Perhaps the most stunning news of the last week was the decision by President Thein Sein of Myanmar to cancel the construction of the $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River in the northern part of the country. The cancellation occurred after vigorous environmental opposition to the dam endorsed by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently emerged after seven years of house arrest imposed by the country’s former military government. Myanmar residents questioned why the country was planning to flood an area the size of SIngapore and cause immense environmental damage, as documented in an environmental impact assessment, for a project from which 90% of the electrical generation was to be exported to China. The cancellation apparently has angered Chinese officials, including Lu Qizhou, president of the China Power Investment Corporation that was constructing the 6,000 MW project.
Last week the Girl Scouts of America announced that they will move to reduce the use of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies in response to an environmental campaign launched by two teenager scouts from Michigan - Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen. The campaign was launched after revelations that palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia had been contributing to massive deforestation that contributes to climate change. The Girl Scouts announced that they have directed their suppliers to use as little palm oil as possible in Thin Mints, Samoas, and Trefoils and to switch to sustainable palm oil by 2015. Julie Jargon, Girl Scouts Move to Limit Palm Oil in Cookies, Wall St. J., Sept. 28, 2011.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s 18-member Task Force on Climate Remediation Research has endorsed a crash research program into geoengineering as a means to protect the planet from climate change. Geoengineering includes proposals to scatter particles in the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight away. A copy of the report is available online at: http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/BPC%20Climate%20Remediation%20Final%20Report.pdf
An independent panel in Japan revealed on September 30 that the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had sought to enlist employees of the country’s nuclear power plants to attend public forums and voice support for nuclear power. Mitsuru Ore, Japan Nuclear Agency Adds to Mistrust, Wall St. J., Oct. 1-2, 2012, at A11. This tactic seems to mimic that employed by the American Petroleum Institute in organizing “energy citizen” rallies enlisting employees of fossil fuel power plants to exaggerate opposition to environmental regulation, except for the additional scandal of a government agency being involved in promoting the rallies. Another panel advising the Japanese government concluded that it will be difficult to ensure the financial stability of the Tokyo Electric Power Company without allowing it to restart some of its undamaged nuclear reactors. Mitsuru Ore & Kana Inagaki, Tepco Reactor Restarts Are Push, Wall St. J., Oct. 4, 2011 at B5.
This week I received a copy of the latest issue of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law with articles from Vermont Law School’s March 2011 symposium on “China’s Environmental Governance.” The articles include John Nagle’s “How Much Should China Pollute?,” Jason Czarneski’s “Climate Policy & U.S. China Relations,” Adam Moser’s “Pragmatism Not Dogmatism: The Inconvenient Need for Border Asjustment Tariffs Based on What Is Known About Climate Change, Trade and China,” Jennifer Turner’s “Choke Point China: Confronting Water Scarcity and Energy Demand in the World’s Largest Economy,” and my article on “China’s ‘Green Leap Forward’ Toward Global Environmental Leadership.” The articles are not yet posted online, but hopefully the VJEL will soon update its website.