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, December 29, 2013

Challenge to BP Settlement Rejected, Shanghai Air Pollution, Russia Drops Charges Against Greenpeace Protesters (by Bob Percival)

On December 24 a federal district judge rejected an effort by BP to require more stringent proof of losses before claims can be paid from the settlement fund created in response to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had ordered Judge Carl Barbier to review how the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center was handling claims for economic and property losses related to the spill.   Judge Barbier ruled that BP had agreed to a settlement that would presume that losses to businesses within certain geographic areas near the spill could be compensated without direct proof of causation.  BP, which has been waging an aggressive publicity campaign against the way claims are being paid, could not now reinterpret the settlement, Judge Barbier stated.  “[T]he delays that would result from having to engage in a claim-by-claim analysis of whether each claim is ‘fairly traceable’ to the oil spill . . . are the very delays that the settlement, indeed all class settlements, are intended to avoid.” The judge did direct the claims administrator to define a protocol to improve documentation of some losses.  BP initially estimated that it would pay $7.8 billion under the settlement, but it has now increased that figure to $9.2 billion while expressing concern that it could grow significantly larger.

Children were warned to stay indoors as Shanghai was engulfed in another bout of severe air pollution during Christmas week.  On the afternoon of December 25 levels of small particulates (PM2.5) in Shanghai approached 400 micrograms per cubic meter, more than fifteen times the level recommended by the World Health Organization.  Earlier in the month PM2.5 levels had approached 500.  Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Environment Protection Board, stated that it will take another decade to solve the city's air pollution problems.

On December 25 Russia formally dropped charges of criminal hooliganism against the Greenpeace activists it had arrested in September.  The activists had been protesting oil drilling in the Arctic when Russian commandos boarded the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace vessel that had transported the protesters to the vicinity of an offshore oil rig in the Pechora Sea.  The charges were dropped as part of an amnesty reportedly ordered to improve Russia’s image prior to the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Peter Wilcox, captain of the Arctic Sunrise, expressed relief that the charges had been dropped, while noting that the activists never should have been arrested.

Next week in my first post of the new year I will prepare my annual list of the top global environmental law developments of 2013.  Happy holidays to all.

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