Ma Jun Receives Prince Claus Award

Ma Jun Receives Prince Claus Award
Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun receives the Prince Claus Award at the Dutch Royal Palace in Amsterdam on Dec. 6, 2017

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, August 3, 2014

Checking In from a summer blog hiatus: my summer in Brazil, Spain, Vermont and China (by Bob Percival)

It has been nearly seven weeks since my last blog post on June 16.  This is the first time in the seven years I have been blogging that I have skipped more than a single week.  But after more than 350 posts, this is the first time when I either found myself in a location where I could not conveniently post blog entries or simply juggling too many activities at once to carve out time to blog.  Here is a quick summary of what I have been doing during the last seven weeks.  

June 19-28: Trip to Brazil for the World Cup
From June 19 untl June 28 I was in Brazil with my son to attend two opening round matches of the World Cup futbol tournament.  We initially flew to Manaus where on June 22 we attended the U.S/Portugal match.  Prior to the match we toured Manaus and visiting the incredible 19th century opera house. Despite having our faces painted with U.S. flags, we were the most underdressed U.S. fans because of our absence of U.S. futbol gear.  I am confident that I was the only person among the 40,000 present at the match who was wearing a Washington Nationals hat. After falling behind 1-0, the U.S. team rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the second half.  A victory would have clinched the U.S. a berth in the Round of 16, but Portugal tied the match 2-2 in the closing seconds.  The U.S. fans in the stadium felt like a balloon had burst as their euphoria rapidly dissipated. Arena Amazonia, where the match was held, was gorgeous.

On June 23 we took a charter flight from Manaus to Recife.  After landing at the Recife Airport we took a bus to a small fishing village about an hour south of Recife where we stayed at a beach resort.  On June 24 we toured Recife visiting an old part of town and a historic jail that has been turned into a shopping mall.  Torrential rains hit on June 26, the day of the U.S./Germany match in Recife.  The rains caused such substantial flash floods that many did not make it to the match.  Due to the flooding, what should have been a one-hour trip to the stadium for us took 3 hours and 40 minutes.  My son and I arrived at the match just two minutes before it started.  Although Germany defeated the U.S. by a score of 1-0, the margin was narrow enough to get the U.S. through to the Round of 16.  My son and I flew home on June 27, arriving in the wee hours of June 28.  I have posted a small album of photos for the World Cup in the Photo Albums portion of my parallel website at:

June 29-July 5: 12th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Tarragona
In the afternoon of June 28 I flew to Europe for the 12th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.  The colloquium was held at the Universitat Roviro i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain.  Approximately 340 people from 44 countries participated in the Colloquium.  The IUCN Academy continues to grow.  It now has 157 institutional members from 57 countries.  Six Maryland law students presented papers at the colloquium.  I spoke on energy policy at a plenary session and I chaired a sesson on human rights and the environment.  A book launch ceremony was held for the book I co-edited with Jolene Lin of the University of Hong Kong and Bill Piermattei of Maryland.  The book, Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads, consists of edited papers presented at the IUCN Colloquium we hosted at Maryland in 2012.

A few of the many notable presentations I saw were Eva Duer’s discussion of the international legal resources UNEP is putting online, Laode Syarif’s discussion of the difficulty of enforcing environmental laws in Indonesia, and presentations by Antonio Cardesa-Salzmann and Pia Moscoso on whether international law requires courts to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction.  The Colloquium also featured a terrific gourmet field trip to a demonstration kitchen and a visit to the university’s winery near Reus where an awesome winetasting was held.  At the closing dinner on July 4 I was surprised and honored to receive the Academy’s Senior Educator Award for my contributions to global environmental education. An album of photos from the 12th Colloquium has been placed in the Photo Album section of my parallel website at

July 6-17: Vacation in Madrid and Barcelona
Following the Colloquium I spent a wonderful weekend in Madrid where I ate well and visited the Prado and the Reina Sofia Museum.  My wife then joined me in Barcelona for a week’s vacation.  We did a tapas tour and took a cooking class where you first accompany the chef to the market to buy the ingredients for a paella feast.  We visited the Picasso Museum, the Sagrada Familia (which is much more developed than it was when we were there 20 years ago).  Among the top highlights of our week was a tour in an off-road vehicle to Garraf National Park in the mountains above Sitges that included a private tour of the Can Rafouls winery and the performance of “Carmina Burana” at the extraordinary Palace of Music. 

July 20-July 31: Teaching Comparative U.S./China Environmental Law in Vermont
For the past two weeks I have been in Vermont teaching a summer course on Comparative U.S./China Environmental Law at Vermont Law School.  This is the third year I have taught the course and this year Professor Zhao Huiyu from Shanghai Jiaotong University accepted my invitation to co-teach the course.  We had an most enthusiastic group of students all but one of whom will be coming to China with us on a field trip that starts today.

On July 24, Professor Zhao and I gave a talk to the Vermont Law School community as part of the school’s “Hot Topics” series.  We spoke on “The Struggle to Protect China’s Environment.” On July 27 Professor Zhao and I visited Oran Young and Gail Osherenko, professors from the Bren School of the Environment at UC-Santa Barbara in their wonderful summer home in Wolcott, Vermont.  We went kayaking with them, a first for Professor Zhao.  On July 30 Vermont’s China Partnership took Professor Zhao and I to a minor league baseball game in Montpelier, which was a real treat.

While this blog was on hiatus, there have been some important developments in environmental law around the world.  President Bachelet of Chile fulfilled her campaign pledge to kill the Aysen hydroelectric project.  The ancient Inca Road received World Heritage protection.  France agreed to cap its use of nuclear power.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided that the provision in CERCLA that preempts state statutes of limitations does not preempt state statutes of repose (for an analysis of the decision see my SCOTUS Blog coverage of it at:  Surprisingly, the North Carolina legislature responded by immediately passing a law intended to reverse the application of the decision to the parties in the case before the Court.  See (I was interviewed about this development by a North Carolina news reporter via Skype while in Recife for the World Cup).  

The U.S. Supreme Court also decided the challenge to EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. On June 23 the Court decided the case by a 5-4 vote.  In an opinion by Justice Scalia the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the D.C. Circuit’s decision that had upheld the regulations. The Court majority held “that EPA exceeded its statutory authority when it interpreted the Clean Air Act to require PSD and Title V permitting for stationary sources based on their greenhouse-gas emissions.” In an opinion by Justice Scalia the Court held that EPA “may not treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant for purposes of defining a ‘major emitting facility’ (or a ‘modification’ thereof) in the PSD context or a ‘major source’ in the Title V context.” However the Court concluded that EPA may “continue to treat greenhouse gases as a ‘pollutant subject to regulation under this chapter’ for purposes of requiring BACT for ‘anyway’ sources.”  Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissented.  In a concurring opinion Justices Alito and Thomas stated that they continued to believe that greenhouse gases cannot be regulated under the Clean Air Act, the position they articulated in Massachusetts v. EPA. While the decision will slightly narrow the scope of EPA’s regulatory program, most of the sources EPA sought to regulate will still be subject to EPA regulation.

I am off to China tomorrow with my Vermont students.  Since Blogspot usually is blocked in China I may not be posting again until after I return on August 15.

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