On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Aspen Publishers released a new edition of my environmental law casebook along with its 2009-2010 statutory and case supplement. The casebook, first published in 1992, remains the most widely-used environmental law text in U.S. law schools, according to Aspen, which also publishes the runner-up. This is the sixth edition of Environmental Regulation: Law, Science and Policy. Between 1992 and 2000 the casebook was on a four-year revision cycle (with new editions appearing in 1996 and 2000), but since 2000 we have prepared new editions every three years (in 2003, 2006 and 2009) because of the rapid pace of developments in the field.
When my coauthors and I began work on the first edition in 1988, we all were teaching environmental law in law schools: Chris Schroeder at Duke, Alan Miller at Widener, and Jim Leape at Utah. Jim is now the Director General of WWF International; Alan is the GEF and Climate Change Coordinator for the International Finance Corporation; and Chris is awaiting Senate confirmation to be assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy in the Justice Department. I remain the only coauthor currently teaching Environmental Law - in fact after this fall I will have taught it for four consecutive semesters for the first time ever (at China University of Political Science and Law, Maryland, Harvard, and again at Maryland), but Chris and Alan continue to make substantial contributions to the revisions.
One big change from the early days of casebook revisions is that the publisher has greatly reduced its lead time for publication. Thus, due to careful advance planning we were able to incorporate fully in the new edition of the casebook and the supplement an important Supreme Court decision (the Coeur Alaska case) issued on June 22, 2009, something I have not seen another casebook or publisher able to accomplish.
This week another important meeting was held in Bonn, Germany to help formulate a post-Kyoto regime for controlling global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) prior to the Copenhagen conference in December. Little progress was made as developing countries continued to reject any effort to include them in GHG controls. India reiterated its adamant opposition to such controls, while Su Wei from China’s National Development and Reform Commission announced for the first time that his country expects its GHG emissions to peak in the year 2050.
Meanwhile on Thursday the Australian Senate rejected a cap-and-trade program to control GHG emissions proposed by the Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The legislation previously had been approved by the Australian House of Representatives. The Green party, which opposed the legislation as not stringent enough, joined the opposition Liberal/National coalition, who argued that no action should be taken until after the Copenhagen conference, in voting to defeat it. However, public opinion polls show that most Australians favor the program, and the Labor government vowed to resubmit it to Parliament later this year. If it is again defeated, the Prime Minister can call an election that he appears likely to win, which may strengthen his hand politically.
Greenpeace, which opposes the U.S. House-passed cap-and-trade legislation as too weak, released an embarrassing secret memo from the American Petroleum Institute (API). In the memo API proposed organizing a series of “town hall” meetings where present and former energy industry employees could be recruited to angrily denounce the Obama administration’s cap-and-trade legislation. The proposal was patterned on the strategy being used by opponents of the Obama administration’s health care reform legislation. One problem with the idea is that API’s members are not unified in their opposition to cap-and-trade and some reportedly objected to the proposal, which may explain why the memo was leaked. Shell, BP America and Conoco Phillips are members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which supports cap-and-trade. Jim Pickard & Kate Mackenzie, Secret Memo Reveals Oil Industry Plan for Anti-Emissions Law Rallies, Financial Times, Aug. 15-16, 2009, at A1.
While India continues to oppose any global agreement to control its GHG emissions, Jairam Ramesh, its minister of state for environment and forests, stated this week that he understands the threat climate change poses to India’s water supply, which is heavily dependent on the monsoon season. This week he announced the establishment of a $2.5 billion fund for the regeneration and management of India’s forests, which absorb 11 percent of India’s GHG emissions (at 1994 levels). Ketaki Gokhale, India Starts $2.5 Billion Forest Fund, Wall St. J., August 14, 2009.