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Tracy Hester
Climate Change Law
LAW 5397
Spring 2017



LAW 5397

Spring 2017
Room BLB 109



No. Date Topics Guest Speaker(s) Readings Background Optional Materials and Comments
1. Aug. 21, 2017 NO CLASS - I will be returning from travel this day.      
2. Aug. 23, 2017

Introduction - Orientation and Overview

Climate Science - background


EPA Greenhouse Gas Emission Mapping System (just explore; we'll use it in class)

Executive Summary of Final Draft U.S. Climate Assessment Report

Lecture not recorded because of technical difficulties

  Aug. 28 -Aug. 30, 2017 Classes cancelled for Hurricane Harvey      
  Sept. 4, 2017 Labor Day Holiday      
3. Sept. 6, 2017

Climate change belief and cultural cognition


D. Kahan et al, Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus, Journal of Risk Research (2013)


Class PowerPoint

Climate Literacy Graph

Rush Limbaugh says Hurricane Irma Warnings are a Scheme to Advance "Climate Change Agenda"

J. Schmandt (ed.), The Impact of Global Warming on Texas, chap. 10 (Policy Options) (June 2011)

D. Kahan et al., , (2015) Climate Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Stephen Colbert on Ban on Use of Phrase "Climate Change"

4. Sept. 11, 2017

Responding to Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation



McKinsey GHG Cost Abatement Curve (see page 8)

R. Socolow, Wedges Reaffirmed,, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sept. 27, 2011)

Climate Change Reduction Interactive Feature by The New York Times

Executive Summary of N. Stern, The Economics of Climate Change (2006)

Texas No-Regrets Strategies Report (2010)

Stabilization Wedges Game (2015)

5. Sept. 13, 2017 Climate Science - guest discussion on climate science challenges and future directions

Special lecture by Dr. John Nielson-Gammon


PowerPoint (.pdf)


6. Sept. 18, 2017 International Law: Basic Principles, and the road to the UN Framework Conventional on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  

Lecture (audio)

Excerpts from Louis Henkin, Foreign Affairs and the United States Constitution (1998)

Houston Bar Association Environmental Section monthly lunch on Harris County Environmental Enforcement, Wednesday, 9/20

7. Sept. 20, 2017 International Law: the UNFCCC; Kyoto Protocol  

Powerpoint (.pdf)

Full text of U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (focus only on portions that we discuss in class)


Full text of Kyoto Protocol (as on-line reference)

8. Sept. 25, 2017 The Paris Agreement and Next Steps  

Paris Agreement final text


U.S. Initial Nationally Determined Contribution
9. Sept. 27, 2017 Climate Change Paris Agreement COP Simulation  

Contact list of delegates

Background Paper


10. Oct. 2, 2017

International law - international human rights and climate change law


Human Rights Principles and Climate Change by John Knox


Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Seeking Relief From Violations Resuling From Global Warming Caused by Acts and Omissions of the United States (Dec. 7, 2005)

11. Oct. 4, 2017 Lawsuits and arbitrations before international courts and agencies  

Compliance and Dispute Settlement in Multinational Agreements -- focus on pp. 322-333


Gbemre v. Shell (High Court of Nigeria, Nov. 14, 2005)

12. Oct. 9, 2017 International Trade and Climate Change

Prof. Victor Flatt, Dwight Olds Chair in Law, UH Law Center

North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation


13. Oct. 11, 2017 Comparative Climate Change Law Class rescheduled due to guest speaker cancellation    


Oct. 16, 2017 Intro to U.S. climate change law - tort liability


American Electric Power v. Connecticut

Comer v. Murphy Oil Co. panel opinion (5th Cir.)

PowerPoint (.pdf)


Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc. (district court decision on re-filing)

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil district court; Ninth Circuit ruling

U.S. Litigation Tracking Chart

15. Oct. 18, 2017

U.S. tort liability for climate change: state law; public trust doctrine


Alec L v. Jackson Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss by United States

San Mateo County v. Chevron (complaint) - just skim for general nature of claims and requested relief

Rise in global atmospheric CO2, surface temperature, and sea level from emissions traced to major carbon producers by Ekwurzel et al (2017).



