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Volume 36, Issue 7 — July 2007


Breathing Easy: Improving Indoor Air Quality Through Green Building as Public Policy

by Scott J. Anchin

Editors' Summary: Poor indoor air quality is a significant, growing concern for office workers. Indoor air quality-related illnesses like sick building syndrome impose a variety of personal, economic, and legal costs on both workers and employers. In this Article, Scott Anchin argues that green building in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards has the potential to significantly reduce instances of indoor air quality-related illnesses, resulting in healthier and happier workers, higher productivity, and considerable long-term cost savings. Whether green building will improve indoor air quality depends largely on the support of state and local governments, and to a lesser degree, the federal government and nonprofit organizations. Anchin argues that these organizations should use financial incentives, legislative reform, and education for developers and the public to help green building achieve this goal.


Some Thoughts on the Interdisciplinary Aspects of Environmental Enforcement

by Joel A. Mintz

Editor's Summary: A multitude of parties are involved in the enforcement of environmental laws. While attorneys, scientists, investigators, and other trained professionals working at the federal, state, and local level are all necessary to ensure compliance, the effective enforcement of environmental laws requires teamwork. In this Article, Prof. Joel Mintz explores this issue, focusing on environmental enforcement personnel within EPA. He looks at the typical circumstances under which civil and criminal cases are brought, describes the various skills different players bring to the table during the enforcement process, and presents an ideal model of interdisciplinary enforcement cooperation. He also reviews the historical background of environmental enforcement and the trends that have taken place at EPA over the years. And while future levels and styles of cooperation among environmental departments and agencies is too difficult to predict, he offers some recommendations to promote effective teamwork in the years to come.

Helping the Dragon Leapfrog: A Survey of Chinese Energy Policy and U.S. Energy Diplomacy at the Crossroads

by Michael B. Cummings

Editors' Summary: As the economies of developing countries grow, so too do their energy needs. And in an increasingly interconnected world, these changes have repercussions for the rest of the world, both economically and environmentally. In this Article, Michael Cummings looks at the energy developments of China, a nation whose energy use doubled while its economic growth quadrupled between 1980 and 2000. He notes that while China's energy sector will continue to grow with its economy, what direction it will take and how big it will grow remain uncertain. He urges the world community, particularly the United States, to cooperate with and provide support to China, as a massive expansion of China's energy sector would have profound effects on the environment and climate change, the world energy and oil markets, and risks related to nuclear proliferation.

Environmental Governance: Issues and Challenges

by Wanxin Li

Editors' Summary: Deciding when and how to regulate behavior is an important first step toward protecting our environment. Below, Wanxin Li addresses the concept of environmental governance in hopes of improving our understanding about the environmental problems we face, the institutional arrangements responding to these challenges, and the efficiency and effectiveness of available policy instruments. After describing those situations under which governmental intervention is justified, she examines the policymaking process and available regulatory tools and enforcement mechanisms. She then analyzes the current situation in China, looking at its environmental problems, policy responses, achievements, and the work that remains. She concludes that China faces several challenges, including streamlining environmental regulatory implementation and enforcement, enhancing the institutional capacity of local governments, and improving monitoring and enforcement.

<i>Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. v. EPA</i>: Why It Is Important

by John C. Becker

Editors' Summary: On February 28, 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated and remanded portions of EPA's concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) rule. The ruling was not a win for either side of the debate, as it requires permitting authorities to review and incorporate nutrient management plans into their permits, but prevents EPA from requiring CAFOs to apply for permits based solely on their potential to discharge pollutants to U.S. waters. EPA, per the court's remand order, is working on a new version of the rule, and environmental groups, the farm industry, and other interested stakeholders are monitoring the issue closely. In this Article, Prof. John C. Becker analyzes the court's decision, focusing not only on how the ruling impacts parties directly involved in the case, but also on its implications for environmental law generally.