Exam Information

The exam is an in-class exam at the scheduled time, Thursday, 28 April at 8:30, room 303. It is closed book and you will have 4 hours to complete the exam. The example will have multiple choice questions and a short essay section. The multiple-choice questions are the same format as the study questions.

Exam Q & A

I will post questions from students and my answers on this page to assure that any important information is available to all students. The most recent questions will be posted at the top.

Past Climate Change Law Exams

Old – Course information page

 

April 21

News

The Metrics of High Risk Weather Days, Coastal Gulf and Coastal Louisiana

Florida wind – Citizens Insurance – Is this where Louisiana is headed?

800,000 + policies in the state captive company because insurance regulations make it actuarily unsound to write in many areas of the state. Not all of this is due to wind risk. Louisiana and Florida are is plagued with incompetent and dishonest contractors, especially roofers.

Video – What is Earth Day?

Friday the 22nd is the 52nd Earth Day. Is Earth Day still relevant? Watch the first 2 videos. I will talk about the 1st Earth Day and how the politics have changed – and not changed – since then. Note that existential fear in 1970 was nuclear war. It is ironic that we are thinking about that again in 2022.

Assignment

Contesting NFIP claims. The last piece of the legal puzzle for the NFIP is recognizing that the NFIP flood policy (Standard Dwelling Form) is not a contract of insurance subject to review under state insurance laws. Rather it is a statutorily defined federal benefit. This is the second factor that contributes to complaints that the insurance companies/government is cheating people on flood insurance payouts. (The first is that the policy payouts are more limited than are those under homeowner’s policies.) Lawyers and insurance agents who help people after floods sometimes lose track of this and their clients suffer.

Gibson v. American Bankers Insurance Co., 289 F.3d 943 (6th Cir. 2002) – annotated

DeCosta v. Allstate Ins. Co., 730 F.3d 76, 77 (1st Cir. 2013)

Video Review – Suing over NFIP Claim Denials

April 19

All files are updated.

News

You heard it here first.

Extreme Atlantic hurricane seasons made twice as likely by ocean warming

Attribution of 2020 hurricane season extreme rainfall to human-induced climate change

Good analysis of the energy use of EVs versus IC vehicles

Why Is College in America So Expensive?

Not a climate issue, but you might find this interesting.

Assignment

We are going to start the class by discussing the future impact of extreme weather and climate change on Louisiana, and how this should affect both our client counseling and our personal decisions as lawyers and individuals.

The official FEMA FAQ on the NFIP: FEMA: Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program F-084 (Dec 2020) (annotated)

Read through p. 42. This explains the program and the policy. Think about how this differs from a homeowner’s policy. This is not a traditional contract.

Link to the actual policies: Standard Flood Insurance Policy Forms – Current

I have put together a video review of this material so you can view it before class. It is based on the annotated FEMA Faq linked above.

National Flood Insurance Policy – Part 1 (Video on Panopto) (is Panopto easier to use?

National Flood Insurance Policy – Part 2

National Flood Insurance Policy – Part 3

LSU Flood Maps Site

I have also posted a quiz on Moodle that reviews the material to the end of the course, including the NFIP material and the cases posted for next class:

Study Questions – Flood Law

You have until 24 April at 11 PM to complete the quiz.

Resources

Slides – Using Natural Cycles to Make Better Decisions about Adaptation to Climate Change: The Future of the Louisiana Coast (from 3/31)

April 12

News

Baltimore v. BP, 4th Cir. Op.

4th Cir. remands the Baltimore climate case (nuisance) to the state court, finding no federal preemption and opining that the 2nd Cir case finding preemption for nuisance climate cases is wrong. There is now a clear circuit split with the 2nd Circuit. (We are not reading this case for class.)

Solar power from space?

Elon Musk’s heavy-lift rockets for his Mars colonization program could up the satellites into orbit.

Hydrogen ‘twice as powerful a greenhouse gas as previously thought’: UK government study

Assignment

Slides – Introduction to the NFIP

We will continue our discussion from last class about the implications of sea-level rise. This is the PDF we marked up. Review it, in particular the last 2 slides.

Hurricane Cases – discussion PDF

Relocating a community after a disaster – the New Zealand Example

Please scroll through this story and look at how the community was returned to nature after it was found to be at high risk of earthquake damage. New Zealand has a comprehensive, mandatory earthquake insurance program that is subsidized by the government with capped premiums. California has a state-sponsored earthquake insurance program with high premiums and very limited coverage to control catastrophic losses if there is a major earthquake. Earthquake insurance is a good parallel to flood insurance – if you really need it, it is very expensive on the private market, so few people buy it.

I will then do a brief intro to the National Flood Insurance Program, which sets up these cases on problems that arise from having the insurance for homes and smaller commercial facilities split between two insurance schemes in different legal domains. Homeowner’s insurance is a private contract regulated by the state. The NFIP is a government benefits program governed by statute and regulations. State regulators and courts cannot modify the terms of the NFIP policies, and, as we will discuss next class, the policies do not provide the coverage that most policyholders expect. Unfortunately, many lawyers also do not understand the difference, leading to unsuccessful litigation and poorly represented clients.

LA Homeowner’s Insurance Cases

With limited exceptions, private residential insurance providers (State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, etc.) do not include flood insurance as part of their homeowner’s insurance. Residential flood insurance comes from the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While some of it is written by private insurers through the Write Your Own (WYO) program, they are only acting as agents for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). We will look at that program next week.

When there is a major flood event, we have two situations. The first is homeowners who do not have flood insurance but suffer flood damage, either with or without wind and rain damage that is covered by their homeowner’s policies. When their home floods, they bring legal claims arguing that they thought that their homeowner’s policy covered flooding. This case deals with the construction of insurance policies. Read through paragraph 72. The remainder of the case is a fight over bad faith penalties. I have annotated the case so that it will be a fast read.

Sher v Lafayette Insurance Co – annotated

The second situation is homeowners who have purchased flood insurance policies and suffer flood damage, either with or without wind and rain damage that is covered by their homeowner’s policies. The Nelson case looks at the application of the Louisiana Valued Policy Law when a property is covered by a flood policy as well as a homeowners policy. The LVP requires insurers to pay the face value of the policy if the house is a total loss. The LVP prevents insurers from basing premiums on a higher value for a house than they are willing to pay if the house is a total loss. For example, you insure at $800,000 for your New Orleans home, because that is its current market value. That market value includes an inflated cost for the land, which is not damaged by flood or fire. Thus, when your house burns to the ground, the insurer only offers you $600,000 because that is all it will take to rebuild your house. You have paid the insurer for an extra $200,000 in coverage which you cannot collect. If you can prove a total loss, the insurer must pay the full $800,000. The problem arises when the damages are covered by two different policies. Assume the house is a total loss after Hurricane Ida, but half the damage is from flooding – covered by the NFIP policy – and the other half is wind and rain damage, covered by the homeowner’s policy. Is the LVP triggered because the house is a total loss, or is not triggered because the total loss has to be caused by the risks covered by the homeowner’s policy? (The LVP cannot be applied to the NFIP policy because that is legally a government benefit that is not reached by state law.) Focus on understanding Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law and how it affects situations where there is both flood and wind/fire damage.

