March 27


Melting tundra creates giant bubbles and craters


 Paris Climate Agreement – Official Text

Paris Climate Agreement – background information

We are going to read and analyze the Paris Climate agreement. This may take more than one class, but use the weekend to get the reading done. This the key global climate change agreement. Think about whether it is sufficient, what happens if the US pulls out, and where do we go from here?

March 22


Correction: Traffic and Accident Data Summary Statistics – Germany

Germany has seen an amazing drop in automobile per mile over the past 30 years. It is now about half the US rate, dentists and Porsches, notwithstanding.

Trump Lays Plans to Reverse Obama’s Climate Change Legacy


We will have a guest speaker

North Dakota v. Heydinger, 825 F.3d 912 (8th Cir. 2016)

Energy & Env’t Legal Inst. v. Epel, 793 F.3d 1169 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 595, 193 L. Ed. 2d 487 (2015)


Slides: Clean Energy Federalism


March 20


White House: Climate funding is ‘a waste of your money’

Cheng, L. et al., 2017. Improved estimates of ocean heat content from 1960 to 2015. Science Advances, 3(3), p.e1601545.


A little fun following the discussion last class: Martin Weitzman’s Dismal Theorem: Do “Fat Tails” Destroy Cost-Benefit Analysis?

(These are all pretty short.)

Carbon Pricing 101

Climate Change 101 – Cap and Trade


California Appellate Court Hears Arguments in Cap-and-Trade Program Challenge

What are REDD offsets and why are they controversial?

Climate Change: Caps vs. Taxes – The Conservative Case for Carbon Taxes

Cap and trade in Europe

Carl, Jeremy, and David Fedor. “Tracking global carbon revenues: A survey of carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade in the real world.” Energy Policy 96 (2016): 50-77.

This study looks at where carbon tax / cap and trade revenues are spent.


Carbon Dioxide Emissions Coefficients by Fuel

H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, 111th Congress (Waxman-Markey)

This was the climate bill that passed the house but did not pass the Senate before the Republicans captured the House.


March 15


Update on the Children’s Climate Action

Lavoie, Tegan N., et al. “Assessing the Methane Emissions from Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants and Oil Refineries.” Environmental Science & Technology (2017)


The Social Cost of Carbon

ZERO ZONE, INC., et al., Petitioners, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, et al., Respondents., No. 14-2147, 2016 WL 4177217, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 8, 2016)

Read from 2. Environmental Benefits, p.39 to  4. Anticompetitive Effects, p45.

Brief of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents, ZERO ZONE, INC., et al., Petitioners, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, et al., Respondents., No. 14-2147, 2016 WL 4177217, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 8, 2016)

Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’?

Discount rates: A boring thing you should know about


Slides: The Social Cost of Carbon in Federal Rulemaking Presented by Elizabeth Kopits National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. EPA


March 13


EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Says Carbon Dioxide Is Not a ‘Primary Contributor’ to Global Warming

Update on the EPA stopping methane emissions reporting

The Core Clean Power Plant Rule Documents

Clean Power Plan Final Rule – August 2015

Clean Power Plan Index

Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Clean Power Plan Final Rule

Legal Memorandum Accompanying Clean Power Plan for Certain Issues

Just quickly skim these to get a feel for their length and complexity


The EPA put together a set of short fact sheets explaining the Clean Power Plan. We are going to read these and discuss them in class.


March 8


New science standards face key vote Tuesday, but evolution may slow the debate

“In one case, Mills said, climate change and global warming are unfairly treated as foregone conclusions”


Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 FR 66496 Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Work through this. Find the legal authority and what needs to be show to trigger it, then look at how the technical document we discussed last class is used in the document, and finally parse the actual reg.


Annotated: Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 FR 66496 Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I added bookmarks and highlights to facilitate our discussion.

March 6


Appeals court hands oil companies victory in coastal lawsuit: Bd Cmsnr SE LA Flood Protc, et al v. Tennessee Gas (2017)

Coal Cars!!

Trump to Undo Vehicle Rules That Curb Global Warming


Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 839 F. Supp. 2d 849 (S.D. Miss. 2012) aff’d, 718 F.3d 460 (5th Cir. 2013) –  read the case and the recusal story.

Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act – Technical Support

We are going to begin our analysis of the underpinning for Clean Power Plant Rule. Read through page 10 and skim the rest of this document. We are going to go though It is technical support for rule, which is below. This is the endangerment finding that Pruitt will have to deal with in killing the Clean Power Plant Rule. We will start on the rule next class.


Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 FR 66496 Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Social Cost of Carbon

March 1


How a few words could change the world of environmental law

For $500 Billion, Scientists Think They Can “Refreeze” the Arctic


The crazy economics of renewable energy

This is an important analysis of the paradoxical effect cheaping renewables have on the energy market. We will discuss this in class. Let me know if you have trouble with access to the article.

