Day 9 – October 15


Finish presentations

Discuss materials from last classes, plus think about the implications of these new reports:

Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Inundation: A Case Study of the Gulf Coast Energy Infrastructure

Bloomberg: FEMA Bought 44,000 Flood-Prone Homes. They May Have to Buy Millions More.

Evidence for sharp increase in the economic damages of extreme natural disasters

Mississippi’s Hancock County opposes $800M Louisiana coastal restoration project

Sea-level rise threatens 13 million Americans. Can FEMA help?

Trial Over Hurricane Flooding in Houston Wraps Up

Another attempt to turn am FTCA case into a takings case. If the Federal Court of Claims rules for plaintiffs, I expect to see the case overturned by the Federal Circuit.

Maybe flooding is not so bad

Day 8 – October 8


Nags Head revises local ordinance to retain 1-foot freeboard above BFE.

Tampa residents: Flood insurance just got cheaper


Continue presentations from last class.



Day 7 – October 1

Class presentations and discussion of presentations

We will discuss this new report:

Surging Waters: Science Empowering Communities in the Face of Flooding

Does it make sense to rebuild here?

Not for class, but for your interest – Impeachment materials, from Peter M. Shane, Harold H. Bruff, and Neil Kinkopf, Separation of Powers Law: Cases and Materials (4th ed. 2018), with permission.

Day 6 – September 24


We are not meeting class. The assignment is to have your topic finalized and your research started by the next class – Oct 1.  You will be expected to present a 5 minute overview of your topic and preliminary research for the class. In front of the class and with PowerPoint if you want. This week you need to be in touch with me by email to work on topics and research directions.


Day 5 – September 17

New resource materials

Articles on private flood insurance

NRDC – Going Under: Long Wait Times for Post-Flood Buyouts Leave Homeowners Underwater


We are going to look at the FTCA cases and think about the policy related to decisions that exacerbate flooding.

Federal Tort Claims Act Reader

Tort Claims Against the Federal Government – Text

In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 696 F.3d 436 (5th Cir.(La.) 2012)

Start reading at [51] IV. Construction and Application of the DFE.

Slides – Suing the government under the FTCA and Bivens

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

This case deals with the standard for takings by flood control activities – focus on the highlighted portions.

Day 4 – September 10


Start emailing me about your topics so we can narrow those down. I can help you refine your topic and get started on the research.

We are going to take a deeper look at the National Flood Insurance Program.

Horn, Diane P., and Jared T. Brown. Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congressional Research Service, 2019

You should read this – understanding the history of the NFIP and its structure is key to client counseling on flood risk and insurance.

The Pre-FIRM subsidy

The newly mapped into a flood zone subsidy

Think about this in terms of climate change.

NFIP Coverage limits

National Flood Insurance Program – Dwelling Form – Standard Flood Insurance Policy – F-122 / October 2015 – this is the actual residential flood insurance policy (Standard Flood Insurance Policy Forms – Current)

Look through the policy, using the edited FAQ for guidance. Figure out what sort of legal document this is. Hint – it is not a contract.

Materials for discussion: Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program – this is the official FAQ on the policies and the program. (2011 is the current version)

We are going to use this edited and highlighted version for class discussion: Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program – edited for discussion

Foundation Requirements and Recommendations for Elevated Homes – 2013

Glossary of NFIP termsflood zones are on D-11

NFIP Claims Handbook, FEMA F-687 October 2017

Resource materials

Louisiana insurance law

Sher v. Lafayette Ins. Co., 988 So.2d 186 (La. 2008)

Legal standards for construction of insurance policies.

Barbara Landry v. Louisiana Citizens Property Ins. Co., 983 So.2d 66 (La. 2008)

This looks at the Louisiana Valued Policy Law and how it affects claims when there is a total loss. Help us understand Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law and why it was at issue in this case and what it tells us about coverage in cases with loses due to insured and non-insured losses.

Suing under the NFIP

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

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

Day 3 – September 3

Class change notice – class will start late at 2:40. Professor Turner from CES and I are hosting a visiting delegation of water managers from East Asia from 1-2:30 on Tuesday. Sit tight if I run late.


Work on topics.

Interesting interview with Oren Pilkey, who has been working with beach loss and sea-level rise for decades:

The Coming Floods: How Sea Level Rise Affects All Of Us

He is based at Duke and is being interviewed by the local NPR station there. He also thinks New Orleans is doomed.

Day 2 – August 27

We are having a uest speaker, Bob Jacobsen. Review the flood materials from last class, and take a look at this story:

As downstream parishes watch, Corps reanalyzes expected impact of Baton Rouge drainage plan.

We will take a few minutes and talk about topics. Please email me as you narrow down your topic.

Day 1 – August 20

Class Information

We meet Tuesday, 1:50 – 3:50 in room 108. There is no assignment text. Assignments and materials will be posted on this class blog. In addition to the seminar paper, there will be an end of term presentation of your research and findings and progress report presentations during the semester. Be prepared to use Powerpoint and/or other presentation materials and to prepare a short report to be shared before class on when you are scheduled to present.

The Seminar Problem for this Semester

The intent of the seminar is to explore a real-world administrative and environmental law issue. Everyone in the class should have taken either or both administrative law and environmental law, so you should be ready to start work. We are going to look at the legal, scientific, and policy issues presented by flooding such as the 2016 Baton Rouge flood, the floods in Houston, and other extreme rainfall event floods. As we will learn, the damage from these floods is driven by bad land-use decisions about existing flood risks, and an increased risk of flooding secondary to climate change. We are going to look at issues in existing developments, proposed new development, and adaptation strategies, including retreat from sea level drive coastal flooding.

Guide to writing your paper

Seminar Topics – Working List

Material for Class

Pearls before Swine

From today’s Advocate: FEMA audits raise red flags over 2016 flood recovery, but NFIP won’t be reduced, officials say

The 2016 Louisiana Flood: A Failure of Risk Perception. Tulane Environmental Summit, New Orleans, 11 March 2017.

The Role of New Towns in Louisiana Coastal Retreat – Tulane Environmental Summit, March 2019

The 2016 Louisiana Flood

Scan through these to get a sense of the issues in the 2016 flood.

From my blog

Terrell, Dek. The economic impact of the August 2016 floods on the State of Louisiana. Lewis Terrell and Associates, LLC, 2018.

Increasing state-wide attention on managing rainfall flood risk at basin (watershed) jurisdictions (see Council on Watershed Management Presentation.

Rainfall intensity in Louisiana appears to be increasing with climate change:  Climatology and Trends in Hourly Precipitation for the Southeast United States  (Brown, Keim, & Black)

NOAA dramatically revised coastal Texas rainfall frequency estimates last year (NOAA updates Texas rainfall frequency values).  Estimates for Houston for a 24-hr accumulation with a 100-yr average return increased by about 5 inches (13 to 18 inches).  Some accumulations previously classified as 100-yr events are now considered 25-yr events!

NOAA’s current rainfall frequency estimates for Louisiana (see chart below) are not consistent with findings of increasing intensity and the Texas revisions and are grossly outdated.

NOAA Rainfall Baton Rouge Airport

NOAA Rainfall Baton Rouge Airport

New Development in Baton Rouge


Controversial subdivision planned for old Sherwood Forest golf course

Multiple residential developments heading to Planning Commission 

New Towns and Retreat

The New Yorker: Life in Miami on the Knife’s Edge of Climate Change

Florida wants to buy Irma-flooded homes. Is it the start of a retreat from sea rise?

International New Town Institute

Brief report on New Towns