The Environmental Agenda for the Next Administration


The Michigan Law Review’s companion journal First Impressions this week published an online symposium on The Environmental Agenda for the Next Administration.

The new President in 2009 will follow an administration which has not been seen as proactive in developing environmental policy to address issues of climate change, alternative energy, and sustainability. Environmental organizations, legal and policy academics, and industry officials are beginning to debate the necessary focus of that next administration as it endeavors to develop sustainable environmental policies. As the nation’s major environmental laws were enacted three decades ago, when the country faced very different environmental problems, this symposium proposes a fresh legal and policy approach to climate change, alternative energy, and sustainability for the next presidential administration to follow.

The extended post contains a more complete description of the symposium and links to the essays.

Lisa Heinzerling of the Georgetown University Law Center (and lead author the Massachusetts v. EPA brief) suggests several steps that the next administration can take within existing statutory frameworks, since many of the previous administration’s actions and omissions can be remedied by executive action alone.

Ann E. Carlson of the UCLA School of Law believes that the next administration should allow exemplar states to take a leadership role in setting emissions standards for appliances, in light of ineffective federal efforts in this area.

Thomas P. Lyon of the Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan recommends that the next administration should create a partnership between the United States and China to develop technology for carbon capture and sequestration.

Jonathan Z. Cannon of the University of Virginia proposes that the next administration order federal agencies to adopt sustainable practices related to resource management, and also create an interagency Sustainable Watersheds Task Force to coordinate efforts among federal agencies and state and local governments to promote watershed protection.

Amie Medley of the University of Michigan Law School argues that the next administration should facilitate local, citizen-driven efforts: individuals taking action in their homes and communities in order to decrease the unsustainable demand for natural resources.

Joshua Van der Ploeg of the University of Michigan Law School suggests that the next administration work to promote a new international framework for regulating greenhouse gases that will balance the needs of developed and developing nations, and should adopt domestic policies that will further that effort.

To download a PDF of the entire symposium, feel free to click here.

Additional First Impressions content is available at

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