Nelson v. Americas Ins. Co., No. CV 17-850-JWD-RLB, 2019 WL 5684503 (M.D. La. Nov. 1, 2019)

Video overview of these cases so we do not have to go over the basics in class – Louisiana Insurance Law and Flooding

 

April 7

News

What the war in Ukraine means for energy, climate and food

21. FEDERAL BUDGET EXPOSURE TO CLIMATE RISK – FY 2023

The increasing claims on federal disaster relief money mean that states can expect ever diminishing federal disaster aid in the future.

Assignment

Hurricane Cases – Class Slides (annotated)

We are going to do a short, intense day on the hurricane litigation cases, including Katrina. I am providing you the cases for reference, but I am not expecting you to read them before class. You need to watch one recorded lecture on the cases and scan some background materials in a video and some newspaper articles. We will then discuss the cases and their policy implications for areas at high risk of flooding which believe that the federal government owes them protection.

We are going to look at what happened factually and at the core legal lesson, which is that the Federal government does not have a duty to protect communities from flooding. That is contrary to a prime myth in state and local government that the Federal government owes them protection from flooding.

In 1965, Hurricane Betsy flooded New Orleans as thoroughly as did Hurricane Katrina, and previous hurricanes back to the founding of New Orleans also flooded the city. Scan some of this video to see what Betsy looked like:

Remembering Betsy: WVUE-TV 09/1990

In the Graci case, filed after Hurricane Betsy, plaintiffs sued the Corps under the FTCA, alleging that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet caused New Orleans to flood. Gracie is significant because the plaintiffs in the Katrina cases filed almost exactly the same claims in the same court. (I am giving you these cases for reference, you do not need to read them before class.

Graci v. United States, 456 F.2d 20 (5th Cir. 1971)

On remand – Graci v. U.S., 435 F.Supp. 189 (E.D.La. 1977)

The plaintiffs lost because the Court found no negligence. It also found that the flooding after the construction of the MRGO was no worse than the previous flooding. The key significance of the Graci case was that it did not depend on the DFE and was analyzed as if it were an ordinary private tort case. The Katrina plaintiffs’ lawyers, following Graci, also argued as if suing a private defendant, ignoring the DFE defense. This proved catastrophic.

Another Katrina myth is that the flooding was a surprise. These materials from the old New Orleans daily paper make it clear that the flooding was no surprise. Start with this graphic, showing what Hurricane Georges could have done to New Orleans a decade earlier. It has a great representation of the elevation of the city running from the highest point at the river to the lowest near the lake:

Going Under

The next materials are an amazing series of articles analyzing the risk of a storm such as Hurricane Katrina, written 3 years before Katrina hit New Orleans:

Washing Away: Worst-case scenarios if a hurricane hits Louisiana (2002)

Scan them to get a sense of the risk that was already known but that the city and the state failed to act on in preparing for the storm and evacuating the city. Sadly, the newspaper WWW site is not working so we are looking at them on the Wayback Machine. This is some of the best reporting done at the late Times-Picayune. The current Advocate takes a much less critical look at the coast.

Finally, we get the major Katrina case, which I am providing so you can reference it as they are discussed in this recorded lecture which should watch before class:

Video – Suing the Government after Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina

Narrated PowerPoint Slides – Suing the Government after Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina

In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 647 F.Supp.2d 644 (E.D.La. Nov 18, 2009) Final opinion and appendix.

Levee Breach Liability District Court – Study Guide – PDF

This is long and complicated. There is no specific law to learn from it. (You can scan the appendix to see the exhibits.) We are looking at it for the story that the plaintiffs told the court and why the court bought that story. The opinion is based on the plaintiff’s lawyer’s record and experts, the government only put on a perfunctory technical and scientific defense because it believed, correctly, that it was entitled to immunity. The opinion is full of junk science. Unfortunately, many lawyers and most of the public believe that since the judge ruled for the plaintiffs, that story is true. The government just won on a technicality goes the myth.

The Takings Cases

I am going to review these cases in class. One of the key issues in the fight over whether the federal government owes local communities flood protection is whether a failure to provide adequate flood protection can be a taking. This theory arose as it became clear that the flood control decisions could not be attacked as torts, either because the FTCA DFE cut them off, or because FCA 702 immunity cut them off. As a constitutional right, Congress cannot cut off takings liability, so cases based on takings would not be subject to the DFE or 702. Again, the key case comes out of Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina:

St. Bernard Par. Gov’t v. United States, 887 F.3d 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2018)

I have highlighted the key points in the opinion.

The most recent major flooding event was Hurricane Harvey. This case arose from claims by downstream property owners who claimed that the Corps’ failure to protect them from flooding was a taking:

In re Downstream Addicks, No. 17-9002, 2020 WL 808686 (Fed. Cl. Feb. 18, 2020)

The Upstream Cases did find liability but on a very conventional analysis. The Corps had built earthen dams to detain floodwaters. It predicted the design capacity of the dam based on the safe level of water it could hold and bought flood easements on that land. This was smaller than the theoretical capacity of the dams because you do not want to completely fill an earthen dam. During Harvey, the water rose so fast and high that the Corps did not get the floodways open fast enough to keep the dam from filling beyond design capacity. The court found that it should have bought out all of the land that could potentially flood and that the homeowners in the flooded area had suffered a taking. I think this is wrong, it should have been a tort claim under the FTCA, but it is not a crazy ruling. It is still in process in the Court of Claims and may yet be appealed to the Fed. Cir.

Resources

Basic hurricane science

If you want a deep dive into the complex litigation over Hurricane Katrina damage – this is not required for class –  read my article on the Katrina litigation: The Hurricane Katrina Litigation Against the Corps of Engineers: Is Denial of Geology and Climate Change the Way to Save New Orleans?

National Hurricane Center Final Report on Hurricane Ida (4 April 2022)

 

 

April 5

News

Breaking news – Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change

The IPCC just released its report on mitigating climate change to stay within 1.5 degrees C. From the report:

The next few years are critical

In the scenarios we assessed, limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. Even if we do this, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return to below it by the end of the century.

