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Professor Flatt Discusses Legal Options for Climate Change Adaptation

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, Professor Flatt spoke at the University of Richmond Law School.

Clear Welcomes Professor Christine Klein

Author of the recently-published Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Diaster, Professor Christine Klein discussed her book on October 30, 2014. Professor Klein, the Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, along with co-author Sandra Zellmer, has written a riveting account of disaster and how choices and policy affects our exposure to disaster.

American engineers have done astounding things to bend the Mississippi River to their will: forcing one of its tributaries to flow uphill, transforming over a thousand miles of roiling currents into a placid staircase of water, and wresting the lower half of the river apart from its floodplain. American law has aided and abetted these feats. But despite our best efforts, so-called “natural disasters” continue to strike the Mississippi basin, as raging floodwaters decimate waterfront communities and abandoned towns literally crumble into the Gulf of Mexico. In some places, only the tombstones remain, leaning at odd angles as the underlying soil erodes away. A Century of Unnatural Disaster reveals that it is seductively deceptive—but horribly misleading—to call such catastrophes “natural.”

CLEAR Co-Hosts Clean Power Plan Forum

On September 19, 2014, CLEAR, along with UNC’s Institute for the Environment, hosted Clean Power Plan: What EPA’s Carbon Rules Mean for North Carolina. After a welcome from Dean Boger, the forum commenced with an overview of EPA’s proposed carbon regulations from Marguerite McLamb, Policy Advisor, Sector Policies and Programs Division, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, US EPA.

The overview was followed by a legal and policy analysis of the proposed regulation by a panel moderated by Maria Savasta-Kennedy and comprised of Jonas Monast, Jeremy Tarr, Victor Flatt, and David Ardia. The panel focused on potential challenges to the proposed rule and other policy considerations.

The panel discussing the impact of the proposed carbon regulations on North Carolina was moderated by Steve Levitas, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Panelists included Greg Andeck, Senior Manager, Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund; Chris Ayers, Executive Director, North Carolina Utilities Commission Public Staff; Cari Boyce, Vice President, Environmental and Energy Policy, Duke Energy; Sheila Holman, Director, Division of Air Quality, N.C. Department of Energy and Natural Resources; and Bob Keefe, Executive Director, Environmental Entrepreneurs.

Professor Flatt Speaks to WFAE on NC and Climate Change

Professor Flatt was interviewed by Charlotte's NPR affiliate, WFAE, for a series of radio programs regarding North Carolina and climate change. The first part discusses the stop in preparations and lack of use of already-developed data and tools. The second part looks at the major climate change threats and how some are being worked on while others are not.

Professor Flatt Speaks at NSU & CPR's Energy Law & Policy Symposium

In February, Professor Flatt spoke at the "New Directions in Energy Law and Policy, Climate Disruption and Sea Level Rise," co-hosted by the Center for Progressive Reform and Nova Southeastern University. The symposium featured presentations by scientists, law professors, federal, state and local government officials, and representatives of NGOs on the threats posed by climate disruption and sea level rise--both nationally and in Florida--and ways in which national and state energy policies may be reformed to better mitigate and adapt to those threats.

CLEAR Welcomes Professor Marcilynn Burke

On March 24, 2014, CLEAR co-hosted, with the North Carolina Coastal Resources Law, Planning and Policy Center, Marcilynn Burke for a lecture titled “What’s New Under the Sun: Offshore Energy Development in the Southeast.” Professor Burke received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from UNC-CH, and then obtained her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was an editor for both the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Yale Journal of International Law. Professor Burke currently teaches property and natural resources law at the University of Houston Law Center. Her articles have been published in noted journals, including the Notre Dame Law Review and the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum.

Additionally, Professor Burke served as the former Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. As the Acting ASLM, she helped develop the policies that are administered by four federal agencies: the BLM; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE); and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). These agencies, with over 12,000 employees, endeavor to ensure appropriate management and use of federal lands, waters, and cultural resources, and the regulation of surface coal mining. The geographic scope of these activities encompasses the continental United States and large parts of Alaska, as well as the Outer Continental Shelf.

Professor Burke also is the Founding and Senior Partner of CeeLife Development, a consulting and coaching firm created to strengthen organizations and individuals, with a focus on the fields of environment, energy, and natural resources. As a developmental and motivational speaker with almost 20 years of experience in this field, Professor Burke has provided guidance in academic, corporate, government, and community settings.

Fall Environmental Lecture by Carolina Law Alum Trip Van Noppen

On November 25, 2013, CLEAR co-hosted, with UNC's Institute for the Environment, a lecture by Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice. Entitled "Climate Change: Where Law and Politics Intersect," the talk discussed how to affect major change in federal environmental policy, the complex politics that are involved in affecting change, and how one person who wants to make a real difference can truly do so.

Trip Van Noppen leads the Earthjustice staff, board and supporters to advance its mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people's health. Before his time with Earthjustice, Van Noppen worked in a litigation practice emphasizing civil rights, employment, environmental and toxic tort cases and directed the Southern Environmental Law Center's Carolinas office.

CLEAR Supports Environmental Law MOOC

CLEAR, in conjunction with the UNC School of Law Environmental Law Project, is excited to announce that Professor Don Hornstein will be teaching the first Environmental Law Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), starting September 16, 2013 and running for six weeks. Author of numerous publications, Professor Hornstein has also won the McCall Teaching Award for Excellence at Carolina Law eight times, been awarded the Johnston Teaching Excellence Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and was honored in 2010 with UNC’s highest teaching award, the Friday Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was one of 26 faculty from around the country profiled in the new book What The Best Law Teachers Do.

