Aug 22 2011

Playing Catch Up: Major Environmental Stories from this Summer

Published by under News

Paul Souders/Stone/Getty Images via HowStuffWorks

If you’ve been watching the blog over the summer, you’ve noticed that we’ve been on a break and just posting our Twitter Round-Ups on Fridays.  Well, now that school has started again, we’re going to resume our regular posting schedule with three posts a week.  This first post is going to highlight the biggest environmental stories that happened over the summer and might have been buried in the list of Twitter posts.

 Supreme Court Decides Climate Change Nuisance Case

SCOTUS Blog: “Opinion Analysis: AEP v. Connecticut” 

Carefully noting that it was not deciding that global warming is a problem, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Congress thinks it is, but has assigned the role of dealing with it first to the Environmental Protection Agency, with courts playing only a limited secondary role.  The decision, unanimous only in part, blocked state governments and others from going to federal court to file a claim of “public nuisance” in order to get judicial limits imposed on electric power plants’ release of “greenhouse gases” that may warm up the earth.

Grist: “Connecticut v. AEP: Public nuisance ruling may boost chances of EPA CO2 regulations”

The Second Circuit’s recent decision in Connecticut v. AEP, in which a coalition of state attorneys general sued electric power producers to cap and then reduce their carbon emissions, allows the public nuisance case to proceed and gave the environmental plaintiffs virtually everything they wanted. It should also give pause to those of us tempted to see judges as purely political: it was decided by Judges Peter W. Hall, a George W. Bush appointee from Vermont, and Joseph McLaughlin, a George H.W. Bush appointee from New York. Damn liberals. (The third panel member, one Sonia Sotomayor, is now busy with other things and did not sign the decision.). Continue Reading »

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Aug 19 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: GOP Candidates Don’t Like the EPA and News from Shell Oil Leak in North Sea

Published by under News

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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Jul 15 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: More on ExxonMobil Spill and Resistance to Keystone XL Pipeline

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Photo by Kelci Block

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Dec 01 2010

Keepin’ Cool: Determining Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear

Published by under Animal,Climate Change

Polar bear on ice, via wikimedia common

One of the most controversial animals being pushed for inclusion on the endangered species list is the polar bear.  Living in the Arctic, the most significant threat to its habitat is climate change, a controversial subject on its own, and so the polar bear was listed as threatened, a step down from the “endangered” designation.  Recently, the Interior Department designated a large swath of offshore sea ice and other areas as “critical habitat” for the bear.  This created problems for Shell, who has been trying to get permission to drill offshore in Alaska.  A key area, the Chukchi Sea, is home to one of the two largest polar bear populations in the U.S.  Below is some more information about the new habitat designation and the controversy surrounding it.

Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Deems Polar-Bear Habitat Critical, Posing Issue for Shell”

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday designated 187,000 square miles of offshore sea ice and other areas as critical habitat for polar bears, a move that could make it harder for Royal Dutch Shell PLC to begin drilling in Alaskan waters next summer.

The Interior Department issued the final rules as Shell has been lobbying the Obama administration to by the end of the year approve its plans to drill in Alaska waters, especially the Chukchi Sea. The Chukchi and the Beaufort seas are home to the nation’s two big polar-bear populations, the Interior Department said, and thus provide critical habitat for species that the U.S. government has listed as threatened.

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