Illuminating the Energy Policy Agenda: Electricity Sector Issues Facing the Next Administration
The paper has generated significant media interest, including an Op-Ed in The Hill and stories published by E&E News (subscription required), Argus, the News & Observer, Utility Dive, Greentech Media, and another E&E News about the Federal Power Act and PURPA.
Professor Flatt Authors Viewpoint on Board of Governors Recommendation
Professor Flatt has authored a Viewpoint in the Charlotte Observer titled "Threat goes beyond Gene Nichol." Representing environmental law professors and clinicians from more than 30 public and private law schools, Professor Flatt notes that environmental law clinics have faced similar calls for closure as the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, usually represent similar clients, and will also take positions adverse to political interests. Because the threat to the Poverty Center is so similar, the environmental community is speaking out against the Board of Governors proposal.
Professor Flatt Coauthors The Environmental Forum's Cover Story
Victor Flatt, along with Tracy Hester, Robert Percival, Irma Russell, and Joel Mintz, has written "Time for a Restatement ()," arguing that "after a quarter century of statutory stagnation, the American Law Institute needs to address environmental laws, regulations, and judicial decisions to clarify and solidify the consensus to date and the need for evolution to address emerging threats." The article was published as the cover story in the January-February 2015 edition of The Environmental Forum, a publication of the Environmental Law Institute.
ELP Accepts ABA SEER Law Student Program of the Year Award
At a ceremony in San Francisco on Sunday, August 11, 2013, ELP was presented with the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Law Student Program of the Year Award for the 2012 Environmental Law Symposium. The Awards Committee especially wanted "to acknowledge the vision of a program focused on an area of importance this year to SEER - the intersection of environmental and energy law." The award was accepted by Professor Flatt, who had nominated the Symposium, and Holly Bannerman, ELP past president.
ABA SEER Award
Holly Bannerman and Professor Victor Flatt with
ABA SEER Law Student Program of the Year Award
Professor Flatt Lecture at Vermont Law School
Professor Flatt gave a lecture on "Law as a Framework for Climate Change Adaptation" as part of the VLS Hot Topics in Environmental Law Summer 2013 Brown Bag Lecture Series. The lecture, given on July 18, 2013, can be viewed on YouTube. A podcast of a conversation between Professor Flatt and Dean Rebecca Purdom, recorded during the summer, is also available!
CLEAR Fellow Heather Payne appointed to OWASA Board
CLEAR Fellow Heather Payne has been appointed to the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors by the Town of Chapel Hill. She took the Oath of Office on July 11, 2013, and will serve as a member of the Board for three years.
CLEAR Completes Climate Change Risk Disclosure Review
CLEAR has completed a climate change risk disclosure review and is posting the completed briefing paper (). R. Kyle Evans, Research Assistant and J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015, and Heather Payne, CLEAR Fellow, have analyzed current practices and possible changes related to climate change disclosure, including the types of risks reported, federal and state approaches to disclosure, voluntary disclosure mechanisms, and emerging trends.
USDA focuses on climate change adaptation
At a National Press Club luncheon last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled several initiatives aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change on farmers, ranchers and foresters. Seven hubs will focus on how best to adapt to changing weather regionally, focusing on “ways to reduce risks and manage change.” Additionally, USDA will guide conservation practices and encourage carbon-sequestering cover crops, which sometimes are not planted due to crop insurance policies. After droughts and increasing weather volatility, USDA is progressively more focused on climate change, which has already had noticeable effects on agriculture and forestry.
The Impact of Law on Adaptation in the Private Sector () workshop, hosted by CLEAR, focused on how the government can facilitate good adaptation in the private sector, and specifically examined the agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture sector. Governmental involvement in climate change adaptation can encourage, facilitate, motivate, and, depending on the actions, even demand adaptive actions from different parts of the private sector. However, as noted above with the current crop insurance policies, adaptive actions can also be prevented or constrained by government action. CLEAR welcomes the new governmental focus on adaptive actions and looks forward to being part of the continuing discussion.
Video of Secretary Vilsack’s speech is available from the National Press Club.
CLEAR submits comments on the Draft National Climate Assessment Report
CLEAR has submitted comments () on the Draft National Climate Assessment Report, specifically focusing on the chapters related to Adaptation, the Southeast Region, and Coastal Zone Development and Ecosystems.
