From Thursday through Sunday I was in Boston to attend the Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association. I chaired a panel on Natural Resources, Climate Change and Animal Rights on Friday. On Saturday I spoke on a panel on “Commotion in China: Emerging Legal Issues for an Emerging Superpower.” Also on the panel with me were Professors Margaret Woo (who spoke about China’s new civil procedure code), Cindy Estlund (who spoke about union elections in China), and Alex Wang (who spoke about transparency and access to information). I spoke about the evolving role of civil society in influencing Chinese environmental policy. Much of my talk focused on burgeoning public protests over environmental conditions and the siting of chemical plants. One of the great aspects of Law and Society meetings is that professors from so many different disciplines share insights on important issues. On the panel that I chaired there were speakers from a sociology department, a geography department, a political science department and an international relations department. Climate change seemed to be the environmental issue that was getting the most attention from professors in these other disciplines.
I was really gratified to learn that my mentor, Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Friedman, was to receive the Law and Society Association’s annual Stanton Wheeler Mentorship Award. While a law student at Stanford, I had the privilege of working with Lawrence as a research assistant. We subsequently co-authored two articles and a book (The Roots of Justice: Crime and Punishment in Alameda County, California 1870-1910) that in 1982 won the Association’s J. Willard Hurst Award. When I accepted the award at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 1982, the membership of the Association then was almost entirely from the U.S. Now its international membership has grown to the point where 35% of Law and Society members are from outside the U.S. mostly of these from Europe and Asia.
Writing the letter I wrote in support of Lawrence’s nomination for the Mentorship Award made me appreciate once again the immense influence he had on my career. While speaking to a group of law clerks in D.C. a few months ago, one of them had asked me how my career would have been different if I had not been a law clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. After thinking about it, I realized that not being a Supreme Court clerk probably would not have changed my career path significantly. But were it not for Lawrence, who insisted that I should become a law professor, I probably would not have pursued what I consider the best job in the world.
On Friday Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP announced that they had canceled plans for the proposed $2 billion Freedom pipeline to carry crude oil from Texas to California oil refineries. California oil refineries refused to commit to buying oil transported by the proposed pipeline, preferring the greater flexibility of transporting oil by rail, which allows them to respond to pricing changes by diversifying their sources of supply. Valero Energy Corporation has invested $30 million in a project to build a rail terminal at its 170,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Benicia, California. Other California refineries also are preparing to receive rail shipments of cheaper oil from the midwest. Ben Lefebvre, Kinder Morgan Ends Pipeline Plan for West Coast, Wall St. J., June 1-2, 2013, at B3.
Last week a farmer in Oregon found an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat growing like a weed in his field. The discovery was made because the farmer sprayed the wheat with the herbicide Roundup and some of the wheat survived. While authorities investigate, Japan has canceled a bid on 27,500 tons of U.S. wheat, South Korea also has suspended its bidding, and EU authorities called for increasing testing of U.S. imports. In 2012 exports accounted for $8.1 billion of the $17.9 billion U.S. wheat crop. John Upton, Japan and Other Nations Say No to U.S. Wheat, Worried About GMOs, Grist, May 31, 2013.