Upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference Highlights the Difficulties the United States Faces in Confronting International Environmental Issues
By Chelsea Fuentes, Staff Contributor
The upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference scheduled for November 30 through December 11, 2015 in Paris, France, highlights the difficulties that America faces in entering into formal international agreements, including those involving the environment. Climate change is largely a global issue, because of the nature of carbon emissions to travel freely across borders. The Obama administration recently released the Clean Power Plan to deal with a reduction in domestic carbon emissions from power plants, using EPA rulemaking rather than legislation to ensure the plan would not face direct opposition in Congress. While the administration is pushing for an international agreement that contains binding provisions, the administration must again do so in a way that prevents Congress from putting a stop to the agreement.
Is CITES Endangered?
By Liz Rasheed*
Liz Rasheed is the Submissions Editor for the New York University Environmental Law Journal. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Click here to see the original post and leave a comment.
I. Introduction: What is Illicit Wildlife Trafficking?
Illicit wildlife trafficking refers to “any environment-related crime that involves the illegal trade, smuggling, poaching, capture or collection of endangered species, protected wildlife (including animals and plants that are subject to harvest quotas and regulated by permits), derivatives or products thereof.” Many species are targeted by specific international markets, while some are targeted by a multiplicity of markets. For example, tigers are sold live as exotic pets, yet skinned for rugs, while their bones are sold for “medicinal” uses in Asia. Many reptiles and amphibians are commonly targeted for the exotic pet trade, as are primates and tropical birds. Still others are being driven to extinction due to their perception as “fine cuisine” in certain markets. Most notably, illicit animal-derived goods, such as ivory carvings, animal-skin rugs, and taxidermy mountings are seen as status symbols in many parts of the world, and the existence of a market for “canned hunting” of endangered animals on private game reserves makes it increasingly easy for illicit trafficking syndicates to launder illegally poached hides under the façade of legal hunts.
Pennsylvania and the Ongoing Battle for Environmental Personhood
By: Elizabeth Hood, Staff Contributor
Natural gas, the cheap alternative to oil and coal, has helped to revive many a dwindling local and state economy, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is no exception. However with a widely pro-fracking, pro-corporate Republican-led legislature, Pennsylvania has had little success in enacting sufficient regulatory provisions to protect against the harmful effects and consequences of natural gas exploration and drilling. (more…)
WHAT IS REASONABLE?: THE CONSIDERATION OF ECONOMIC EFFECTS IN REASONABLE AND PRUDENT ALTERNATIVES UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
By Gillian Schroff*
Gillian Schroff is the Form & Style Editor for Environmental Law. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Click here to see the original post and leave a comment.
Although only a few inches in size, the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) has become a topic of intense debate in water-scarce California. When the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) determined that these small fish were a threatened species in 2005, the Service invoked the significant protections of § 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and water agencies that managed the delta smelt’s habit were suddenly precluded from diverting water in ways that could negatively affect the fish.
Trying to Find a Balance: Agricultural Land Conservation vs. Development in the Green Mountain State
By Kristen Mae Rodgers, Note Editor, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law
Kristen Mae Rodgers is a Note Editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Click here to see the original post and leave a comment.
Vermont is leading the nation in the local, sustainable food movement and the new food economy. In fact, Vermont is the frontrunner in farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and farmers’ markets per capita across the entire United States. According to the USDA, Vermont is one of few states to see a boom in new farms. In 2014, Vermont bucked national trends showing growth in large-scale agricultural operations, and instead favored growth in small-scale agricultural operations. These small-scale farms make up the real strength in the local food movement for the state and highlight Vermont’s community-based approach to agriculture.
Sixth Circuit Stays the Clean Water Rule
By Hali Kerr, Staff Contributor
What is a stream? What streams, lakes, rivers, and wetlands warrant protection by the Federal Government? And what is a “navigable” waterway?
These were some of the questions- paraphrased, of course- that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addressed in its recent Clean Water Rule.
LEED Certification and Sustainable Commercial Real Estate Development
By Derek Namerow, Staff Contributor
Environmentally sustainable real estate development has traditionally been perceived to be at odds with the financial motivations of architects, owners, and developers due to the generally higher up-front cost of designing and constructing “green” commercial real estate. The expense of sustainable materials and construction, along with the extended planning process required to reduce a building’s carbon footprint, has the potential to deter developers from building green. The U.S. Green Building Council (“USGBC”) and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) program have successfully challenged the perception of increased cost. LEED has had a measurable environmental impact, while unexpectedly being a profit maximization tool for developers. (more…)
A Perfect Storm for Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard?
By Sarah Stellberg, Editor-in-Chief, Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law
Sarah Stellberg is a third-year student at the University of Michigan Law School, where she is Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Click here to see the original post and leave a comment.
In his June 7, 2013 opinion in Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit inserted two lines of dicta on the constitutionality of Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, or Public Act 295 (PA 295). By discriminating in favor of in-state renewable energy, he opined that Michigan’s law “trips over an insurmountable constitutional objection. Michigan cannot, without violating the Commerce Clause of Article 1 of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy.” The opinion will have little precedential value—it was not necessary for the holding, not fully briefed by the parties, and not binding on the Sixth Circuit. Nonetheless, the statement sent a ripple through the energy community, casting doubt upon Michigan’s law and the many similar Renewable Portfolio Standards with preferences for homegrown renewables. Twelve of these laws have already faced lawsuits alleging out-of-state discrimination, and Judge Posner’s statement may be a harbinger of things to come in Michigan.
There and Back Again: Will the Supreme Court Return to Pre-Lujan Standing Requirements?
By Anna Deffebach, Staff Contributor
The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a case with broad implications for the future of the Court’s standing jurisprudence. This case, Spokeo Inc. v. Robins, presents the Court with the question “Whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.” The Court’s forthcoming decision on the limits of the injury-in-fact requirement in the context of citizen suits could either open the courthouse doors for plaintiffs with a strong interest in environmental protection or raise the hurdles that potential plaintiffs must overcome to gain access to the courts.
Mars: The New Frontier in Water Regulation
By Princess Fuller, Staff Contributor
Water scarcity on Earth is not a new phenomenon. The facts blatantly demonstrate this, with 884 million people not having access to potable water and 2.6 billion individuals lacking access to proper plumbing. Combined with the exponential growth of the human population over the last century (from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion, with an expected 9 billion persons by 2050), the math starts to look rather bleak when it comes to water resources for generations. Some statisticians have gone so far as to estimate that in 2050, “one-fourth of the world population will live in countries with chronic water shortage, mostly in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of India and China.”