Climate Change Project

Table of Contents



Climate Change Law - Fall 2013

Professor Edward P. Richards

Exam Updates!!

> Regarding the exam, I am unsure how I should cite extrinsic information that I am presenting in the memorandum. Should I cite like I would in a journal article, or would a passing mention of my source be sufficient to retain points? Somewhere between the two extremes? For example, if I were to say that methane is 20 times more powerful GHG than CO2. Do you want that backed up with a resource?

Good question. This is not a law review or a research and writing assignment.:-) Focus on identifying resources that a practicing lawyer could find useful when counseling clients, either about the law or the threats. This is meant to be useful, not just the usual law review pile of cites.

Class info:

TTH 9:50-11:20, W323

Text: Hari Osofsky and Lesley McAllister: Climate Change Law and Policy, Aspen 2012

This is a small class and will be run as seminar, i.e., you will be expected to read and be prepared to discuss the material. Class participation will count towards the final grade.

The text is relatively short and it will be supplemented with reports from the National Academy of Science, the National Research Council, the IPCC, and other expert organizations.

20 Aug

Introductory discussion and getting acquainted. We will begin discussing the materials, but will likely continue the discussion the following class.

The Global Conspiracy Theory

The Club of Rome and Limits to Growth - if they were wrong then, why should we believe them now?

Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature.

Making Climate-Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down

22 Aug

Continue discussion from previous class.

500 year storm in NO graphics

SLOSH archive

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices - Part I (You will have to create a free account to download this. You will use that account to download more documents during the course.)


Cement chemistry

Ocean acidification (pdf)

27 Aug

A pessimistic view of climate change - watch before class!

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices - Finish part I and start part II - temp

Resources on ocean currents and climate:




http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html (very good graph)


29 Aug

Climate Name Game - hilarious

Environmental law speaker, spread the word:

Prof. Costonis class, 2-4 Sept 3, W326B: His guest will be the lead planner for CPRA on the 2012 5-year Master Plan. From Prof Costonis, "His presentation, which I have seen before is outstanding, and he's very smart guy. This will be a great opportunity to obtain an "insider's" view of the plan."

Finish part II and III.

Additional materials on sea level rise:

http://assets.climatecentral.org/pdfs/Strauss-PNAS-2013.pdf - summary chart




3 Sept

Finish Part III, continue discussion of sea level rise. Check back for updates.

Massive Canyon Revealed Under Greenland Ice Sheet

The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. How worried should we be?

For Insurers, No Doubts on Climate Change

Mutually Insured Destruction

5 Sept

Power Grapes

State of the Climate - 2012 - we will look at some news items in this.

New report from the insurance industry - sea level rise is the #1 insured threat

Read through some of these for a flavor of the debate:

Climate change denial

Is there really a consensus - the view from Heartland

Ammo to fight the greens: must read articles - read selection


http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm - what was Climategate?

Battle over climate data turned into war between scientists and sceptics

The NRC Review (summary) (complete report for reference)

http://www.foxnews.com/topics/climate-gate.htm - the Fox take.

Climate science careers





10 Sept

Chapter 1, section A and section C in the text. (You can read section B if you want, but we have already discussed the material in greater depth than the text presents.)

The unintended risks of natural gas

Analysis of fugitive methane

12 Sept

Finish our discussion of cap and trade and carbon taxes. Work through the basics of cap and trade so we can talk about how to make a program work and the issues it would raise.

There is general information here:


Look at the specific SO2 and NOx programs here:


Think about why these programs worked and how much this experience can inform our analysis of a carbon cap and trade system.

17 Sept

Item to read: NYT story on ethanol credits and speculators.

How Junk Food Can End Obesity - from our discussion last class (optional reading)

Biofuel humor

We will continue our discussion of cap and trade and carbon taxes. Looked carefully at the EPA materials. The objective o of our discussion is to outline as many moving parts of a cap and trade or carbon tax system as we can that would have to be addressed in a workable domestic and international agreement. This will set the stage for the subsequent materials on legal and treaty attempts to address climate change. Also read Part A of Chapter 2 - while not assigned for last class, the class discussion encompassed some of this material.

How we learned not to guzzle - good news on energy consumption.

Kyoto Protocol

19 Sept

Chapter 2 - Figure out the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Be prepared to discuss why Montreal worked and Kyoto didn't.

Energy conservation in LA

24 Sept

Just released - CLIMATE CHANGE: State Should Further Improve Its Reporting on Financial Support to Developing Countries to Meet Future Requirements and Guidelines GAO-13-829, Sep 19, 2013. This catalogs all the international efforts of the US on climate change. Scan through it to the Appendix, we will take a look at it in class. It is a very good look at what we are doing.

Chapter 3, Part A.

Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007) - the global warming case. This is the critical case on GHG regulation in the US. We are going to read it closely, it is a complex administrative law case. For those of you who have not had administrative law, we will spend some time on the necessary background on Chevron deference. This discussion will likely spread over more than one class. This case will be critical as the courts review the about to be proposed GHG regulations on power plants. Read it carefully. I will post some review materials later in the weekend to help you prepare.

