On November 20 the governments of the U.S. and Mexico signed an historic agreement governing how they will share water from the Colorado River during the next five years. Mexico agreed to reduce its share of the water during drought conditions in return for an increased share of water in times when it is more abundant. Mexican farmers will be paid to give up three percent of their water allotment with the loss to be made up through improvements that will reduce leakage from their irrigation canals. Regional water agencies in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California will be purchasing 100,000-acre feet of water from Mexico. The agreement also includes a pilot program of water releases that are designed to restore wetlands in Northern Mexico that once had been an important habitat for migratory birds.
On November 19 the California Air Resources Board reported the results of its first quarterly auction of greenhouse gas (GHG) allowances under the state’s cap-and-trade program to combat global warming and climate change. More than seventy entities were qualified as bidders to participate in the auction. All 23,126,110 metric tons of vintage 2013 allowances that were offered for sale were sold at the auction. The settlement price per allowance was $10.09 per metric ton, slightly above the minimum auction reserve price of $10.00. Details of the auction are available at CARB’s website at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auction/november_2012/auction1_results_2012q4nov.pdf. A last minute lawsuit filed by the California Chamber of Commerce that claimed that the auction was a tax CARB had not been authorized to levy failed to stop the auction.
Airlines continued to hail the EU’s decision to suspend the January 1, 2013 date when foreign airlines flying to and from the EU were to be required to pay GHG emissions charges. The suspension was undertaken in order to give the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) an opportunity to negotiate a global agreement. The EU warned that if the ICAO fails to make progress toward reaching a global agreement it will reinstate the charges. Legislation giving the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the authority to prohibit U.S. airlines from paying the charges was signed into law by President Obama today.
On November 27 I participated in a panel on public interest environmental litigation in China at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. The program was sponsored by the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum. Also on the panel were Jingjing Liu from Vermont Law School and Jessica Scott from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who spoke about current environmental litigation in China by public interest groups, including the All China Environment Federation. I focused on the amendments to Article 55 of China’s Civil Procedure Code which cryptically authorizes environmental public interest litigation by agencies and other related groups as authorized by law. A tape of the presentation and copies of the slides will be placed online by the Wilson Center. See http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-people’s-interest-openings-for-pollution-public-interest-law-cases-china.