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Liability for Environmental Damages from the Offshore Petroleum Industry: Strict Liability Justifications and the Judgment-Proof Problem

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, one of the worst environmental man-made disasters and the largest ever oil spill in the United States, scholars and government investigators analyzed the offshore regulatory regime and its implementation in search of failures that led to the accident and possible solutions. Relatively few critiques of the regulatory regime discussed strict liability for environmental damages from oil spills. Enacted in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, this regime is a part of the solution, but is not a complete answer. One issue not addressed by this liability regime is the judgment-proof problem—some injurers are unable to pay the full amount for which they have been found legally liable because they simply do not have the economic assets.

Mar 25, 2020
Tamara Lotner Lev

Gulf Restoration Network v. McCarthy: The Necessity Determination Mechanism to Ensure Government Accountability

Since the 1970s, the Gulf of Mexico has suffered from human-produced nutrient pollution. The ongoing pollution from the Mississippi River Basin has created a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico that harms biodiversity and the fishing and tourism industries. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition from environmental groups for federal water quality standards and refused to make a determination about whether the pollution problem necessitated federal intervention, environmental organizations sued.

Mar 25, 2020
William C. Mumby

Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA and the Duty to Research FIFRA Applications

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) prohibits the sale or distribution of any pesticide without prior registration and approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA may deny applications for pesticide registration when “necessary to prevent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” On September 10, 2015, the Ninth Circuit found EPA did not adequately research the effects of the chemical sulfoxaflor on bee populations in Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA. The court determined that EPA failed to follow its internal standard for data collection.

Mar 25, 2020
Alex Trabolsi

Grand Canyon Trust v. Williams: Tribal Land Protection and the Battle for Red Butte

In the midst of a Northern Arizona plateau, a rust-colored hill rises steeply from a base of sandstone to a summit of volcanic rock. The Havasupai Tribe (“the Tribe”) refers to this land as the “mountain of the clenched fist,” and it is one of their most sacred spaces. More commonly known as Red Butte, this property has faced mining threats for decades. Objections based on the site’s cultural and religious significance have been considered and outweighed, leading to mountainside protests and legal action.

Mar 25, 2020
Natalie C. Winters