During the last week and a half I have been blogging for the SCOTUS Blog, which covers the U.S. Supreme Court. I am covering a case before the Court involving the federal Superfund statute, also known as CERCLA. The case, CTS v. Waldburger, involves the question whether § 309 of CERCLA trumps a North Carolina statute that otherwise would bar homeowners from suing over contaminated groundwater because more than ten years have passed since the defendant ceased operations. On Tuesday my case preview, which describes in detail the issues raised in the case and the arguments made in the briefs before the Court, was posted on the SCOTUSBlog at: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/argument-preview-law-school-clinic-seeks-to-preserve-day-in-court-for-victims-of-polluted-well-water/ My analysis of yesterday’s oral argument was published today at: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/argument-analysis-was-congress-more-legally-sophisticated-than-the-justices-when-it-overrode-state-limitations-on-lawsuits-for-toxic-exposure/
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court denied a cert petition from ExxonMobil Corporation, which asked the Court to review a decision by the Second Circuit upholding a judgment obtained by the city of New York against the corporation for environmental contamination from methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). Exxon argued that the judgment should not be predicated on predicted future injuries from MTBE and that the Clean Air Act, which required companies to use oxygenated fuels, should preempt state tort liability. Now that the Court has denied review, the judgment will stand.
Last week the U.S. power company Southern Company, which is building the first U.S. coal power plant to employ carbon capture technology, announced that it had signed a deal to work with a Chinese energy company on development of the technology. Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power is employing the technology at its $5 billion coal plant in Kemper County, Mississippi. Southern will work with China’s Shenhua corporation on development of the carbon capture technology. It has agreed to share with ratepayers some of the licensing revenue it receives from marketing the technology, whose development has been funded by them.
The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law has released the first of its “Essential Readings” project. The Academy asked prominent environmental law scholars from around the world to name the best works in the field, which could be considered to be “Essential Readings.” I made two contributions to the project that focus on essential readings in the history of environmental law. The description of the essential readings can be viewed online at: http://www.iucnael.org/essentials-readings-in-environmental-law-topics.
Today I attended a reception for the Board of Directors of the National Constitution Center. It was held at the offices of the Pew Charitable Trust in Washington, D.C. Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the Center, emphasized its non-partisan nature and noted that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, one of the members of the board, was present. The highlight of the reception and the reason I was invited was because my former student Derrick Wang had composed an opera entitled “Scalia/Ginsburg,” which was previewed at the reception. Derrick came to me with the idea for the opera while in my first year Constitutional Law class. I put him in touch with Maryland environmental adjunct professor Mike Walker, an EPA attorney who is a member of the Washington Opera Company and the rest is history. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were in the audience and they spoke to the audience from the stage after the performance, which was terrific. The opera is immensely entertaining.
On Saturday I am flying to Dubai in order to deliver a lecture on “The Globalization of Environmental Law” at American University of Sharjah on Monday April 28.