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First Circuit Rules Constitution's Appropriations Clause Quashes Flood Policy Claim Lacking Proof-of-Loss

September 26, 2013 00:38
by J. Wylie Donald
You know it is not going well when the court cites the Constitution at you in a breach of contract case.  But so it went in DeCosta v. Allstate Insurance Co., where the First Circuit last Friday reversed the trial court and granted summary judgment to Allstate on a suit involving a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The case was relatively simple on both its facts and on the law.  DeCosta suffered a flood loss in 2009 and tendered...

Flood Insurance

In Issuing Executive Order No. 41, Governor Markell Rejects Any Need to Choose Between Mitigating Climate Change and Supporting Economic Growth

September 13, 2013 21:39
by Mike Kelly  & Jameson Tweedie
Yesterday, Governor Jack Markell issued Executive Order No. 41, “Preparing Delaware for Emerging Climate Impacts and Seizing Economic Opportunities from Reducing Emissions.”  In many climate change discussions there exists an implied or overt assumption that society must choose between the economy and the climate.  Consistent with a theme that has resurfaced throughout his tenure as Governor, in Executive Order No. 41 Governor Markell explicitly rejects that choice:  &...

Climate Change | Regulation | Rising Sea Levels

Extreme Weather Patterns in Fiction: A Riverine Book Review

September 3, 2013 08:22
by J. Wylie Donald
One of the guidelines for this blog is to stay away from extreme views. The effects of climate change do not need to be amplified to merit reasoned discussion and thoughtful application of what we as lawyers do. So what were we to do with a request from Simon & Schuster that we provide a pre-release review of Rivers by Michael Faris Smith, an "incidence of fiction presenting an all-too-real possibility." "All-too-real" meaning "a series of devastating storms has pummeled the American Southea...

Climate Change

New Mexico Court Refuses to Take Steps to Apply Public Trust Doctrine to the Atmosphere

August 22, 2013 09:13
by J. Wylie Donald
By J. Wylie Donald and Patrick Reilly Two years ago, we observed a potentially startling development in climate change litigation: “On Monday, May 4, [2011] in state courts across the nation lawyers representing children and young adults filed (and apparently will continue to file) suits seeking to compel State governments to recognize the application of the public trust doctrine to greenhouse gas emissions and to take action to abate those emissions.” These lawsuits were coord...

Carbon Dioxide | Climate Change | Climate Change Litigation | Greenhouse Gases

Fourth Circuit Rejects Manipulation of Judicial Process As Ocean Manhandles Homes

August 19, 2013 22:56
by J. Wylie Donald
Can a community condemn shorefront cottages where the beach has eroded at 8 feet per year and the cottages interfere with emergency responders traveling along the beach?  Based on the Fourth Circuit's decision at the end of last month in Sansotta v Town of Nags Head we just don't know. What we do know is that a municipality cannot play both ends of the law against the middle to address the problem. Let us explain.  Nags Head is a shore community of about 2500 souls (soaring ...

Climate Change Effects | Climate Change Litigation | Regulation | Rising Sea Levels

Harvey Cedars v. Karan: Condemnation at the Shore and the Evolution of the Common Law

July 29, 2013 23:46
by J. Wylie Donald
If you were a municipality that had to take action and condemn private property for the public good to avert disaster, before you got to court you would be particularly pleased to be able to say, "See, I told you so," pointing to an avoided calamity.  When one New Jersey beachfront community, the Borough of Harvey Cedars, took such action, the longed-for serendipity avoided both the trial and intermediate appellate courts. But then fortune smiled and the Borough enjoyed a favorable res...

Climate Change | Climate Change Effects | Rising Sea Levels | Weather

Walking on Eggshell Skulls: Louisiana's Levees Take on the Oil and Gas Industry Over Coastal Land Degradation

July 24, 2013 23:20
by J. Wylie Donald
Ground zero for climate change and rising sea levels in the United States is not a status to which any state aspires.  Florida distastefully remembers 2005 when 4 hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne - roared ashore, all within six weeks.   Delaware worries that 8-11% of the state will be submerged by 2100.  Today we learned that Louisiana’s concerns over rising sea levels and hurricanes have resulted in an enormous lawsuit, Board of Commissioners ...

Climate Change | Climate Change Effects | Climate Change Litigation | Rising Sea Levels

'Deferral Rule' is Derailed - Biogenic Greenhouse Gas Emitters Stand By to Be Regulated

July 19, 2013 09:27
by J. Wylie Donald
The greenhouse gas rule you’ve never heard of, the Deferral Rule, was shot down (barely) by the D.C. Circuit last week.  See Center for Biological Diversity v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 11-1101 (D.C. Cir., July 12, 2013).   The opinion offers a wonderful primer on greenhouse gas rulemaking and describes the Timing Rule, the Tailpipe Rule and the Tailoring Rule.  It also explains in great detail numerous doctrines concerning agency rulemaking.  And it bal...

Carbon Dioxide | Carbon Emissions | Greenhouse Gases | Regulation

Top 6 at 6: Highlights of the Top Climate Change Stories in the First Half of 2013

July 1, 2013 00:01
by J. Wylie Donald
Another six months have passed and it is time for our semi-annual look at climate change and its intersection with the law.  Here are some highlights of the last six months: 1.  The Administration’s Focus.  After months of silence in the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama rejuvenated his administration’s commitment to addressing climate change.  We heard in his inaugural address:   “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing...

Maryland Reassesses Local Sea Level Rise: More of Us Are Going to Get Wet

June 26, 2013 22:14
by J. Wylie Donald
We have looked at Delaware's perspective on rising sea levels several times in recent months.  Now it is Maryland's turn.  Today a panel of experts led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science issued an update to Maryland's 2008 assessment:   Updating Maryland's Sea Level Rise Projections.  The conclusion is disturbing.  In the passage of just five years, the anticipated sea level rise in the mid-Atlantic states now exceeds the previous high ra...

Regulation | Rising Sea Levels


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