The Public Trust Doctrine and Sea Level Rise

Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, The Public Trust Doctrine: A Guiding Principle for Governing California’s Coast Under Climate Change (2017)

This report looks at the legal implications as the mean high tide line – the demarcation between public and private land in California – moves inland with sea level rise.

Law Professor’s Brief on Louisiana Public Trust Doctrine

Disaster Tourism: Honest Altruism or Vulgar Voyerism?

(Student post from my coastal law class, 2010)

Dark tourism is tourism involving travel to sites associated with death and suffering. Thanatourism, derived from the Ancient Greek word thanatos for the personification of death, is associated with dark tourism but refers more specifically to violent death. Dark tourism and the dark tourists are motivated by death and disaster and apocalypse rather than by sun and sea and sand and pastoral living, with even ecotourism and adventure travel no longer stimulating enough.

Ownership of Submerged Lands in Louisiana

INVENTORY OF STATE LANDS OFFICE OF STATE LANDS DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION (2018)

The state does not have clear title to an estimated 286,467 acres of water bottoms, as private parties also claim ownership of these lands. These “dualclaimed” water bottoms cause several issues, including restricted public access, negative economic impacts, and potentially reduced revenue generating opportunities.

Mestayer, Jacques. “Saving Sportsman’s Paradise: Article 450 and Declaring Ownership of Submerged Lands in Louisiana.” La. L. Rev. 76 (2015): 889.

Law Professor’s Brief on Louisiana Public Trust Doctrine

 

Louisiana Attorney General Sues the Corps over Intracoastal Canal

Louisiana v. United States – Complaint in Intracoastal Canal Litigation

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry discussion lawsuit and explaining that climate change is a hoax and that sea level is rising. – Facebook video on the AG Facebook page.

The AG said that the sea level is not rising, but is declining – see the recording starting about 9:00 (-8.00 remaining). (He also said that he was an environmental sciences major at ULL, so we should believe him.) This is true if you look at the tide gauge in Juno, Alaska, where the land is still rapidly uplifting from the ice age. if you look at actual sea level rise, it is about 3.4mm a year, and the tide gauge at Grand Isle shows (relative) sea level rise of more than 9mm a year from the subsidence and sea level rise.

Louisiana Canals and Their Influence on Wetland Development – 1973

Davis, Donald Wayne, “Louisiana Canals and Their Influence on Wetland Development.” (1973). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 2386. http://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_disstheses/2386

Coastal Louisiana, according to recent measurements,
has 4,572 miles of canals. This network can be divided into
five types; drainage and reclamation, trapping, logging,
petroleum and transportation. All of these were constructed
in response to a particular economic interest and provided
access to the resources in the marsh-swamp complex. These
channels, consequently, would not be a landscape feature
had it not been for the wetland resources.

Reports of the Louisiana Oyster Commission – 1902 to 1910

These reports are of contemporary interest because they remind us that oysters are not traditionally a major part of the Mississippi Delta Ecosystem. From p.77 of the First Biennial Report 1902-1904:

There are vast areas of soft mud bottoms, in your State, which may be made just as productive in oysters as is the ground of Messrs. McLaughlin & Lobrano and others, but not until vast quantities of sand and shells are deposited upon them, and they are effectively protected by locks and dams from fresh water floods, and this fresh water is regulated and utilized either in fattening the oyster or in protecting the beds from an excess of salt water after a severe “norther.”

First Annual Report 1902-1904 Oyster Commission of Louisiana

Second Biennial Report 1904-1906 Oyster Commission of Louisiana

Third Biennial Report 1906-1908 Oyster Commission of Louisiana

Fourth Biennial Report 1908-1910 Oyster Commission of Louisiana

 

National Hurricane Center – Hurricane Harvey Report

National Hurricane Center – Hurricane Harvey Report (2018)

Harvey started as a typical weak August tropical storm that affected the Lesser Antilles and dissipated over the central Caribbean Sea. However, after re-forming over the Bay of Campeche, Harvey rapidly intensified into a category 4 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) before making landfall along the middle Texas coast. The storm then stalled, with its center over or near the Texas coast for four days, dropping historic amounts of rainfall of more than 60 inches over southeastern Texas. These rains caused catastrophic flooding, and Harvey is the second-most costly hurricane in U.S. history, after accounting for inflation, behind only Katrina (2005). At least 68 people died from the direct effects of the storm in Texas, the largest number of direct deaths from a tropical cyclone in that state since 1919.

Assessment of the Potential Health Impacts of Climate Change in Alaska

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Assessment of the Potential Health Impacts of Climate Change in Alaska (2018)

(This is an excellent, detailed report of the present and potential impacts of climate change on health in Alaska.)

Over the past century, the air and water temperatures in Alaska have warmed considerably faster than in the rest of the United States. Because Alaska is the only Arctic state in the Nation, Alaskans are likely to face some climate change challenges that will be different than those encountered in other states. For example, permafrost currently underlies 80% of Alaska and provides a stable foundation for the physical infrastructure of many Alaska communities. As has already been seen in numerous villages, the groundcover that overlies permafrost is vulnerable to sinking or caving if the permafrost thaws, resulting in costly damage to physical infrastructure. The reliance on subsistence resources is another contrast to many other states. Many Alaskans depend upon subsistence harvests of fish and wildlife resources for food and to support their way of life. Some Alaskans report that the changing environment has already impacted their traditional practices.

California Communities Confronting Rising Sea Levels Sue Fossil Fuel Companies

Breaking News! Oakland and San Francisco climate cases removed to federal court and held there.

People of the State of California v. BP P.L.C. et al., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC 17-561370

People of the State of California v. BP P.L.C. et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG17875889

Breaking News! Exxon sues activists and local officials for for pre-litigation discovery.

Marin and San Mateo Cos., City of Imperial Beach Go to Court to Hold Largest Fossil Fuel Polluters Accountable

San Mateo County Full ComplaintMarin County Full ComplaintCity of Imperial Beach Full Complaint

(For a detailed presentation of the legal theories, see: SMOKE AND FUMES The Legal and Evidentiary Basis for Holding Big Oil Accountable for the Climate Crisis (2017)

(Redwood City, CA, San Rafael, CA, and Martinez, CA) – Faced with mounting costs to respond
to threats to their communities from rising sea levels, Marin and San Mateo Counties, along
with the City of Imperial Beach, today filed complaints in California Superior Court to hold
accountable 37 oil, gas, and coal companies for the ongoing harm they knew their fossil fuel
products would cause by significantly increasing carbon dioxide pollution and contributing
to global warming and sea level rise. The complaint states:

ARkStorm – The weather equivalent of the Big One for California

The Great California Flood of 1861-1862 was a series of four floods from December 9, 1861, Dec. 23-28, January 9-12, 1862 and January 15-17. The winter rains started early in November and continued nearly interrupted for four months. Marysville and Sacramento suffered the worst damage in the Northern California valley. This scene shows the floodwaters along K Street looking west from 4th Street in Sacramento, Calif. Photo taken January 1862.
Courtesy photo California State Library

California – The Flood that Could Change Everything