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

Final warning: what does the IPCC’s third report installment say?

The 2018–2020 Multi-Year Drought Sets a New Benchmark in Europe

NOLA.com: Louisiana’s homeowners insurance market unraveling under the weight of 600,000 claims.

As Louisiana braces for new flood insurance rates, few understand new system

Fixing Louisiana’s receding coastline is a job that will never be finished, state official says

Since 2007, Louisiana has secured $23 billion for the projects that created 52,000 acres of new land, built 358 miles of new levees, and improved 60 miles of barrier islands, Chip Kline, the head of the CAPRA board told the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday.

Assignment

We will continue our discussion of the delta and sea-level rise. No additional readings.

March 31

News

MIT Technology Review: Why using the oceans to suck up CO2 might not be as easy as hoped.

Assignment

The key fact about the Louisiana coast is that it is very flat and very low. Review this map to get a sense of the elevation of coastal Louisiana. Focus on the red areas, which are less than 5 foot above sea level: State of Louisiana—Highlighting Low-Lying Areas Derived from USGS Digital Elevation Data By John J. Kosovich 2008

Reading: John McPhee, Atchafalaya, New Yorker (1987)

McPhee is one the top living nonfiction writers. This is his New Yorker article on flood control on the lower Mississippi and New Orleans, with a focus on the Old River Control Structure. It is fascinating and very well written.

Find the Old River Control Structure on Google Maps and look at it and the river from a satellite view, then follow down the Atchafalaya floodway to Morgan City to see where the water would go if the structure fails. Read this as well: If the Old River Control Structure Fails: A Catastrophe With Global Impact

More information on the Old River Control Structure.

Slides – Using Natural Cycles to Make Better Decisions about Adaptation to Climate Change: The Future of the Louisiana Coast

 

March 22 – Makeup Materials

Assignment (to be completed by April 5)

(Note – if you took the Administrative Law class last summer, you have already seen these materials, but you should still review them.)

Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent litigation attempting to hold the United States responsible for the damages due to the levee breaches have become part of the mythology attempting to shift the blame for catastrophic flooding from bad local land-use decisions to the federal government’s failure to protect communities which make those decisions. The legal and political responsibility for flood mitigation and adaptation is the core climate story for the Mississippi Delta. The starting point for understanding this law is the Constitutional and statutory standards for suing the United States for damage. Since we are in Louisiana, we will also look briefly at the standards for suing the state and local political subdivisions under the Louisiana law and constitution.

Introduction to Suing the Government for Tort Damages

Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Statute (Word) Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Statute (PDF)

Scan the statute.

Tort Claims Against the Federal Government – Quick Introduction (Word)

This is an explanation of the FTCA that I have prepared for use in class

Form 95 – CLAIM FOR DAMAGE, INJURY, OR DEATH

This is the form for filing an FTCA claim. Review it so you understand the required information.

Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) – edited

Read this edited version of Bivens. DOJ is arguing that the plaintiff should be restricted to state law claims against the officers, but that those claims would be removed to federal court. They would then be dismissed because the version of the FTCA then in effect did not have the provision that allows certain intentional torts against law enforcement officers. That was added after this to reduce the volume of Bivens litigation.

Video – Suing the Federal Government: Sovereign Immunity, Bivens, and FTCA History

PowerPoint – Suing the Federal Government: Sovereign Immunity, Bivens, and FTCA History

Video – Filing an FTCA Claim

Narrated PowerPoint – Filing an FTCA Claim

The Discretionary Function Exception (DFE)

The DFE makes proving a case under the FTCA fundamentally different from a private tort case. The DFE is intended to protect government decision-making from collateral attack through tort litigation. It is the second malpractice trap for lawyers in the FTCA. As you will see, it goes against conventional torts jurisprudence, sheltering the government from liability for actions that would result in judgments and even punitive damages against private parties.

Video – Texas Department of Public Safety film of the aftermath of the Texas City Disaster

WWW sites – The Texas City Disaster. April 16, 1947 – Galveston News

Background for the Dalehite case in the reader.

Federal Tort Claims Act Reader

These are edited versions of the key cases setting out the construction of discretionary function exception in the FTCA.

Video – Federal Tort Claims Act – DFE

Narrated Powerpoints – Federal Tort Claims Act – DFE

Video – The Louisiana Tort Claims Act: Basics

Narrated Powerpoints – The Louisiana Tort Claims Act: Basics

March 29

An additional set of study questions has been posted.

News

Yale Climate Connections: How this month produced a mind-boggling warm-up in eastern Antarctica (and the Arctic).

Offshore wind bill clears Louisiana House panel despite worries it may discourage wind farms

Dear Elites Chasing 100 Percent ‘Clean Energy’: Your Ignorance Is Showing

Is this the political reality of the fight for clean energy?

Assignment

We are going to talk about two of the most controversial global issues in climate change law.

Geoengineering

Preparing the United States for security and governance in a geoengineering future

The Paris Agreement is about the mitigation of global warming through reductions in GHG production. While the costs and benefits of GHG reduction are complicated and controversial, the risks are economic and political. We briefly covered geoengineering in the science review. It generally involves either blocking sunlight – solar radiation management – or removing CO2 by altering ocean chemistry through the addition of iron to stimulate the growth of algae and plankton, which tie up carbon as they die and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Blocking sunlight can change weather patterns and ocean fertilization can create huge algae blooms. We are going to spend a little time talking about the political governance issues this raises.

Population

One of the roots of the climate change skepticism is the backlash from projections made in the late 1960s and early 1970s that overpopulation would lead to widespread famine and a shortage of natural resources by the 1990s. The primary document was The Population Bomb. Read the Forward of the Population Bomb for class. The second was The Limits of Growth. This is a more technical report from a group of MIT scientists. It did not make the same specific predictions as The Population Bomb, but it did find that overconsumption, combined with increasing population, was an acute threat that would eventually lead to critical resource shortages. Read the Introduction to The Limits of Growth. We are going to talk about why these projections did not come to pass, but at the cost of accelerating climate change. We will then talk about the politics of population and why there is a push from some sectors of both the left and the right to increase the population of the US. Read this interview: The case for more — many more — Americans. (Another story arguing that the US needs more people.) Think about the economic impact of a lower and older population in the US, which depends on a large base of younger workers to pay for Medicare and Social Security. Also think about the politics of population control in the United States.

Depending on class time, I will introduce the next section of the course on flooding.

Coastal homebuyers ignore flood risk

 

 

March 24

News

Free Environmental Justice Conference Friday Morning by Zoom

LSU ELS Event; Combating Climate Change: LA’s Climate Action Plan (April 4)

The Guardian: Legal eagles: how climate litigation is shaping ambitious cases for nature.

