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Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — January 2013


Complexo Madeira: Environmental Licensing for Large- Scale Hydropower in Brazil

by Daniel Sherwood Sotelino

Hydropower is often considered a climate-friendly solution to energy needs. Brazil has elected to construct a major hydroelectric project in the Amazon region: Complexo Madeira. A case study of Complexo Madeira illuminates the Brazilian licensing process for this project and reveals the challenges and benefits of such a process, including the resulting policy changes and political rifts. Brazil’s licensing process is relatively demanding, and the environmental impact studies for Brazilian projects are lengthy. The Complexo Madeira environmental impact studies considered only nuclear and thermoelectric alternatives to this major hydropower project, and failed to consider energy efficiency or distributed generation as legitimate alternatives—a critical oversight that should be avoided in future hydropower project licensing.

Aviation Emissions: Equitable Measures Under the EU ETS

by Renee Martin-Nagle

The EU resolved, beginning in 2012, to begin application of its emissions trading system to flights landing in or departing EU territory—including international flights. The decision was met with strong resistance from the international community. The European Court of Justice, however, found in favor of the EU with a ruling that EU regulatory authority extends to flights arriving in or departing its territory. Under continued protest, the EU has delayed application of the regulations in order to give the International Civil Aviation Organization an opportunity to study the problem and craft a solution.

Why Environmental Law Clinics?

by Adam Babich and Jane F. Barrett

The law clinic has become an increasingly important part of legal education, giving students the opportunity to learn practical skills as well as to internalize core legal values. Pedagogical concerns preclude clinics from letting fear of criticism drive decisions about how they represent clients. The legal profession’s idealistic aspirations pose challenges, and political attacks have answered clinicians’ efforts to live up to these aspirations. An error underlies such attacks, however: holding lawyers responsible for their clients’ legal positions despite the profession’s duty to ensure that such positions get a fair hearing.

The Local Identity of Smart Growth: How Species Preservation Efforts Promote Culturally Relevant Comprehensive Planning

by Whitney G. Stohr

The concept of sustainable development encourages practitioners to view national, regional, and localized growth in terms of environmental, economic, and sociocultural impact. Traditional planning strategies primarily address the environmental and economic elements of metropolitan planning; in many circumstances, the sociocultural element is limited to efforts to achieve greater social interaction via walkable downtowns, parks, and other institutions conducive to community interface. A fundamental change in the manner in which planning authorities view the sociocultural element of sustainability is necessary. Culture exists in many forms, including historic buildings and battlefields, traditional market economies, predominant ethnic and spiritual traditions, and important geophysical attributes. Using local culture to inform the nature of growth can create a sense of place that is socially and culturally relevant. Shared cultural ideals, namely the preservation of politically and culturally significant species, can be utilized as a vehicle for comprehensive planning strategy.


What Is the Primary Right?

by Carter Dillard

This Comment addresses a problem with today’s efforts to protect the environment, especially with regard to climate change, and offers a solution by suggesting we change how we think about the notion of freedom. This is the problem: how we do justify, based upon principles most people can accept, the government’s limiting our freedom in order to protect the environment? This is the solution: such “limits” on our freedom can be justified based upon the widely accepted principle that every person has the right to be let alone by others, that being free also means having the choice to be independent of or away from other persons and their influence. The right to be let alone by others and be free of them, taken literally and to its logical conclusion, means persons have a right to leave others and thus society in general and enter places free from all human influence, or what we often call wilderness.


Vapor Intrusion: The State of the Science and the Law

by Mark Distler, Richard Kapuscinski, Megan Conlon, Christopher Roe, and Larry Siegel

Vapor intrusion—migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building—is now part of nearly every site investigation and many real estate transactions. As the science of vapor intrusion continues to evolve and states continue to update their guidance, professionals involved in vapor intrusion sites need to stay on top of it all. What is the process for a vapor intrusion investigation? What is the science behind such an investigation? How will these new regulations influence such investigations? On September 6, 2012, ELI convened an expert panel to discuss the science of vapor intrusion, how vapor intrusion investigations are completed, new and anticipated guidance and regulations at the state and federal levels, and case studies of various vapor intrusion investigations.