Natural Resources


Considering the Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources in Environmental Review and Planning Documents: Guidelines for Agencies and Practitioners, Jessica Wentz (September 2016)

This report describes how climate change will affect natural resources in the United States, and explains why consideration of how climate change will affect those resources is necessary in order to fulfill legal requirements under NEPA and other statutes governing the management of these resources. It also presents examples of how climate change has been meaningfully accounted for in environmental review and planning documents. The accompanying protocol contains guidelines for considering the impacts of climate change in environmental reviews as well as other planning documents (e.g., resource management plans and resource assessments).

A standalone version of the natural resource management protocol is available here.

An abridged version of the report, which was published in the March 2017 edition of the Environmental Law Reporter, is available here.

America’s Water Initiative

The Sabin Center has partnered with the Columbia Water Center and other stakeholders to research and inform water infrastructure improvements in the United States through innovative management solutions, new technologies, and new policies. Sabin Center Affiliate Adam Schempp (Director of the Environmental Law Institute’s Western Water Program) is spearheading the Center’s participation in this project, assisting the team with research on how climate change will affect water supply and demand in the decades ahead.

Engaging Government Decision-Makers on Fossil Fuel Development

The Sabin Center is actively engaging with federal regulators to encourage more comprehensive consideration of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts in decisions involving the development of fossil fuel resources and infrastructure.

We have submitted a number of comments on the NEPA reviews for fossil fuel development actions, including:

All of our NEPA comments are available here.

Featured Publications

A Mitigation-Based Rationale for Incorporating a Climate Change Impacts Fee into the Federal Coal Leasing Program, Michael Burger (September 2016)

This paper describes the legal and policy rationale for imposing a fee on federal coal that reflects the costs of the climate change impacts generated by that coal. It notes that the federal government has a duty to mitigate climate impacts from the federal coal leasing program, and that the Department of Interior (“Interior”) and the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) have ample authority to impose a climate change impacts fee on coal leases as a form of compensatory mitigation for those coal leases. The paper also discusses technical issues that should be considered when assessing the effectiveness of this mitigation option, such as what metrics should be used to establish an appropriate fee and how a fee might work with carbon sequestration efforts and other emissions offsets.

Climate Change and Human Rights, Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz (UNEP 2015)

This report discusses how climate change will affect natural resources around the world and what implications this has for government obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.


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