October 01, 2012

Mediation and Arbitration in Weather and Climate Disputes

R. Wayne Thorpe

In early summer 2012, news reports focused on early-season drought-driven wildfires erupting across the West, threatening the U.S. Air Force Academy and the nearby city of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Meanwhile an early summer Hurricane Debby deluged north Florida and south Georgia with rainfall of up to 30 inches. Important recent case law also has focused on weather and climate issues. Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, gave rise to an important decision by the Fifth Circuit limiting immunity for the Army Corps of Engineers. In Re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 673 F.3d 381 (5th Cir. 2012). Several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rendered important decisions in the developing jurisprudence of climate change law. See, e.g., Am. Elec. Power Co. v. Connecticut, __ U.S. __, 131 S. Ct. 2527, 180 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2011) (Clean Air Act displaces federal common law right to bring public nuisance claim; state law claims and preemption issues not addressed).

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