In the wake of the Supreme Court’s blockbuster decision this year in Massachusetts v. EPA, new judicial rulings grappling with climate change have emerged from federal district courts around the country. Although the parties and the nature of the claims have varied from case to case, constitutional issues have consistently remained front and center. Some courts have now dismissed nuisance lawsuits under the political question doctrine (NY, CA, MS) and on standing grounds (MS), while another court has rejected claims by industry that Vermont’s new greenhouse gas regulation is preempted by the foreign policy prerogatives of the federal government and by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. More climate change rulings are expected, with all of this litigation only just beginning to work its way through the federal judiciary. What does it all mean? Where is climate change case law headed?
The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), in partnership with the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS) and its chapters at the George Washington University Law School, the Georgetown University Law Center, and the other DC-area law schools, invited Washington area lawyers and law students to explore these key issues at the confluence of U.S. climate change policy and constitutional environmental law. Two panels of seasoned legal experts—many of whom participated in these cutting-edge cases—analyzed this fast-changing legal landscape, as they took questions from the audience and offered insights on significant new developments in the federal courts.
Panel One: The Federal Courts Step Back: Political Question Doctrine and Standing
Leslie Carothers, President, ELI
John Echeverria, Georgetown Law, Executive Director, GELPI
Joseph Guerra, Sidley Austin LLP
Benjamin Krass, Law Offices of Matthew Pawa
Panel Two: State Innovation on Climate Change: Statutory and Foreign Policy Preemption
Lee Paddock, Associate Dean, GW Law School
Charles Haake, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Kevin Leske, Vermont Assistant Attorney General
Doug Kendall, Community Rights Counsel