This story looks at the litigation in other countries to create a right to a safe environment.

The man who could help big oil derail America’s climate fight

Breaking news – Proposed SEC Rule: The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors

Brief review of the proposed rule – American Companies Can’t Sugarcoat Their Carbon Pollution Anymore (key – it bans greenwashing, at least in reports to the SEC and investors.)

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) is proposing for public comment amendments to its rules under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) that would require registrants to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports. The proposed rules would require information about a registrant’s climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on its business, results of operations, or financial condition. The required information about climate-related risks would also include disclosure of a registrant’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have become a commonly used metric to assess a registrant’s exposure to such risks. In addition, under the proposed rules, certain climate-related financial metrics would be required in a registrant’s audited financial statements.”

[For large companies, the rule requires reporting of significant downstream use by customers. This report must be signed off by the firm’s outside auditors. This will make greenwashing more difficult.]

Oil and the Ukraine War

Oil Embargo, 1973–1974

Oil Shock of 1978–79

The myth of US ‘energy independence’

These are three short items as background. The first 2 are the history that leads to the US push for “energy independence.”

The third is a recent analysis of why a supposedly energy-independent nation is still vulnerable to oil price shocks.

Podcast – Playing With Fire: Russia, Ukraine and the Geopolitics of Energy

An excellent discussion of the broad energy issues raised by the invasion of Ukraine, including how the opposition of German Greens to offshore wind, nukes, and domestic natural gas production left Germany massively dependent on Russian energy.

Assignment

We are now going to look at international climate treaties and agreements. We are going to flip the classroom a bit for this section, meaning that rather than lecturing on background material, I am going to give you recorded lectures to get you up to speed for the class discussion. The first recording is a basic introduction to the law of treaties and executive agreements. If you are in national security law, you will have seen some of this material before. While listening, remember that we will be looking at two documents. The first is the Montreal Protocol and amendments, which is a treaty and the US treats it as a treaty, which requires approval by the Senate. The second is the Paris Climate Agreement, which the rest of the world treats as a treaty (they do not have to deal with the Senate) and the US treats as an executive agreement. As the video explains, this difference in legal status may not make much practical difference. (Videos are the same, pick the format you prefer.)

Review of Treaties and Executive Agreements – PanoptoReview of Treaties and Executive Agreements – YouTube | Review of Treaties and Executive Agreements – Slides (not narrated)

Montreal Protocol

We will next look at the Montreal Protocol, which is the most successful environmental law treaty and the only climate change treaty that the US has ratified. (The 2016 Kigali Amendment made it explicitly a climate change treaty.) The Montreal Protocol was negotiated to protect the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere from being destroyed by the halogenated hydrocarbon compounds used as refrigerants. We are going to start with a short video I recorded on the basic science of ozone. As I mention in the video, there will not be any physical chemistry on the exam.

Ozone Basics – Panopto | Ozone Basics – YouTube | Slides – CFCs and the Ozone Hole

When you have completed the ozone basic video, watch this 5-minute overview of the lead-up to and development of the Montreal Protocol.

The Hole – A film on the Montreal Protocol, narrated by Sir David Attenborough

Then read through these two summaries of the protocol itself and watch the view video.

UN – About the Montreal Protocol

Summary – Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

Montreal Protocol Review – Video | Montreal Protocol Review – Narrated PowerPoint

The treaty was possible because it balances the needs of the developing world against those of the developed economies. Developing countries get much longer periods to phase out chemicals.  The Multilateral Fund was established and funded by the developed world to provide money to the developing world to facilitate the transition to safer chemicals. As you remember from our discussion of Mass. v. EPA, the US Senate sent a strong message to President Clinton that they would not accept the Koyoto Treaty on Climate Change because it had different standards for the developing world. Yet the US Senate had approved the Montreal Protocol with same structure roughly 10 years earlier. Why the different results? It was about the impact on US business. The Senate thought that the Kyoto Protocol would put US businesses at a disadvantage because they would have to meet different standards for carbon emissions than those in developing countries.  Under the Montreal Protocol, US businesses would have to switch to safer refrigerants much more quickly than in developing countries. The difference is that US companies made or controlled the IP for many of the replacement chemicals. The Montreal Protocol would force the rest of the world to buy chemicals from predominately US companies.

While the US did ratify the Montreal Protocol, treaties alone seldom create enforceable rights in the US courts or the basis for federal regulations. The US Congress has enabled the Montreal Protocol with legislation: Stratospheric Ozone Protection Under Title VI of the Clean Air Act.

The Montreal Protocol has been amended through time based on the scientific understanding of the effects of new refrigerants. The first round of approved replacement chemicals did not destroy the ozone but were powerful GHGs. In 2016, the Kigali Amendment was adopted that requires these to be replaced with refrigerants that are not GHGs. While the US has adopted all the previous amendments, the Trump administration did not accept the Kigali Amendment and threatened to leave the Montreal Protocol. The Biden administration is in the process of submitting the Kigali Amendment to the Senate.

There are four problems with the Montreal Protocol.

The disposal of refrigerants already in the refrigerators and air conditioners: Long Phased-Out Refrigeration and Insulation Chemicals Still Widely in Use and Warming the Climate

The black market in banned refrigerants to keep old equipment running: Europe’s black gas market fueling climate change

The illegal manufacture of banned refrigerants and associated refrigerators and air conditioners because they are cheaper to make. This is partially driven by US policies that block the sale of new products made by China.

Even if the treaty works, the growing demand for air conditioning will be a major demand for electricity.: The air conditioning trap: how cold air is heating the world

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement – Written Summary

Paris Climate Agreement Review – Video | Paris Climate Agreement Review – Narrated PowerPoint

The key question is how does the agreement – it is not a treaty for the US – deal with the developing world vs. developed world problem? How does it compare with the structure of the Montreal Protocol? Does it legally require countries to reduce their GHG emissions? Be prepared to talk about this in class.

 

March 22

Class canceled.

March 17

News

5th Circuit stays order blocking the use of the social cost of carbon

Exxon Mobil Loses Bid to Stop States’ Climate Change Probes

How green is blue hydrogen?

This is a deep dive into the chemistry and thermodynamics of blue hydrogen projects. In addition to the factors we discussed, the authors also factor in the inevitable methane leakage with these projects.

