Lois Schiffer is an environmental attorney who served as General Counsel for NOAA during the Obama Administration. During the Clinton administration, she held the position of Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the highest ranking position in the Department of Justice regarding the environment and natural resources.
The seminar she will present at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management utilizes three case studies to demonstrate how U.S. environmental statutes provide a significant role for science in establishing and applying standards. Different approaches to communication and thinking between policy-makers and scientists make this task both important and challenging.
The examples that will be used are as follows:
Case Study #1 – Addressing natural resource damages caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by applying the Oil Pollution Act to extensive scientific study and research.
Case Study #2 – Listing of Loggerhead Turtles under Endangered Species Act. In 2010, NOAA and DOI considered separating Loggerhead Turtles into 9 “distinct population segments” and classifying each separately. The Act sets the standards; scientists develop the science to apply the standard. The approach and decision making reflect the intersection of science and public policy.
Case Study #3 – Clean Air Act and greenhouse gases. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine whether pollutants from diverse sources such as carbon dioxide endanger public health and welfare. EPA made such an Endangerment Finding in December 2009, following the direction of the Supreme Court, by applying the standards of the Clean Air Act to extensive scientific research.