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Vibrant Environment

Western Regional Power Market: Sustainable Path Forward or Stumble Back to More Emissions?

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern
Monday, July 15, 2019

Would the formation of a regional power market in the western United States be a step forward into a more sustainable future or a stumble backward into continued use of fossil fuels for the region? Much of the debate concerns how a regional power market would increase or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Advocates of the regional power market argue that with increased use of renewable energy and its more efficient integration and transfer, carbon emissions would decrease. In contrast, proponents against the new framework maintain that less state control over their energy grids could result in less support for renewable energy and an increased use of coal. The formation of this market could lead to a cleaner, greener future or it could incentivize continued use of fossil fuels within some of the western states.

A High Steaks Battle: What Can Legally Be Considered “Meat”?

By Well Witoonchart, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Does “meat” have to come from a living, breathing animal? According to proponents of cellular agriculture, this may not always be the case. This new industry aims to produce “meat” by growing animal cells outside of a living body, envisioning a future where humans can consume beef, pork, chicken, and seafood without having to slaughter a single animal. The process of producing such cell-based food involves taking cells from a live animal and using a growth medium to grow the cells into large, edible tissue. In recent years, this technology has generated public excitement, attention, and, most importantly, investment. However, regardless of what the products of cellular agriculture look like or when this technology will be fully developed, naming this product is much more complicated.

Are Secondhand Cars Treasure or Trash? Takeaways From the Second INECE Compliance Conversation

By Shehla Chowdhury, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, July 8, 2019

Over the last several decades, many countries have sought to decrease their carbon footprint by creating stricter emissions standards for motor vehicles. However, once these standards are in place, a serious question arises: what should be done with older, “dirtier” vehicles? Often, the answer has been to export them to regions with less strict vehicle standards.

Overcoming Impediments to Offshore CO2 Storage: Legal Issues in the United States and Canada

Monday, July 1, 2019

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a hot-button topic as a strategy to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CCS entails capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and industrial plants at the source, then injecting the captured carbon dioxide into underground geologic formations for storage. Much research has focused on sequestering carbon dioxide onshore, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers. Offshore CCS also may be feasible, but presents several governance and legal challenges.

How Sustainability Efforts and Women’s Advancement Globally Can—and Must—Go Hand-in-Hand

By Cindy Starrett, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP, Kristina Wyatt, Global Commercial Transactions Senior Counsel Senior Manager, Sustainability Programs, Latham & Watkins LLP, Jennifer Roy, Associate, Latham & Watkins LLP, Samantha Seikkula, Associate, Latham & Watkins LLP, and Melanie Hess, Summer Associate, Latham & Watkins LLP
Friday, June 28, 2019

Climate change threatens to dramatically increase inequality and create greater hardships for women and girls, in large part because of their disproportionately vulnerable economic, social, and political positions worldwide. Food shortages disproportionately affect the health of women and girls, and in many regions, women are more directly dependent on natural resources threatened by climate change for their livelihoods. For instance, a U.N. report observed that in developing countries, women account for 45-80% of all food production, and about two-thirds of the female labor force is engaged in agricultural work. In such developing regions, women face unique vulnerabilities from the increasing unpredictability of food sources as well as the loss of income or jobs if agricultural resources are impacted by climate change.

Fast Fashion: Cutting Corners to Fuel Excessive Consumption

By Kashaf Momin, Research & Publications Intern, and Kaveri Marathe, Founder, Texiles
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When’s the last time you found yourself idly shopping out of boredom or buying a shirt just because it was on sale? If it was in the last week, then you’re not alone. The average American shopper buys 60% more clothing today than they did just 15 years ago, but keeps it for only half as long. At the end of the year, this results in approximately 80 pounds of unwanted clothing per person!

EPA's New Section 401 Guidance: Will It Limit States' Authority or Just Make Them Mad?

By Michael R. Campbell, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP, Barbara D. Craig, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP, Cherise M. Gaffney, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP, and Laura Kerr, Associate, Stoel Rives LLP
Monday, June 24, 2019

Frustrated by some states’ use of their Clean Water Act (CWA) §401 authority to oppose or delay energy projects—particularly the transportation of fossil fuels—the Trump Administration issued the second installment in its efforts to restrict that authority on June 7. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Water Act Section 401 Guidance for Federal Agencies, States and Authorized Tribes  strictly interprets state deadlines under §401 and takes a narrow view of the grounds on which states may deny or condition their approval of projects. The guidance follows an April 10 executive order, and will be followed in August by proposed EPA rules, with final rules by May 2020.

Maps, Mistakes, and Murder: Is Carpenter the Most Critical Environmental Case This Year?

By Kieran Minor, Research & Publications Intern
Friday, June 21, 2019

Several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term touched environmental law, ranging from jurisdictional disputes over a state’s right to ban uranium mining to whether state or federal laws apply when hunting moose from a hovercraft along an Alaskan river. An unusual amount of cases navigate the intersection of environmental regulations and tribal sovereignty, the Court so far siding with tribes on the issues of state fuel tax exemptions and hunting rights. One pending case, Carpenter v. Murphy, is not explicitly environmental, but the answer to its core question has potentially seismic environmental implications: is the eastern half of Oklahoma still, technically, an Indian reservation? While the case primarily involves criminal jurisdiction, the degree to which the Court accepts or rejects this question may alter taxation, regulation, and even ownership of one of the most energy resource-rich regions in the country.

Secretary Bernhardt Says He Doesn’t Have a Duty to Fight Climate Change. He’s Wrong.

By John D. Leshy, Emeritus Professor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law Solicitor, Department of the Interior (1993-2001).
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

With the help of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has had a long and proud history of tackling pressing challenges through responsible and inclusive management of America’s public lands. One might expect it would continue that tradition as climate change has become a major challenge confronting the nation.

How Do We Bounce Back? Defining and Measuring Community Resilience

By Sierra Killian, Research Associate, and Rebecca L. Kihslinger, Senior Science and Policy Analyst
Monday, June 17, 2019

With climate change actively intensifying impacts from natural disasters, it is now more important than ever to design and implement community resilience plans and actions that will minimize damage when disasters occur. To prepare for an increasingly uncertain and fraught future, communities are identifying vulnerabilities, planning for forthcoming disasters, and taking action to become more resilient. But what exactly does resilience mean? What does it mean to be a resilient community? And, importantly, is there a concrete way to measure a community’s progress toward resilience as it is defined by the community so that its members can ensure they are taking appropriate steps to be better able to respond to a new normal?