Professor Flatt to visit at Maryland
For the 2013-2014 academic year, Professor Flatt will be a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland. He will be teaching an integrated course in Torts and legal writing as well as teaching International Environmental Law and introducing his course in Environmental Markets to Maryland's well known program in environmental law, including a certificate and LLM program.
Professor Flatt will continue to lead the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources (CLEAR) at UNC Law School in addition to continuing his role as advisor to students and government in North Carolina. The Maryland visit will allow for collaboration between CLEAR and Maryland's environmental program, particularly concerning the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay and the issues of water quality trading common to the Bay and North Carolina waterways.
Professor Flatt has been selected as Vermont Law School's Distinguished Environmental Scholar for Summer 2013
Victor Flatt, the Tom & Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR), has been selected to be the Distinguished Environmental Scholar, one of Vermont Law School’s four Distinguished Scholars, for Summer 2013. As a Distinguished Scholar, he will deliver a public lecture, participate in informal social events on campus, and be available to meet with students individually.
Professor Flatt was chosen for his scholarship on the administration and enforcement of environmental and natural resources statutes. With a current focus on climate change adaptation and the frameworks required to support integrating adaptation into environmental, energy and economic policy, Professor Flatt looks forward to continuing his research and sharing it with students during his time at Vermont Law School. “It will be a real pleasure to give a public lecture at Vermont and to work with the students and faculty in their exceptional summer program,” Flatt noted.
Each summer, Vermont Law School invites leaders in environmental, energy, agriculture, and international environmental law to spent two weeks at the school. The other Distinguished Scholars this year are: Professor Alexandra B. Klass, the Julius E. Davis Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School (Energy); Robin Kundis Craig, the William H. Leary Professor of Law at the University of Utah’s S.J.
Quinney College of Law (Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems); and Antonio A. “Tony” Oposa Jr., a Counselor-at-Environmental-Law from the Philippines (International Environmental).
CLEAR Hires Heather Payne as post-graduate research fellow.
Heather Payne, a 2011 graduate of UNC School of Law, has been hired to expand the role of post-graduate CLEAR Fellow.
Before attending Carolina Law, Heather worked for nine years as a chemical engineer and supply chain executive with Honeywell and Sears Holdings. While in law school, she completed internships with The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Environmental Law Center. After graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Martha Geer at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
As a full-time Fellow, Heather will drive the implementation of CLEAR’s strategic plan, conduct academic research and coordinate activities and events. She is licensed in the State of North Carolina, the Eastern District of North Carolina, and by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
CLEAR at Rio+20
While there has been marked dispute about whether Rio+20 was a success and how much the conference accomplished, Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources Director Victor B. Flatt believes that some progress was made; read Professor Flatt's closing thoughts on Rio+20. Flatt spoke at three side events at Rio+20, including Climate Change Adaptation and Law, Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainability, and Legal Barriers to Deployment of Low Impact Energy, added in the final run-up to the conference. CLEAR, as a co-sponsor of the Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainability event, was recognized in the "major groups" attending Rio+20.
Two of the workshops will be further developed, and CLEAR plans to work with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and universities around the world in deploying a program to assist in the systematic analysis and removal of legal barriers to low impact energy deployment.Read the Director's message from before the conference.
CLEAR to Participate in United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio
In June 2012, the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources (CLEAR) at UNC School of Law will be participating in the civil society side events during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio, Brazil. The conference, known as Rio+20, marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Thousands of participants, including world leaders, policy makers, NGOs, the private sector, and other stakeholders, are expected to attend. As of early May 2012, a total of 193 U.N. member nations had confirmed their participation.
The objective of Rio+20 is to secure an international commitment to sustainable development. The discussions will center around two main themes: (1) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (2) an institutional framework for sustainable development. In addition to these two themes, Rio+20 will focus on seven priority issues: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans and disasters. Participants will review past progress in these areas and consider examples of successful sustainable development to fuel their discussions.
The conference is expected to result in a focused political document that will establish goals and outline commitments for implementing sustainable development measures. Prior to Rio+20, thousands of participants will be meeting to prepare for the conference and create a draft of the document that will later be negotiated at the official discussions in June. The Commission on Sustainable Development, which was created at the UNCSD in 1992, intends for these measures to reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources. Brazilian Environmental Minister Izabella Teixeira has expressed her desire for the conference to end with an obligation from everyone to commit to goals on sustainable production and consumption.
