CPR Scholarship Round-up: Innovation for nonpoint source pollution and animal migrations on the one hand, and obfuscation at OIRA on the other

Shana Campbell Jones

June 9, 2010

We’ve all seen the dramatic headlines recently concerning large-scale environmental disruptions, including a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf and mining disasters killing workers from West Virginia to China. Meanwhile, in Congress, climate change bills are proposed, altered, weakened, and eventually shelved, and the United States still fails to take action on climate change. CPR’s Member Scholars march forward, however, proposing reforms that range from creating transparency in agency decisions to protecting animal migrations. Below is a quick overview of some of their recent publications.

  • Robert Adler, in his article, Priceline for Pollution: Auctions to Allocate Public Pollution Control Dollars, which was published in the William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, argues for competitive bidding for public pollution control money, most notably in the area of nonpoint source pollution. After discussing the benefits of auctions in government spending, Adler uses the Colorado River salinity control program as a model for soliciting bid proposals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to fund projects designed to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment and identifies lessons learned from the program that could be applied to auctions in other watershed programs. He finds that the addition of bidding into programs, such as the Chesapeake Bay Program, could increase cost-effectiveness and efficiency in pollution control.
  • Robert Fischman, in the Virginia Environmental Law Journal, The Legal Challenge of Protecting Animal Migrations as Phenomena of Abundance, co-authored with Jeffrey B. Hyman, discusses the ever-changing need for migration protection, especially in the face of climate change. By focusing on the legal steps necessary to create an effective conservation strategy, the authors establish four specific goals to protect migrations: incorporating thresholds based on abundance goals, potential transboundary laws, migration connectivity, and protection from harvests of both the migrating animals and the migrating animals’ food sources.
  • A disturbing aspect of climate change programs, and agency actions in general, is the potential interference by the White House as presidential supervision.   In Disclosing “Political” Oversight of Agency Decision Making, which appeared in the Michigan Law Review, Nina Mendelson argues that presidential supervision creates an opaque process that masks executive influence over agency rulemaking. She cites examples of presidential interference in cases of global warming, surface mining operations, and numerous other decisions, calling for better transparency to prevent politicization of agency rulemaking.

 

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