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On The Environment

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Remaking the Paris 2105 Climate Change Agreement to Ensure Broader Engagement

For two decades, the global response to climate change has centered on a top-down, national-government-led framework based on a series of emissions reduction targets and timetables. But this international treaty architecture has produced neither the action orientation nor the on-the-ground results needed to address the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Politics of Fracking Campaigns

If you have been paying attention to the news this past week, and have an interest in domestic energy policy, you will probably have heard: In Texas, municipal fracking bans are now prohibited. On May 18, 2015, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 40, which his office says will ensure that Texas landowners are protected against “the heavy hand of local regulation.” While not entirely surprising, HB 40 is a strange message to Texas residents. It is an incursion of the state government into local affairs, an overreach that Gov. Abbot is generally all too quick to condemn when the federal government inserts itself into Texan affairs, even when it results from an established congressional mandate.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fracking News: Texas Bans Bans

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a law that prohibits local governments from banning hydraulic fracturing within their borders. The new law also limits the ability of local governments to regulate other aspects of fracking, such as drilling location. This new policy is not a complete surprise. In fall 2014, voters in Denton, Texas approved a city-wide ban on hydraulic fracturing. The first such ban in Texas, it caused a storm of criticism and new attention to the role of local governments in managing fracking.

While not surprising, the newly enacted state-wide ban on bans is a major departure from Texas tradition.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Trying Not to Fall Through the Fracking Governance Gap

Over the past year I have been working on a project to define the local impacts of hydraulic fracturing and to develop frameworks for governing these impacts at the local level. The premise of this project is simple: federal and state law do not, and are not meant to, address uniquely local impacts from the hydraulic fracturing "boom." Along with my collaborators, John Nolon and Jessica Bacher from the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School, and a brilliant team of students from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Law School, we have identified dozens of these local impacts, including traffic and road degradation, noise and visual blight, stress on public services, and loss of farmland or recreational space. A new study published today in Science is a reminder that some of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing scale from local to national in scope and that the criticality of local governance does not undercut the importance of cooperative governance with federal and state policymakers. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gathering Voices, Emboldening Change, Harnessing Momentum:

On February 28, 2015, students, faculty, community leaders, businesspeople, and government officials alike gathered at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the 5th annual New Directions in Environmental Law Conference: Harnessing Momentum.


Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now, release. Breathing is an amazing bodily function, one that is fundamental to life and an act that we do both automatically and conscientiously. Though we are acutely aware of changes in our breathing—too fast, too shallow, too loud—most people give little thought to what is in the air we breathe.

With an estimated 3.4 million deaths annually attributed to outdoor air pollution, this lack of awareness is concerning. To better understand the linkages between air quality and human heath, a group of the world’s leading scientists convened by theEnvironmental Performance Index at Yale University came together to review the latest science on air pollution and explore how the next generation of air quality indicators can be made more useful for policy purposes.

Daniel Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, believes that better battery storage — a holy grail for scientists worldwide — is the key to solving the intermittency problem.
During remarks delivered at the Yale Environmental Law Association’s New Directions in Environmental Law conference last weekend, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who has wrestled for years with his Republican counterparts on the issue of global warming, described the GOP as being somewhat at sea on the climate issue.
Vietnam’s rapid growth has had drastic environmental consequences with polluted waterways and extensive biodiversity loss. The country is rated 136 out of 178 countries on the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, including a rating of 170 for air quality. That puts its overall environmental performance behind China (118), but its air pollution is not as heavy as the notorious smog choking many Chinese cities.
For the first time, faculty from Yale Law School, Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies are offering a course together.
Of 178 countries and principalities, Thailand rates 78th overall, right in the middle. In Southeast Asia it's behind Malaysia and Singapore but ahead of the other nations. For air quality, Thailand rates 145, which is near the bottom, but not as low as India or China, which are in the basement.
Clouds of smoke rise above mounds of burning rags and garbage, engulfing the area in unbearable smog and stench. Splendid cars carrying well-groomed passengers pass by the mess. How would the passengers take notice of this open dumpsite? The windowpanes are rolled up and appear to be hazy with the vapour created by artificial air-cooling systems within the cars. The comfort takes us to a world where no smog, no stench can ever reach us, or so we wish.

Princeton University researchers have uncovered a previously unknown, and possibly substantial, source of the greenhouse gas methane to the Earth's atmosphere.
For this #MapMonday we return to Yale’s Environmental Performance group, featured previously here on #MapMonday. The newly released biodiversity map brings together a whopping amount of data to detail the state (quality not just quantity) of species around the world, and while the staggering diversity of life on our planet is breathtaking (and sometimes pretty weird), the overall picture is grim.

Lisa Dale, the new associate director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy talks to Josh Galperin, the outgoing associate director, about her new role, experience, and vision for the Center.


Environmental Law and Governance

Environmental Law & Governance

“Good governance” has become a mantra in international circles. The consensus across a range of sectors is that good governance is critical to sound policymaking.
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