16. Oct. 23, 2017

Clean Air Act: Overview and EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We will have an optional webcast on climate tort liability shown prior to class at 5 pm in our usual classroom; please join us if you can

Massachusetts v. EPA


Proposed Rule to Withdraw the Clean Power Plan



Final Clean Power Plan rule for NSPS (pp. 64510-64516 only)

Final Clean Power Plan rule for ESPS (pp. 64666 ["Main Elements"] to 64682)

H.B. 788 (2013)

Executive Summary of Rules to Implement H.B. 788

Texas and the Clean Power Plan Fact Sheet

17. Oct. 25, 2017 Guest lecture: Roger Martella, Vice-President of Environment, Health & Safety (Global), The General Electric Co. Class will meet at its usual time; location BLB115

No readings assigned by speaker

Lecture (partial recording due to technical difficulties)


18. Oct. 30, 2017 Climate Change and the National Environmental Policy Act  

CEQ Guidance on Consideration of GHG Effects and Climate Change in NEPA Reviews (2016)

Presidential Executive Order Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (March 28, 2017)

Sierra Club v. FERC


NAS Report on Social Cost of Carbon

19. Nov. 1, 2017 Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act  

Letter from Robert Moyer to Dale Hall re Section 7 GHG consultation (2008)

Alaska Oil & Gas Assn v. Pritzker

PowerPoint (.pdf)


Sinnok v. Alaska(state law public trust doctrine complaint, 10/27/17)

UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017

Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC Emergency Motion for Stay (10/30/17)

13. Nov. 3, 2017 Comparative law - responses by other nations

Guest lecture - Deputy Consulate Team Lead on Climate and Energy, British Consulate

We will meet at noon in our usual classroom.

Osofsky - only the discussion of China, Canada and Brazil.

R. Lord ed., Climate Change Liability: Transnational Law and Practice (2012) (chapter on India)

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Lecture (audio)

T. Hester, Private Claims for a Global Climate: U.S. and Indian Litigation Approaches to Climate Change and Environmental Harm (July 2011)

20. Nov. 6, 2017 Climate Change and the Clean Water Act  

Dealing with Ocean Acidification by R. Craig (2016), pp. 387-419, 466-470

Conservation Law Foundation v. ExxonMobil complaint (D. Mass. 2016) (skim)


Integrated Reporting and Listing Decisions Related to Ocean Acidification, EPA (Nov. 2010)

Columbia Riverkeeper v. Pruitt Motion for Summary Judgment (8/30/17, W.D. Wash.)

EPA Rule on TSCA Petition re Ocean Acidification

21. Nov. 8, 2017

Regional Initiatives -- RGGI, WCI and compacts

State and local initiatives -- California, NY, Houston

State climate change laws and permitting


State and Regional Responses to Climate Change, Wold et al., Climate Change and the Law (2013) - pages 1-37


Chart of states with renewable portfolio standards
22. Nov. 13, 2017 Climate engineering and other technology-based proposals  

Remaking the World to Save It, T. Hester (2011) (skim)

PowerPoint (.pdf)


H. 6001 (Rhode Island 2017)

SPICE Opposition Letter

Scientists' Letter to House Space Science and Technology Subcommittee re Geoengineering (Nov. 8, 2017)

23. Nov. 15, 2017

Climate engineering - field experimental proposals and application of domestic environmental legal requirements


Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World? by E. Kolbert, The New Yorker (Nov. 20, 2017)

Stratospheric controlled
perturbation experiment
a small-scale experiment to
improve understanding of the
risks of solar geoengineering by Dykema, Keith, etc (2014)

Draft letter re field test of solar radiation management equipment

Powerpoint (.pdf)

Lecture - class project

The Law of Direct Air Capture by Hester (draft, 2018)

24. Nov. 20, 2017

Role of non-governmental organizations and corporate initiatives; voluntary commitments and actions; disclosure-based initiatives; social cost of carbon


SEC Guidance on Climate Change Disclosure

In the Matter of Investigation by Eric Schneiderman into Peabody Energy Corporation, Assurance of Discontinuance (Nov. 8, 2015)

Attia v. Exxon (S.D. Tex. 2017) (skim only)

Powerpoint (.pdf)


Unburnable Carbon (CERES Report, 2013)

Inadequate Carbon Risk Disclosure by Oil & Gas Companies, letter from CERES to SEC (April 17, 2015)

Sample carbon disclosure request letter (CERES, Sept. 9, 2013)

Assessing Exxon Climate Change Communications by Supran (2017)

25. Nov. 27, 2017 Voluntary Review  


Final exam sample question and instructions

Note - cover sheet for sample exam includes rules for take-home exams




  Dec. 1 - 14, 2017

Final Exam - 8-hour take-home examination. You can check out the exam at the reference desk of the UHLC library starting at 9:00 am on Friday, Dec. 1, and you must submit your exam answers by 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 14.

Please send me any email queries by Nov. 29 at noon - I will compile responses and distribute before the exam period opens on Dec. 1.

  Final review questions