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This Month's News & Analysis

Volume 48, Issue 2 — February 2018

Dialogue

The Corporate Role in the Environmental Protection Enterprise

by Benjamin Wilson, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Cassie Phillips, Richard DeSanti, John Lovenburg, Todd Parfitt, Janet Peace, and Martha Rudolph

With real-time diagnostics, cutting-edge compliance management systems, and an underlying focus on sustainability as a good economic and reputational practice in many industry sectors, environmental compliance is increasingly self-policed and self-corrected by regulated entities. There is also much discussion about “cooperative federalism” and the need to ensure that program administration reflects the significant expertise and experience state agencies now have after decades of administering environmental protection laws. What would changes to the cooperative federalism model mean for the business community? More fundamentally, with private governance systems increasingly finding and solving compliance problems, how might the government role be re-envisioned in a way that aligns with, reflects, and harnesses this phenomenon? Last October, ELI’s 2017 Corporate Forum convened an array of experts to consider these and other questions. Here we present a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Comment(s)

Slow Threats and Environmental Policy

by Robert L. Olson and David Rejeski

Some threats to the environment, like acid rain and stratospheric ozone depletion, emerged fairly rapidly, and abrupt threats like an oil or toxic chemical spill demand an immediate response. But most environmental problems have the opposite character: they involve “slow threats,” where small, hardly noticeable changes add up over time to produce large impacts. Nearly all of the most serious environmental problems we face involve slow threats. This Comment explores insights from several different fields—evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, behavioral economics and decision theory, social psychology, journalism, and political science—to gain a better understanding of why it is so difficult to galvanize attention to slow environmental threats and sustain efforts to deal with them.

The Indian Supreme Court and International Environmental Norms

by Gautam Sundaresh

The Indian Supreme Court has been globally recognized for its inclination toward activism and its willingness to step in to fill gaps with respect to issues that affect the State and society alike. With respect to environmental issues, the Court’s activism has been markedly greater, and it has time and again played a leading role in deciding (and altering) the contours of the regulatory framework and in paving the way for a “sustainable India." This Comment analyzes one aspect of the Court's activism: its adoption and application of international environmental law principles. Looking at five judgments of the Supreme Court in chronological order, the Comment attemps to identify both the point at which the Court chose to look beyond the domestic framework and the methodology it adopted while doing so.

Articles

Deep Decarbonization of New Buildings

by Lee Paddock and Caitlin McCoy

New buildings constructed today can be expected to remain in use well beyond 2050. As a result, thoughtful decisions now can have a significant impact on reducing the carbon footprint of buildings for decades to come. Buildings use about 40% of energy produced in the United States and are responsible for about 30% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, making carbon emissions from buildings a priority for reduction. Substantial progress has been made in making new buildings more energy efficient, and technology is available that would allow for major additional reductions. But much more needs to be done in the new building sector to reach the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) goals for carbon reduction. This Article discusses the changes that need to occur and sets out recommendations to help accomplish the DDPP’s carbon reduction goals.

Green Infrastructure for Chesapeake Stormwater Management in a Changing Climate

by Cynthia R. Harris

One of the greatest impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will be the need for stormwater management. With green infrastructure, the Chesapeake region is in position to take national leadership on the issue of climate change impacts to vulnerable coastal communities and to demonstrate resiliency in the face of change. This Article examines and addresses potential legal obstacles and describes the most promising pathways within the existing legal framework. It recommends specific actions that legislative and regulatory bodies can take to modify the current stormwater management regime to more easily incorporate pragmatic consideration of climate change impacts.

In the Courts

Ninth Circuit rejects Grand Canyon uranium mining claims.

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In the Courts Archive

In the Agencies

President attempts to modify Utah national monuments.

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In the Agencies Archive

In the Congress

House advances FPA hydropower amendments.

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In the States

Colorado proposes to amend groundwater regulations.

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In the States Archive