Disaster Law

In Harm’s Way

flooding near Key West

Millions of people are in the path of rising seas. The time for action is now.

The NY Times has run a series of articles in the past few days dealing with disaster issues.  Taken together, they highlight the urgency of government action to protect populations in harm’s way. One article dealt generally with the threat posed by sea level rise. Miami is something of a poster-child for these problems, given its […]

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Private Flood Protection

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Private flood control is no substitute for government action.

Last week, the NY Times had a story about Verizon’s new flood barrier for its Wall Street building, which is a designated landmark. On one level, it’s a pretty cool project — a portable barrier designed to keep out the water during a hundred-year storm (plus  2-feet for storm surge plus an extra foot to […]

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Adaptation to Increased Fire Risk in the South West

Read this WSJ article and you will see some “small ball” optimism about adapting to increased fire risk.  Permit me to quote one wise retired professor; “Paul Ohlenbusch, a 73-year-old former professor, lives in a retirement community north of Austin, Texas, an area plagued by drought for several years. To protect his home from possible […]

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Water Agency’s “Area of Origin” Water Rights Claim

Responding to the current drought conditions confronting California, state and federal water project officials have announced cutbacks in anticipated water deliveries this summer and fall from both the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project.  It’s with that sobering backdrop that a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit […]

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Not Enough Money in the Pipeline

When regulators approve rates for a utility such as Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), they are making their best guess as to how much money the company will need to cover various kinds of activities. The utility starts out the process by offering its position on how much it will need for things like […]

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The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s “Draft Comprehensive Plan for Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy” does not actually include any restoration projects.

Everyone knows that life is just a little bit slower in the South; as it turns out, so is ecosystem restoration. On this date three years ago, you likely were continuing to monitor distressing television footage of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, wondering if the millions of barrels of oil […]

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We Have Met the Unknown Unknowns and They are Us

There are uncertainties about climate science such as tipping points and feedback effects.  But these pale in comparison to the biggest source of uncertainties: people. Here are some of the major things we don’t know and really can’t know about future society: Will economic growth continue, and if so, how quickly and how uniformly?  Richer […]

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The Economics of Insurance in the Face of Climate Change

Eduardo Porter offers a “teachable moment” thanks to his NY Times Business piece on insurance today.    He writes a piece arguing that for profit “conservative” firms have a stake in fighting climate change.  While I want this logic to be correct, an academic might ask whether it is correct.   The insurance industry makes […]

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Exxon Cares!

At this point, we don’t know much about Exxon’s oil spill near Mayflower, Arkansas – especially because Exxon doesn’t seem to want to let many people look at what’s going on. Twitter to the rescue!  There’s an account called “Exxon Cares”, telling you all that you need to know, and…what’s that you say?  That’s not […]

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