Month

January 2011
The Appalachian Mountain range dates back 300 million years. Its coal is the residue of peat bogs formed in tropical coastal swamps when there was a single supercontinent, Pangaea. But it takes only a matter of months to tear down a mountain peak using explosives and giant excavators. The technique is both faster and less...
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The recent line of climate change cases presents the question of whether climate change is sufficiently unique to enjoy immunity from tort law. It would seem odd to think that it is. The rules of tort are well established, and courts have historically applied these rules to fill in the gaps in federal environmental legislation....
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Administrative rulemaking is a challenging way to manage public lands. The relative ease with which each new administration can reverse policy is particularly troublesome with regard to the conservation of roadless areas. The history of wilderness preservation shows that however sincere the promises of protection in administrative orders and plans may be, “anything less than...
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Congress enacted the 1972 Clean Water Act to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” To achieve this goal, the CWA created a framework that uses Water Quality Standards, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for non-point source pollutants, and a system of permits that must be acquired before dredged...
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The Marcellus Shale has the potential to be one of the largest natural gas plays in the United States, and its successful development appears to entail widespread use of horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. While the oil and gas industry asserts these technologies are safe, the environmental impacts associated with extraction remain unknown. In...
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For several years, many voices, including Texas energy baron T. Boone Pickens, have been touting natural gas as the best energy source to form a bridge between the current fossil-fuel economy and a renewable energy future. Proponents contend that not only is natural gas a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, producing lower greenhouse gas emissions, but...
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As domestic U.S. pools of conventional oil and gas dwindle, energy companies are increasingly turning to fossil fuel reserves contained in the carbon rich-sands and deep shales of Canada, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain West. Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming hold oil shale reserves estimated to contain 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of...
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Eight members of Congress have introduced a bill called the State Sovereignty Wildlife Management Act. The sole purpose of HR 6485 is to render any listing of wolves as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act legally irrelevant. While I have no reason to assume this bill will pass, the fact that officials elected...
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When climate legislation died last summer in Congress, one cause was the powerful drumbeat of claims that the bill would bring economic disaster. The legislation would amount to a massive tax hike, devastating an already crippled economy and throwing more people out of work, charged Senator James Inhofe (R-Ok) and Glenn Beck. It would be...
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The Supreme Court has granted cert in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, the federal common law nuisance case brought by several northeastern states against the electric power injury for damages from climate change. The petition argued that plaintiffs lack standing to sue, preemption of federal common law by the Clean Air Act, and preclusion under...
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