Climate Change Project

Table of Contents



Administrative and Environmental Law Seminar
Richards - Spring 2016


January 12

This seminar will focus on applying Executive Order 13653 (adapting to climate change) to permitting under the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and the ESA (Endangered Species Act). These are the primary tools to protect the environment from new ill-considered new development. We are going to look at how this might be applied to areas threatened by sea level rise, the most predictable consequence of global warming, and the #1 problem for Louisiana. First class we will talk generally about NEPA, sea level rise, and its threats to the LA and other coasts. Please review these materials before class.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended

Introduction to NEPA - DOE/HOMER/ORNI (PPT)

Executive Order 13653: Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change (Annotated)

Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment

 Second class we will have a guest speaker, Profess Turner, from the School of the Coast and Environment to talk about Louisiana coastal wetlands.
Natural Cycles and the Mississippi Delta
Barrier Islands - The Outer Banks
LA Coastal Restoration Plan

Sea Level and Louisiana

Follow us:  

NOAA Office for Coastal Management Releases Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Data for Louisiana

NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management has released data in the the Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts viewer for Louisiana. Based on the best available elevation data available, the tool simulates various sea level rise scenarios and the corresponding areas that would be impacted by flooding. The tool also provides information about marsh impacts, nuisance flood frequency, and social and economic data.

NOAA OCM used the following explicit levee location and elevation data sources for Louisiana:
  1. Louisiana Coastal protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) 2015 Flood Protection GIS Database
  2. USACE National Levee Database
  3. Detailed field survey information from the Louisiana State University AgCenter
  4. USGS Northern Gulf of Mexico Topobathy DEM.

To view the tool visit https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/slr.

Grand Isle Relative Sea Level Rise Rate- 9.03 mm per year- (+/- .46 mm per year)- 2.96 feet in 100 years

Mean Sea Level Trend
8761724 Grand Isle, Louisiana

Grand Isle Relative Sea Level Rise
The mean sea level trend is 9.03 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.46 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1947 to 2014 which is equivalent to a change of 2.96 feet in 100 years.
[Metadata: Earlier data stored in database as station 8761720]

January 19

One of key proposals for Louisiana Coastal Restoration is to create diversions (branch channels) in the Mississippi in order to offset land loss caused by subsidence and, increasingly, sea level rise from climate change. Professor Turner had done fundamental research on the science of Louisiana wetland loss and whether these diversions will build new land or hasten the destruction of the existing wetlands. This topic goes to core question of whether the basic premise of coastal restoration is supportable in the face of relative sea level rise (RSLE). These diversions, as with the rest of the coastal restoration plan, must be permitted by the Corps of Engineers. This process requires an EIS under NEPA and provides a chance to attack the plan through challenging the adequacy of the EIS.

Readings for Prof. Turner's presentation

Turner RE. Doubt and the values of an ignorance-based world view for restoration: coastal Louisiana wetlands. Estuaries and Coasts. 2009;32(6):1054–68.

Mississippi river freshwater diversions in southern Louisiana: Effects on wetland vegetation, soils, and elevation - this reviews the basic scientific questions. You do not need to understand the technical material, just skim to see the basic issues.

PowerPoint intro to Diversions: Sediment Diversions: Project Planning, Permitting and Implementation, Governor’s Commission Diversion Sub-Committee (July 23, 2014)

January 26 - discuss topics and resources

New Class Times for January 26th

We have a dean candidate visiting on the 26. Class will start at 2:10 because there is a faculty luncheon with the candidate that runs into class time. We will end class at 3:20 so that you can attend the open forum with the candidate in the auditorium at 3:30.

Topics and students working on the topic

Wetlands Assimilation Projects (Sewage Diversions) - resources - additional resources on Moodle

Annie Hutson

Lucas Self

Andrew Whall

Asserting ownership of the wetlands

Andrew West

The effects of faulting, subsidence, and sea level rise on diversions

Emily Schwab


February 2

We will start at 2 due to a faculty meeting. If I am late, sit tight. We will have two guests to help with topics.

New resources on the delta cycle and the effects of faulting:

Chris McLindon – Rethinking Coastal Restoration: The Delta Cycle and Land Area Change in the Louisiana Coastal Plain

A proposal to assess the impacts of relative sea level rise due to subsidence using industry knowledge base, data and technology. The New Orleans Geological Society, November 2015

Weather and climate nerd stuff





Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Good Ted talk on sea level rise


February 9

Mardi Gras Break

I put together some resources about the Baton Rouge Fault here:


More fault materials are here:




February 16

Project update day. We will go around the room and each person will give us a progress report. This will let us brainstorm on what folks have found and talk about how to focus the projects.

February 23

Class is cancelled due to threatening weather.

March 1

We are going to pick from last time we met. Everyone should be prepared to do a status report. I know that the diversion group is meeting with Ed B on Wednesday for a brainstorming session, so I want a written a two page written update from everyone by Sunday night so that we can circulate it before class on the 8th.

March 8

Discuss student projects

March 15

Guest speaker on wetlands and subsidence.

March 22

Our speaker has been rescheduled for next week.

Review paper progress.

March 29

Speaker from USGS is on.

April 5

Discuss paper progress.

Changing Course - the competition to rethink restoration that our speaker mentioned.

April 12

There is no class this week to allow you to complete your drafts. I need to see those by the end of the day of Friday so that I will have time to get back to you with comments before your presentation on the following Tuesday.




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