The crisis in Flint, Michigan last year was a wake-up call for many in the world of environmental enforcement. So many things went wrong. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality bent the rules to save some money. The EPA waited far too long to get involved because under the Safe Drinking Water Act, states are “primary enforcers.” Finally, even the citizens who were affected by the unsafe water had little recourse because their ability to initiate and win in a citizen suit is so limited by agency discretion. All of these factors contributed to the devastation that happened over a period of several months during which the people of Flint, the majority of whom are African-American, drank water that contained severely high amounts of lead and other dangerous substances. Several people died as a result, and many more suffered brain damage and other illnesses from drinking water that their government claimed was safe.
During its 2012-2013 term, the Supreme Court heard and decided three cases about takings; in each case the Court held in favor of the landowner. Koontz v. St. John’s River Water Management District, 133 S. Ct. 2586 (2013), was the most influential of them all. This opinion left scholars concerned about its implications on future takings cases. Indeed, Vermont Law School professors, Sean Nolan and John Echeverria both predicted that the Koontz decision would undermine efforts by local governments to regulate land use in a way that benefits communities’ environment and economies the most.
The federal government owns a huge swath of this country, fully half of the American west. The question of how to manage all this land, especially which parts, if any, to permanently protect, has always been controversial. Today, about one-sixth of federal lands are designated as Wilderness areas, the most protective public land designation available. Many more acres remain controversial, proposed for Wilderness or other designations.
To achieve great success in renewable energy and help tackle climate change, policymakers need to identify how international trade and investment law is both promoting and inhibiting state policies. This Note explores one trade and investment agreement: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union (EU) and the United States. Critics of TTIP argue the EU’s proposed Energy Chapter for TTIP undermines renewable energy regimes. The proposal calls for (1) non-discriminatory access to transmission systems at (2) cost-reflective tariffs. However, renewable energy policies give preference to renewables—thus discriminating between types of energy—and often subsidize renewable energy sources, which skews prices. TTIP skeptics believe the Energy Chapter proposal guarantees that states with renewable energy regimes will violate TTIP. If a state violates TTIP, an investor could seek compensation under a claim of indirect expropriation. To claim indirectexpropriation, the investor would invoke TTIP’s investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision—another controversial element of TTIP. The investor would challenge the state legislation that rendered the investment moot. Critics claim these ISDS challenges undermine democratic principles and give investors too much influence over state legislation.
Science is progressing at an unprecedented rate. The scientific field is introducing revolutionary new concepts, methodologies, and products that are unlike previously patented innovations. In particular, the legal community is scrambling to play catch-up and grapple with the patentability of biotechnology.
Eliza van Lennep
In 1976, with “Title IX” written on their naked torsos, the women of the Yale rowing team marched in to the administration building to demand equality. They cited deep and vast gender-based disparities in athletics, and an atmosphere of gender-based hostility towards women in athletics at the university. They presented a letter to the school, recited by future two-time Olympian Chris Ernst, as she and her 19 female teammates stood naked, in protest in front of their administrators. The letter read in part: “These are the bodies Yale is exploiting. We have come here today to make clear how unprotected we are, to show graphically what we are being exposed to….”
Air travel is among the fastest growing modes of transportation in the world. It is not only quick, but also increasingly affordable. Businesspeople, students, and tourists alike can travel by plane across the United States or across the world in a matter of hours. However, this growing popularity in air transportation also means increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from more aircraft in the air. To put the level of GHG emissions from aviation into perspective, “[s]omeone flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year.” Not surprisingly, aircraft emissions are among the fastest growing type of GHG emissions worldwide. Indeed, for most of us, air travel is the largest portion of our carbon footprints. Historically, these emissions have been left to the industry and individual countries to regulate. But that is changing.
Imagine: a diverse group of thirty scholars from MIT gather around a court yard of palm trees to discuss the predicament of mankind in the face of five factors: unsustainable population growth, rapid industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. In 1969, inspired by United Nations General Secretary, Mr. Thant’s speech on defusing population explosion by forging global partnerships quickly, Dr. Aurelio Peccei organized the MIT conference mentioned above. If global alliances were not forged quickly, Mr. Thant feared the world’s problems would reach “staggering proportions . . . beyond our capacity to control.” This conference of great minds advances a model, known as “Limits to Growth,” which used a computer model to simulate the consequences of the five factors that ultimately limit growth on this planet.
Chicken is the United States’ favorite meat. The increased demand for poultry products has lead to the industrialization of this industry. While meat production has increased immensely, animal wellbeing has significantly decreased. Due to the profitability of raising more animals in a smaller space, stocking densities for broiler chickens have grown significantly. As a result, broiler chickens live in extremely crowded conditions, which suppresses their natural behaviors and restricts their movements. Further, the crammed conditions create high ammonia and heat levels that place undue stress on the animals and the environment. High stress conditions can negatively affect chicken health and lead to an increased risk of Campylobacter and Salmonella, two types of bacteria that cause food poisoning in humans. Therefore, the mass production of poultry increases public health and environmental concerns. In addition, raising chicken in such demeaning and subversive conditions offends many individuals’ moral concerns. Thus, state regulation is necessary to advocate for change in animal welfare practices.
The magnitude of the climate change problem requires a paradigm shift through comprehensive, effective global action. With efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), global leaders have worked to address this problem with a series of international agreements. The 2016 UNFCCC Paris Agreement (Paris Agreement) presents the newest hope for international cooperation to combat climate change.