Policy Initiative Launches StatePowerProject.org

State policies promoting the deployment of renewable energy have played important roles in the rapid growth of wind and solar energy.  But over the past few years, those policies are increasingly being challenged as unconstitutional.  Challenges are wide ranging but most focus on two grounds: preemption by the federal government, or State overreach into interstate commerce.

Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative is launching Statepowerproject.org, to track these cases.  The site includes summaries of litigation, background about key concepts, and the judicial decisions and filed briefs.  We offer the site as a clearinghouse and reference for stakeholders, students, and researchers with an interest in these cases.

Environmental Law Society’s NAELS Conference Was  a Huge Success!

On March 28-29, our Environmental Law Society had the privilege of hosting the 26th annual National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS) annual conference.  The conference was entitled “Environmental Justice: Where are We Now?” and celebrated the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s Executive Order on environmental justice. The conference helped raised awareness about the EJ movement and fostered great discussions on how EJ can move forward on pressing topics, including access to healthy food, clean air, and public transit. The conference included an opening address by Dr. Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice,” a keynote address by Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and an interview with Professor Gerald Torres, architect of the Executive Order, as well as numerous panels filled with insightful and inspirational community activists. The conference drew practitioners, students, professors and activists from around the country, and we are so proud of our students for all their hard work organizing the conference.

Round-up of Recent Exciting Events

The Environmental Law Program has had a busy spring semester! Professor Freeman has a new paper “Old Statutes, New Problems” with Prof. David P. Spence coming out in the Pennsylvania Law Review. The paper argues that in the absence of Congressional action and updating, agencies can and should adopt old statutes to fit new problems. She recently gave a talk about the paper at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and you can listen to the talk here or here.

Professor Lazarus is also on the move, as he recently gave a keynote address at Florida State University College of Law’s conference entitled “Environmental Law Without Congress.” Professor Lazarus also has a new ELI article out available here.

EPI Director Kate Konschnik and EPI Energy Fellow, Ari Peskoe, published a report on utilizing energy efficiency programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’ from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Paper can be found here. Politico’s Morning Energy briefing, Energy CollectiveUtility Dive, and Greenwire have all reported on the report.

Clinic Amicus Brief Referenced During Supreme Court Oral Argument

During oral argument in UARG v. EPA, the greenhouse gas permitting case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Solicitor General Don Verrilli, arguing on behalf of EPA, cited the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic’s amicus brief. The clinic’s brief was filed on behalf of Calpine Corp., a Fortune 500 utility company, and described and defended the current greenhouse gas permitting regime. In response to a question about how the Best Available Control Technology requirement functions for greenhouse gases, General Verrilli explained, “Well, it’s an evolving process, Your Honor, and there are now 140 or so permits that have been issued applying BACT to greenhouse gas emissions.  There is some very helpful discussion of this kind of specifics in two places:  The State Respondents’ brief, pages 35 to 39, and the Calpine amicus brief.”  The brief has also received significant press coverage from outlets such as NPRReutersThe Boston Globe, and Bloomberg Sustainability.

Class Supreme Court Visit & Prof. Freeman and Lazarus Weigh In on the Greenhouse Gas Case

The class posing in front of the Supreme Court

On Monday February 25, Professor Lazarus’ advanced environmental law class traveled down to Washington, D.C. to listen to oral arguments in UARG v. EPA. Read more about the visit here. Additionally, both Professor Freeman and Lazarus have been actively commentating on and discussing the case. Collectively, they have been interviewed by Washington PostBloomberg Sustainability, and NPR’s The Takeaway. (Professor Freeman also commented on the case for SCOTUSblog.)

Clinic Files Amicus Briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

On January 28, 2014, the Clinic filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Utility Air Regulatory Group v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  This case involves challenges to EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration program of the Clean Air Act.  Clinic student William Cranch (JD ’15) wrote the brief under the supervision of Clinic Director Wendy Jacobs and Senior Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho.

The Clinic also filed two amicus briefs on February 14, 2014 in related cases before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court involving a proposed power plant in Brockton, Massachusetts.  Clinical students Alexandria Shasteen (JD ’14), Jean Tanis (JD ’15), and Zachary Kearns (JD ’14) worked with Clinic Director Wendy Jacobs and Clinical Instructor Aladdine Joroff on these briefs.

Prof. Richard Lazarus Visited Cuba to Discuss Deepwater Drilling

Briefing with the Energy Ministry, Regulatory Agency, and oil and gas industry.

In January 2014, Prof. Richard Lazarus traveled to Cuba as part of a fact-finding team sponsored by Council on Foreign Relations, to meet with Cuban officials to explore the potential for the US and Cuba to coordinate efforts to address the environmental risks of a well blow out and oil spill presented by deepwater  drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, including preventing such blowouts, containing wells in the immediate aftermath of any blowout, and mitigating the harm caused by any resulting oil spills, as well as other shared environmental issues faced by the two nations.

Global Climate Change and U.S. Law Co-edited By Prof. Jody Freeman Out April 2014

In April 2014 the American Bar Association will publish the second edition of Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, which is co-edited by Mike Gerrard and Jody Freeman. The first edition appeared in 2007 and was widely adopted in law school courses; this second edition adds several entirely new chapters (covering NEPA, ESA, civil remedies, water, cap and trade, CCS, agriculture and forestry, non-climate international agreements, adaptation, geoengineering, and four on energy regulation), and brings everything up to date.  Emmett Clinical Director, Wendy Jacobs, and EPI Director, Kate Konschnik, both contributed chapters to the textbook.

Supreme Court Review & Preview Recap

Professor Freeman and Professor Lazarus expounded on the significant environmental cases of last year’s Supreme Court term in a panel moderated by Environmental Law Institute (ELI) President, John C. Cruden.   Read a full summary of the event here or watch the full address below.

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