Despite another concerted effort to have the U.S. Senate ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, conservative Republicans announced last week that they had enough votes to block ratification. Support for ratification includes an unusually broad coalition of environmental, business, military and government leaders who argue that it will give the U.S. more clout in resolving disputes over Arctic resources and over control of the South China Sea. As noted in previous blog posts, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sponsored full page ads supporting ratification, perhaps the only time that they have supported environmental interests, but a small group of conservatives who argue that any foreign treaty infringes on U.S. sovereignty has vehemently opposed ratification for decades. Senator Jim Demint (R-S.C.) announced that he had obtained commitments from four more Republicans to vote against ratification, bringing the number of opponents to 34, enough to prevent the necessary two-thirds vote for ratification in the Senate. The new commitments to vote against ratification came from Republican Senators Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Johnny Isakkson of Georgia. In a subsequent interview with Phyllis Schaffly’s Eagle Forum, Demint essentially agreed that Republicans should never support ratification of any treaty.
On July 17 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected industry challenges to EPA’s new 1-hour national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for nitrogen oxide (NO2). The court unanimously ruled that EPA had not acted arbitrarily or capriciously in promulgating the standard, which was found to be consistent with the Clean Air Act. The decision’s language bluntly rebuked the petitioners for some of their attacks on the agency’s action, which the court implied were rather far-fetched.
Today I started teaching a course in Comparative China/U.S. Environmental Law at Vermont Law School. I am staying in a beautiful cabin near Barnard, Vermont where I can really enjoy nature in between classes. The course will meet for two weeks and then some of my students will accompany me on a field trip to China. I have long wanted to teach in Vermont’s wonderful summer program and I am delighted that I finally am able to make it happen.