By Helen Marie Berg, General Member of the Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law. The original post can be viewed here. Please leave all comments on the original post.
In January 2016, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appealed to the federal government for a $96 million emergency aid grant in response to the tremendous and growing public health crisis in Flint, Michigan. City and state officials caused the crisis. They decided to switch the city’s drinking water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, but failed to add the proper anti-corrosion treatment to the lead pipes that distribute water to the city’s 100,000 residents. That decision caused the lead to leach from the pipes, ultimately poisoning all who drank the city’s water.
Rising Seas in the Holy City: Preserving Historic Charleston in the Face of Global Climate Change
By Will Grossenbacher
Will Grossenbacher is a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Environmental Law Journal. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate.
From October 2–5, 2015, the State of South Carolina, and the City of Charleston in particular, experienced historic rains: sites in the Charleston area reported up to twenty-six inches of rain. The downpour combined with high tides to create flooding that closed dozens of streets throughout the City. Then, at the end of October, Charleston experienced the fourth-highest tide ever recorded in the City. Persistent winds combined with the bi-monthly spring tide to create a high tide that reached 8.7 feet above mean lower low water level in Charleston Harbor. The two unrelated events in the same month show just how vulnerable the City is to flooding. When rising sea levels and other climate-change-induced flooding are added to the mix, the flood risk will only increase, especially for the Charleston’s numerous historic properties.
Charleston is a city rich in historic resources. In fact, the City’s Historic District contains more than 1400 “historically significant buildings.” Additionally, of the seventy-seven National Historic Landmarks (“NHLs”) in the State of South Carolina, thirty-three are located in Charleston. While the City of Charleston has begun working to address flooding issues, it has yet to address specific climate-change-related threats to its historic resources. Charleston should therefore look to the example provided by other coastal cities and begin implementing law and policy changes designed at protecting historic resources from the impacts of global climate change.
Implementing Supplemental Environmental Project Policies to Promote Restorative Justice
By Eric Anthony DeBellis
Eric DeBellis is a 3L at Berkeley Law, where he is Senior Executive Editor of the Ecology Law Quarterly. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Any comments to this piece should be posted here.
The overwhelming majority of environmental enforcement actions settle out of court, but overlooking settlements as merely a mechanical means to save time and court costs is a mistake. An agency’s approach to settlement has tremendous environmental justice implications that go largely unnoticed.
In a traditional enforcement settlement model, the government claims the exclusive right to speak for the people. It brings an enforcement action against the defendant, and the two parties negotiate a penalty amount. The defendant signs a settlement agreement and pays the penalty to the Treasury. This is the “Speeding Ticket” settlement model. This model is expedient, but it excludes affected communities. The Speeding Ticket model remains the norm today, but several state and federal agencies have begun to explore an alternative tool: the supplemental environmental projects (SEP).
Scalia's Swan Song: The "Irreconcilability Canon" Resolves the Clean Air Act's Section 111(d) Drafting Error and Encourages Good Lawmaking
By Brenden Cline,
Brenden Cline is a 3L at Harvard Law School where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate. Click here to see the original post and leave a comment.
[This] is a ‘rare case.’ It is and should be . . . . But every generation or so a case comes along when this Court needs to say enough is enough.
— Chief Justice Roberts
As my law school graduation nears, I’d like to advance a common-sense argument for the Clean Power Plan’s statutory authority that only a law student could make: the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court should reject EPA’s and challengers’ strained readings of the duplicative amendments to Clean Air Act section 111(d) and instead follow the late Justice Scalia’s “irreconcilability canon” to give these amendments no effect. To date, just one brief filed in the torrent of Clean Power Plan litigation mentions the irreconcilability canon in passing. I think this interpretive tool warrants more attention.
So quit the jiggery-pokery, put down the applesauce, and take your head out of a bag. Justice Scalia may no longer be with us, but his immortal words endure.
About the ELRS:
The Environmental Law Review Syndicate (ELRS) is a collaborative effort of the nation’s leading environmental law journals that provides an outlet for student scholarship and fosters academic. ELRS operates as a cooperative syndicate: each week a different student submission is selected for publication on the websites of all member law reviews.