by John C. Cruden, Alex A. Beehler, John Conger, Ned Farquhar, James G. Van Ness
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) manages several hundred thousand buildings at over 5,000 sites, using over 30 million acres of land. As stewards of natural resources, DOD is faced with structural and environmental management tasks of monumental proportions. These tasks do not exist in a vacuum and are often integrally related to the surrounding built and natural environments. The integration of military installations and the local environment involves questions of transportation, land buffers for sound protection, munitions testing, and more—all of which have environmental implications for air and water quality, wetlands and species protection, and land remediation. Ocean and air transportation raise special concerns at a time when DOD is promoting the use of alternative energy sources and energy conservation. On July 18, 2013, ELI convened a panel of experts to explain more about the specific challenges DOD faces and how they are addressing them through initiatives, policy, and action.
Growth-induced land development caused by highway and other projects must be considered as a significant indirect effect under NEPA. For this review, lawyers must look to the regulations adopted by CEQ specifying the causation and foreseeability tests for indirect effects. Several reports discuss procedures for deciding whether a highway could cause growth-induced land development, and recommend a prescreening process to make this decision. Case law also addresses when indirect effects must be considered. The cases pay limited attention to causation and foreseeability requirements, and agencies did not use a prescreening process in any of the decided cases. However, the criteria courts used to decide when growth-induced land development would occur are consistent with those suggested in the highway project reports.
The vast majority of scientists agree that in the coming decades, climate change will have profound impacts on the global environment. During this same time, the world population is expected to grow, and many developing regions of the world are poised to become more affluent. These changes will result in increased demand for food and other agricultural products. Modern industrialized agriculture is particularly not well-suited to adapt to the changes that are likely to occur. Modeling agricultural systems on the types of ecologically resilient systems that occur in nature will reduce agriculture’s vulnerability and improve its capacity to adapt.
China is now experiencing economic, social, and environmental challenges simultaneously on a massive scale. In response to the dilemma between rapid economic growth and severe environmental deterioration, China’s policymakers are considering introducing the dynamism of sustainable development into the practice of designing and implementing policies consolidated by sustainable development so as to overcome the shortcomings of traditional policies. This consideration has been crystallized in China’s new policies since 1994, in which China’s policymakers have increasingly attempted to consider the “triple bottom line” of economic feasibility, environmental capacity, and social equity simultaneously, rather than designing and implementing policy objectives in economic, social, and environmental spheres separately.
For over two decades, various think tanks, politicians, and scientists, among others, have spread misinformation about the causes of climate change and the integrity of climate scientists. Partly because this misinformation campaign has distorted the marketplace of ideas, the United States has not addressed climate change with significant new legislation. Existing causes of action provide no repercussions for climate science misrepresentation, despite the possibly catastrophic consequences that may result if the United States fails to take significant steps to address climate change. A narrow new cause of action for the fraudulent misrepresentation of climate science is necessary and appropriate.
In the Courts
Ninth Circuit says environmental groups lack standing in climate case