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Earthquake Litigation Shaking Up the Fracking Industry Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

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Earthquake Litigation Shaking Up the Fracking Industry

By Sean Rigby, Staff Contributor

In the past decade, the prevalence of hydraulic fracturing has exploded in many regions of the United States. Fracking, as the process is more commonly called, involves the injection of fracking fluid (a mixture of water, proppants and chemicals) into a rock or coal formation. This allows for the extraction of large quantities of oil and gas that would have otherwise been too costly or unfit for extraction. Fluid that returns to the surface is called flowback, or wastewater, and must be disposed of securely to prevent water contamination. The most common disposal method is the reinjection of flowback into specially dug deep disposal wells.

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New Hampshire House Vote Could Impact Clean Power Plan Compliance Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

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New Hampshire House Vote Could Impact Clean Power Plan Compliance

By Peter Ellis, Staff Contributor

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to remain a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), but to reallocate 100% of the money raised through emission allowance auctions towards rebates for ratepayers. Any decision about RGGI participation or fund allocation could significantly impact how the state complies with upcoming EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act.

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Peter Eddie Aldinger: Addressing Environmental Justice Concerns in Developing Countries: Mining in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana – Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

Peter E. Aldinger, Addressing Environmental Justice Concerns in Developing Countries: Mining in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana

Author, published in Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 26, Issue 4.

Peter E. Aldinger is a visiting Attorney with the Environmental Law Institute, Post-Conflict Natural Resource Management program.  Mr. Aldinger is the author of Addressing Environmental Justice Concerns in Developing Countries: Mining in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, published in GIELR Issue 26.4.  The article analyzes how poor and rural communities in Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana are — or are not — protected by law from the environmental and health effects of mining activities.

Although law review articles traditionally list an author’s professional and/or academic credentials [ed. note: see Mr. Aldinger’s full article, below] rarely do law reviews ask their authors, much less reveal to their readers, what motivated you to write this article? 

We at GIELR decided to ask our authors this question and to share their responses, with the idea that this would provide our readers with a more complete, and ultimately more fulfilling, level of engagement with the articles we publish. Mr. Aldinger’s response:

Following the completion of my legal studies in London, I leveraged my previous experience in Liberia – I had previously worked on a security sector reform project over a three-and-a-half year period – to secure a law fellowship with the joint W&L Law School / Carter Center program. I was placed at the Liberian Ministry of Internal Affairs where I worked closely with the Deputy Minister of Research and Development Planning to assist him in his duties, which primarily related to local governance. Although I encountered many issues, two stood out: the first was the desperate need for a clearly defined local government structure supported by effective institutions. The second, related matter was the need for statutory protection of rural communities and the resources and ecosystems they relied upon; because of the overlapping, blurred governance structure that currently exists, which includes the dual customary-statutory legal system, there is a great deal of confusion regarding boundaries, responsibilities, and property rights.

This has negatively contributed to the current situation, whereby huge tracts of land have been awarded to concessionaires, often without the free prior and informed consent from the affected communities. Corrupt local officials have, sadly, exploited the general confusion by forging communal land deeds and selling them to these same enterprises, often without the latter being aware of the perpetrated fraud. As a result, large groups of rural people have been disenfranchised and displaced from their land, and ecosystems significantly degraded by over-logging and the growth of ‘mega plantations’ – some of which are to ultimately span over 220,000 hectares.

In response to these concerns, I decided to pursue an LL.M. as a means to develop a better understanding of environmental and natural resources law so that I could return to the field and assist in addressing some of the problems I had observed. I selected the topic of environmental justice (or environmental democracy, as it is sometimes now referred to) to write on because of what I had seen in West Africa: people were not given an adequate opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes that affected them, which led to their further impoverishment as well as environmental destruction. Although I did not see the effects of mining with my own eyes, I became aware of the rapid expansion of mineral development projects within Liberia and the continent more widely. Knowing the weak capacity of many sub-Saharan governments, I was interested in how, if at all, national laws provided the public with the means to protect themselves through a participatory process, and how they could be improved.

Full Article PDF: Peter E. Aldinger, Addressing Environmental Justice Concerns in Developing Countries: Mining in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, 26 Geo. Int’l Envtl. L. Rev. 345 (2014).

