Comments, Legal Briefs, and Testimonies

The Sabin Center frequently engages with federal, state and local agencies by submitting comment letters urging decision-makers to account for the causes and effects of climate change when deciding whether and how to proceed with proposed regulations, guidance documents, and projects undergoing environmental reviews. We also submit comments to technical conferences.  On some occasions, we also engage directly with courts by submitting amicus briefs in cases involving climate change law and policy. We also submit written testimonies at both the domestic and international levels. 

This page contains downloadable copies of all of the Sabin Center’s comment letters, legal briefs, and testimonies. These include:

  1. Legal Briefs
  2. Written Testimonies
  3. Submissions in Agency Rulemaking
  4. Comments on Environmental Review Documents

Legal Briefs

(Second) Amicus Brief of Climate Action Rhode Island in Green Oceans v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, by Josh C. Toll, Lauren Friedman, Jessica Beess und Chrostin, Carson W. Bennett, Kanzanira Thorington, Matthew Eisenson & Jacob Elkin (May 2024)

The Sabin Center, together with King & Spalding LLP, filed a second amicus brief on behalf of Climate Action Rhode Island (CARI) to oppose Green Oceans' second motion for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the 704-MW Revolution Wind project.

Motion to Intervene in the Matter of Richwood Solar, LLC, by Jacob Elkin & Trent Dougherty (May 2024)

The Sabin Center, together with local counsel, filed a motion on behalf of local residents Ashley Beery and Bruce Beery to intervene in an Ohio Power Siting Board proceeding in support of the proposed Richwood Solar Project, which would include 250 MW of generation capacity and 50 MW of battery storage capacity.

Brief of Dr. John Boeckl Contra Rehearing in the Matter of the Application of Oak Run Solar Project, LLC, by Matthew Eisenson, Michael Gerrard, and Trent Dougherty (April 2024)

The Sabin Center, together with local counsel, filed a brief opposing a request for rehearing of the Ohio Power Siting Board's March 2024 decision to approve the 800-MW Oak Run Solar Project.

Amicus Brief of Climate Action Rhode Island in Green Oceans v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, by Josh C. Toll, Lauren Friedman, Jessica Beess und Chrostin, Carson W. Bennett, Kanzanira Thorington, Matthew Eisenson & Jacob Elkin (April 2024)

The Sabin Center, together with King & Spalding LLP, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Climate Action Rhode Island (CARI) in opposition to a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the 704-MW Revolution Wind project.

Motion to Intervene in the Matter of Frasier Solar, LLC, by Jacob Elkin & Trent Dougherty (February 2024)

The Sabin Center, together with local counsel, filed a motion on behalf of participating landowner Ethan Robertson to intervene in an Ohio Power Siting Board proceeding in support of the proposed 120-MW Frasier Solar Project.

Amicus Brief submitted by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in support of plaintiffs in the Willow Project Case, by Michael Burger & Jessica Wentz (January 2024)

In November, the U.S. District Court of Alaska dismissed 2 lawsuits seeking to halt the Willow oil and gas project. Now, the case will be heard by the Ninth Circuit on appeal, and the Sabin Center has filed an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiffs-Appellants. The brief identifies several specific legal deficiencies in BLM’s analysis of climate change-related considerations for the Willow Project.

Amicus Brief National League of Cities, League of California Cities & California State Association of Counties In Support of Defendant-Appellee City of Berkeley's Petition for Rehearing En Banc in California Restaurant Ass'n v. City of Berkeley (December 2023)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National League of Cities, the League of California Cities & California State Association of Counties In Support of the City of Berkeley's Petition for Rehearing En Banc before the Ninth Circuit in California Restaurant Ass'n v. City of Berkeley. 

Comments from the Sabin Center's Peer Review Network on Global Climate Change Litigation to the 'Study on the Impact of Climate Change on Human and Peoples' Rights in Africa' submitted to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (November 2023) by Maria Antonia Tigre et al.

