From January 19-21 I participated in a conference at the University of Cambridge that brought together more than thirty global environmental law scholars who are authoring chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Law. The conference, which included a dinner at King’s College on January 20, was hosted by Cambridge Professors Jorge Vinuales and Emma Lees, the book’s editors. I am authoring a chapter on “Environmental Transitions: Forces Shaping the Evolution of Global Environmental Law.” The conference was really terrific and I received some very helpful comments on my chapter.
I spent two weekends in the heart of London where there were “highest level” air pollution alerts issued due to levels of PM10 being more than twice the legal limit. Paris also has been suffering from high levels of air pollution this winter. Paris officials made public transportation free during the alerts. They also assigned labels to each make and model of car based on the amount of pollution it emits, enabling them to ban the most polluting vehicles from the road during bad air days. Residents of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia also held a large demonstration to protest air pollution with levels of particulates reaching 80 times the limit recommended by the World Health Organization.
On January 30 President Trump issued Executive Order 13771 on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The order mandates that agencies repeal two rules for every new rule they promulgate and it specifies that the repealed rules have to reduce costs to industry by at least as much as the new rule costs. I have written a blog post critical of the executive order, which was posted on the American College of Environmental Lawyers blog on February 8. It notes that the order is fundamentally flawed because it focuses solely on regulatory costs without consdiering the benefits of regulation. Is President Trump Repeating Reagan’s Missteps on Regulatory “Reform?” American College of Environmental Lawyers Blog, Feb. 8, 2017, available online at: http://www.acoel.org/post/2017/02/08/IS-PRESIDENT-TRUMP-REPEATING-REAGAN’S-MISSTEPS-ON-REGULATORY-“REFORM”-.aspx I also posted a short article in an online journal: “Environmental Law in the Trump Administration,” 4 Emory Corporate Governance and Accountability Review, Presidential Inauguration Issue, January 2017, online at: http://law.emory.edu/ecgar/content/volume-4/issue-special/essays-interviews/environmental-law-trump-administration.html
On January 20 a trial court in Ontario, Canada ruled that plaintiffs seeking to collect on the $9 billion judgment against Chevron for oil pollution in Ecuador cannot recover from the assets of the company’s subsidiary in Canada.