10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
More than 250 environmental experts from 35 countries gather at the University of Maryland for the 10th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in July 2012

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel
Maryland students vist Israel's first solar power plant in the Negev desert as part of a spring break field trip to study environmental issues in the Middle East

Workshop with All China Environment Federation

Workshop with All China Environment Federation
Participants in March 12 Workshop with All China Environment Federation in Beijing

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition
Jordanian Justice Minister Aymen Odah presents trophy to Noura Saleh & Niveen Abdel Rahman from Al Al Bait University along with US AID Mission Director Jay Knott & ABA's Maha Shomali

Monday, July 16, 2012

Global Warming, Arctic Drilling, Texas Public Trust Decision, Kenyan Power Line (by Bob Percival)

Indications of the impact of global warming continue to become manifest. As of this week more than 24,000 daily high temperature records have been broken so far this year. The first half of the year has been the hottest on record.

Last week ten environmental groups filed suit in federal court in Alaska to block offshore Arctic oil drilling by Shell. Shell has obtained the necessary permits for exploratory drilling this summer, but the environmental groups argue that the Interior Department underestimated the risks of an oil spill in the fragile Arctic environment. Shell has asked EPA to ease the emissions requirements of the air pollution permit it had been granted for its drilling vessels in January 2012. Last week BP announced that it was shelving its proposed Liberty project to drill in the Beaufort Sea offshore of Alaska based on its conclusion that it would be too costly to meet stricter environmental standards adopted in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Last week Texas district court judge Gisela Triana ruled that the “public trust” doctrine that dates from ancient Roman law applies to the atmosphere and is not limited to water, rejecting an argument by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. However, she declined to compel the Commission to write rules to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, noting that Texas is involved in pending litigation challenging EPA’s efforts to regulate such emissions. This is the first modest success in the public trust climate lawsuits filed in 11 states that have been coordinated by the Oregon nonprofit group Our Children’s Trust.

The World Bank has voted to approve funding for a transmission line that would enable Kenya to receive power from the controversial Gilgel Gibe II dam in southern Ethiopia. Several local and international environmental groups had lobbied the bank not to provide funding for the project because of the environmental damage the dam would cause.

I spent the weekend in Miami with my son where we attended the three weekend games between the Washington National and Miami Marlins in the Marlins new stadium. It was gratifying to see how many Nationals fan were at the games and also to have nearly 30,000 people at each game in the stadium, which seems to have revitalized interest in baseball in Miami. In past years the old stadium would be virtually empty and there would be only five or six Nats fans at the Miami games. Having a stadium with a retractable roof solves Miami’s problem of frequent summer rains, though baseball is more enjoyable when played outdoors. On Saturday several people called or texted us to say that they saw us on the MASN TV broadcast sitting directly behind the Nats dugout.

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