CPR Archive for Victor Flatt

In North Carolina, Open Season on Poverty Advocates

by Victor Flatt | February 23, 2015

Today I joined a group more than 40 environmental law professors and clinicians from institutions around the nation in a joint letter to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors urging that they reject a recommendation to shutter the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, housed at the University of North Carolina Law School. That unfortunate recommendation arose from a special committee created by the board at the direction of the legislature to review all 237 of the state university system’s centers, in the wake of criticism of state anti-poverty efforts by the Center’s director, Professor Gene Nichol.

To be clear, the Center takes no money from the state, and hasn’t since 2009. It’s funded by private contributions. It’s being targeted not to save money, but because some in the legislature would rather not have to be reminded of poverty, and don’t have the stomach for criticism of their policies. And since Professor Nichol’s criticisms were a trigger for the special committee’s review, it’s no surprise that the committee has taken aim at the Center.

I’m not directly affiliated with the Center, but our Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) at UNC Law has been looking to work with both the Poverty Center and the Carolina Law School’s Center for Civil Rights to try and address how to minimize the disparate impacts on the poor and minorities from climate change that are going to happen ...

The EPA Addresses Residual Risk for Hazardous Air Emissions at Refineries

by Victor Flatt | May 28, 2014
On May 14, 2014, the EPA proposed new rules to control “residual risk” from hazardous air emissions (such as from benzene) at the nation’s petroleum refineries. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to calculate whether or not residual risk to human health exists after the agency has put Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) in place to control hazardous air emissions.  Studies have long shown residual risk to the public after MACT was put in place at refineries, and this ...

EPA’s ability to regulate cross-state pollution unnecessarily at stake: SCOTUS should uphold transport rule

by Victor Flatt | December 12, 2013
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in EME Homer City Generation v. EPA.  At issue in the case was the ability of EPA to regulate cross-state pollution, or pollution generated in some states that is carried over to others downwind. Eight “downwind” states, primarily in the Northeast, filed a brief in support of the Court’s review of a previous decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the rule EPA implemented to regulate cross-state ...

Downwind States Deserve Protection: Supreme Court’s Review of Decision Gutting Cross-State Pollution Protections Right on Point

by Victor Flatt | July 22, 2013
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, or review of  EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7 (D.C. Cir. 2012), reh’g en banc denied, 2013 WL 656247 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 24, 2013). This is a welcome development, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals got many things wrong in its tossing out of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSPAR), the follow-up to the previously invalidated Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) which regulated potential cross-state air pollution. For ...

Obama Administration Withdrawing EPA Ozone Standard an Illegal and Immoral Move

by Victor Flatt | September 02, 2011
Today’s decision of the Obama administration to withdraw new ozone rules is not only bad policy, it is also illegal. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to revisit its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every five years to ensure that they are adequate to protect the public health and safety. In 2006, the Bush Administration revisited the rules as required, but proposed a new standard of .75 P.P.M., which was far above the unanimous recommendations of the scientists who said ...

Texas is Arguing that EPA Acted Faster than It's Allowed in Air Permitting Move. Texas is Wrong.

by Victor Flatt | January 06, 2011
On Dec. 30, the EPA announced that it was partially disapproving the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) that would not allow it to issue PSD permits for greenhouse gases that were now “subject to regulation.” Continuing its resistance to all things EPA, Texas filed a request for an emergency stay of the disapproval in the DC Circuit. This follows Texas’s request for an emergency stay on the rulemaking which declared GHGs subject to regulation under PSD in the DC Circuit, and later ...

Welcome Clarity and Few Surprises in EPA's Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Permitting

by Victor Flatt | November 17, 2010
Last week the EPA released its “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance For Greenhouse Gases.” This Guidance was designed to give the states direction in how to implement permitting requirements for new sources for other criteria pollutants that also produce greenhouse gases on January 2, 2011, and new sources of greenhouse gases following in May, 2011, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program. The Guidance does an excellent job of summarizing and explaining how the EPA’s current PSD ...

Tailoring Rule Draws Multiple Challenges

by Victor Flatt | August 04, 2010
Cross-posted from Flatt Out Environmental. As expected, the EPA's "tailoring rule," under which it proposes to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA) only if they produce over 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent forcing per year, has been challenged in court by numerous organizations. These include industry, several states (the usual suspects including Texas), and more surprisingly several environmental organizations. The crux of industry and state challenges to the tailoring rule is that it ...

EPA Threads the Needle with New CAIR Rule

by Victor Flatt | July 08, 2010
On Tuesday, the EPA released its long awaited rule to replace the Bush era Clean Air Interstate Rule, invalidated by the DC Circuit in 2008’s North Carolina v. EPA. There are many things that could have been different or improved, but given the EPA’s need to get a rule out quickly to replace the existing rule, they have done a good job of addressing the flaws of the earlier rule and getting something in place. The main problem with the previous ...

