Last week Argentina announced a joint venture between Chevron and the former Spanish oil company YPF that was expropriated last year by the Argentine government. The joint venture will use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from the Vaca Muerte shale formation, one of the largest in the world. The agreement was announced a month after the Supreme Court of Argentina reversed a lower court decision that had frozen the assets of Chevron’s Argentine subsidiary to help enforce an Ecuadoran judgment against Chevron for polluting the Amazon. The Supreme Court ruled that Chevron Argentina is a separate company from the parent corporation and not responsible for the debts of its parent.
On Wednesday July 14 Nissan announced that it would “push back the timing” of the release of a luxury electric car to be called the Infiniti LE. Nissan executives indicated that because electric vehicle technology is making rapid advances that were unforeseen two years ago when the car was announced, it would be better to wait to incorporate the new technology in the LE. While Nissan officials declined to be more specific, analysts speculated that the new technology may involve a fast-charging combo plug or the use of liquid cooling for the car’s lithium ion battery pack.
On July 12 the government of Spain announced the third cutback since 2012 in its subsidies for solar power. Launched in 2007, the subsidies enabled generators of solar power to obtain 12 times the market price of electricity generated by other means. The result was an explosion of investment in solar energy, with Spain’s renewable energy output doubling in six years and the costs of the subsidies ballooning 40--fold from 2007 to 2012. The latest cutback will reduce the subsidies by 2.7 billion Euros on top of 5.6 billion Euros in cuts made during the past two years. The Cost del Sol, The Economist, July 20, 2013, at 57.
On July 12 and 14th people took to the streets in Jiangmen city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong to protest plans to build a $6 billion uranium processing facitility to service China’s growing nuclear power industry. Following the first protests, the local government announced that the facility would be abandoned, but the public again took to the streets to protest a rumor that the plant was only being postponed and not abandoned. In response to the second protest on July 14 the Jiangmen city government confirmed that the plant would not be built. This reputedly is the first major public protest over the Chinese nuclear power industry. At the time of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March 2011, China had 13 nuclear power plants in operations, a number it planned to increased to 200 by the year 2020. After a temporary moratorium was imposed in response to the Fukushima accident, in October 2012 China allowed nuclear construction to continue. But China has extended the moratorium to at least 2015 for the 30 nuclear power plants that had been planned for inland locations. There are now 17 nuclear power plants operating in China, all along the coast. Limiting the Fallout, The Economist, July 20, 2013, at 41.
Today I arrived in Vermont where I will be teaching a two-week summer course in Comparative U.S./Chinese Environmental Law at Vermont Law School. After the classroom component of the course concludes on August 1, I will be leading a field trip to China with five of the students. Chinese NGOs expressed concern last week that a new draft of the proposed legislation allowing NGOs to bring public interest environmental litigation would only allow one group - the All China Environment Federation -- to bring such lawsuits because the draft would only allow government-sponsored NGOs (known as “GONGOs”) to bring such cases.
I now have posted on my parallel website at www.globalenvironmentallaw.com my photos of the 11th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law that was held last month in New Zealand. I also have posted in a separate album the photos of my two weeks exploring New Zealand with my wife after the Colloquium. To view the photos visit www.globalenvironmentallaw.com and click on the “Photo Album” link at the top of the page.