Standing - Lujan paragraph 18

Mass v. EPA - study guide - Oral Argument - text of argument

26 Sept

Continue discussion of Mass v. EPA

FDA v. Brown and Williamson review

1 Oct

Finish reading Chapter 3. This outlines the regulatory actions in the wake of Mass. v. EPA and the preemption of federally based climate change causes of action by the occupation of the field by the EPA regulations.

3 Oct

Comer - climate change case claiming GHGs caused Hurricane Katrina. Read the legal claims carefully. The recusal story

!!! IPCC Summary for Policy Makers!!!

Summary from the Economist

How Many Scientists Does It Take To Write A Climate Report?

Is global warming over?

8 Oct

Review IPCC materials from last class.

Start review of the regulatory analysis for the GHG rule. Read sections 1-4. This a key legal supporting document for the rule.

10 Oct

Finish reading regulatory analysis for GHG rule.

15 Oct

Chapter 4. It is a long assignment, but then you get Thursday off.:-) More seriously, this is meant to be a comparative look at different regimes for climate law, so it makes sense to discuss them together.

How serious is China?

22 Oct

Finish Chapter 4 - especially China.

Super smog hits China

GHG regs back at the United State Supreme Court

Technology Issues

Mississippi Clean Coal plant


Costs (sent by Moodle as well)

24 Oct

Chapter 5 through page 306.

Where are the Iphone jobs?

29 Oct

The great solar compromise in California

ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability


Home prices rise after Sandy

Is Rebuilding Storm-Struck Coastlines Worth The Cost?

Earth Day

Finish Chapter 5, read Chapter 6 to page 346.

31 Oct

Finish Chapter 6.

5 Nov

Read the Royal Society Report on Geoengineering. It is not as long as it looks, but it is a great review of this very important issue.

7 Nov

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/01/executive-order-preparing-united-states-impacts-climate-change - EO on Climate Policy (for reference)

Read these two for class. We will start with the history, then do the current structure and finance. We will probably not finish both, so read them in order and get as far as you can.

History of the Flood Insurance Program

The structure and financing of the Flood Insurance Program.

Health insurance notes

12 Nov

Who gets subsidized rates? - This report looks at the changes with the Biggert Waters amendments to the NFIP and who gets subsidized rates. Read through page 26 and look at appendix II.

Flood Zones

Flood maps in NO after Katrina

Reading flood maps

Deconstructing cities

14 Nov

Please read: The Inequality of Climate Change

Hayian compared to Katrina

Introduction to the Federal Tort Claims Act:

Dalehite v. U.S., 346 U.S. 15, 73 S.Ct. 956, 97 L.Ed. 1427 (1953) - history of the FTCA. Read paragraphs 28-34.

Allen v. U.S., 816 F.2d 1417 (10th Cir. 1987), Certiorari Denied by Allen v. U.S., 484 U.S. 1004 (1988) read paragraphs 12-41.

Berkovitz by Berkovitz v. U.S., 486 U.S. 531 (1988) (use the slides to parse the case)


19 Nov

Japan ditches climate promises because of nuclear fear

The Katrina Levee Breaches Litigation is a key part of the long term question of the extent of government liability for failing to protect against climate change driven flooding. These cases are also very important to the understanding of the local situation for New Orleans, something that is important to this course. Focus your reading on Graci I, the indicated portion of Central Green, and the In re Katrina Levee Breaches Litigation Round II.

Graci v. United States, 456 F.2d 20 (5th Cir. 1971) - this is the litigation on MRGO after Hurricane Betsy. The court gets it right based on the law at the time. The plaintiffs make about the same argument after Katrina, the law is much less favorable to them, but the same court gets it wrong in the Katrina Levee Breeches case.

Graci v. U.S., 435 F.Supp. 189 (E.D.La. 1977) (short case, just finds that the Corps wins because it exercised discretionary authority)

Central Green Co. v. United States, 531 U.S. 425 (2001) - the key Supreme Court case on Flood Control Act immunity for dual use projects. The heart of the case is paragraphs 41-45.


MRGO Bottleneck - what was the real purpose of MRGO anyway?

Should Katrina have been a surprise? Scroll down to the collection of stories, Washing Away

The Hurricane Pam Exercise, in which Louisiana promised FEMA that it was ready for a major hurricane.

Flood Chronology - the conventional wisdom on the flooding of New Orleans.

In re Katrina Levee Breaches, 5th Cir, Round II (The very rare situation where the 3 judge panel overrules itself, rather than the case going on to en banc review.) (District court opinion for reference, you do not have to read this: In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 647 F.Supp.2d 644 (E.D.La. Nov 18, 2009) Final opinion and appendix. )


For your reference: Richards, Edward P., The Hurricane Katrina Levee Breach Litigation: Getting the First Geoengineering Liability Case Right (February 13, 2012). University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 160, p. 267, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2004679

21 Nov

Hurricane Betsy Video 

LBJ's Response- http://whitehousetapes.net/exhibit/lbj-and-response-hurricane-betsy

Katrina Photos - these were shot on 4x5 black and white film.

Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project

Finish discussion of the Hurricane Katrina cases.

A Comparative Look At Public Liability For Flood Hazard Mitigation - state and local liability. We will skim this just to get a sense of the different liability regime at the state and local level.

26 Nov

Last Class Wrap-up


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