Environmental & Energy Law Program Fellow Caitlin McCoy spoke at the Maryland Journal of International Law’s Fall Symposium, “Transnational Perspectives on U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement” on Sep. 27. The symposium brought together international and environmental law experts—from lawyers to academics and beyond—to discuss the issues with U.S. withdrawal from the agreement and the ongoing efforts of state, local, and nongovernmental entities to combat the threat of climate change. Caitlin spoke about the potential for state and local actors to meet their Nazca platform commitments by focusing on GHG reductions from the building sector. She described how buildings exist at a unique intersection between impact and local control where states and local governments have little to no risk of federal preemption as they pursue high-impact strategies that can lead to reductions in one of the largest areas of GHG emissions in their jurisdictions. She will be writing an article for the journal’s upcoming symposium issue focused on the topic of her presentation. You can see her slides here.
She also spoke at the event, “Defining the Waters of the U.S.: What does the Clean Water Act protect and how changes impact the Chesapeake region?” co-hosted by the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment and GW Law’s Environmental and Energy Law Program on Sep. 28. The discussion focused on the rulemaking to create a new definition of Waters of the U.S. as the Clean Water Rule adopted under the Obama administration is repealed. Caitlin presented the history of the definition and the decades of uncertainty and litigation that preceded the Clean Water Rule. She also theorized about what to expect from the new proposed rule as the administration has announced that it will follow the contours of Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States. Caitlin was joined by Dr. Tara Scully, Assistant Professor at the George Washington University and Director of the Sustainability Minor Program, who teaches biology and sustainability courses. Dr. Scully provided a biologist’s perspective on the regulatory process and the implications of the rule for water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.