Look at the concurrence in Kivalina.

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016)

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016) – Children have standing under public trust doctrine to bring climate action. – RECODED WITH HARD NUMBERS – HTML version with paragraph numbers for class discussion.

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016) – Word Format

This is our major case for the day. This is the children’s crusade on climate change. Read it carefully. We are going to look hard at standing and the public trust doctrine, and we will also work through the political question defense that the feds brought. This is a good review of public trust. I have prepared a study guide to help navigate the case: Juliana – Oregon Children – Dist Court Order – Study Guide


Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Mississippi 484 U.S. 469 (1988)



February 22


‘The wild west of wind’: Republicans push Texas as unlikely green energy leader

Why the Master Plan will not protect Louisiana and what we should do instead


American Eletric Power Company, Inc. v. Connecticut, 131 S.Ct. 2527, 180 L.Ed.2d 435 (2011) – Study Guide

This case will take on special significance if the EPA loses the ability to regulate GHGs.

Native Vill. of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., 696 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2012)

Read through [47] – the majority opinion. We will discuss how this case applies AEPC. We will read the concurrence next class.

Background on Alaskan Villages


Video: Alaskan Village Copes With Real-life Impacts of Global Climate Change 9-minute segment of NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS) about Shishmaref, Newtok, and Kivalina, AK. July 10, 2008.

Alaskan Village, Citing Climate Change, Seeks Disaster Relief In Order To Relocate

The Village That Will Be Swept Away


The US Climate Litigation Database

Take a look at this before class. I will use it to talk about private climate litigation before we talk about AEPC and Kivalina. I am linking to the original site because this is continually updated.

February 20


Pruitt questions agency’s authority to regulate carbon

The Republican Plan to Kill FEMA Might Have an Upside

No, The NOAA Never Faked Any Climate Change Data

Another look at subsidence – Fort Proctor

An alternative to the Master Plan – very interesting.

More detail on the alternatives to the Coastal Master Plan

Where is West Pointe a la Hache?

Impact of thaw and erosion of Arctic permafrost coasts.

Comic relief – Climate Name Game


Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007)

Study Guide – Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007)


Slides – Climate Class – Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007)

Subject to revision

February 15


Utilities vote to close Navajo coal plant at end of 2019

This is the largest coal plant in the West. Another victim of cheap gas.

The Coastal Restoration Dog and Pony Show Feb 2017

Thursday at Lod Cook

King Tides Show Us How Climate Change Will Threaten Coastal Cities – Great short video

What is a King Tide?

This is February? 80°F in Denver, 99° in Oklahoma, 66° in Iceland, 116° in Australia | Weather Underground


Read Chapter 5 in the Master Plan




February 13


A Conservative Case for Climate Action

Interesting column on cost-benefit analysis in rulemaking, with a focus on climate change.



Now that you have the jargon on rulemaking to appreciate the news, we are going to back the sea level rise in Louisiana to set the stage for our discussion of mitigation (reducing GHGs) and adaptation (figuring out how to live with climate change). The Louisiana exercise is important because we are in LA and because it is a good way to get a sense of the changes that are in store for coastal areas around the world.

Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast – 2017 Draft

Read the Executive Summary and Chapter 4. I want you to get enough background on the that you can compare to reality when I go through the geology and hydrology of the Mississippi Delta.

As you read this, look carefully at the maps and try to sort out the land building projects – the public face of the plan – from the levee projects. One of our questions will be whether the land building is just a pork barrel spending project and the only protection in the plan is through levees.


Mississippi Delta Cycle Slides – Part 1

Joshua D. Kent, Louisiana’s Height Modernization Efforts. National Height Modernization Partner’s Meeting, Mobile, Alabama (2014)


February 8


A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months


See the Distinguishing Legislative Rules from Interpretative Rules article I have emailed to you. Read to page 561.

Also read: A Handy “Rulemaking Versus Guidance” Checklist For Federal Agency Counsel

Notice and Comment Rulemaking – 553

Introduction to Rulemaking

Reg Map for Informal Rulemaking – pdf

What does a rule look like?

Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’; Proposed Rule

Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’; Final Rule

What does a guidance document look like?

Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons

February 6


Why Nobody Cares the President is Lying

Cultural cognition from the point of view of a conservative radio talk show host with second thoughts.

Changes to EPA’s Page on Federal Collaborations on Climate Change

Data quality act and the EPA WWW site

G.O.P. Hurries to Slash Oil and Gas Rules, Ending Industries’ 8-Year Wait

The methane flaring and leak rule is a big climate issue.

