January 2012



In commenting on the Vermont Yankee decision and the recent SCOTUS decision in Nat’l Meat Assoc. v. Harris, my colleague Cheryl Hanna writes:

"But what I will offer is this: Animal rights activists and anti-nuclear advocates face similar uphill battles when it comes to using state law as a means for accomplishing their ends. If you carefully examine the last five years of federal pre-emption cases, the federal courts continue to side more often (albeit not always) with industry. When states such as California and Vermont, with progressive political agendas, try to respond to federal acquiescence to industry by seeking a route around federal law, they will find it very hard to do. Animal rights activists are already up on Capital Hill today in response to the decision, lobbying Congress to change the Federal Meat Inspection Act to give the states more power. It may well be that the anti-nuclear advocates ought to pursue a similar strategy to have the Atomic Energy Act more explicitly allow states greater control of nuclear power plants within their boarders. Unless Congress gives the states some more explicit power here, I have a hard time seeing a federal court granting it, especially after yesterday’s decision.:

See full commentary here.


Unfortunately, “Lawmakers altered the guidelines in November. They barred the USDA from limiting French fries and ensured that pizza counted as a vegetable because of its tomato paste. Trade
associations representing frozen pizza sellers like ConAgra Foods Inc and Schwan Food Co as well as French fry sellers McCain Foods Ltd and J.R. Simplot Co were instrumental in blocking changes to rules affecting those items.”

Conference Announcement:

The University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, the UBC National Centre for Business Law, and the UBC Centre for Law and the Environment invite the submission of papers and abstracts for the 13th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation, to be held in Vancouver, Canada, on September 20-22, 2012. The theme for this conference is Environmental Taxation: Barriers, Opportunities, and the Potential for Inducing Technological Innovation.

We warmly welcome the submission of papers and abstracts that broadly relate to this three-part theme. Barriers to Environmental Taxation (ET) may be political, psychological, or may take some other form, and generally identify obstacles to political or administrative adoption. Opportunities for ET speak to circumstances that may provide unusually favorable conditions for adoption of ET, like weak economic conditions and sovereign debt crises that have left governments scrambling to find new sources of revenue. And finally, the potential of ET to induce technological innovation to reduce emissions is a vital economic and environmental issue that has become a central driver to environmental policy and climate change policy.

With the generous support of Carbon Management Canada, the 13th GCET includes a special call for papers on the potential for ET to induce technological progress in reducing greenhouse gases. While the rest of the conference will consist of concurrent sessions, three papers will be selected to be a part of a special plenary panel discussion. Out of the three, one paper will be selected for a special prize of $1000 (Cdn) as the paper providing the most original and substantial contribution to climate policy and technological innovation. In addition, the winner of the special prize will receive a $1500 (Cdn) travel allowance to be applied to travel to this conference. Submissions pursuant to this special call must be in the form of a paper, not an abstract. As with the general call, please make your submission on the conference website by April 15, 2012. Papers selected for this special call will be made on a blind review basis, so please upload a copy of your paper without identifying information, such as your name or institution. But make sure that your paper title matches the title that you type into the box on the submission page – that is our only way of linking your paper to you! Papers submitted in response to this special call but not selected will automatically be considered for concurrent sessions.

Abstracts should not exceed 400 words. Papers should not exceed 5000 words, including figures, tables, footnotes, endnotes, and other references. Submissions must be made in pdf format and from the conference website: http://www.law.ubc.ca/events/gcet/. No mail or paper submissions will be accepted. Notification as to acceptance or rejection will be made on or before June 15, 2012. Some abstracts or papers will be accepted on a rolling basis, so that some early notifications will be made. Thus, some will be able to register for the conference under the Early Bird rate of $425 knowing that their abstract or paper has been accepted. Submitting early may thus be to your advantage.


David Duff

Professor and Associate Dean, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law

Shi-Ling Hsu

Professor, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law

13th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation: http://www.law.ubc.ca/events/gcet/

One of the best parts about being on sabbatical is actually having time to think, process information, and read the stack of articles and books that have been laying on one’s shelf for three years. This morning I read the article The Emergence of Global Environmental Law by Tseming Yang (on leave from Vermont Law School as Deputy General Counsel at EPA) and Bob Percival (Professor of Law and head of the environmental program at Maryland Law). I would highly recommend the piece. Here’s the abstract:

"With the global growth of public concern about environmental issues over the last several decades, environmental legal norms have increasingly become internationalized. This development has been reflected both in the surge of international environmental agreements as well as the growth and increased sophistication of national environmental legal systems across the world. A number of trends, such as globalization and international development aid efforts, have shaped the global rise of environmental law. The result is the emergence of a shared set of legal principles and norms regarding the environment, such that one can arguably describe it as a common body of law. The emergence of what we call "global environmental law" already has and will likely continue to have profound implications for the implementation, practice, and development of environmental law worldwide."

This article reminds me of the movie "The Matrix" where the sky is intentionally blackened by humans so the machines will lose their solar power.

I skeptical that this idea will work, but I think this idea is creative and a merits applause for both Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

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