American Bar Association
 
Science and Technology
American Bar Association Energy and Resources Committees

Science and Technology


Monthly Update from the Chair



For Science & Technology members, here are additional items of interest and opportunities to participate more directly in your Committee and with other SEER committees and ABA Sections. Among the highlights of this month’s activities are:





  • Opportunity to write on a topic of increasing concern to the western and southwestern parts of the United States—new technologies and science that might allow drought plagued areas to reuse existing water sources. Please submit abstracts by November 19 to pquinlan@dudek.com so that we can select and gather completed articles by early December.

  • Nerds can be hacked too! As the Washington Post recently reported, even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s computer data for weather prediction was the subject of a recent attack. Read More.Think that your company is too small (or too big) to be the subject of hacking? Join your fellow committee members and others for a December 2 webinar sponsored by SEER and the ABA Science & Technology Section on the topic of Cybersecurity. Register Now.

  • In one of the Committee’s focus areas, the science of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its Fifth Assessment report on November 2. A summary of the IPCC’s report for policymakers can be found at here.

  • Are you a lawyer who is challenged by the often complex science of environmental investigations and remediation work? One of our program vice-chairs, Ravi Arulanantham, is busy working with members of the Environmental Transactions & Brownfields Committee to put together a set of basic science programs. Watch for further details and dates on this webpage, or contact Ravi directly at RArulanantham@Geosyntec.com.

  • Participants Needed: The Science & Technology Committee needs your writing skills for two publications, the Committee newsletter (contact PQuinlan@dudek.com) and the Committee’s annual contribution to the Section publication, Year-In-Review (contact chein@ringbenderlaw.com). We invite you to write for either (or both) publications by your Committee.


We look forward to your continued participation and interest in SEER's Science & Technology Committee.



Norm Dupont
2014-2015 Chair, Science and Technology Committee
ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources


Focus Topics




Daubert Cases and Credible Science Issues

Update: We have previously reported on a key Daubert case from the Ninth Circuit involving the validity of scientific methodology to identify a source of groundwater contamination, City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corp., 750 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 2014), cert. pending No. 14-297. Briefing on the petition for certiorari is now complete, and the case has been set for determination by the High Court on December 12, 2014.

An industrial party, SQM North America has petitioned Supreme Court to review 9th Circuit decision reversing the trial court’s exclusion of hydrogeologist’s testimony under Daubert in a case involving claims of groundwater contamination alleged due to perchlorate. The Court has extended the time to file a response to the petition for certiorari to November 13, 2014. The docket sheet is available here.

Climate Change—Science and Issues

The U.S. EPA has published the third edition of its peer-reviewed report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States (EPA 2014), which is available online. EPA’s latest report takes a look at a number of indicators of climate change that may be linked to human activity, and summarizes its key findings as: “All of the indicators discussed in this report relate to either the causes or effects of climate change. Some indicators are directly linked to human activities that cause climate change, such as Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Changes depict­ed by other indicators, such as U.S. and Global Temperature, have been confidently linked with the increase in greenhouse gases caused by human activity. Some of the trends in other indicators, such as Wildfires, although consistent with what one would expect in a warming climate, cannot yet be firmly attributed to hu­man-induced climate change for various reasons (for example, limitations in the historical data, or other factors in addition to climate change that may influence the trend). A few indicators do not yet show any significant trend over the period for which data are available.”

The UN’s IPCC releases new report on climate change and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. For a summary of the Fifth Synthesis report, released November 2, 2014. For a summary of the report read, click here. For a copy of the full IPCC report, visit here.

Other Science and Technology Issues

Scientists Use Tree Ring Measurements to Show that California’s current Drought Is worst in over a Millennium: Scientists working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the University of Minnesota used data from California’s blue oak tree rings to measure in historic terms the severity of the current drought (2012-2014) is in the state. Their research concluded that California’s current drought ranks among the worst in some 1200 years. As one of the researchers put it: “ . . . [T]here is no doubt, that we are entering a new era where human-wrought changes to the climate system will become important for determining the severity of droughts and their consequences for coupled human and natural systems." A copy of the news release for this latest science research is available here.

GAO Report Summarizes Federal Actions and Additional Questions in Ocean Acidification. In its report, GAO reviews ongoing federal efforts, including the National Science & Technology Committee’s subcommittee on Ocean Science & Technology to understand and monitor the impacts of acidification of the oceans. The GAO’s report, issued on October 14, 2014, is available here.

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Modified by Romeo Talento on December 11, 2014

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