Current Issue

  • Volume 25,
  • Number 1 -
  • 2014


The Most Important Current Research Questions in Urban Ecosystem Services
James Salzman, Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold, Robert Garcia, Keith Hirokawa, Kay Jowers, Jeffrey LeJava, Margaret Peloso & Lydia Olander

The Lost Generation: Environmental Regulatory Reform in the Era of Congressional Abdication
David W. Case

Congress constructed the entirety of the modern federal environmental regulatory system between 1970 and 1990. However, due to ever increasing political polarization and gridlock, Congress has abdicated its responsibility as the primary national environmental policymaker over the past 25 years. Since 1990, no major environmental legislation has been enacted, leading to a growing sense that the federal system has become stagnated and obsolescent. Since the mid-1990s, concerns over the effectiveness, inefficiencies, and under-inclusiveness of the federal system have led to a robust reform movement seeking to build the “next generation” of environmental regulation. Because of Congress’s inability to enact environmental legislation, however, such reform efforts have largely centered on numerous, primarily voluntary executive branch “reinvention” initiatives at EPA. Congress’s failure to support these efforts, through legislation or otherwise, has severely undermined the ability of these efforts to achieve meaningful success, leading to a “lost generation” of environmental regulatory reform. This Article surveys the most widely promoted and analyzed of the “next generation” environmental regulatory reform proposals and calls on Congress to accept reform advocates’ challenge to improve and modernize a severely outdated regulatory system.

Demanding Supply: Re-Envisioning the Landlord-Tenant Relationship for Optimized Perennial Energy Crop Production
Elise C. Scott & A. Bryan Endres

As the bioenergy industry in the U.S. expands to meet increased demands for transportation fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard and electrical power under state Renewable Portfolio Standards and the proposed Clean Power Plan, producers of biomass will seek the ability to grow dedicated, high-yielding energy crops of a perennial nature on leased property. Given the large amount of leased farmland in the U.S., the contributions of tenant-farmers will represent a significant, though currently not well understood, segment of the biomass supply chain. Through the use of contracts as governance schemes, landowners and tenants can navigate three key challenges of the bioeconomy: the necessity of long-term access to land coupled with the development of equitable termination clauses; assuaging landowner concerns regarding the potential invasiveness associated with some novel bioenergy crops; and the reclamation of rhizomes as an additional revenue stream associated with perennial biomass production.

The Social Cost of Inertia: How Cost-Benefit Incoherence Threatens to Derail U.S. Climate Action
Melissa J. Luttrell

As EPA rolls out controversial regulations on power plant emissions of greenhouse gases, a vocal group of legislators, industry groups, and legal and economic scholars are crying foul, arguing EPA didn’t “follow the rules” when it conducted its cost-benefit analyses of these regulations.

This article traces the origin of these cost-benefit rules, finding that the methodological handbook alleged to be the “worldwide gold standard” was actually developed through a fundamentally flawed process, one that intentionally excluded majority viewpoints in several relevant academic disciplines. Unsurprisingly, it also contains serious methodological mistakes. If these mistakes were to be applied to regulations addressing domestic greenhouse gas emissions (that is, if EPA and other executive agencies do “follow the rules,” as demanded by the critics of these regulations in Congress, academia and regulated industry), this injection of both outright irrationality and arguably unethical subjective biases into domestic regulatory policy would threaten to derail substantive U.S. action on climate change.

This article also describes how the executive order that spawned these rules is impossible to comply with literally, because it creates a series of “max/min” problems with no common solution. This creates a conundrum that, over and over again, is resolved under these costbenefit rules in favor of maximizing quantifiable, monetized “net benefits,” at the expense of promoting a set of competing yet also important rights- and duty-based factors that the text of the parent executive order ostensibly puts on equal footing.

Speaking Truth to Power Company Regulators: The Consequences of Modern Regulatory Incentives and Administrative Expediency
Matthew Haber & Victoria Méndez


Water, Wind, and Fire: A Call for a Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard
Francesca F. Bochner