On Saturday afternoon I participated in a program on “Justice and the Global Economy” to mark the inauguration of Maryland’s new law dean Phoebe Haddon. More than 500 people attended the program which was held at the spectacular new student center on our campus in downtown Baltimore. The audience included prominent members of the Maryland legal and governmental communities and many of Dean Haddon’s former colleagues from Temple University.
The program featured talks by Dean Haddon, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and a keynote address by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Kirk explained why global trade is important to the U.S. economy, noting that 95 percent of all the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. Prior to his address I made a presentation on environmental justice and the global economy as part of a panel with Hogan & Hartson partner Louis Lebowitz and my colleague Shruti Rana. I noted that environmental groups split over trade liberalization with some believing it would encourage production to move to countries with lax environmental standards, generating pressure to relax domestic environmental regulation. Other environmentalists believed that free trade agreements created an opportunity to establish new institutions to highlight lax enforcement of environmental standards in other countries. While trade liberalization has produced mixed results to date, I argued that it would be crucial to achieve consensus at Copenhagen on a new global regime of controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that satisfies the legitimate concerns of developing countries without sparking renewed protectionism.
On Wednesday Professor Zhang Shijun from Shandong University arrived at Maryland to begin a year serving as a visiting environmental law scholar. Just hours after arriving in Maryland, Professor Zhang and I attended a reception for visiting faculty which gave him an opportunity to introduce himself to my colleagues. On Wednesday afternoon he attended my Environmental Law class and on Wednesday evening my assistant Suzann Langrall hosted a wonderful dinner for him at her home near campus. Suzann is helping to organize a trip to China that we will be taking with our environmental law students and alums during spring break next March. On Tuesday we hosted an informational session for people interested in the trip where we showed photos and video from the previous Maryland law trip to China in March 2008.
On Wednesday Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, chairs of the Senate Environment and Foreign Relations committees respectively, unveiled draft legislation to be considered in the Senate this fall that would cap and reduce GHG emissions. They proposed GHG reductions somewhat more ambitious than those approved by the House of Representatives in June. Their proposal has many details that remained to be specified, including how emissions allowances would be distributed. On the same day EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that she had approved a notice of proposed regulations to regulate under the Clean Air Act GHG emissions from sources that emit more than 25,000 tons per year. The proposed regulations, which are available online at: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/documents/GHGTailoringProposal.pdf, are likely to put more pressure on Congress to approve its own program to control GHG emissions. However, later in the week Obama climate and energy czar Carol Browner expressed the view that it was unlikely that there will be sufficient time for Congress to agree on new GHG control legislation prior to the Copenhagen conference in December.
Today marked the end of the Major League Baseball regular season, except for a one-day playoff that will be held in Minnesota on Tuesday between the Twins and the Detroit Tigers. The team I root for, the Washington Nationals, became the first team in baseball history to both start a season with seven straight losses and to end it with seven straight wins. On Saturday morning I was delighted to attend our law school’s annual 1L softball tournament where more than 200 students from each of the ten first year small sections competed. Congratulations to Professor Deborah Hellman’s Section G, which won the tournament.