Amicus Brief submitted by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law on Climate Science and Human Rights Obligations to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the Request for an Advisory Opinion on the Climate Emergency and Human Rights from the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Chile (November 2023) by Jessica Wentz, Michael Burger, Maria Antonia Tigre and Michael Gerrard

Reply Brief of Dr. John Boeckl in the Matter of the Application of Oak Run Solar Project, LLC by Matthew Eisenson, Michael Gerrard, and local counsel Trent Dougherty (July 2023)

Initial Post-Hearing Brief of Dr. John Boeckl in the Matter of the Application of Oak Run Solar Project, LLC by Matthew Eisenson, Michael Gerrard, and local counsel Trent Dougherty (July 2023)

Amicus Brief of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic v. Bureau of Land Management, by Michael Burger, Jessica Wentz, and Romany Webb (July 2023)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in litigation regarding the Willow Project on the North Slope of Alaska

Amicus Brief National League of Cities, League of California Cities & California State Association of Counties In Support of Defendant-Appellee City of Berkeley's Petition for Rehearing En Banc in California Restaurant Ass'n v. City of Berkeley, by Michael Burger and Amy Turner (June 2023)

Motion to Intervene in the Matter of the Application of Oak Run Solar Project, LLC by Matthew Eisenson, Michael Gerrard, and local counsel Trent Dougherty (March 2023) 

The Sabin Center, together with local counsel, filed a motion on behalf of local resident Dr. John Boeckl to intervene in an Ohio Power Siting Board proceeding in support of the proposed 800-MW Oak Run Solar Project.

Amicus Brief of the National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors in Texas v. EPA by Michael Burger, Martin Lockman, Andrea Nishi, and Amy Turner (March 2023).

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors in support of EPA's revised light-duty vehicle emissions standards.

Third-party intervention in the case of Verein KlimaSeniorinnen and others v Switzerland (Application no. 53600/20) (December 5, 2023) by Michael Burger and Maria Antonia Tigre

Amicus Brief of Friends of Flint Mine Solar et al. in Town of Copake v. New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting by Michael B. Gerrard, Matthew Eisenson, and Maureen Crough (December 2, 2022).

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of local farmers and community groups in support of the siting regulations promulgated by the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting. 

Amicus Brief of Catskill Mountainkeeper and Win With Wind in Town of Blenheim v. Hiller by Michael B. Gerrard and Matthew Eisenson (June 2022)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of two environmental organizations in opposition to a motion for a preliminary injunction that would delay implementation of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance's wind and solar appraisal model.

Amicus Brief of Local Farmers in In the Matter of the Application of Firelands Wind LLC by Michael B. Gerrard and local counsel Trent A. Dougherty (June 2022)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of two local farmers in Ohio in support of a 300-megawatt wind energy project that will benefit the local economy while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions

Local Government Amicus Brief in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkley by Michael Burger, Jennifer Danis and Amy Turner (February 2022)

Local Government Amicus Brief in West Virginia v. EPA by Michael Burger (January 2022)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in West Virginia v. EPA, a case that is currently before the United States Supreme Court. The case concerns the scope of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The brief argues that significant federal regulation of power plants’ emissions is necessary to support and supplement local climate action, that Section 111(d) does not foreclose generation-shifting regulation, and that neither the major questions doctrine nor the federalism clear statement canon are implicated by the case.

Local Government Amicus Brief in Competitive Enterprise Institute v. NHTSA by Michael Burger and Hillary Aidun and related press release (January 2021)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of local governments in support of state, city, environmental, and public health petitioners to challenge the Trump Administration's rollback of clean car standards. The brief illustrates the threats that motor vehicle emissions pose to cities, and that the federal weakening of motor vehicle standards undermines local government efforts to address climate change and transportation pollution. The brief was joined by the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and 15 individual cities, towns, counties, and mayors. 

Local Government Amicus Brief in Union of Concerned Scientists v. NHTSA by Michael Burger and Hillary Aidun (July 2020)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of local government associations in support of state, city, environmental, and industry petitioners in the lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's withdrawal of California’s authority to implement its existing greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards. The brief illustrates the threats that motor vehicle emissions pose to cities, including climate impacts and public health harms associated with smog and particulate matter. The brief also emphasizes that the EPA failed to consider the need to address climate change and vehicle pollution, and unlawfully disregarded the environmental justice impacts of its action. The brief was filed on behalf of the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Local Government Amicus Brief in American Lung Association v. EPA by Michael Burger and Hillary Aidun and related press release (April 2020)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of local governments in support of state and environmental petitioners in American Lung Association v. EPA, the lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's repeal of the Clean Power Plan and its replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. The brief highlights the climate impacts that cities are already facing, and local governments' efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The coalition members include the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and 23 cities, towns, counties and mayors representing over 12 million residents.

Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees in Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. B.P. p.l.c, by Michael Burger (September 2019)

Amicus brief filed by National League of Cities, the U.S Conference of Mayors; and the International Municipal of Lawyers Association in support of plaintiff-appellee and affirmance.

