The UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy produces a high quality biannual journal on cutting-edge environmental legal and policy matters. JELP is entirely run and produced by students at UCLA School of Law. Articles in JELP are written by leading scholars throughout the country and often the world, and by students focusing on environmental law at UCLA.
Volume 34, Issue 2, 2016
© 2016 UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. All rights reserved.
© 2016 UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
© UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 2016. All rights reserved.
A right to a healthy environment is neither novel nor extreme. As this Essay posits, this is a propitious moment for exploring why such a right is supported by this Nation’s legal institutions. This Essay walks through those institutions – our Constitution, the common law, as well as Congressional and state efforts to embed a right to a healthy environment into our legal fabric. Those institutions collectively demonstrate how an aspirational right, such as a right to a healthy environment, enjoys sufficient legal currency and is capable of enforcement.
As companies consider pursuing offshore exploratory drilling operations in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf, the federal regulatory regime surrounding such activities continues to develop. In February 2015, the United States Department of the Interior released a proposed rule employing more stringent standards and requirements for offshore exploratory drilling operations in order to ensure effective and safe exploration in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. The proposed rule has received mixed responses, with environmental groups praising the government for regulating such activities while simultaneously requesting that the mandates become even more stringent. The regulated entities in the oil and gas industry oppose the rule because they argue it is redundant and unnecessary, while also imposing extravagant costs for relatively minimal improvements to the safety of these exploratory drilling operations. However, as with any regulation, controversy among different interest groups is to be expected. To determine whether the proposed rule is the appropriate regulatory approach, this article employs a familiar tool to determine the favorability of the proposed regulation: economic analysis. Although some claim that economic analysis is an improper tool for quantifying certain benefits such as environmental protection, it seems clear that the government must find some way to reconcile these conflicting interests and ensure the sustainable development of Arctic resources moving forward. This article provides a starting point for this discussion by assessing the economic costs associated with the proposed rule.
Of all the new concerns to emerge in the wake of unconventional shale energy development, induced earthquakes are perhaps the most surprising. The frequency and occurrence of seismic activity in the central and eastern United States has increased dramatically since the shale boom began in 2009. This uptick in seismic events has led many to suspect that the connection between unconventional production and induced seismicity is far from coincidence. Plenty of myths and inaccurate reporting surround this issue, but the consensus from the scientific community is that the injection of wastewater fluids is the most likely culprit for the increasing rates of seismicity. This concern has prompted a varied response from concerned citizens, regulators, and the industry. This article discusses how the oil and gas industry induces earthquakes from wastewater disposal activities, outlines the existing regulatory framework by comparing the response of state officials in Oklahoma and Colorado, and offers several non-regulatory strategies that companies should implement to prevent these damaging earthquakes. This article concludes that the best approach to mitigate seismic risk requires both proactive state regulatory measures with voluntary efforts from the industry.