Texas' Clean Air Act Alamo May Win the Environmental War for us All

by Victor Flatt | June 04, 2010
In the little-followed but hugely important “joint federalism” system through which our environmental laws are implemented, a seismic change may be afoot that could vastly improve environmental compliance and environmental quality in the future. Last week, Al Armendariz, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region VI, indicated that unless significant changes are made by July 1, 2010, the EPA will take over Texas’s Clean Air Act program because of failures to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act. The ...

Don't Blame Tony Hayward: Why We Need Laws and Regulations That Specifically Hold Parties Liable for the Harm They Cause

by Victor Flatt | May 21, 2010
BP CEO Tony Hayward has been careful to say his company will pay for the "clean-up" from the oil spill -- meaning, not the damages. But if past disasters are any guide, the clean-up will be just a small fraction of the damages from the spill (the deaths, the damage of the oil to natural resources and the humans that depend on them, and more). Many media have commented that Hawyard is a “jerk”, but the who-pays-for-the-damages problem isn't really ...

Preemption Aside, New Climate Change Proposal Would Create Generally Similar Results as Prior Proposals (But Watch Out for Those Offsets)

by Victor Flatt | May 12, 2010
While Kerry and Lieberman (and before two weeks ago, Graham) have tried to pitch the proposed new Senate climate and energy draft legislation as a “game-changer” the truth is that, aside from the stronger preemption language limiting the states, its effect is not terribly different from what has come before. Sure, there are sweeteners for the conservascenti, such as enhanced loan guarantees and permit streamlining for nuclear energy, continued support for carbon capture and sequestration, removal of a natural gas “penalty,” ...

Kerry-Lieberman Creates Some Added Certainty on Offsets

by Victor Flatt | May 12, 2010
The Kerry-Lieberman bill's provisions on offsets are largely similar to those in the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer bill, but include a number of changes that make more specific policy choices in the use of offsets. First, the proposal enumerates a specific lengthy list of eligible offset categories (whereas Waxman-Markey didn't list specific categories, instead giving instruction for a regulatory decision). This change  might assist in providing market liquidity. In terms of offset regulation, there seems to be a complex dance between the ...

The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Bill – Was it a Tax too Far?

by Victor Flatt | May 04, 2010
Monday April 26 was supposed to be the day that the much anticipated Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate change bill was to be proposed in the Senate. Hopes had gone up that there could be a legislative solution to putting a price on carbon. The carbon markets themselves had responded, pushing up the price of allocations on RGGI in the hopes that these would be allowed to qualify for the expected federal cap and trade. Then over the preceding weekend, it fell apart. ...

Tenaska Deal Signals Sea-Change in Climate Change Regulation, but Itself May be Too Good to be True

by Victor Flatt | April 23, 2010
On Monday, the Environmental Defense Fund announced that it had reached a settlement with Tenaska Inc. to withdraw opposition to that company’s proposed “Trailblazer Energy Center,” a 600 megawatt coal fired power plant in West Texas. In return for dropping its objections, the EDF signed an agreement with Tenaska that the company will sequester 85% of the CO2 it produces, selling much of the gas to companies who will use it for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the West Texas ...

Tackling the Issue of "Fraud" in Carbon Trading

by Victor Flatt | February 12, 2010
The concept of cap and trade took another hit recently with disclosures that hackers had been able to get into the accounts of several holders of carbon emissions allowances in Europe and steal some of the account balance. This, along with the continued snowstorm in Washington, D.C. seems to fill those opposing a federal comprehensive cap and trade plan with glee. While the issue of record setting snows in D.C. should be addressed with basic scientific education (trends and averages ...

The Future of US Elections and the Environment after Citizens United? Look at Texas and Its Politicized Agencies

by Victor Flatt | January 25, 2010
The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was not entirely unexpected, but it is appropriately seen as a breathtaking change in the way elections work in this country. The Supreme Court struck down federal campaign finance rules that limit corporate (and general organizational) spending on campaign finance ads to help or defeat candidates. What can we expect now? One need look no further than Texas, which has no campaign restrictions in any statewide races. In Texas, large corporations and individuals ...

G77 Countries May Ethically Deserve More in Copenhagen, But Chance for This Much Foreign Assistance Unlikely to Come Again Soon

by Victor Flatt | December 17, 2009
As we move into the last days of climate negotiations in Copenhagen, the chances of securing a binding agreement of all countries continues to look less and less likely. The primary culprit, according to the New York Times, is the G77, a group of 130 developing countries that have negotiated as a block since arriving. But as the Times notes, since they have very different needs and incomes, the main thing they have in common is their ability to rail ...

Also from Victor Flatt

Victor B. Flatt is the Taft Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Law, and the Distinguished Scholar of Carbon Trading and Carbon Markets, Global Energy Management Institute, University of Houston, Bauer College of Business.

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