Publications about: 2013

2013 Director’s Message


John Echeverria Today, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center (ELC) unveils its third annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List. The issues cover a wide swath – from air and water to forests and land use, from the Arctic to Appalachia, from climate change to fracking. Major developments included a victory for the EPA when the… Read more »

First Compliance Period Begins for California’s Landmark Climate Change Law

California’s cap-and-trade program—the centerpiece of the climate change law—requires greenhouse gas emitters to hold emission allowances and surrender them at designated intervals over the next decade. The program was designed to reduce greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and other pollutants that contribute to global warming. The legal foundation stems from Assembly Bill 32—California Global… Read more »

Just Like Its Predecessors, the 2012 Forest Planning Rule Is Challenged in Court

Our public lands are an incredible intergenerational gift to the American people. Beginning with Yellowstone National Park and the Forest Reserves in the 19th century, our federal government has assumed the role of protector and manager for nearly one-third of our nation’s land. The unresolved, century-long debate over whether public lands should be managed for… Read more »

Fracking and “Green Completion”: Still Incomplete

Hydraulic fracturing, the controversial but booming gas drilling technology commonly referred to as “fracking,” is here to stay—along with the threats it poses to groundwater and human health. But will fracking also remain a nagging source of air pollution so that, as has happened at least once in Wyoming, smog levels exceed those recorded in… Read more »

Recent Surge in “Ghost Roads” Litigation Threatens National Parks and Other Federally Protected Lands

In 2012, state and local challenges to various federally protected wild lands reached an all-time high, thanks to Revised Statute 2477 (R.S. 2477),[1] an obscure provision of the Mining Act that allows state and local governments to lay claim to ghost roads on federal land.[2] Why pay attention to litigation over ghost roads? Because these… Read more »

Native Villagers’ Federal Tort Claims on Thin Ice

There is hardly a more clear illustration of the immediate impact of climate change than the picture facing the inhabitants of the Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo village of Kivalina. Kivalina is a village of approximately 400 people on the tip of a six-mile barrier reef on the northwest coast of Alaska 70 miles above the Arctic… Read more »

D.C. Circuit Court Strikes Down EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Interstate air pollution has posed significant challenges for environmental regulators for decades. Although some air pollutants only affect air quality locally in the states where they are emitted, some emissions cross state lines and affect downwind states. The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest effort to address interstate air pollution is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR,… Read more »

TVA Found Liable for Massive Coal Ash Spill But Proof of Damages Remains an Obstacle

In December 2008, residents of Roane County, Tennessee, braced against a cold winter night. Just days before Christmas, a wave of wet coal ash barreled down the Clinch and Emory rivers, wiping out homes, tearing up trees, and choking rivers, streams, and valleys. The source—ponds of fly ash, a byproduct of Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA)… Read more »

Courts Block EPA Efforts to Reduce Damage from Appalachian Coal Mining

Mountaintop removal is a form of surface mining used extensively throughout Appalachia that uses explosives to remove the summits of mountains to expose coal seams. Excess rock and soil laden with toxic mining byproducts are often dumped into nearby valleys, in what are called “valley fills.” The practice has destroyed more than 500 mountaintops,[1] filled… Read more »

D.C. Circuit Upholds EPA’s Use of the Clean Air Act to Address Climate Change

“Our climate is changing,” the Republican mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. There is a division of scientific opinion whether climate change is directly linked to individual severe weather events. But according to Bloomberg, the risk that it is contributing to these events should… Read more »