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05/31/2020

The Sabin Center's Michael Burger Discusses the Administration's Dismantling of Environmental Protections (May 29th)

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It should go without saying that we interact with the environment constantly.   It should also go without saying a degraded environment compromises our health and leaves us less resilient.  This explains why Black Americans, disproportionately suffering from chronic conditions resulting from, e.g., poor air quality, are suffering COVID-19 mortality rates upwards of three time that of White Americans.  According to the National Academies of Science, the environment is responsible for 30% of premature mortality while health care is only responsible for, or prevents, 10%.  Despite formally admitting via, e.g., Environmental Impact Statements, the Trump administration has gutted the nation’s environmental protections.  According to the Sabin Center, the administration has unwound, or intends to unwind, approximately 100 environmental regulations ranging from power plant and car and truck CO2 emissions, mercury and hydroflurocarbons emissions, rules protecting wetlands from oil and gas leasing, rules regarding pesticide use, drilling, fracking and coal leasing rules, off shore oil and gas drilling rules, Arctic exploration rules, rules governing natural gas pipeline construction and logging rules and the US’s commitment to the Paris climate accord.  Concerning the climate crisis, as I've noted previously research published in 2016 concluded that the adverse health affects resulting from health care industry’s greenhouse gas emissions is commensurate with upwards of 98,000 deaths annually in the US alone. 

During this 30 minute discussion, Professor Burger explains the Sabin Center's mission, provides an overview of the administration's efforts to moreover unwind air quality standards, discusses related procedural rules the EPA has/is unwinding, e.g., restrict the use of scientific research, and discusses the Juliana decision in light of related climate crisis-related court decisions world wise.  

Profess or Michael Burger is the Executive Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.  He frequently collaborates with researchers across Columbia's Earth Institute, and with local and national environmental groups, government representatives, and international organizations.   Previously,  he was an associate professor at Roger Williams University BurgerSchool of Law.  Previously still he taught in the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law, served as an attorney in the Environmental Law Division of New York City’s Office of the Corporation Counsel.  He has also lead short courses on climate change and human rights in the Hague.  He is also a co-founder and member of the Environmental Law Collaborative, and is the incoming chair of the New York City Bar Association International Environmental Law Committee.  Professor Burger is a widely published scholar, a frequent speaker at conferences and symposiums, and a regular source for media outlets, including The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, Forbes, The Guardian, Bloomberg, and Vox.com.  Michael is a graduate of Columbia Law School and of Brown University and also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Creative Writing program at NYU.

Though not noted during the interview, listeners are encouraged to read, Climate Change, Public Health and the Law (Cambridge University Press), edited by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach.  At: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/climate-change-public-health-and-the-law/D2DED4C703EBD2F8CBD5B302E0B7AA3B.

Concerning the administration's attack on air quality, see, e.g., S. William Becker and Mary D. Becker, "The Devastating Impacts on the Trump Proposal to Roll Back Greenhouse Gas Vehicle Emissions Standards, "The Untold Story," at http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/files/2019/05/FINALGHGREPORT.pdf.   

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