Message From The Director
As the year moves on, we continue to see more and more about
how climate change is affecting not only the environment itself, but also how
the response to climate change alters how our laws and rules will work. Just since the last newsletter, we have seen
the EPA modify its Clean Power Plan proposal to recognize more of the interests
and complexity of trying to reduce greenhouse gases from the electricity
generating sector efficiently and legally in the face of fierce political
opposition. CLEAR provided comments on
the proposal stressing the legality of giving states even more flexibility to
meet the proposed goals. The dispute
over permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline also increases, and yet with or
without that pipeline, we are still seeing fundamental changes in the
production and delivery of energy. Last
the White House’s task force on adaptation is looking at more comprehensive
ideas for climate change adaptation.
In March, CLEAR is also looking forward to hosting a workshop
with the Georgetown Climate Center, the Emmett Center for Environmental Law
(UCLA), the EPA, and NOAA concerning the best methods to require disclosure of
data on climate risk in the private sector. This workshop will involve academics, state insurance commissioners and
private sector businesses.
While much of our work continues to be focused on the
impacts of climate change, we also cannot ignore the legacy environmental
issues that continue to impact our communities. The featured article discusses the work that Professor Savasta-Kennedy
and several UNC law students are doing to require that environmental justice be
considered in the re-permitting of large Confined Animal Feeding Operations
within the state. Though this issue
concerns traditional water pollution, environmental justice implications are
also front and center when we think of the disruption caused by a changing
climate and the appropriate response to protect all of our citizens.
The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and the Waterkeeper Alliance, represented by EarthJustice and aided by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the UNC Center for Civil Rights, recently filed a complaint against the NC Department of Natural Resources (DENR) with the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Civil Rights. DENR re-permitted the state’s industrial hog farms without adequately addressing hog waste disposal controls. This is an environmental justice issue, as the majority of hog CAFOs in North Carolina are located in poor communities of color. The complaint alleges that the state’s re-permitting of the hog CAFOs discriminates against and disproportionately affects these communities in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
From Earthjustice.org Press Release
More than 2,000 hog operations, which can confine more than 9.5 million hogs at any one time, operate within the state. Current permits allow for waste to be stored in open, unlined pits and to spray "liquid manure" onto nearby fields, which residents contend contaminates waterways. The waste also mists and is transported onto neighboring properties through the air. In addition to the water and health impacts, the pervasive smell affects residents in these communities.
To support the complaint, people in the community provided declarations describing what life is like living next to a hog CAFO. Additional declarations will be needed to continue to build the case, and Professor Savasta-Kennedy and UNC School of Law students volunteered to go to one of the communities to interview the residents.
Interested students were able to attend the 16th Annual North Carolina Environmental Justice Summit at Bricks, a former slave plantation in Whitakers, NC. The forum educates and informs participants about the history and practice of environmental injustice in North Carolina. This year's topics included landfills, quality of life concerns, identifying challenges that occur when responding to environmental injustice issues, and energy, including fracking and uranium mining and enrichment. Cordon Smart, Class of 2017, reflected that "the Environmental Justice Summit truly opened my eyes to the environmental injustice occurring across the state. It was a vivid reminder of the need to advocate for these affected communities, many of which exist largely out of the public eye and lack the means to effectively advocate for themselves."
Professor Savasta-Kennedy led training sessions for interested students and then accompanied students Heather Hillaker, Rory Flemming, Tanisha Edwards, Nihad Mansour, Rachel Warden, Laura Wright and Lauren Shor to Sampson County, North Carolina on November 8 to interview residents about their personal experience living near CAFO spray fields. The students then drafted declarations for submission to the EPA in support of the Title VI complaint. Tanisha Edwards, Class of 2017, said of the trip: "This experience has showed me that I, too, can be a catalyst to achieve justice for people who are voiceless, and systematically oppressed. I enjoyed working with the community and hope to our efforts will bring about change." Nihad Mansour, Class of 2016, had a similar revelation: "The interview experience was beyond moving. I have lived nearly two hours away from these families for most of my life and I have never had to worry about any of their problems. This in itself is a problem. There is power in sharing, in listening, in seeing, in smelling."
