I have just returned from a week in Chine where I taught a course on Principles of Environmental Law at Shandong University School of Law in Jinan. I gave a 2-hour lecture every day for five days to a class of approximately 20 students. The students were wonderful and many are interested in coming to the United States to study. Because law is an undergraduate subject in China, the students were a bit younger than the students I teach in the U.S. One of the students who is about to graduate will begin an LL.M. program in Washington, D.C. in August. Others are studying to take the LSAT in preparation for applying to J.D. programs in the U.S.
While in Jinan I stayed at the University Hotel in the heart of the central campus of Shandong University. My lectures were delivered in the School of Law, which is on the old campus a few miles away. Each day students would meet me at my hotel and escort me to class, insisting on carrying my briefcase for me. During the day on Saturday two of my students took me on a tour of Jinan. We climbed the Jianfoshan Mountain that overlooks Jinan, which features a park with a thousand statues of Buddha. We then visited the main city square prior to eating a lunch of street food in the old part of town. After lunch we visited Daming Lake and Baotu Springs, a park where the city’s famous springs are located. On Saturday evening April 28 I gave a lecture on the debate in the U.S. over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the audience was Wendy M. Keats, a retired U.S. Justice Department lawyer who is teaching a class on constitutional law at Shandong University.
Jinan is in Shandong Province just 200 miles from Linyi, the town where blind Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng escaped from extralegal house arrest last week and made his way to Beijing where he is under the protection of the U.S. Embassy. None of the professors I met were aware of the situation because it is not being covered in the Chinese media. Photos from my week in Jinan are posted online at: http://gallery.me.com/rperci#100943.
The Brazilian Congress shocked environmentalists and the administration of President Dilma Rousseff on April 25 by adopting forestry legislation championed by farming interests. The Congress rejected a carefully negotiated compromise and adopted legislation that will reduce required forest set-asides on farms and waive fines for past clear-cutting. President Rousseff is now considering whether to veto the legislation.
On April 27 the comment period closed on an EPA rulemaking to determine whether to allow palm oil to be used in diesel fuel to meet renewable energy mandates in U.S. energy legislation adopted in 2007. In January EPA determined that diesel made from palm oil emitted only 11 to 17 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, not enough to meet the mandate that such fuels be at least 20 percent cleaner. Fierce lobbying has ensued with representatives of palm oil interests arguing that EPA has underestimated the environmental benefits of palm oil, while environmentalists argthe impact of palm oil on deforestation. EPA assumed that only 9 to 13 percent of palm oil production will occur on environmentally sensitive peatland, while environmentalists point to a new study claiming that more than half of it occurs there. Brad Plumer, EPA’s Crucial Climate Decision, Washington Post, April 28, 2012, at A10.
Prominent Cambodian environmentalist Chut Wutty, director of the National Resources Protection Group was shot and killed at a police checkpoint in Koh Kong Province last week while guiding two journalists on a tour to expose illegal logging operations. The Cambodian military has stated that it is unlikely to conduct any further investigation of the killing because the officer who shot Wutty, In Ratana, subsequently committed suicide.