Climate Science Denial Shifts to a New Tactic Among Trump Appointees

California’s approach to sea level rise

Variability in climate over the past 2000 years

Initiative Aims to Help Cut Losses from Extreme Weather Events

Read this short piece and look at the risk graphic from the World Economic Forum. The full report: The Global Risks Report 2017 12th Edition. This is not assigned but it is a good resource on global risks, including political risks.

The Little Ice Age

We are looking at this because it is important to the climate change skeptic narrative. It is real, and it shows the importance of other factors than CO2 in climate.

The Little Ice Age – Literature Review – skim

The Little Ice Age – Overview and Video – read and watch video

2000 Years of Drought Variability in the Central United States – skim

The Effect of Sea Level Rise on Coasts

We are now starting our deep look at sea level rise and coasts, the most predictable effect of global warming.

Jennifer Howard et al., Clarifying the role of coastal and marine systems in climate mitigation, 15 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 42–50 (2017)

While this is a technical publication, it is mostly aimed at policy makers, not scientists. Read it to get a sense of the carbon sequestration role of wetlands and marine systems and the implications of their failure. Skip the technical parts you do not understand.


Natural Cycles and the Mississippi Delta

February 1


Proposed Budget Cuts

“At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”


Same reading as last class. We are going to discuss the risks from climate change as outlined in the IPCC report.


IPCC Graphics Topics 2&3 Edited

January 30


The end of climate regs: Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

Climate Deregulation Tracker

In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’


Carry over readings from last class. Read pp. 56-73.


Carbon Cycle and Ocean Acidification

Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report – Enhanced Graphics for Discussion (from last class)

January 25

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

This is the core source for climate information. We are going to look at its basics so we understand where the climate science we will discuss comes from.



What is the IPCC? – read

History of the IPCC – read

Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report – Fifth Assessment Report – Read pp. 35-56

Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report – Enhanced Graphics for Discussion


Why is there an atmosphere around our earth and not around other planets?

How did the earth’s atmosphere form?

What causes the seasons?

Milankovitch cycles

Solar Variability

What is the temperature on the Moon?

What is Ocean Acidification?

What are the main greenhouse gases?

 Water as a GHG

January 23

Climate Change Law in the News (check back for breaking news)

The New White House Page on Climate Change

An America First Energy Plan

We will discuss this in class.

Reading assignment

Kahan, Dan M., Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem (June 25, 2014). Advances in Pol. Psych., 36, 1-43 (2015). (SSRN-id2459057: Edited for presentation)

We are going to start our discussion of climate change by looking at the cultural cognition problem – what shapes people’s beliefs about scientific issues? Do the people you disagree with just not know the facts?

Read this article through page 37. This research explores the critical distinction between what a person knows and what a person believes, or put another way, what a person knows as opposed to who the person is. This has important implications for communicating information about controversial subjects such as climate change. It is also fundamental to trial practice: you have to persuade jurors to believe your story, not just know your story.

The article is well written, but can be heavy going. Pay attention to the graphs. Look carefully at the section that discusses why telling people that 97%  of scientists believe something is not a good way to get them to change their mind.

There is a section on climate change beliefs in south Florida starting on page 33. I disagree with the author here on using this as an example of a community that has accepted climate change despite their political divisions. My question: are you really accepting climate change/sea level rise if the actions that you take in your plan cannot work if sea level rises? This has direct application to Louisiana.

January 18

Class Information

All the assignments will be posted to this blog. Check before class for breaking news updates. I reserve the right to use class participation points.

Seating – this is a small class in a big room. Please sit toward the center on the first few rows.

Climate in the News

Earth on the edge: Record breaking 2016 was close to 1.5°C warming

President Obama’s Last Piece on Climate Change

The Extremes of the Climate Debate

We are all going to die – soon

From Season 3, Episode 3 of Newsroom:

Is this so crazy? See:

It is just a liberal plot:

It might be getting warmer, but who knows why?

A thoughtful skeptic:

Evaluating science in the media

The Canadian House Hippo

The Impact of Global Warming on Louisiana

Sea level rise is the major global warming threat to coastal Louisiana and New Orleans. We are going to have a representative from NOAA in class to talk about the effects of relative sea level rise on coastal Louisiana.

Tim Osborne: The Realities of the Coast and It’s Populations

Please review these articles before class:

Scientists say Louisiana’s latest projections for coastal flooding are grim, but realistic

With gloomier estimates, should coastal plan look further than 50 years?

As we will discuss later in the course, even these articles overstate the possibility of coastal restoration. For example, the best evidence is that river diversions will not build land at all:

Pictorial Account and Landscape Evolution of the Crevasses near Fort St. Philip, Louisiana