The “Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy” course is offered through Coursera, and more than 15,000 individuals have already registered to participate. The course is primarily geared toward non-law students, and is designed for everyone, even those who have not graduated from university. Topics covered will include nuisance, property, water, land, pollution control, information and risk. The primary way participants will interact is through discussion forums, most of which will be started by participants
themselves. Obviously, with so many individuals taking part, it is impossible for Professor Hornstein to participate in each forum or answer each question.

That’s where those with environmental law knowledge come in: we are inviting all to register for the course, participate in the discussion forums, and share your wisdom and expertise. The time commitment is as much or as little as you want. There is no pre-screening or other approval process. Simply register for “Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy” at https://www.coursera.org/ using your name and e-mail address. More detailed instructions and an example discussion forum are available (PDF).

We hope the Environmental Law MOOC will be a way to talk about environmental law with those who don’t otherwise have a way to access it, including those internationally. Their experience will be greatly enhanced with your participation.

Professor Flatt speaks on Environmental Disasters and facilitates discussion at National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment

The National Council for Science and the Environment held its 13th National Conference on Science Policy and the Environment from January 15-17, 2013, in Washington, D.C. This year’s topic “Disasters and Environment: Science, Preparedness, and Resilience” drew over 2000 participants from all over the world. Victor Flatt, the Tom & Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) was invited to present on “Environmental Emergencies: How to Manage Recent Trends of Climate Change and Urbanization.”

In his remarks, Professor Flatt noted how environmental laws rarely account for so-called secondary emergencies from disasters, that is situations in which natural disasters disrupt the ability of environmental laws and systems to function, and suggested that this should be a major reform goal in the United States and around the world.

Along with Rene Nijenhuis, Humanitarian Affairs Officer from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney and Co-Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute, Professor Flatt also facilitated a broad discussion on making specific recommendations to the United Nations, and member governments, concerning what needs to be done to better manage and handle environmental emergencies. Participating in this workshop were representatives from disaster and environmental response teams worldwide, including the United Nations, the EU, Sweden, British Columbia, Boston, and the United States Naval Southern Command.

In addition to the suggestion to add emergency exception policies to environmental laws, the workshop group also proposed that resources be made available to local governments to better integrate and comprehensively plan for climate change, and all kinds of disasters, before these disasters occur.

Because of its core expertise in climate change adaptation, and the relation of climate change to natural disasters, CLEAR and Professor Flatt, along with other units at the University of North Carolina (such as the Center of Excellence for Natural Disasters and Homeland Security) have been leaders in the discussion of laws governing disaster management and relief. General information about the conference can be found at http://www.environmentaldisasters.net/.

Victor Flatt speaks at InterCLIMA 2012

InterCLIMA, which took place in Lima, Peru Oct. 29-31, focused on the progress, challenges, priorities and guidelines for managing climate change within the country. The climate conference included many stakeholder groups and a variety of international speakers on climate change.

While most of the conference was in Spanish, highlights of Professor Flatt's portion of the discussion in English are at 2:12 and 5:58:

Read the press release announcing Professor Flatt's involvement.

Victor Flatt Presents ELI Seminar on Federal Climate Change Adaptation

On December 1, 2011, CLEAR Director Victor Flatt presented a seminar on Federal Climate Change Adaptation: Current Efforts, Political Debates, and Future Potential. The seminar was held at the Environmental Law Institute and examined the current state of federal climate change adaptation efforts, existing legal authority for further adaptation policy, and the current political debate surrounding the issue which could affect federal policy making.

Victor Flatt Serves as Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute

CLEAR Director Victor Flatt will serve as a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) this Fall. Flatt is the Tom & Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor in Environmental Law. He is a leading scholar in environmental enforcement and has focused on legal approaches to adaptation in the face of climate change. Widely published, six of his articles have been finalists or have been selected among the top 10 environmental law articles of the year. His recent article on state spending on environmental enforcement was singled out as one of the top environmental articles in academia by the 2011 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, which is published by ELI.

"I am very excited to collaborate with ELI at this important time in understanding how we are going to move forward in planning climate change adaptation, both domestically and internationally. I have been a fan of ELI's real-world work for a long time and have enjoyed collaborating with them on ideas and articles in the past. I look forward to what can result from close work over a longer period of time." - Prof. Victor B. Flatt.

ELI is an internationally recognized, non-partisan research and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide. It has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy, and management, domestically and abroad. ELI's work conducts impartial analysis of important environmental issues for opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, academics, members of the environmental bar, and journalists. ELI's Environmental Law Reporter is the leading site for academics, government officials and private sector attorneys to discuss the important environmental issues of the day.

CLEAR Director Victor Flatt Presents at Workshop on "Disasters and Sociolegal Studies" in Onati, Spain

CLEAR Director Victor Flatt participated in an international workshop on Disasters and Sociolegal Studies on July 21 and 22, 2011, where he presented on the role of non-profit organizations in long term disaster recovery.

The multidisciplinary workshop was held in Onati, Spain, and was hosted by the International Institute for the Sociology of Law. Flatt was among 20 scholars from Australia, Portugal, Spain, Germany and the United States who attended.

The workshop addressed the relationship between sociolegal studies and disaster studies, as well as the legal frameworks and governance structures that apply to disasters, climate change and humanitarian aid. Attending scholars examined these topics in the context of recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the earthquakes in Haiti and the Sichuan province in China.

Flatt's presentation on "the role of non-profits in long term disaster recovery and the need for recognition of that role in official long term recovery planning documents" is closely tied to his work at UNC School of Law. As Director of the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources (CLEAR), Flatt's work examines the legal frameworks affecting the ability of communities to adapt to climate change. As a part of his scholarship, Flatt examines disaster preparedness and response planning.

CLEAR Presents Market CLE

Along with the North Carolina Bar Association, CLEAR presented a Continuing Legal Education Program on cap and trade for greenhouse gases on December 3, 2010.

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