Why You (and the Planet) Really Need a Heat Pump

Assignment

We are going to look at the second defense to the nuisance claims against Exxon Mobil, the use of state anti-SLAPP statutes to attach the claims as violations of the company’s right to petition the government. (Short review of SLAPP suits.)  The anti-SLAPP suits directly tee up the free speech defense that the company wants to get before the Supreme Court. There is some evidence that the fossil fuel industry was an early player in the movement to get the Court to expand commercial free speech protections:

Exclusive: The Fossil Fuel Roots of the Corporate Free Speech Movement (drilledpodcast.com)

The case we are looking at was argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Court last week. There is no opinion from the Court so we are going to look at Exxon Mobil’s brief.

Exxon Mobil v. Massachusetts – Anti-SLAPP Brief

Think about whether ExxonMobil is the sort of plaintiff that the anti-SLAPP statute is intended to protect and how that might influence the Mass court. There is no federal anti-SLAPP statute, but the current Supreme Court is protective of commercial speech. Is this a path to get the nuisance cases before the Supreme Court?

I would like to round out the class with a discussion about the use of litigation to set climate policy. Is this legitimate? What are the pros and cons? What about the red state/blue state conflict? Think about these issues.

 

 

March 15

News

Gov. Edwards wants to use federal infrastructure funds for greenhouse gas reduction projects

InsideClimate News: Carbon Capture Takes Center Stage, But Is Its Promise an Illusion?

Hydrogen Production: Natural Gas Reforming

The Hype Around Carbon Capture Is Causing Problems

Carbon dioxide will have to be removed from air to achieve 1.5C, says report.

Louisiana partners with 2 other states in hopes of becoming a ‘hydrogen hub’

Gov. Edwards, Air Products Announce $4.5 Billion Blue Hydrogen Clean Energy Complex

Hydrogen industry must clean itself up before expanding into new uses, report finds

[Blue] Hydrogen’s Hidden Emissions

CleanTechnica: Hydrogen Is As Broadly Useful As Hemp, And Will Be Used Just As Much.

This is a useful and entertaining review of the problems with schemes to use hydrogen to replace natural gas or gasoline.

Assignment

We are going to continue our discussion of the nuisance litigation. Think about the measure of damages and how comparative fault should apply. We are going to take a harder look at these cases from the oil industry/red state POV by reading:

City of San Francisco v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 02-18-00106-CV, 2020 WL 3969558 (Tex. App. June 18, 2020), review denied (Feb. 18, 2022) (annotated)

Texas Rules of Civil Produce Rule 202 allows court-ordered discovery prior to the filing of a lawsuit. This was intended for use in limited situations where testimony was likely to be lost before the lawsuit could be filed. For example, you are retained to represent a victim of a serious automobile accident who is in the hospital and may not survive her injuries. You can use Rule 202 to record a deposition that can be used if the accident results in litigation. Exxon has been using this to countersue the lawyers who are bringing climate lawsuits as a means of harassment and to try to get documents that would otherwise be protected by the attorney-client privilege.

The Juliana case is an iconic and ultimately unsuccessful case to establish a constitutional right to a healthful climate. There are several cases in foreign countries that accept some sort of human right to a healthful climate. I don’t want to spend a lot of class time on the case, but it is a key piece of climate litigation that shows the difficulty of creating rights to a healthful climate and why such as right might not be of much value in the US.

Juliana v. United States, 947 F.3d 1159 (9th Cir. 2020) (pdf)

Please scan this annotated and edited copy of the 9th Circuit ruling that ended the Juliana case. This is the most liberal/climate change-friendly circuit in the US. Read this and think about the questions that I have inserted in the text.

 

March 10

News

Nuclear Winter

EPA restores California authority to set car emissions rules

Global CO2 emissions rebounded to their highest level in history in 2021

Assignment

Filings in Delaware v. BP

Take a look to see the sequence of the case filings. As with most of these cases, the first filing by the defendants is a motion to remove to federal court. Defendants want to implicate federal law to trigger preemption under AEPC.

Delaware v. BP America Inc. – Complaint

Start with Jurisdiction on page 61 and read through the end of the case.

Delaware – Exxon motion to support removal

We are going to review the defendant’s arguments for why these cases belong in Federal court.

 

 

March 8

News

Biden expected to ban Russian energy imports today

UN report paints dire picture of the Gulf of Mexico’s future

We are beginning to see stories around the content from the new IPCC report.

Heat wave: a glimpse of climate change’s impact in N. America

Assignment

West Virginia v. EPA – Oral Arguements at Oyez

Listen to the arguments in West Virginia v. EPA. Pay attention to the questions we discussed after reading the background materials for the case. Independent of the substantive content of the case, these are excellent advocates arguing at the highest level. Listen to them to get a better understanding of oral advocacy.

We are now going to look at the state litigation against the fossil fuel industry, primarily against the international oil and gas companies. Unless these are eventually killed by the Supreme Court, they will have a major effect on the industry. We will start by reading an article on the history of climate change denial by the oil industry and the parallels to the tobacco industry’s disinformation campaign on the risks of smoking:

How the oil industry made us doubt climate change

Climate denial timeline for litigation

The first of these three articles is a peer-reviewed article analyzing climate communications by ExxonMobil and showing how its public position on climate change was at odds with its internal knowledge. The second is a criticism of the article, and the third is the response to the criticism by the authors. Scan these to see the arguments.

Supran, G. & Oreskes, N., 2017. Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977-2014). Environmental Research Letters, 12(8), p.084019.

Swarup, V. 2020, 2020. Comment on “Assessing ExxonMobil”s climate change communications (1977-2014)’Supran and Oreskes (2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 084019). Environmental Research Letters, 15(11), p.118001.

Supran, G. & Oreskes, N., 2020. Reply to Comment on “Assessing ExxonMobil”s climate change communications (1977-2014)’Supran and Oreskes (2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 084019). Environmental Research Letters, 15(11), p.118002.

We are going to start with the Delaware v. BP case next class. You should start reading the case now since there is a lot to read. Start with Jurisdiction on page 61 and read through the end of the case.

Delaware v. BP America Inc. – Complaint

March 3

Exam Prep Materials

I will be posting some study questions and examples of old exam questions over the weekend.

News

Breaking news: The IPCC just released the 6th Assessment report on Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. For our purposes, this report makes clear that even if the temperature increase can be kept at 1.5C there will still need to be difficult and costly adaptation measures. It stresses how those costs rise dramatically as the temperature rises above 1.5C, making these costs impossible for many nations. It adds a new section on Maladaptation that is relevant to our discussions about the coastal restoration efforts:

IPCC AR6 WGII Summary For Policymakers – Maladaptation (2022)

GOP wants to end Russian oil imports to US, boost production

Climate views put Fed nominee Raskin in GOP’s crosshairs

Assignment

(I don’t think the oral argument recording from West Virginia v. EPA will be available until Friday afternoon.)

We are going to start with documents assigned on February 17th that we did not get to then.

