Archives for February 2017

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