A Big Day for Enviros

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6 Responses

  1. Given the zillions of categories we have on the blog, I’m amazed that we forgot to include one for Environmental Law. I just added one.

  2. steph says:

    Thanks! I erased the p.s. :) I may also beg you at some point to add a category for agricultural law, the legal area I’ve been trying to explore more of these days.

  3. I’ll create a category for agricultural law now.

  4. Venkat says:

    Seems like the detainee/Guantanamo cases are a great place to start . . . to talk about “the interaction between individual case decisions, administrative decisions, and broader societal politics?”

  5. David says:

    A similar point is how the ability to negotiate a good settlement for one’s client is often times more important than a bundle of “litigation skills.” Of course they work together–the better the facts one uncovers during the discovery, the greater leverage during settlment, but the legal world at large probably doesn’t sufficiently emphasize the ability to negotiate and work with people.

  6. Frank says:

    Great post. I tend to assign my admin students some of the very few journalistic pieces that manage to emphasize the “follow up” points you’ve made–i.e., the way in which the critical decisions can be made long after the big court cases, by administrators acting under the radar of everyone but the trade press.

    Here are a few such articles; I’ll try to add more precise cites later:

    1) Bruce Barcott, Changing All the Rules: Students are consistently astonished by the radical revision of environmental policies detailed in this piece:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/magazine/04BUSH.html?ei=5007&en=7ed0c603991e9be9&ex=1396414800&partner=USERLAND&pagewanted=all&position =

    Here are some of the most interesting parts:

    “On March 18, 2001, Joseph Kelliher, a top assistant to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, e-mailed Dana Contratto, an energy-industry lobbyist. ”If you were King, or Il Duce,” Kelliher wrote, ”what would you include in a national energy policy . . . ?”

    ***

    Bush’s E.P.A. appointees left one crucial detail out of the final report [on NSR]. They said they were still working on a final revision of N.S.R. having to do with the often contested definition of “routine maintenance.” The agency published its proposed rule in the Federal Register but left the crucial percentage — the one … E.P.A.’s enforcement office had suggested setting at 0.75 percent — unspecified.

    ***

    [When the decision was finally made,] utilities would be allowed to spend up to 20 percent of a generating unit’s replacement cost, per year, without tripping the N.S.R. threshold.

    In other words, a company that operated a coal-fired power plant could do just about anything it wanted to a $1 billion generating unit as long as the company didn’t spend more than $200 million a year on the unit. To E.P.A. officials who had worked on N.S.R. enforcement, who had pored over documents and knew what it cost to repair a generator, the new threshold was absurd. “What I don’t understand is why they were so greedy,” said Eric Schaeffer, the former E.P.A. official. “Five percent would have been too high, but 20? I don’t think the industry expected that in its wildest dreams.”

    2) Amy Goldstein and Sarah Cohen, Bush forces shift in regulatory thrust, here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1315-2004Aug14.html

    [First of a three-part series.]

    3) Charles Peters, Eternal Washington:

    http://www.cjr.org/issues/2002/5/wash-peters.asp

    And the key quote:

    “One of the reasons for the failure is the media’s overall inattention to government outside the glamour beats — the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court, as well as a few executive branches, including the Pentagon and the State Department. Most of the government is pretty much ignored except by specialized newsletters that charge $1,000 or more a year for reporting details that rich individuals and corporations need to know: the latest tax loophole or how to bid for a Pentagon contract.

    “Unfortunately, the agencies overlooked by the regular press are ones that have tremendously important roles in our lives — agencies responsible for the economy, medical care, our children’s education, the safety and efficiency of transportation, protecting workers’ health and safety, making sure taxes are collected fairly and efficiently and protecting the environment (see “Invisible Agencies,” page 57).”