I’m posting this as an example of a court case that doesn’t involve the FS nor public land management but does relate to environmental policy. In some respects, it’s even odder than our FS cases as it apparently is looking to re-regulate an industry with new criteria.
This case, taken as reported by Colorado Politics here, is interesting in the light of environmental requirements for industrial activities.
In the 2013 request, the group of teenagers asked the state to deny drilling permits “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.
The group of teenagers – with help from attorneys that represent environmental groups – took the case to Denver District Court, which sided with the state. The case was appealed, with attorneys arguing that the lower court misinterpreted the mission of the COGCC.
But why stop with the oil and gas industry? It seems to me that independent third party organizations could certify.. the outdoor industry (think of all that driving to outdoor sites), craft breweries, and so on. Perhaps Colorado should not have legalized marijuana until it met the same bar- but of course the marijuana industry uses lots of energy provided by … electrical utilities..using coal, natural gas, and renewable sources. Here’s an article about the environmental impacts of growing operations. And here’s one on the marijuana industry pushing back on control over pesticides -with potential serious harm to workers and users. Here’s another one on energy use of the developing industry- it’s really just getting started in many states.
The curious thing is that natural gas a better bridge to lower carbon energy sources than coal. It seems to me and many other that a bridge is necessary- and there are no obvious other contenders around. Energy is necessary, to raise cannabis and brew beer, and for a variety of other uses like running computers, growing crops, heating your house, and so on and I don’t see us transitioning immediately to carbon-free sources.
I guess that’s what’s odd about court cases as a method for policy development- individual cases tend to be discrete and unique (and in this case related to the mission of the Oil and Gas Commission), whereas “what kind of activities will Colorado allow that impact the environment” is a much broader question. It’s one, in my mind, better settled by open dialogue among the people and their elected officials.