by Alexandra Dunn, Stewart Leeth, Michael Mahoney, Betsy Otto, Dawn Rittenhouse, and Vail Thorne
As climate change alters global weather patterns and the earth’s population continues to grow and urbanize, water resources are poised to become an ever increasing catalyst for volatility, even in regions where water scarcity has not historically been an issue. Water law and policy is complex, varying regionally, country by country, and even within national borders. As more stakeholders compete for decreasing or increasingly stressed water resources, businesses around the world are changing the way they view water within their business model, and policymakers are looking at new levers to ensure responsible use of this increasingly precious resource. On October 25, 2016, ELI convened an expert panel of business leaders, legal scholars, and nongovernmental advocates for an indepth discussion about the law, policies, and private initiatives that will play important roles in the future of water resource governance. In this Dialogue, we present a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.
Since 1990, China’s carbon emissions have increased 73% due to economic growth. Although China’s emissions per capita are only about one-fifth of those from the United States, China is the largest emitter in the world. China signed the Paris Agreement on April 22 and plans to decrease its carbon dioxide emissions by 18% in the second half of this decade, according to the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan. Against this background, this Comment explores two questions: (1) Is China’s existing legal framework sufficient to fulfill its new pledges? (2) How will the current policies be strengthened and expanded? Analyzing the evidence available, this Comment evaluates the challenges of implementing the Paris Agreement in China, and puts forward suggestions on how to improve climate change regulations and policies.
This Article examines the complex CAA program known as new source review (NSR), which affects virtually every major manufacturing facility and power plant in the United States. The NSR program provides important health and environmental benefits but has become a significant impediment to the growth and modernization of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Because of a new, more stringent air quality standard for ozone, the resulting changes in the NSR program may effectively prevent industrial development in some parts of the country. The authors propose administrative reforms that EPA could take to address some of the major concerns about NSR while still maintaining the environmental benefits of the program: (1) replace current deterministic, upper-bound modeling requirements with a probabilistic approach to air quality modeling; (2) expand the pool of emission reduction credits that may be used to offset emissions from new or expanded facilities; and (3) take actions to facilitate NSR permitting when there are changes to national ambient air quality standards. The authors also offer two potential statutory reforms: (1) allow permit applicants to avoid certain NSR requirements by paying emissions fees that state or local environmental agencies would use to pay for or subsidize emissions reductions; or, more fundamentally, (2) replace the NSR program with a comprehensive system of emissions fees for each of the NSR pollutants.
The express mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System “is to administer a national network of lands and waters for conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States.” But the establishment of individual refuges has not always focused on achieving a genuine network of conservation lands. Taking the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge as a model, this Article explores how the landscape-level approach can help the Refuge System more fully realize its conservation mission and restoration potential.
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a fundamentally important part of the legal systems in both the United States and China. In this Article, the authors compare and contrast the development of EIA in the two countries, including (1) an introduction to EIA in China, (2) the U.S. experience with EIA, (3) challenges to EIA in China, and (4) the latest development of EIA in China. They conclude that with a series of proactive actions taken by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, 2015-16 has been a milestone in the development of the EIA process in China. However, many provisions of the Chinese regulations and documents are too general to be enforced and should be further consolidated by additional rulemaking.
In the Courts
Youth climate suit against U.S. government proceeds in federal district court.