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Issue

Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — June 2011

Articles

Against the Wind: Conflict Over Wind Energy Siting

by Alexa Burt Engelman

With soaring gas prices, international commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and domestic pressure to reduce dependence on foreign oil, there is significant momentum for the development of alternative energy within the United States. As a mature existing technology, wind energy is the fastest growing source of domestic alternative energy. However, the local siting of wind turbines has been rife with conflict. This is profoundly evident in Hammond, a small town in upstate New York, where clashes between pro- and anti-wind factions have resulted in several lawsuits and created profound divisions between neighbors that will last generations. This conflict transcends simple “not in my backyard” sentiments and drives deep into the trade offs inherent in environmental policies and the tension over local land use control. Although traditional common law and statutory legal venues fall short of resolving these trade offs, states can offer municipalities oversight and institutional resources for landscape-scale, comprehensive planning to ensure the effective and equitable siting of wind turbines in their communities.

Annual Review of Chinese Environmental Law Developments: 2010

by Mingqing You

In 2010, China continued its environmental development goals outlined in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan passed in 2006. This annual review surveys the major developments in Chinese environmental law and policy in the past year. The Article covers developments in international environmental law, water and soil conservation, and other law and policy developments in environmental protection in China in the past year.

The Importance of Implementation in Rethinking Chemicals Management Policies: The Toxic Substances Control Act

by Jessica N. Schifano, Ken Geiser, and Joel A. Tickner

Since the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, EPA has struggled with implementation of the law, and with intermittent initiatives has explored, proposed, and attempted solutions to key chemicals management challenges. The successes or failures of TSCA (or any environmental policy for that matter) are not simply an issue of statutory language. Passage of legislation, even well-written and well-intended, is only the first step in successful implementation of a policy. Many other factors, such as political influences, administrative hurdles, and available resources have equal, if not more important, roles in supporting implementation that meets the goals of a particular statute.

Comment(s)

A Troubling Precedent: Implementing the Precautionary Principle to Limit the Role of Science in European Decisionmaking

by Kevin L. Fast

Proponents of the precautionary principle argue that it should be rigorously applied to ensure the safety of human activities that potentially impact public health or welfare before those activities commence. Detractors argue, on the other hand, that the principle is potentially dangerous because it can be misused as a rationale to displace rigorous scientific analysis and, thereby, to support arbitrary government action. Whatever the relative merit of these differing views in the United States, one place where the debate about the precautionary principle has effectively ended is in the European Union (EU). The EU has openly and explicitly adopted the precautionary principle as a foundation for all of its environmental regulatory activity. Any debate that remains concerning the precautionary principle in the EU relates solely to its implementation, not its application.

Dialogue

The (Not So) New Executive Order on Regulatory Review, and What to Expect

by Roger Martella (moderator), Michael L. Goo, Susan Dudley, Sally Katzen, and Gary D. Bass

President Obama signed an Executive Order on January 18, 2011, requiring federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. The guiding principles include analysis of costs and benefits, transparency, public participation, coordination of regulations among agencies, flexibility, and reliance on objective scientific evidence. Perhaps most significantly, the EO requires a review of existing regulations according to these principles. While the principles may seem straightforward, their execution may be anything but. On March 29, 2011, ELI brought together an esteemed panel to discuss the practical consequences of the regulatory EO. They described the process that will be used, what environmental regulations and agencies were expected to receive greater scrutiny, and the role of Congress.