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

Science and Technology

October Update from the Chair

The Science and Technology Committee is busy with a host of projects, and we invite your participation in October and the months to follow. Among the Committee’s recent activities in October, we wanted to highlight:

  • Co-sponsoring Free Friday Forums in Washington D.C. on issues of scientific interest. On October 24, 2014, the Committee will co-sponsor a program featuring two legislative counsel from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce discussing new legislation including efforts to address bio-engineered foods and labeling issues with GMO foods. More information is available below.

  • List-Serve announcements and tweets on 10th of the Fall Section meeting in Miami, including the four technical roundtables addressing a variety of technical issues including handling CERCLA claims of natural resource damages, regulation of nutrients in Florida waters, vapor intrusion, and determination of sources of contaminants, particularly in the context of “Naturally Occurring Radioactive Waste” (NORM).

Read each technical paper here:

The program vice-chairs of the Committee are currently working on a future program with the Environmental Transactions & Brownfields committee on vapor intrusion and reuse of previously impacted properties.
Your Committee is also monitoring a number of potential interesting Daubert cases on the admissibility of expert scientific testimony. On October 20, 2014, the Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in Cuti v. U.S., No. 13-1491, which challenged a Second Circuit decision allowing individuals with expertise (in that case, accounting) but who also had percipient facts regarding the particular company to testify in response to hypothetical questions. Neither had been designated as an expert witness by the government. The Second Circuit’s opinion is available on the web >>.

If you wish to participate contact any of the Committee vice-chairs who are listed in the right-hand side of this webpage under Committee leadership.

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

Focus Topics

Daubert Cases and Credible Science Issues

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.

A petitioner in an alleged fraudulent accounting scheme involving drug stores in New York now seeks Supreme Court review a Second Circuit decision admitted expert testimony from accounting lay witnesses not designated by the U.S. as expert witnesses prior to trial. Cuti v. U.S. , No. 13-3756 (assigned to Oct. 17, 2014 conference for consideration)

Climate Change—Science and Issues

Ice in Antarctica increases, despite global warming. How is this possible? See the detailed article in the UK paper, The Guardian.
Sept. 2014: A Yale professor of atmospheric chemistry argues that the “conventional wisdom” urging nations to just plant more trees fails to take into account the complex interactions, and that large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse. See N. Unger, “To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees” The N.Y. Times, Sept. 20, 2014.

Other Science and Technology Issues

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.

News and Announcements

New NOAA Website for Marine Debris and Programs to Address this Problem: The NOAA Marine Debris Program serves as a centralized marine debris capability within NOAA in order to coordinate, strengthen, and increase the visibility of marine debris issues and efforts within the agency, its partners, and the public. This Program is undertaking a national and international effort focusing on identifying, reducing, and preventing debris in the marine environment. Additionally, the MDP supports and works closely with various partners across the U.S. to fulfill the Program’s mission. Committee members interested in this problem should visit the NOAA website, to find out more about Marine Debris in their part of the country (or world).

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Modified by Romeo Talento on October 27, 2014

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