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Myanmar Initiative

Myanmar Initiative

Myanmar is poised at the precipice of its own industrial revolution that was spurred, in part, by various efforts at political and economic reform and the foreign direct investment that followed. Indeed, vast swaths of Myanmar’s population are lifted out of poverty every day at a staggering rate. But Myanmar’s shift towards increased standards of living poses very real obstacles for a country with vast swaths of pristine ecosystems. 

Against this backdrop, civil society will be forced to grapple with the utilitarian ethos embedded within Myanmar’s Constitution that emphasizes extraction and exploitation, making scant mention of conservation. That’s not to say there aren’t laws on the books with the capacity to encourage sustainable development. There are many. But lax enforcement and oversight along with a byzantine network of ministries often thwarts those noble ambitions. 

To that end, while there exists a wealth of research detailing Myanmar’s abundant natural resources, the metes and bounds of the statutory and regulatory infrastructure that will guide future development remain largely uncharted territory. The guiding principle behind the Myanmar Legal Initiative is therefore straightforward: to serve as a resource for environmentalists, practitioners, and businesses alike, providing an up-to-date snapshot of a legal landscape that changes by the day. For more information, visit  www.myanmar-initiative.org.

If interested, please e-mail cph45@georgetown.edu, and write “Myanmar Initiative” in the subject line.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Stirring Controversy in West Virginia

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Stirring Controversy in West Virginia

By Eliza Bikvan, Staff Contributor

With all the focus on the Keystone Pipeline Project, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has barely made national headlines, but the potential negative environmental and public safety effects are a major concern for West Virginian residents.

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Galamsey: Environmental Impact of Illegal Gold Mining in Ghana

Galamsey: Environmental Impact of Illegal Gold Mining in Ghana

By Darci Stanger, Staff Editor

For several years, the government in Ghana has been aware of a major issue affecting the environmental well being of its country but has been unable to find a resolution. Illegal gold mining, better known in Ghana as Galamsey, has taken off in rural areas, leading to extreme environmental destruction. (more…)

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The Kessler Syndrome: A World Without Satellites Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

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The Kessler Syndrome: A World Without Satellites

By Jordan Liew, Staff Contributor 

When politicians, scientists, and activists talk about pollution and the environment, they are typically referring to the oceans, the rivers, the soil, or the air. But what about space? Can that vast black sea of stars become polluted, and is it even an environment that humans should care about? In fact, space— specifically Earth’s orbit—is massively polluted already. Although there are around 1,000 functional satellites in space, there are more than twice as many (around 2,600) derelict and decommissioned satellites. Some 34,000 objects larger than ten centimeters have been observed by radar or telescope. For objects between one and ten centimeters, that number jumps up to over half a million. Debris less than one centimeter in size exist in the millions. In short, Earth is surrounded by a huge cloud of space junk. (more…)

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It’s Just Not Worth It: Potential Monetary Benefits from Oil Drilling in the Alaskan Refuge Will Be Greatly Outweighed by the Disastrous Impacts on the Environment, and Specifically, Local Wildlife Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

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It’s Just Not Worth It: Potential Monetary Benefits from Oil Drilling in the Alaskan Refuge Will Be Greatly Outweighed by the Disastrous Impacts on the Environment, and Specifically, Local Wildlife

By Lilia Komleva, Staff Contributor

The coastal plain of America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) located on the North Slope of Alaska along the Arctic coastline serves as a home to some of the world’s most fascinating animals. It is a critical reservoir of biodiversity, not just in the United States, but in the world. The Refuge contains the largest land denning habitat for American polar bears in the entire Arctic Alaska. Additional species found in the Refuge include moose, wolverines, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons. (more…)

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Courting Disaster: Is Widespread Coral Bleaching Imminent? Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

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Courting Disaster: Is Widespread Coral Bleaching Imminent?

By Joseph Vukovich, Staff Contributor

Although they are less visible to humans than their terrestrial counterparts, oceanic ecosystems harbor an enormous amount of biodiversity. This is particularly true for coral reefs, which are frequently described as the “rainforests of the sea.” At least one scientist has stated that, because coral reefs are more biodiverse than rainforests, it would be more appropriate to call rainforests the coral reefs of the land. (more…)