Technical Support Document for the Findings (PDF)

This document provides the scientific background for the Endangerment Finding. Read the Executive Summary, pp. ES1-7.

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

This is the key regulatory document for GHGs under the CAA. It has not been rescinded by the Trump administration despite calls for it to do so by antiregulatory forces. Doing so might limit the preemptive effect of the CAA on state lawsuits, as we will see in later cases.

Load this into Acrobat or Acrobat reader and you can use the bookmarks to find the highlighted text. Read through that to see what is going on in this endangerment finding.

With this background, we are going to look at:

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

This case sets up the preemption argument that all climate change lawsuits based on suing oil companies will have to answer. Read it carefully and track the study guide.

February 24

News

Rep Garret Graves’s letter to President Biden urging him to get out of the way of unlimited oil and gas production. 

Federal Court Bars Federal Agencies from Considering the Costs of Climate Change in Agency Rulemakings

Good blog post on the case enjoining the use of the social cost of carbon from a conservative law professor.

Supreme Court Conservatives May Slash EPA’s Authority on Climate

Commentary on West Virginia v. EPA

Assignment

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

This is the docket on Scotusblog for the case. Take a look at the parties filing amicus briefs.

Final reply briefs have been filed in the last couple of weeks. We will take a look at the language in the West Virginia reply brief and the EPA/DOJ reply brief (annotated).

February 22

News

Germany halts Nord Stream 2 and Russia responds with a stark warning

Pielke Jr, R., Burgess, M.G. & Ritchie, J., 2022. Plausible 2005-2050 emissions scenarios project between 2 and 3 degrees C of warming by 2100. Environmental Research Letters.

The authors of this study used current governmental commitments and actions that are underway to reevaluate the IPCC worst-case projections. They find that the worst case is now likely 3 degrees C by 2100, rather than 4.5. They find the most likely result to be closer to 2 degrees. They warn, however, that 2 degrees C will be very disruptive.

Assignment

We are going to read the lower court opinion in West Virginia v. EPA, West Virginia’s petition for certiorari, and the EPA/DOJ response in opposition to the petition for certiorari. We are going to read like lawyers this week, making our way through several long documents. These cases line out the history of EPA GHG regulation since Mass v. EPA and set up the issues for the oral arguments on the 28th. The opinion, in this case, will either provide the EPA a road map for regulating GHGs or limit EPA regulation to mobile sources, or perhaps use the major questions doctrine to end EPA regulation until Congress amends the CAA. We will work through these in order, focusing on the lower court decision on Tuesday. (Hint – read the concurrence/partial dissent first – it has a good short review of the case.

Additional commentary

Beyond the Fence-line: SCOTUS Grants Petitions Challenging EPA’s Authority to Regulate Coal-fired Emissions (quick overview)

Justice Kavanaugh’s comments during en banc oral argument in American Lung

Thanks to Prof. Lazarus

Am. Lung Ass’n v. Env’t Prot. Agency, 985 F.3d 914 (D.C. Cir.) (2021)

STATE of West Virginia, et al., Petitioners, v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and Michael Regan, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents., 2020 WL 9439135 (U.S.)

STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, et al., Petioners, v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, et al, THE NORTH AMERICAN COAL CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, et al, WESTMORELAND MINING HOLDINGS LLC, Petitioner, v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, et al, STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, Petitioner, v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, et al., 2021 WL 3518307 (U.S.)

Slides – West Virginia v. EPA Class Discussion (annotated)

UARG v. EPA – Dissent (annotated)

 

 

February 17

News

Louisiana v Biden – the social cost of carbon

“Judge James Cain of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction preventing federal agencies from using the social cost of carbon after finding that the metric’s application had increased regulatory costs for red states.”

Scan this. It is very “imaginative.”

Breaking news from NOAA: U.S. coastline to see up to a foot of sea level rise by 2050

Seas could rise 2 feet on Louisiana coast by 2050, 4 feet by 2100, federal officials say

Assignment

We will spend some time reviewing standing from the last class. Think about why it was controversial Finish reading Mass. v. EPA, which is the material on whether the CAA allows the EPA to regulate GHGs. This was not as controversial as the standing issue.

Slides: Mass v. EPA – Chevron (annotated)

This is where we get into the CCA weeds. Mass v. EPA found that the EPA had the authority to regulate GHGs. Before it can do so, it must issue an endangerment finding explaining the basis for the secretary’s decision that GHGs are pollutants that endanger public health. This is not a rule, but it is the precursor to any rules dealing with GHGs under the CAA.

Technical Support Document for the Findings (PDF)

This document provides the scientific background for the Endangerment Finding. Read the Executive Summary, pp. ES1-7.

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

This is the key regulatory document for GHGs under the CAA. It has not been rescinded by the Trump administration despite calls for it to do so by antiregulatory forces. Doing so might limit the preemptive effect of the CAA on state lawsuits, as we will see in later cases.

Load this into Acrobat or Acrobat reader and you can use the bookmarks to find the highlighted text. Read through that to see what is going on in this endangerment finding.

February 15

We will do an asynchronous class on Tuesday.

News

TBA

Assignment

Massachusetts v. E.P.A began when the petitioners submitted a petition for rulemaking under APA § 553 (e):

Each agency shall give an interested person the right to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule. This is the text (not a scan of the original document) of that petition:

PETITION FOR RULEMAKING AND COLLATERAL RELIEF SEEKING THE REGULATION OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FROM NEW MOTOR VEHICLES UNDER § 202 OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT

Scan through this to see the format and the basic arguments for why climate change is a threat. It is a simple document that begins with the requested regulation, then the parties who are requesting the regulation, then the legal justifications for the request. Read carefully from III. THE ADMINISTRATOR HAS A MANDATORY DUTY TO REGULATE GREENHOUSE GASES UNDER THE CLEAN AIR ACT, p.30 to the end. This is the actual request for rulemaking.

The EPA answered the petition saying that it did not have the legal authority to regulate GHGs and that even if it did have the authority, it did not think it would be good policy to regulate them. The petitioners then challenged the EPA ruling in Cir. Court, arguing that the agency did have the authority to regulate GHGs. The Circuit Court upheld the EPA action, but did not address the standing issue:

Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 415 F.3d 50 (D.C. Cir. 2005)

Read the highlighted text starting at p. 9. The court reasoned that if it found that the EPA action was proper, it would not have to resolve the standing issue. The Court then found that the EPA acted properly and thus dismissed the case without reaching standing.

Petitioners then filed a writ of certiorari seeking review by the Supreme Court.

