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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

EU Nuclear Safety Report, Arkansas Takings Argument, Asian Carp Delay & CDM Update (by Bob Percival)

Last week Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, announced that EU countries may need to spend as much as 25 billion Euros ($32.3 billion) to increase the safety of their nuclear power plants. The announcement was based on the results of a report on the safety of nuclear power plants in Europe that had been commissioned by the EU in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi disaster. The report concluded that safety standards in the fourteen EU countries that use nuclear power are high, but that they upgrades need to be made to ensure that nuclear power plants can survive extreme natural events. Allesandro Torello, Billions Needed to Improve Safety on Nuclear Plants, Wall St. Journal, Oct. 5, 2012, at A8.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument on Wednesday October 3 in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States. The case involves the question whether the federal government can be held liable for damage to state-owned land caused by releases of water from a federally-operated dam. The releases, which occurred between 1993 and 2000, caused flooding on state-owned wilderness downstream from the dam, killing thousands of trees. The U.S. Court of Claims awarded the state of Arkansas $5.8 million for a taking of state property, but the Federal Circuit reversed. In the Supreme Court the federal government argues that temporary flooding can never be a taking because property owners assume the risk of periodic flooding when their property is located in a floodplain. Arkansas argues that the state should be able to recover for a temporary taking because the releases were intentional, the flooding foreseeable and not the result of natural forces. At the argument many of the Justices seemed sympathetic to the state’s position, though some noted that the flood control benefits of the dam may offset some of the damages.

On Friday October 5, Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich) announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will miss the January 2014 deadline for developing a plan to prevent invasive Asian Carps from reaching the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River. The Corps initially had said that it would complete such a plan by 2015, but in July 2012 President Obama signed legislation setting the January 2014 deadline. Congressman Camp vowed to “hold the Corps accountable” for missing the new deadline.

The price of certified emission reduction (CER) credits under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) plunged to as low as $2.16 per ton last week. The UN issued the one-billionth CER credit last month. Each credit represents one ton of carbon emissions avoided by projects undertaken through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established pursuant to the 1997 Kyoto {Protocol. More than 4,500 CDM projects have now been pursued in 75 countries. Until recently the market price of CERs has closely tracked the price of EU allowances (EUAs) traded under the European Union’s cap-and-trade program. The EU has allowed companies also to use CERs to meet their emissions control obligations. But as the the number of allowances in the EU program approaches a cap of 1.4 billion tons, CER prices have collapsed. Once the number of offsets reaches 1.4 billion, only 300 million more tons of allowances can be used until the end of 2020. Pilita Clark, UN-led Global Carbon Market Close to Collapse, Financial Times, Oct. 3, 2012, at 25.

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