On Wednesday July 7 Professor Roy Gardner released the 2010-2011 Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition problem. The problem, which is available online at: http://www.law.stetson.edu/tmpl/academics/bio/internal-1-sub.aspx?id=4642, involves an oil spill that sounds suspiciously like the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. In the problem the spill affects another country who initiates an action in the International Court of Justice after the oil company responsible for the spill files for bankruptcy and is unable to pay any compensation to the other country. Regional competitions will be held in Eastern North America, Western North America, North India, South India, Ireland and Southeast Asia. We also hope to have teams from Africa and the Middle East. Winners of the regional competitions will advance to the International Finals, which will be held at the University of Maryland School of Law on March 17-20, 2011.
Mexican authorities are bracing for possible damage to their country from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Luis Fueyo, director of Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, noted that oil from the spill already has reached Mexican waters, though it is still miles from shore. See Adam Thomson, Mexico Trains Public to Fight Oil Spill (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/abc74bb8-8aa9-11df-8e17-00144feab49a.html). Mexican authorities estimate that they already have spent $40 million preparing worst case contingency plans and training subsistence farmers and fishermen to help combat the spill if it moves closer to shore.
On Tuesday July 6 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations to reduce the transport of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) from powerplants in 31 eastern states. Information about the proposed rule is available online at: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/actions.html#jul10. The rule will require a 71% reduction in SO2 and a 52% reduction in NOx emissions over 2005 levels by 2014. EPA estimates that the rule will save between 14,000 and 36,000 lives annually, producing benefits of $120 to $290 billion per year for an annual cost of $2.8 billion. EPA has worked on this rule for more than a decade. The latest proposal is a response to a 2008 court decision that struck down a weaker version of the rule issued by the Bush administration in 2005. I was interviewed about the significance of the rule on the public radio program “Living on Earth.” The interview can be heard online at: www.loe.org. Click on the link “EPA Orders Power Plants to Clean Up”.
On Tuesday I was interviewed by Helge Joergens and Stefanie Korte, two researchers from the Freie Universitat Berlin, who are working on an important global environmental law project funded by the European Union, called the Consensus Project (see http://www.fp7-consensus.eu/) Their portion of this research is examining the factors that contribute to the dismantling of regulatory policy decisions and they are studying the U.S. experience with new source review as an example of this phenomenon.
I was delighted to hear this week from Kiantar Betancourt, one of my environmental law students, who is working for a law firm in Ascunsion, Paraguay this summer. He reports that a committee of the Paraguayan Congress has expressed interest in the possibility of adopting a unified environmental law code.