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Volume 51, Issue 6 — June 2021


Environmental Law, Disrupted by COVID-19

by Rebecca Bratspies, Vanessa Casado Perez, Robin Kundis Craig, Lissa Griffin, Keith Hirokawa, Sarah Krakoff, Katrina Kuh, Jessica Owley, Melissa Powers, Shannon Roesler, Jonathan Rosenbloom, J.B. Ruhl, Erin Ryan, and David Takacs

For over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about systemic racial injustice have highlighted the conflicts and opportunities currently faced by environmental law. Scientists uniformly predict that environmental degradation, notably climate change, will cause a rise in diseases, disproportionate suffering among communities already facing discrimination, and significant economic losses. In this Article, members of the Environmental Law Collaborative examine the legal system’s responses to these crises, with the goal of framing opportunities to reimagine environmental law. The Article is excerpted from their book Environmental Law, Disrupted, to be published by ELI Press later this year.

Endangered Species at Sea: Applying the ESA to Maritime Jurisdictions

by Quint Doan

Although some species fall solely within the jurisdiction of one country, it is common for species to fall outside of one state’s exclusive control. The United States protects endangered species in its territory and in international waters through the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But the extent of U.S. jurisdiction under the ESA is largely untested, and endangered species policy interacts with international law. This Article clarifies the protections of the ESA in U.S. jurisdiction and maritime regimes. It makes evident that the United States’ narrow application of the ESA does not align with established principles of extraterritoriality or customary international law. It also illuminates the need for broader international actions to protect endangered species.

The Legal and Administrative Risks of Climate Regulation

by Jonathan H. Adler

Prioritizing federal environmental regulation as the primary means of achieving dramatic, rapid reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions may be a strategic mistake. Regulatory mandates, particularly if based upon existing statutory authority, will be vulnerable to legal attack, obstruction, and delay; climate legislation can reduce legal risks and accelerate policy implementation, but only on the margin. Adopting regulatory controls will be immensely resource-intensive for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies. Even with authorizing legislation, regulatory strategies may remain more time-consuming, conflict-ridden, and legally vulnerable than fiscal measures. A carbon tax, in particular, would be more legally secure and administratively easier to implement than regulatory controls on energy use and GHG emissions.


Annual Review of Chinese Environmental Law Developments: 2020

by Haijing Wang and Mingqing You

In China, the year 2020 witnessed further evolution of environmental protection and development of legislation. This included adoption of the Civil Code, which contains several provisions on natural resources and environmental liability; a prohibition on the consumption of wildlife; and laws on biosecurity, Yangtze River protection, and environmental crimes. This Comment summarizes some of the year’s major developments.

Digital Technology and the Environment

by Wayne S. Balta, Jacob Dencik, Daniel C. Esty, Scott Fulton, and Terry F. Yosie

In September 2020, IBM convened a round table of experts and stakeholders to discuss the potential of data and digital technologies to advance environmental sustainability. More than 25 participants representing government, the private sector, academia, and not-for-profit organizations from around the world attended the event, and explored the opportunities and challenges associated with using data to further environmental objectives. This Comment is adapted from the round table report.


Global Perspective on Climate and Energy Justice

by Randall S. Abate, Patrícia Galvão Ferreira, Jae-Hyup Lee, Esmeralda Colombo, and Damilola S. Olawuyi

The first biennial symposium of the Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University was held March 25-27, 2021. The symposium assembled experts from the government, nonprofit, academic, community, and private sectors to examine topics at the intersection of human rights and the environment and to propose solutions for the future. One session hosted panelists for a round table discussion on climate and energy justice. This Dialogue presents a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.