Nov 16 2012

News This Week: Preventing Flooding in Sandy’s Aftermath and BP Reaches a Settlement

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

EDITOR’S NOTE: Normally, this post would be served by posting a digest from the Twitter feed at @WMELSBlog. However, presumably due to the API changes Twitter made, the add-on that creates that digest is not working. So, keep an eye on the twitter feed for all the stories we’re posting and in the meantime, I’ll be making these shorter collections of big news stories from the week.

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BP, the oil company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, will plead guilty to the 14 criminal charges leveled against it  and pay over $4 billion in penalties. This settlement does not cover any federal civil charges that may be pending, including those for damage to natural resources. It also does not include fines under the Clean Water Act, which could amount to over $21 billion. [New York Times]

It goes almost without saying that sound levees are important, especially during hurricanes. Surprisingly, however, in New Jersey there is no state agency in charge of overseeing the levees and the levees would have to get to an incredible state of disrepair before the federal government would step in to fix them. [NPR]

New York City is considering building a movable steel barrier to keep future flooding, like what happened during Hurricane Sandy, out of low-lying areas. The project could cost up to $29 billion dollars including having to shore up the areas around the barrier. [New York Times]

Evidence suggests that the world needs to reduce its carbon emissions more and faster to avoid the catastrophic warming of the globe. One estimate found that even if we doubled the current rate of reduction, we will experience a 6 degree warming before the end of the century. [Scientific American]

In other NYC flooding news, the Gowanus Canal flooding has caused concerns about health and safety problems in the neighborhood. Gowanus Canal is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country and a Superfund site. [New York Times] Continue Reading »

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Sep 28 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Decision in Kivalina v. Exxon and House Passes “Stop the War on Coal Act”

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Feb 17 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Colorado’s Roadless Rule and Two-Headed Trout

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Feb 03 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Environmental Mentions in the State of the Union and Pythons Decimate Everglades Mammals

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Jan 30 2012

Green Business and the Cost of Pollution

Published by under Miscellaneous

Protest about the Love Canal contamination by a resident, ca. 1978 or so, via wikimedia

Last weekend William and Mary’s Environmental Law and Policy Review held a symposium on green businesses.  It featured many fascinating and intelligent speakers, all discussing the ways in which businesses have taken measures to lessen their negative impacts on the environment.  For the most part, it seemed like the focus of each talk was on voluntary, private measures that businesses were taking in this arena.  When government regulation was discussed, it was generally in reference to how the government could encourage such actions or make them more convenient or effective.  One speaker in particular, Dr. Rick Levin, emphasized that businesses were acting without government regulations and in ways that were outside government’s ability to force action.

I found myself agreeing with many of the sentiments expressed in the Symposium; generally applicable regulations can only require so much before they risk causing significant disadvantages to the smaller businesses who must abide by them.  However, I also heard a second theme running throughout the speakers’ lectures: that of the businessman who “went green” because it was cheaper for him not to pollute.  Even Dr. Levin mentioned the fact that pollution is expensive and it was in some business’s best interest to increase their sustainability and therefore avoid the monetary cost of their pollution.

But what makes pollution expensive?  It certainly wasn’t expensive for Hooker Chemical to bury toxic waste beneath Love Canal or for companies to dump flammable chemicals into the Cuyahoga River.  The difference today is that we have government regulations that make such actions illegal and require polluters to account for the toxic substances they produce.  While these regulations are certainly not perfect, they at least force businesses to internalize and account for their effects on the environment.  Without such regulations, it is doubtful that any business would find monetary benefit in reducing pollution.

Making a sustainable business is a wonderful goal that should be encouraged by consumers and governments, but in a political season rife with attacks on environmental regulations we must remember how and why we got to a place where businesses are looking to go above and beyond.  Without the regulations that protect our environment, it wouldn’t be cost effective not to pollute.  Without those regulations, the price of pollution would be paid for with the health of communities rather than the profits of companies.  So, while considering how to move forward with green businesses, and based on this Symposium there are a wealth of amazing ideas on this score, let’s make sure that we don’t lose sight of what got us here.

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Nov 11 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: The Health Tab for Climate Change Reaches $14 Billion and Australia Passes Landmark Carbon Tax

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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