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Environmental Law

Pipeline Takings: When Can Your Property Be Taken?

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Teleforum Monday, August 29, 12:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

The use of eminent domain to condemn property for pipelines has become an increasingly controversial practice. Critics claim that it undermines private property rights and causes environmental damage. Defenders argue it is essential to enable effective exploitation of the nation's energy resources. In recent months, Georgia and South Carolina have passed new legislation limiting pipeline condemnations, an effort backed by a coalition of conservative property rights advocates and left of center environmentalists. Similar reforms have been proposed in many other states. This forum will examine the growing controversy over pipeline takings.

Featuring:

  • Professor Alexandra B. Klass, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Professor Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law

The Climate Change Investigations – Fair Regulation of Markets or Executive Overreach that Chills Free Speech? - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Teleforum
Andrew Grossman, Margaret A. (Peggy) Little August 08, 2016

Climate change activists have for the past year been urging the Department of Justice and state attorneys general to investigate ExxonMobil, think tanks, and other corporations and organizations that have expressed skepticism or otherwise presented contrary views either on the science or the policy of climate change regulatory action. These calls include members of Congress petitioning the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Exxon and its “brain trust” violated civil RICO, an ongoing Martin Act investigation launched last fall by the New York Attorney General, and more recently, subpoenas issued by the US Virgin Islands and civil investigative demands from the Massachusetts AG. A press conference on March 29, 2016 attended by former vice-president Al Gore, represented that these calls for investigations are supported by a coalition of 20 attorneys general. The next day a majority of state attorneys general, 29 in all, issued a press release that they would not be joining in that call for investigations or other regulatory action, citing respect for the rule of law and the First Amendment. Asserting that good science embraces disagreement and the chilling effect on research when the government decides what is “truth” and what is “fraud,” these majority states revealed a stark divide in our polity about the proper role of the executive branch – state and federal – in formulating, enforcing and financing climate change policy.

At the March 29, 2016 press conference, former vice-President Gore asserted that “our democracy’s been hacked” and that these state and federal enforcement actions were necessary to remedy Congress’s and other legislative inactivity. In this Teleforum, Andrew Grossman – who has been involved in both defending targets of the subpoenas and in challenging the lawfulness of their issuance – discussed some of the legal and policy questions implicated by this division between the states, and the executive branches and Congress, such as: Should a corporation’s published research that expresses concerns about climate change be grounds for civil RICO or other regulatory action? Would such potential liability disincentive research? Should the government decide what is truth and what is not in the historically uncertain arena of science? Should those matters be decided in legislative hearings with the opportunity for the expression of multiple views on the science, policy, and proposed solutions? Should there have to be a substantiated allegation of unlawful conduct before such investigatory powers are wielded? Who has been defrauded? Is there harm in forcing corporations and think tanks to open up their records, research and communications – isn’t that a good way to determine whether there has been fraud on the energy markets? On the other hand, has Exxon sold oil or raised capital by claiming climate change is not affected by fossil fuels? Are consumers/investors uncritical consumers of industry information? What are the pros and cons of legislative action, inaction or accretional action versus sweeping state and federal executive enforcement actions? What regulatory authority or past practice provides a template for these investigations, and what are their practical and historical goals and outcomes? Do think tanks have a different status vis-a-vis the First Amendment than a for profit business selling fossil fuels, and if so what role, if any, does the source of their funding play?

Featuring:

  • Andrew Grossman, Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP and Adjunct Scholar, The Cato Institute
  • Margaret A. (Peggy) Little, Partner, Little and Little, & Director, The Federalist Society's Pro Bono Center

Sturgeon v. Frost - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 6-2-16 featuring Gale Norton
Gale Norton June 02, 2016

On March 22, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Sturgeon v. Frost. Sturgeon challenged a National Park Service (NPS) ban on the operation of hovercraft on the National River, part of which falls within the Yukon-Charley River National Preserve. The State of Alaska then intervened, challenging NPS’s authority to require its researchers to obtain a permit before engaging in studies of chum and sockeye salmon on the Alagnak River, part of which falls within the boundaries of the Katmai National Park and Preserve. Sturgeon and Alaska contended that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) precludes NPS from regulating activities on state-owned lands and navigable waters that fall within the boundaries of National Park System units in Alaska. The district court ruled in favor of the federal government, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that judgment as to Sturgeon but ordered that Alaska’s case be dismissed for lack of standing. The question before the Supreme Court was whether ANILCA prohibits the National Park Service from exercising regulatory control over state, native corporation, and private Alaska land physically located within the boundaries of the National Park System.

By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Ninth Circuit and remanded the case. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, rejecting the Ninth Circuit’s reading of ANILCA. Taken as whole, the Court indicated, ANILCA “contemplates the possibility that all the land within the boundaries of conservation system units in Alaska may be treated differently from federally managed preservation areas across the country, and that ‘non-public’ lands within the boundaries of those units may be treated differently from ‘public’ lands within the unit.”

To discuss the case, we have the Honorable Gale Norton, who served as the 48th U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

WOTUS comes to SCOTUS: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Company Decided - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
Mark Miller May 31, 2016

On Monday, May 31 the United States Supreme Court issued an 8-0 opinion in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Company. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Pacific Legal Foundation, representing Hawkes Company, squared off regarding the Corps’ decision that Hawkes Company could not use its property for peat farming without first spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in pursuit of a federal wetlands permit under the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. The Court agreed with Pacific Legal Foundation that that decision, called a Jurisdictional Determination, is judicially reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Featuring:

  • Mark Miller, Managing Attorney, Atlantic Center, Pacific Legal Foundation

Who Controls Fracking?: Two Critical Court Decisions - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
Eric R. Claeys, Hannah J. Wiseman May 24, 2016

Unconventional oil and gas production (or "fracking") has generated new wealth, new jobs, and new sources of energy for many Americans. But fracking has also generated local congestion and pollution problems, and some believe that it creates significant risks for state fresh water supplies or global climate change. In many states, localities opposed to fracking are trying to ban the practice or impose long moratoriums on it within municipal limits, notwithstanding statewide political support for fracking. The tensions between state-level energy policies and local restrictions raise legal questions about when statewide energy regulations should preempt local efforts to restrict fracking using local powers over land use. Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court handed down two new and important preemption decisions, City of Fort Collins v. Colorado Oil & Gas Association, and Longmont v. Colorado Oil & Gas Association. Our experts discussed both cases, their significance in Colorado, and their implications for fracking and preemption law elsewhere in the United States.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Eric R. Claeys, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
  • Prof. Hannah Wiseman, Attorneys' Title Professor, Florida State University College of Law