EPA Response Brief to Writ of Certiorari in Mass v. EPA (edited for standing argument)

Read this excerpt from the brief. This sets up the issues for the Supreme Court review of standing. We are now going to listen to the arguments before the Supreme Court on standing:

Oral argument in Mass v. EPA (Oyez)

(The link to the recording of the argument is under the case name on the left sidebar.) The petitioner’s standing argument starts at 0 (beginning of the recording to 17:55. The EPA response starts at 27:00 and runs to 45:20. If you have not used Oyez before, it links the written transcript of the oral argument to the audio. It also identifies the judges speaking to make it easier to follow the argument. The argument is excellent. When you read the Supreme Court opinion you will see how the questions from the argument end up in the majority and dissenting opinions. There is a bitter split on the court over the standing issue. This issue is likely to be reexamined in future climate cases because the majority of the court has changed since this decision. All of the conservative judges except Kennedy opposed standing in the opinion. Kennedy is gone and the new judges are likely to join those who oppose standing.

Now read Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007) paragraphs 1-84 & 108-152 (the standing materials)

Recorded presentations on the standing issues in Mass. v. EPA.

(The video is saved from the narrated PowerPoint slides and is exactly the same as playing the slide show. Choose which format works better for you. You can view the PowerPoint deck slide by slide for easier note-taking and review.)

Video – Massachusetts v. E.P.A.: Standing – Majority Opinion

PowerPoint – Massachusetts v. E.P.A.: Standing – Majority Opinion

Video – Massachusetts v. E.P.A.: Standing – The Dissent

PowerPoint – Massachusetts v. E.P.A.: Standing – The Dissent

 

February 10

News

Correction! Last class I said that OCSLA was passed after the Exxon Valdez spill. I had my dates wrong. That spill was in 1989, after OCSLA was passed. The Oil Pollution Act 33 U.S.C. §2701 et seq. (1990) was passed after the spill and it controls the damage claims from a spill.

Department of the Army, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. February 2022. United States Army Climate Strategy. Washington, DC.

Assignment

Review – Friends of the Earth v. Haaland (27 Jan 2022) – annotated copy

In contrast, we are going to look at a 5th Cir case on nearly the same standing facts and see what it looks like when a court wants to deny standing to plaintiffs.

Review the highlighted portions – Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. United States Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 18-60102, 2019 WL 4126355 (5th Cir. Aug. 30, 2019

This is the court’s order dismissing the case based on not finding that plaintiffs had standing. I have highlighted the key sections so you can scroll through and review the court analysis. The key is that the court rejects claims that point source pollution from rigs affects the entire Gulf. This discussion starts on page 7. The failure to do a proper NEPA review is a procedural rights claim, subject to the relaxed standards for injury in procedural rights claims. Despite this, the plaintiffs fail because the nature of rigs in the Gulf makes it difficult for individuals to show a nexus between a discharge by a specific rig and their injuries proximate to that rig. This allows EPA to escape citizen suit review even if it issues a bad permit.

 

February 8

News

EPA objects to USPS mail truck contract, citing climate damage

Read through this and think about how you would use NEPA to delay the post office truck procurement.

New USPS Vans Get Worse Fuel Economy Than A Ram TRX

“Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ordered vehicles that will achieve 8.6 mpg with the air conditioning running, only a 0.4 mpg improvement over the current [30 year old] fleet and well below the industry average. Put in a way that car enthusiasts can understand, the new USPS van gets worse fuel economy than a RAM 1500 TRX [700 hp hot rod truck] or Bugatti Chiron [1500 hp supercar]. And did we mention it looks like a rejected character from a Pixar movie?”

Push for Small Nuclear Reactors Runs Into Regulators’ Old Rules

Assignment

Friends of the Earth v. Haaland – Complaint (annotated)

Study the complaint to see how to plead a NEPA case.

February 3

News

Federal Policies to Advance Natural Climate Solutions: RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE BPC FARM AND FOREST CARBON SOLUTIONS TASK FORCE (2022)

Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet (agriculture)

(Thanks to one of our class members) You may have to log in to read this.

Climate Initiatives Task Force – Office of Governor John Bel Edwards

We will look at this in more detail later.

Assignment

Friends of the Earth v. Haaland (27 Jan 2022) (annotated)

Slides – NEPA Cases (final)

Resources

2017-2022 Gulf Of Mexico Multisale Environmental Impact Statement

Final EIS Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3

 

February 1

Remember – we are online through 10 February!

News

Breaking news: A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases over climate change.

This is a blockbuster decision. We are going to read it next class to conclude our discussion of NEPA. Start reading it over the weekend, it is fairly complicated.

Decarbonization Tech Instantly Converts Carbon Dioxide to Solid Carbon

While this is a long way from commercial use, it is the type of breakthrough that could make CCS feasible.

Global Witness Exposes The Lie Behind The Carbon Capture Scam

America’s hottest city is nearly unlivable in summer. Can cooling technologies save it?

Assignment

We will finish our discussion from last class. (Refer to the annotated slides from last time.)

We will then begin a series of classes looking at the main legal tools for mitigating GHGs in the US under the existing statutory framework. This builds the oral arguments in West Virginia v. EPA on Feb. 28. We will then look at global warming as an international problem. We will look at governance issues such as geoengineering in which one country’s actions to mitigate warming may harm others. We will also look at the international treaty and agreement structure from the Montreal Protocol to the Paris Agreement.

There are two major federal regulatory paths in dealing with climate change. One, which we will talk about next, is the direct regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The second is through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is the first of the modern environmental laws. It is not a direct regulatory law. Instead, NEPA requires covered projects to prepare a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of a proposed project.  The objective of NEPA is to assure that the public and government officials make decisions based on complete and accurate information in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). NEPA has a strong citizen lawsuit provision that allows interested parties who meet the standing requirements to challenge the EIS if they can show that the EIS is inaccurate or incomplete. The court can order that the EIS be amended, including doing new studies of environmental impacts if necessary. Once the EIS meets the requirements set in the NEPA regulations and case precedent, there is no right to challenge the decision to build the project. NEPA is the major tool that environmental groups use to try to stop environmentally dangerous projects. While the statute focuses on public information, the delay inherent in court challenges and EIS revisions can delay projects for years. This gives the groups opposing the project time to build political opposition to the project.

We are going to start our NEPA section with a bit of history. In 1962, Rachael Carson, a writer and naturalist, published Silent Spring. The book is credited with starting the modern environmental movement. (By this I mean the movement that focuses on the health effects of pollutants on people, as opposed to the much older movement that focused on preserving natural spaces and the creation of national parks.) This leads to the passage of NEPA in 1970. Watch the short video linked below on Rachael Carson and the impact of Silent Spring.