CLEAR Director and UNC School of Law faculty member Victor B. Flatt will be speaking at the civil society side events during Rio+20. These events are not part of the official negotiations, but rather provide a forum for the discussion and examination of critical issues surrounding the conference.
On June 15, Flatt will discuss the role of law in climate change adaptation at the Worldwide Conference of Environmental Jurists. Flatt's scholarship at UNC School of Law focuses on the legislative and regulatory mechanisms needed to address climate change adaptation in the United States, and he recently published a related article in the Florida Law Review entitled "Adapting Laws for a Changing World: A Systemic Approach to Climate Change Adaptation."
In addition, on June 19, CLEAR will be co-sponsoring a half day program on "Climate Change Adaptation, Law and Sustainability" in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute and the American Society of International Law. The event will address the importance of law and legal systems for effective climate change adaptation, theoretical frameworks for approaching the adaptation of law and policy, and specific examples of these ideas in practice. Flatt will be speaking at the program, along with Carl Bruch of the Environmental Law Institute and representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme.
Victor Flatt will be blogging live from Rio. For up-to-date information on Rio+20 as it progresses, as well as news from the civil society side events, follow the blog at http://fuelfix.com/blog/voices/flatt-out-environmental or visit CLEAR's "Road to Rio" page for updated links.
Carolina Law Students Participate in Carbon Trading Class with University of Houston business students
A ground-breaking class on "The Practice of Carbon Trading" is being offered simultaneously at the University of North Carolina School of Law and the University of Houston Bauer College of Business. A live video feed links the classroom experience between the two schools, allowing students to learn from the professors and each other. Carolina Law students will partner with Bauer Business students on academic projects designed to tackle climate change issues.
Legal News, Op-eds and Publications
CLEAR releases report () on the important role of non-profits in long term disaster recovery. Read the story ().
The Institute for Homeland Security Solutions has posted the research brief: Assessing the Disaster Recovery Planning Capacity of the State of North Carolina (), the first part of a CLEAR/UNC Center of Excellence for Homeland Security project which addresses how states plan for long term disaster recovery and climate change adaptation.
Council on Environmental Quality releases report () on Interagency Approach to Adaptation. Adopts Recommendations of the CLEAR April 2010 workshop.
CLEAR Research Fellows prepare white paper () examining "Best Policies for Reversal in Avoided Deforestation Offsets." The paper examines the mechanisms to ensure environmental integrity in avoided deforestation offsets in the legislative and policy proposals, and proposes that a reserve process should be coupled with an insurance requirement to address failures in the reserve system. The paper also does a market analysis of such an insurance market, and suggests policy changes that might allow the market to develop.
Did a single week reverse energy fortunes forever? ()
An editorial by Victor Flatt, published on May 8, 2010 in the Houston Chronicle.
Flatt in IndustryWeek
IndustryWeek has quoted Professor Victor Flatt on climate regulation in a recent article, The Future of Energy Part One - Emissions Regulation: A New Era Dawns. Professor Flatt discusses the registering of emissions, as well as whether emissions will be governed by legislation from Congress or by EPA regulations:
The latter is a result no one in industry wants, say Flatt of the University of North Carolina. Though comprehensive legislation passed by Congress might not be perfect, it would be a more palatable solution, crafted in part to help appease industrial interests. EPA regulations, some fear, would be more onerous.
"If the climate bill does not pass this spring, the EPA's going to start regulating," says Flatt. "I'm positive of that. It will look pretty similar to what's been proposed by Congress -- focusing on the same size emitters. But it will come faster than the legislation and won't include some of the regulations on fuel importation that is included in the legislation." (From IndustryWeek.)
Global Warming and Women
An Op-ed by Victor Flatt and Donna Surge on the effects of global warming on the world's women. Featured in the Raleigh News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun. In a related report () released in June 2011, Plan U.K. and the U.K. Department for International Development addressed the disproportionate impact of climate change on adolescent girls in developing countries.
Boxer-Kerry an Improvement over ACES on Offsets
A post for CPRBlog by Victor Flatt
UNC and Duke Energy sign contract to develop coastal wind pilot project
An article from UNC News
Group sues to force greenhouse gas regulation
CLEAR professor comments on Texas lawsuit on regulating greenhouse gases