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Van Nostrand provides insight on EPA Clean Power Plan rules

UPDATE: WV could meet EPA proposed Clean Power Plan standards (PDF)

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA— A West Virginia University law professor says that the proposed Environmental Protection Agency’s rules to regulate power plant emissions will have a disproportionate impact on coal-dependent regions of the country, such as West Virginia, but do provide some flexibility.

The proposed Clean Power Plan rules, issued by the EPA this summer, would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

“Using the authority granted under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is not an ideal solution,” said James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the WVU College of Law. “A legislative solution would likely have included measures to provide some relief to regions of the country that are hit particularly hard by the rules. EPA lacks the resources and authority to provide that relief.”

However, Van Nostrand pointed out, EPA’s Clean Power Plan gives states leeway in deciding how to meet the required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“The EPA took into consideration each state’s existing power generation characteristics in developing emissions reductions targets,” he said. “As a result, West Virginia is required to achieve a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2030 from a 2012 baseline, which is a lower target than the 30 percent national target from a 2005 baseline.”

Van Nostrand notes that the options available to West Virginia to meet the 20 percent reduction goal included improving the operating efficiency of existing coal plants, integrating more renewable energy into the generating mix, and ramping up the energy efficiency programs offered by utilities.

Professors have ties to new film about mountaintop removal

moving mountains

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – Two West Virginia University College of Law professors have connections to “Moving Mountains,” a new independent film about the impact of mountaintop removal coal mining. 

The film is based on the true story of Patricia Bragg, who struggled in the 1990s to save her small town of Pie, West Virginia, from the ecological impacts of mountaintop removal, including the filling of valleys and streams with earth and broken rock. 

Patrick McGinley, the Charles H. Haden II Professor of Law, and Suzanne Weise, visiting associate professor of law, were both counsel for the plaintiffs in the groundbreaking legal case that stemmed from Bragg’s efforts, Bragg v. Roberston. It was the first successful lawsuit to temporarily stop mountaintop removal mining. McGinley plays himself in “Moving Mountains.” 

Filmed with assistance from the West Virginia Film Industry Investment Act, “Moving Mountains” recently premiered at the Capitol Center Theater in Charleston, West Virginia. It stars Theresa Russell, who has appeared in nearly 50 films, and West Virginia actors Michael Meredith, Greg Harpold, and Scott Carpenter. 

The film was directed by Jeanie M. Clark and written by investigative reporter Penny Loeb, author of “Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal” (University of Kentucky Press, 2007).

For more information on “Moving Mountains,” visit

moving mountains

WVU College of Law hosting an open house October 3

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—The West Virginia University College of Law is hosting an open house for prospective students from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, October 3.

Registration for “Experience WVU Law Day” is free and includes lunch. It is open to anyone interested in earning a law degree, including high school students, college students, and second-career adults.

“Experience WVU Law Day” will focus on the law school application process, academic offerings, student life, and financial aid. Participants will also be able to sit in on a torts class and tour the College of Law, which recently opened a 30,000 square foot addition.

“Our goal is to introduce prospective students to the WVU College of Law and answer any questions they might have,” said Tina Jernigan, director of admissions. “It’s an opportunity to get a glimpse of what law school is really like.”

Ribbon cutting to celebrate new addition

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—The West Virginia University College of Law is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, September 19, at 3:30 p.m. to celebrate the opening of its new 30,000 square foot addition. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Guest speakers include E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, Joyce E. McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs and former dean of the College of Law, and Gregory Bowman, interim dean of the College of Law.

The College of Law’s $26 million expansion and renovation project began in fall 2012. The new facilities, which have been in use since the beginning of the fall semester, include classrooms, a courtroom, an event hall, and offices for law clinics, faculty, and the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development.

Renovation of the original building will continue over the next two years during summer and winter breaks. The construction project is supported by public and private funds.

Law lecture to explore high tech challenges to the Constitution

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – The 2014 Constitution Day lecture at the West Virginia University College of Law will address challenges to the Constitution in the era of high technology. It will be delivered by attorney Lawrence Rosenberg on Wednesday, September 17, at 4 p.m. in the college’s event hall.

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. 

Rosenberg is a partner at Jones Day in Washington, D.C. and director of the United States Supreme Court Clinic at the WVUCollege of Law. He has experience in regulatory, statutory and constitutional litigation, intellectual property, antitrust, international litigation, labor and employment, products liability, and securities law. Rosenberg has been the lead counsel in several matters in the Supreme Court.

Before joining Jones Day, Rosenberg spent five years as a trial attorney in the Attorney General’s Honor Program at the United States Department of Justice. He also served as a law clerk to Judge Jane R. Roth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Former West Virginia senator Robert Byrd (1917-2010) sponsored the legislation that established Constitution Day in 2004. The law requires that all publicly funded educational institutions provide special programming on or near that day every year. The College of Law hosts an annual event that fulfills that responsibility for WVU.


Gostin to focus on global health justice in annual Fisher lecture

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — World-renowned global and public health law scholar Lawrence O. Gostin will deliver the annual John W. Fisher II Lecture in Law and Medicine on Friday, September 12, at 12 p.m. in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

Gostin’s lecture at WVU will focus on social justice issues within global health and what it will take to identify and implement a unified vision for reform.

The lecture is based on Gostin’s recently published book, “Global Health Law” (Harvard University Press, 2014). A book signing and reception will immediately follow the lecture at 1 p.m. in the College of Law lobby.

Gostin directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, where he was the Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law. He is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University, and Director of the Center for Law & the Public’s Health at both institutions.

A key contributor to major U.S. and international health law reform initiatives, Gostin is also the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights. He has brought several landmark cases before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights.

The John W. Fisher II Lecture in Law and Medicine was established through the generosity of Thomas S. Clark, M.D., and Jean Clark. The Clark Family Lecture Series, funded by a half-million dollar pledge in 1998, provides lectures in 10 fields of study throughout West Virginia University. A member of the faculty from 1968 to 2014, Fisher is the William J. Maier, Jr. Dean Emeritus and the Robert M. Steptoe and James D. Steptoe Professor of Property Law Emeritus.

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