On May 21 a court in Japan ruled that the Kansai Electric Power Company cannot restart two of its nuclear reactors due to safety concerns. The ruling from the Fukui District Court is a blow to the plans of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring back online the country’s nuclear power plants that were idled following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The court cited uncertainty concerning the ability of Oi reactors 3 & 4 in western Japan to withstand an earthquake. The court’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by 189 plaintiffs who live within 250 kilometers of the Oi plant. Mari Iwata, Japan Court Blocks Reactor Restarts, Wall St. J., May 21, 2014.
On May 19 a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied BP’s motion for reconsideration of its ruling upholding the Claims Administrator’s interpretation of BP’s agreement to settle claims arising out of the March 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP argued that it was unconstitutional for the Claims Administrator to be able to pay claims regardless of whether claimed losses were actually caused by BP’s conduct. The two judges in the majority concluded that in the settlement agreement BP had agreed to certain indirect means of connecting a claim to BP’s conduct in the Gulf “that sufficiently satisfied each party’s litigation interests.” The judges concluded that “In settling this lawsuit, the parties agreed on a substitute for direct proof of causation by a preponderance of evidence. By settling this lawsuit and agreeing to the evidentiary framework for submitting claims, the plaintiffs did not abandon their allegations of Article III causation.” By a vote of 8-5 the entire Fifth Circuit then denied a rehearing en banc. BP’s only recourse now is to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. While there is no possibility of a circuit split on this issue, which usually is the primary reason the Supreme Court would grant review, the five dissents might increase the chances of Supreme Court review.
Beijing Business Today reported that the Chinese government is considering whether to extend the subsidies it offers to purchasers of domestically-produced electric cars to electric cars that are imported into China. U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors, which has begun selling its cars in China, has asked the Chinese government to enable purchasers of its cars to qualify for the tax incentives, which range from 35,000 to 60,000 yuan ($5,700 to $9,800). Miao Wei, minister of Industry and Information Technology, also indicated that the Chinese government is considering offering foreign electric car manufacturers incentives to build their cars on the mainland. Tesla is rumored to be interested in establishing an assembly facility in China to complement its existing facilities in California and the Netherlands.
I will be spending the next three weeks in China as a high-level visiting foreign expert at the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Law. China’s firewall usually blocks this website but I should be able to post regularly on my parallel blog at: http://www.globalenvironmentallaw.com.