Professor Savasta-Kennedy is planning a spring trip with students to conduct additional interviews with people impacted by the waste disposal practices of hog CAFOs. This project represents another way UNC School of Law is helping students with practical skills while aiding those in need of assistance. Professor Savasta-Kennedy hopes to take another group of students to the annual North Carolina Environmental Justice Summit again next year.
CLEAR Adds Four New Affiliated Faculty
CLEAR is pleased to have added Professors Ardia, Wegner, Smith, and Andrews to our list of Affiliated Faculty.
Professor David Ardia, Assistant Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Media Law and Policy, is also a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Professor Judith Wegner, the Burton Craige Professor of Law, is a long-time member of the Carolina Law faculty and former Dean of the law school.
Dr. Gavin Smith, in addition to his appointment in the Department of City and Regional Planning, is the Executive Director of the Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence.
Professor Pete Andrews is Professor of Environmental Policy in the Department of Public Policy, and also holds joint appointments in the Department of City and Regional Planning and in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
CLEAR Continues Scholar of the Month Program
Our newest scholar profiles include Hari Osofsky (November 2014), Bradley C. Karkkainen (December 2014), and Holly Doremus (January 2015). Additionally, our Scholar of the Month page has been updated to make it easier to find all past scholar pieces; they are now listed in alphabetical order by scholar name.
CLEAR Hosts Forum on Private Property, Climate Information Disclosure, and the Roles of Insurance and Government
On March 19-20 in Chapel Hill, CLEAR will host the forum along with the Georgetown Climate Center, the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law, and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites - North Carolina (CICS-NC), which is largely supported through a grant from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Expected participants include thought leaders from academia, several insurance commissioners, government officials (EPA, NOAA, CEQ, SeaGrant), and executives from the private sector, specifically within the insurance, reinsurance, and risk quantification industries. The goal is to expose private sector representatives to academic thought leaders in the areas of insurance, property, disclosure, and climate change, while allowing multiple levels of government to also share their viewpoint. Specific objectives include: discussing the base assumption of the government requiring the disclosure of climate change risk information including its utility to insurance, reinsurance, and private business; and discussing the best way to require this information to accurately price climate risk and encourage good adaptation in the property sector.
Video of Professor Christine Klein's Lecture Discussing Mississippi River Tragedies
On October 30, 2014, CLEAR welcomed Professor Christine Klein to discuss her book, Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disaster. Co-authored with Sandra Zellmer, the book is a riveting account of disaster and how choices and policy affects our exposure to disaster. The lecture details how the Mississippi has been altered and how the history of the basin shows catastrophes there are anything but natural.
Professor Flatt Coauthors The Environmental Forum's Cover Story
Professor Flatt, along with Tracy Hester, Robert Percival, Irma Russell, and Joel Mintz, has written "Time for a Restatement," the cover story in the January-February 2015 issue of The Environmental Forum.
Job Postings for Recent Grads
The Southern Environmental Law Center has posted two jobs for recent graduates who may be interested. One is for an associate attorney in either Chapel Hill or Asheville. The other is for a solar energy associate attorney in either Chapel Hill or Atlanta.
Save the Date for Festival of Legal Learning/Environmental Law Symposium and Reception After Symposium
There is still time to register for the Environmental Law Symposium and the entire Festival of Legal Learning! The Environmental Law Symposium consists of Sessions 09-09, 10-09, 11-09 and 12-09. For those either in the area or attending the Festival of Legal Learning on February 13-14, 2015, CLEAR will once again be hosting a reception following the Saturday morning Environmental Law Symposium. The "afterparty" will start at 12:30 and will take place at the Friday Center. Attorneys not attending the Symposium but interested in meeting Carolina Law students interested in environmental topics are also encouraged to attend. An invitation will be issued once logistics are confirmed.