Local Government Amicus Brief in City of Oakland v. BP by Michael Burger (March 2019)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of a local government coalition in support of Oakland and San Francisco’s demands that oil and gas companies mitigate the harm caused by rising sea levels, increasingly frequent and severe storms, and other climate impacts in their cities. The coalition members include the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Local Government Amicus Brief in California v. EPA by Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz, and related Press Release (February 2019)

The Sabin Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of a local government coalition in the lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s revised determination that the GHG and fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles are too stringent and should be weakened. The brief highlights the importance of the standards to cities and counties across the country and provides a local government perspective on why EPA’s decision is unlawful. The coalition members include the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and sixteen individual cities and counties that are home to more than 22 million people.

See also: Local Government Motion for Leave to Participate as Amici Curiae in California v. EPA and related Press Release (September 2018)

Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees in County of San Mateo v. Chevron Corp. by Michael Burger and Ama Francis (January 2019)

The Sabin Center, together with the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of a local government coalition in the lawsuit brought by San Mateo County and other California cities and counties against fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for the costs of adaptation to sea level rise and other climate change impacts. The coalition members include the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Amicus Brief in support of appeal in New York City v. BP p.l.c. by Michael Burger and Jennifer Danis (November 2018)  

The Sabin Center, together with the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of a local government coalition in New York City’s lawsuit against fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for climate change-related harms and the costs of adaptation. The coalition members include the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Local Government Motion for Leave to Participate as Amici Curiae in California v. EPA by Michael Burger, Jessica Wentz, and Dena Adler, and related Press Release (September 2018)

The Sabin Center submitted a motion on behalf of a local government coalition for leave to participate as “amici curiae” (friends of the court) in the lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to revisit the greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards established for light-duty vehicles. The coalition members include the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and sixteen individual cities and counties.

Joint Summary of the Amicus Curiae In Re: National Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Human Rights of the Filipino People, related Press Release (March 2018)

This brief consolidates and summarizes the key messages and arguments contained in the amicus curiae briefs submitted by legal scholars, experts, and human rights practitioners  in support of the petitioners in the Philippines carbon majors case. Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz made contributions based on the amicus brief they submitted in 2016.

Appeal in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Physicians for Social Responsibility, et al. v. Pruitt by Michael Burger. The reply brief is available here. (November 2019)

The Sabin Center filed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Physicians for Social Responsibility, et al. v. Pruitt. In this case, Michael Burger is working with the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic to represent two scientists who have challenged EPA's policy banning scientists with EPA grants from the agency's science advisory committees. 

See also: Complaint Challenging Scott Pruitt’s Science Advisory Committee Directive, Columbia Environmental Law Clinic and Earthjustice, related Press Release (December 2017)

In this case, executive director Michael Burger is working with Columbia Environmental Law Clinic as a volunteer attorney to represent independent scientists Robyn Wilson and Joseph Arvai. This lawsuit challenges Scott Pruitt’s directive barring highly qualified, independent scientists from EPA’s science advisory boards.

Amicus Brief on Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies, Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz, and related Press Release (December 2016)

This amicus brief was written on behalf of eleven carbon capture and storage (“CCS”) experts in support of EPA’s emission standard for new coal-fired power plants. The standard is based on the CO2 emission reductions that can be achieved through the implementation of partial CCS, and one of the central issues in the case is whether CCS technologies are adequately demonstrated and available for installation at coal-fired power plants. The brief contains ample evidence corroborating EPA’s determination that these technologies are an adequately demonstrated system of emissions reduction for new coal-fired power plants.

Submission to Philippines Carbon Majors Investigation by Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz (December 2016)

This is a submission to the Philippines Commission on Human Rights in support of a petition submitted by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement requesting an investigation into the responsibility of the “Carbon Majors” for human rights violations resulting from the impacts of climate change. The submission outlines the various ways in which climate change interferes with the enjoyment of human rights in the Philippines and around the world, and explains why the private companies can and should be held accountable for human rights violations arising from their contribution to climate change.

Clean Power Plan Amicus Brief by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach, and related Press Release (April 2016)

More than 50 city and county governments from 28 states, together with The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the mayors of Dallas, Knoxville, and Orlando have signed an amicus brief explaining why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is critical to the safety and economic security of local communities across the United States. The brief was authored by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

See also: Amicus Motion on Behalf of Cities in Support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach, December 2015

Submissions in Agency Rulemaking

 

Comments on Environmental Review Documents