Then review:

NEPA – Parsing the Statute  – Video –  Narrated PowerPoints (they are the same, just different formats)

This is a brief introduction to the NEPA statute that I recorded so we do not have to spend class time reviewing the basic statute. If you have taken environmental law, you will already be familiar with NEPA.

The courts have begun to require an analysis of the impact of projects on climate change to be included in the EIS. This gives environmental groups a way to attack environmentally unsound projects and assure that the full range of risks to the climate is included in the EIS. At the same time, this will delay the project, giving time to find other ways to stop the project. Interestingly, some of the same issues came up in the earliest NEPA case, which involved the licensing of a nuclear power plant. The plaintiffs wanted an analysis of substituting energy conservation as an alternative to the construction of the plant included in the EIS.  We are going to look at this old case and a modern case directly incorporating climate considerations into the NEPA analysis:

NEPA Reader (2022)

Slides – NEPA Cases (final)

Resources

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended

Council on Environmental Quality (US). Environmental Quality: The First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality Together with the President’s Message to Congress. US Government Printing Office, 1970.

 

 

January 27

News

‘We’re in trouble:’ U.S. envoy urges faster action on climate goals

Shell’s fossil hydrogen plant in Canada found to be emitting more climate-wrecking gases than it is capturing

HYDROGEN’S HIDDEN EMISSIONS: Shell’s misleading climate claims for its Canadian fossil hydrogen project (January 2022)

Climate Change Increasingly a Bipartisan Issue in Florida FAU Surveys Reveal it May be Less of a Campaign Issue Heading into Mid-term Elections

Assignment

The US National Strategy was hopelessly vague. We are going to look at The Pathways to Decarbonization report, which is a crowd-sourced effort to develop meaningful legal approaches to decarbonization. , i.e., what we have to do to reduce GHGs to manageable levels. Scan through the report and look at the slides. I will review it in class.

Williams, James H., et al. “Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States.” The US Report of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, Energy and Environmental Economics, San Francisco, CA, accessed Apr 23 (2014).

Slides – Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States (final)

Jan 27 – Legal Pathways to Decarbonization annotated

Resources

January 25

News

CHASING ICE” captures largest glacier calving ever filmed – OFFICIAL VIDEO (not new, but new to me)

InsideClimate News: China Moves to Freeze Production of Climate Super-Pollutants But Lacks a System to Monitor Emissions.

Texas may get a coastal storm barrier, but will it be too late?

#1 BS detector – US Gulf Coast projects modeled on Dutch. First, the Dutch have a politically homogenous political system, as least as regards public works and climate change, and they accept that they have to make personal sacrifices and pay high taxes to build and maintain public projects. Second, the worst-case Dutch storms generate much lower surge than Gulf Coast hurricanes. Third, the whole country is less than 1/3 the size of Louisiana but with nearly 18,000,000 citizens and a strong economy.

Assignment

The Long-Term Strategy Of The United States Pathways To Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2050 (November 2021)

This is the official strategy of the Biden administration. We are going to go through this to identify the different economic sectors involved and the places where government regulation will be necessary. This is not as dense reading as cases, but there are a lot of important concepts. Fortunately, this is written for laymen. Look at the graphs and try to understand what the graph is showing. Try to get through by Tuesday. Even if we do not get through it all in one class, the first parts make more sense if you have scanned the whole document.

Slides – The Long-Term Strategy Of The United States Pathways To Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2050

January 20

News

Homeowners insurance is soaring in Louisiana

How Exxon is using an unusual law to intimidate critics over its climate denial

Assignment

Read through these documents as an overview of the IPCC. These are written for policy makers and lawyers, not scientists.

IPCC Overview (AR6 Documents)

AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis – Summary for Policy Makers

Resources

Basic science climate doodles from last class

Slides – IPCC Basics – AR6

 

January 18

News

Breaking news! Tonga underwater volcano eruption triggers tsunami advisories

The World Was Cooler in 2021 Than 2020. That’s Not Good News

Assignment

We will begin our intro to climate science. Be sure to review the materials from last class, plus these additional short videos and WWW pages:

What causes the seasons?

The ice age cycles

How Ice Ages Happen: The Milankovitch Cycles

Why the climate changes without human intervention

Where are we in the Milankovitch Cycles?

Would the planet be warming or cooling now, if there were no people?

Solar Variability

One more variable

What is Ocean Acidification?

This is a direct effect of CO2, separate from its effect on heat retention in the atmosphere.

January 13

News

We study ocean temperatures. The Earth just broke a heat increase record

Stop blaming the climate for disasters

Global warming is making extreme weather events and their consequences worse, but they are only disasters when people are in the way. The Louisiana coast has always been subject to major hurricane damage. As a natural process, hurricanes help distribute sediment into the marsh and sustain the wetlands and the delta. But when people choose to live in the coastal zone, hurricanes become disasters. Look at New Orleans. Levees are built, which hasten the destruction of the delta and coastal wetlands. Population density increases behind the levees, increasing the catastrophe when the levees fail or a wet storm fills the city with rain and destroys the structures with wind. The more protection we add, the greater the catastrophe when the defenses fails. This is called the levee effect.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ ‘net zero’ plan calls for dramatically reshaping Louisiana economy

We will look at this in a later class.  Thought question – what is the political effect of a 2050 target?

Assignment

Read the assigned paper from last class and watch the video introduction if you have not done so. We will talk about the findings in class and their implications.

Slides – Cultural Cognition (no polling)

Review these short discussions of basic concepts about the earth’s atmosphere for the start of my presentation about basic climate science.

What is the temperature on the Moon?

What if the earth were like the moon, without an atmosphere?

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

How did the earth’s atmosphere form?

Heat capacity of water

Why water is the magic of climate and life. Things to think about: Why does ice float, rather than sink? What would the climate be like if ice didn’t float?

What are the main greenhouse gases?

Water as a GHG

Why water really controls the temperature of the planet, but why other GHGs that set the thermostat.

We will look at seasons and climate cycles next class.

 

January 11

News

Flood coverage hikes coming for 8 out of 10 Louisianans

The 2016 Baton Rouge flood and climate change

The 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons

We will learn that warmer oceans for longer periods each year lead to more opportunities for hurricanes in Louisiana and allow hurricanes to retain strength farther up the east coast.

Assignment

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? This work was done in 2012-2014. This work has become even more relevant in the aftermath of the Trump presidency and current controversies over COVID science and policy.

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

Read to 3. The “normality” of climate science in Southeast Florida. p. 33. This research explores the critical distinction between what a person knows and what a person believes. 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 and then watch this video discussing the paper:

Cultural Cognition Into – Climate Class

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 minds.