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The Legitimacy of Judicial Climate Engagement

Courts in key climate change cases have abdicated their constitutional responsibility to protect a prejudiced and disenfranchised group (nonvoting minors and future generations) and remedy an insidious pathology in public discourse and the political process: the industry-funded climate disinformation campaign. This Article posits that this abdication results from courts’ uneasiness about displacing the prerogatives of democratically elected bodies.

Apr 01, 2020

Governing Cooperative Approaches under the Paris Agreement

Parties to the Paris Agreement can engage in voluntary cooperation and use internationally transferred mitigation outcomes towards their national climate pledges. Doing so promises to lower the cost of achieving agreed climate objectives, which allows countries to increase their mitigation efforts with given resources.

Apr 01, 2020

Does NEPA Help or Harm ESA Critical Habitat Designations? An Assessment of Over 600 Critical Habitat Rules

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the centerpiece of federal environmental law. This “broadest and perhaps most important” of environmental laws requires federal agencies to publicly weigh environmental impacts before proceeding with federal actions. NEPA has been criticized because it can delay development. Other critics describe NEPA as “bureaucratic red-tape” and claim that repealing NEPA “would not make a whit of difference to the environment or public health.”

Apr 01, 2020

The Paris Agreement in the 2020s: Breakdown or Breakup?

Just four years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, there are serious warning signs that the Agreement could unravel in the 2020s. Not only did President Trump’s 2017 withdrawal announcement damage the universality and reciprocity of the Agreement, but many parties are not on track to reach their own voluntary carbon reduction pledges.

Apr 01, 2020


Colluding to Save the World: How Antitrust Laws Discourage Corporations from Taking Action on Climate Change

“The loftiest of purported motivations do not excuse anti-competitive collusion among rivals. That’s long-standing antitrust law.” So begins a USA Today opinion piece by Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General and head of the Antitrust Division. Delrahim was defending a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into four major automakers who had recently announced they would continue to meet California’s fuel efficiency standards even as the Trump Administration moved to roll back higher efficiency standards at the federal level. The agreement between the automakers will likely lead to higher prices for consumers, which—regardless of other positive benefits—could be illegal under antitrust law. But should it be?

Jul 27, 2020

Salmon Lessons For The Delta Smelt: Unjustified Reliance On Hatcheries In The USFWS October 2019 Biological Opinion

Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, in October 2019 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Trump Administration issued a new Biological Opinion (BiOp) for coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project (2019 USFWS BiOp). The 2019 USFWS BiOp issued by the Trump Administration found that anticipated water project operations would not jeopardize the survival of the endangered delta smelt, a fish species dependent on low-salinity conditions and found only in the brackish estuary where the freshwater of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers mix with the seawater of the San Francisco Bay. The “no jeopardy” determination in the 2019 USFWS BiOp contrasted with the previous 2008 USFWS BiOp, which found that anticipated water project operations would likely push the endangered delta smelt into extinction due to elevated salinity levels.

Jun 26, 2020

A Polymer Problem: How Plastic Production and Consumption is Polluting our Oceans

Typically, when a new product comes on the scene, it takes several generations to evaluate its use and environmental impact. However, synthetic plastics really only began to take over around 50 years ago, and we’re already seeing a movement to ban, or at least drastically reduce, the material.

Conduit to Tribal and Environmental Justice? Unpacking Washington v. United States

Popularly referred to by the general public in Washington State as “the culvert case,” Washington v. United States (“Washington V”) has ramifications beyond the removal of barrier culverts precluding safe fish passage. This case brought together several lingering and hotly contested legal issues

Jan 14, 2019

Ecology Law Quarterly, one of the nation’s most respected and widely read environmental law journals.