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Sept. 25, 2019 by David Flores

Striking for Environmental and Social Justice in Roanoke

On September 23, I attended the Climate Emergency: Tri-State Pipeline Strike in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. While affiliated with the Global Climate Strike week of action, the event in Roanoke was another milestone in the years-long and continuing struggle to prevent construction of natural gas pipelines through parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.                      

The day prior, my family and I attended a “Circle of Protection” event atop verdant Bent Mountain, which is home to a farming community and is part of the Roanoke River watershed, a source of drinking water for urban Roanoke. Bent Mountain and the greater Roanoke region are the site of multiple Native American burial grounds and other archeological sites that have been dug up and destroyed in the last two years to make way for the pipeline, so the event began with an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of the land, their descendants, and current Virginia tribes impacted by the pipeline projects. Previous Circle of Protection events have been held elsewhere in communities affected by the pipeline projects, including Union Hill, a rural community of descendants of former slaves whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by a proposed pipeline compressor station.

Downtown on Monday, it …

Sept. 19, 2019 by Katie Tracy
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Tomorrow (September 20), I'm standing up for workers' rights by marching to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of the Global Climate Strike. I'll be walking in solidarity with the students and youth organizing the strike to spread the message that climate action is imperative.                      

Addressing the growing climate crisis and creating jobs are two necessary actions often pitted against each other, as if only one were possible at a time. That's a false choice, misleading rhetoric created by the fossil fuel industry and climate science deniers in Congress to slow down government action while continuing to pass the cost of dirty energy extraction onto families and communities – both in dollars and in health consequences. The reality is that we can have both good, green jobs and a healthy environment; thriving workers and a thriving planet go together.

Discussions about climate change often …

June 17, 2019 by Lisa Heinzerling
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In a recent essay posted to SSRN, I try to see, and to appreciate, the wisdom in a species of climate litigation that has many detractors. This litigation asks the courts to hold the government and private parties judicially accountable for their active promotion and pursuit of climate-endangering activities, even after they knew better – even after they knew the terrible risks we faced if they continued on their preferred course. It calls upon venerable legal doctrines, deployed as modern bulwarks against the most pressing challenge of our time.

The legal theories these lawsuits pursue do not come from statutes, but instead rely on constitutional law, natural law, and the common law. This is the kind of litigation that is most likely to draw criticism not only from the governmental and industrial institutions it seeks to constrain, but from within the environmental community itself, as some worry that …

Jan. 22, 2019 by Daniel Farber
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Originally published on Legal Planet.

Juliana v. United States, often called the "children's case," is an imaginative effort to make the federal government responsible for its role in promoting the production and use of fossil fuels and its failure to control carbon emissions. The plaintiffs ask the court to "declare that the United States' current environmental policy infringes their fundamental rights, direct the agencies to conduct a consumption-based inventory of United States CO2 emissions," and use that inventory to "prepare and implement an enforceable national remedial plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric CO2 so as to stabilize the climate system and protect the vital resources on which Plaintiffs now and in the future will depend."

More specifically, they ask the court to "order Defendants to cease their permitting, authorizing, and subsidizing of fossil fuels and, instead, move to …

Sept. 14, 2018 by Joseph Tomain
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This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report.

We have seen the pictures before. A man and his dog, both wet and disheveled, gliding down the middle of a residential street in a rowboat past downed power lines. As they drift, they pass the tops of cars parked at the curb, immobile. As they drift further, they see a woman and child standing on the roof of a darkened house, dazed.  Is the child missing a toy or maybe a pet? Is the woman missing a spouse or maybe a child?

Now consider sitting at home watching the game or a movie or the news when the TV flickers and then goes out, along with all the other lights and electrical appliances in your home. After a minute or two your concern rises as you reach …

May 21, 2018 by Karen Sokol
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Back in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted the likelihood of an increase in what is now often referred to as "climate change" or "climate justice" litigation. The reason for the increase, according to the IPCC, is that "countries and citizens will become dissatisfied with the pace of international and national decision-making on climate change." Just over a decade later, that observation now looks quite prescient, with several cities and counties taking the oil industry to court over climate-related damages. 

In addition to suits against national governments based on international and national environmental laws in various countries, the IPCC pointed to the first climate change tort case brought in the United States: American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP). In that case, states sued major oil and gas companies for climate change harms caused by their greenhouse gas emissions based on the common …

May 17, 2018 by Daniel Farber
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In the era of Trump, one bright spot remains what's happening in cities across the nation. Here are some numbers: 402 U.S. mayors have endorsed the Paris Agreement and announced their intention of meeting its goals, while 118 have endorsed the goal of making their cities 100 percent renewable. A bit of quick research provides a sample of what some major cities are already up to:

Atlanta. Atlanta's city council has set ambitious goals: 100 percent renewable energy for city operations by 2025 and for the entire city a decade later.

Chicago. Chicago commissioned climate scientists to report on how climate change would impact the city. The report cites more heat waves and heavier rains and snows. The mayor has announced a plan to power city buildings with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. The city has adopted an elaborate climate change adaptation plan.

Houston and …

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