Disaster Law

Former Massey Energy CEO Sentenced to Prison for Actions Leading to 2010 Coal Mine Disaster

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What Broader Environmental and Worker Safety Enforcement Lessons Can Be Learned Here?

A federal district judge on Wednesday sentenced Don Blankenship, the former Chief Executive of Massey Energy, to serve one year in federal prison–the maximum term allowed by law–and to personally pay a criminal penalty of $250,000 for Blankenship’s acts of omission and commission that led to the notorious 2010 coal mining disaster at Massey’s Upper […]

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Fukushima + 5

Fukushima cleanup

What's happened since then?

Five years ago today, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the Fukushima reactor meltdowns.  Where do things stand today?  Here’s a quick wrap-up: Compensation.  TEPCO, the utility operating the reactors, now estimates that it will pay $56 billion in compensation to victims. Clean-up.  The plant has been stabilized, according to […]

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Risk Subsidies and the Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.

Should We Take Into Account Government Subsidies that Reduce the Risks Borne by the Nuclear Industry as We Consider Our Energy Future?

As I’ve written about before, U.S. law massively subsidizes the nuclear power industry.  In particular, a law called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act dramatically skews the incentives to develop nuclear plants, and to site them in places where there is a lot of risk, because it requires the public to bear much of the […]

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Public Prosecutors Zero In on SoCal Gas, Porter Ranch Disaster

Aliso Canyon

California Attorney General, L.A. District Attorney File New Enforcement Prosecutions

The massive leak from Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon natural gas field in northwestern Los Angeles County was discovered on October 23rd of last year and, more than three months later, shows no sign of abating.  Public prosecutors have pretty clearly lost patience with SoCal gas and its ineffective remediation efforts to date.  This […]

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Disaster Law and Policy

Disaster Law & Policy cover

A new textbook on the emerging field of Disaster Law.

I’m delighted to announce the publication of the third edition of Disaster Law and Policy. Although I might not normally use this blog to promote a new book, I’d like to think in this case this is more than just shameless self-promotion.  That’s for two reasons: the lion’s share of the credit for the improvements […]

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Legal Responses to the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill

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Exploring potential penalties and damages

Last Tuesday, a 24-inch underground oil pipeline on the beautiful Santa Barbara County coastline burst for reasons as of yet unknown. Over the course of several hours, an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil spilled down a storm drain, on the shoreline, and into the Pacific Ocean. As of late last week, oil had spread […]

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Los Angeles Heat Waves, Electricity Use and Climate Change

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It is 102 degrees in Los Angeles as I write this.  Not in the San Fernando Valley or in the communities east of Los Angeles whose temperatures are regularly several degrees higher but in downtown Los Angeles.  We’re in record heat territory and way above historical averages.  But temperatures aren’t the only records that are […]

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Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: Can California Do More?

Is Increased Reliance on the Public Trust Doctrine an Essential Part of Effective State Adaptation Policy?

I often tell students in my Climate Change Law and Policy course that adaptation–that is, how we can best adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change–is the poor stepchild of the debate over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  By that I mean that climate change mitigation (i.e., how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) generates far more […]

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Insurance for Climate Disasters

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Nobel-prize winning economist Robert Schiller has a New York Times op-ed about the need for insurance against risks of climate change.  Speaking of the latest U.S. climate assessment, he writes: After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against […]

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