of our environment. We spend the majority of our day, a solid chunk of our income, and countless man-hours living in and maintaining our homes. Interestingly, however, it has become an accepted fact in our community that, despite no one else helping to trim the hedges, one’s home is not solely under the owner’s control. Municipal planning commissions and homeowners’ associations have expansive aesthetic controls to prevent the eyes of the unwary from being scarred by unsightly homes a shade too dark or a blade of grass too brown. The Supreme Court’s City of Ladue v. Gilleo decision provided some First Amendment protection for what we may display on our home property, but the protections the case provides are limited.
In Support of Fossil Fuel Divestiture
By Christine Hottinger, Staff Contributor
On June 4, 2015, the Georgetown University Board of Directors announced its decisions to “not make or continue any direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy production.”
Scientists have been warning society and governments about the threats of global climate change for as long as I have been alive: the International Panel on Climate Change was formed the year I was born. But to this point, society and governments have been unable or unwilling to take meaningful action to curb the human contributions to climate change—that is, greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels to power electricity, industry, transportation, and agriculture.
KNOW THY PRODUCT: THE GLOBAL EXPANSION OF PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP LAWS’ IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
By Travis Miller, Esq.*
The term “globalization” has only become commonplace over the last few decades, as a consequence of the rapid expansion of outsourcing and the economic advantage of producing products in less developed nations. These major changes were driven to a large extent by an increase in the cost of production resulting from increases in regulation and wages in developed economies. The consequence of this phenomenon has been the displacement of the traditional Western manufacturing base to countries with a lower cost of labor and per unit production. This trend has also resulted in traditional environmental regulation, focused on the manufacturing process, to be found wanting by many major economies — prompting the establishment of new regulatory regimes focused on product stewardship. These regulations shift the burden of compliance onto the supply chain and the importer of finished goods. Consequently, companies seeking to import products into regulated markets must maintain complex databases evidencing compliance with the environmental laws that impact the products that will enter such markets.
California’s Egg Law Should Survive a Dormant Commerce Clause Attack
By Will Derwin, Staff Contributor
California’s egg law — requiring both in-state and out-of-state egg producers who sell eggs in California to raise their hens such that they have enough space to move around — should survive a potential dormant Commerce Clause attack by out-of-state egg producers. (more…)
EPA’s Attempt to Regulate Methane Emissions
By David Woodsmall, Staff Contributor
On January 14, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a landmark decision to directly regulate methane emissions from new and modified oil and natural gas wells as part of a larger, cross-agency effort to reduce methane emissions.  Regulating methane emission from oil and gas wells has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially if EPA passes a robust rule and promulgates a regulation for existing wells under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act. Methane emissions, which constitute 9% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, impact the climate twenty times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The 40-45% decrease in methane emissions from current levels, which the administration hopes to achieve by 2025, could have a significant climate impact. (more…)