CLEAR Honors Contributions to Clean Air in North Carolina

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The Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) at UNC School of Law will formally recognize individuals for their contributions to North Carolina’s success in protecting its citizens’ right to clean and healthful air at a luncheon reception on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The first CLEAR award will be given to Attorney General Roy Cooper, as well as Marc Bernstein, Jim Gulick and Allen Jernigan in the N.C. Attorney General’s Office; Laura Boothe (posthumously), George Bridgers, John Evans, Sheila Holman and Brock Nicholson at the N.C. Department of the Environment and Natural Resources; John Suttles and Gudrun Thompson from the Southern Environmental Law Center; Chris Browning, former North Carolina Solicitor General; and Professor Don Hornstein, from UNC School of Law.

“The dedication of these individuals serves as an inspiration to all environmental attorneys and public servants and to our future attorneys,” says Victor Flatt, CLEAR director and Thomas F. and Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor in Environmental Law.

With the passage of the strict Clean Air Act in 1970, the federal government tasked all states with playing a role in the provision of clean air. In particular, it was recognized that states should avoid actions that would cause harm to the air in another state. Despite this requirement, much upwind pollution traveled to downwind states like North Carolina, impairing the health of its citizens.

“Since 2002, the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and its allies have fought for clean air in North Carolina,” says Flatt. Their work, spanning over a decade, includes a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to respond to a petition under the Clean Air Act against upwind sources of pollution significantly affecting North Carolina; a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority, which reduced trans-boundary pollution from sources operated by the TVA; and a successful challenge of the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule in the U.S. Supreme Court and the continued work petitioning for a better program for the future.

“With these actions, these environmental legal heroes have lowered the amount of pollution coming into the state from out-of-state sources by decreasing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides or eliminating sources completely,” says Flatt.


The Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) was founded four years ago to provide opportunities for law students to engage in the most important environmental law issues and problems of the day, such as climate change adaptation. Pursuant to this work, CLEAR serves as a focal point for advance research in environmental law issues in this state, nationally, and internationally. As a center focused on the use of law to make environmental advancements, part of our mission is to recognize the persistent and innovative use of the law for the benefits of North Carolina.

-February 1, 2013

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