IHS Chemical Week


Top 10 Watch List For Environmental Law in 2011

11:30 AM MST | January 4, 2011 | By ALEX SCOTT

Vermont Law School (VLS; South Royalton, VT) has published a ‘Top 10 Environmental Watch List’ for U.S. environmental laws and policies that it predicts will play out in 2011. The interesting thing for the chemical industry is that it will be directly affected by at least seven of the predicted issues.

Climate change is an underlying theme throughout most of the 10 predictions. As VLS states, global warming is not going away just because Washington politicians don’t want to deal with it. One of the key questions the VLS authors set out to answer is ‘will the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rules, which would significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from new motor vehicles and major industrial sources, survive judicial challenges?’

An outline of the 10 predictions is below, with a link to the full study at the end of this article.

1. Congressional failure to enact climate change legislation: Professor Gus Speth, a pioneer of the environmental movement, explores what went wrong and whether the EPA and state and local lawmakers will step forward in 2011.

2. The nation’s worst oil spill: Associate Professor Betsy Baker, an expert in the law of the sea, examines the legal and policy fallout from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

3. First U.S. greenhouse gas rules: Professor Pat Parenteau, whose expertise includes climate change, looks at whether the EPA’s efforts to restrict global warming pollutants will survive judicial and political challenges.

4. Climate change in the courts: Associate Professor Martha Judy, an expert in environmental liability, delves into a Supreme Court case that would allow public nuisance lawsuits against major air polluters.

5. California’s climate law dodges a bullet: Professor John Echeverria, whose expertise includes climate change, looks at what’s next for the Golden State’s landmark anti-global warming law that survived a challenge at the ballot box.

6. EPA clamps down on mountaintop removal coal mining: Professor Mark Latham, an expert in environmental enforcement and regulation, examines the EPA’s crackdown on the coal industry’s practice of tearing off mountain peaks.

7. Wind and solar projects make breakthroughs: Assistant Professor Don Kreis, an expert in energy efficiency, law and regulation, examines plans for the nation’s first offshore wind projects and the largest solar energy projects on public lands.

8. Supreme Court reviews genetically modified crops: Professor Jason Czarnezki, whose expertise includes food law and agricultural policy, scrutinizes the Supreme Court’s first ruling on so-called Frankenfoods.

9. EPA’s water transfer exemption remains in force: Assistant Professor Laura Murphy, an expert in the Clean Water Act, explores the conflict over transferring polluted water from one water body to another.

10. U.S. military going green: Professor Stephen Dycus, an expert in national security law and environmental law, delves into the Pentagon’s efforts to use more renewable energy and decrease its reliance on fossil fuels.

Bonus—The Accidental Environmentalist: Professor John Echeverria, whose expertise includes Constitutional law, reflects on the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

The full report is available here.

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