The Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal and the University of Houston Law Center are hosting a symposium later this week -Climate Change, Water, and Adaptive Law. The topic is timely and critically important, as climate change is certain to put new stresses on water resources and demands innovative adaptive management policy reforms.
The symposium has a great line up, including Dan Tarlock (Chicago-Kent), Robin Kundis Craig (Florida State), Elizabeth Burleson (South Dakota), Amy Hardberger (Environmental Defense Fund), and Tony Arnold (Louisville), who helped organize the symposium as a visiting professor at Houston. For more details, see the symposium brochure.
I’ll be speaking in the morning session on interstate water compacts and climate change adaptation, presenting a draft paper that analyzes every major interstate water compact for its adaptability to new climate change stresses. Here’s the abstract:
Over ninety-five percent of the available surface freshwater resources in the United States are interstate in nature and governed by interstate water compacts. These interstate compacts vary tremendously in how they allocate and manage interstate waters. Until recently, the water resources governed by interstate compacts have been relatively stable and unaffected by drastic changes in long-term weather patterns. However, within the next few decades North America is expected to experience increased regional variability in precipitation and susceptibility to drought. This article first looks at these expected changes on a macro and regional level to evaluate the increased stress on water resources that is expected to arise in some watershed. Interstate compacts may be the most important legal consideration in assessing water supply risks from climate change, and this article provides a critical evaluation of every interstate water compact: how it works, the resources it governs, and the rights and responsibilities it assigns to the party states. The article then assesses the relative risk and legal uncertainty resulting from climate change for interstate water resources subject to interstate compacts.
A preliminary draft of the paper is available here. The paper will be finalized over the summer and published in the Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal. Comments are always welcome.