Press Releases

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Apr 23, 2012

Paper on climate change and tort law takes first place in annual contest

NASHVILLE, April 23, 2012 -- William Airhart, a third-year student at Vanderbilt University Law School, has been awarded first place in the Tennessee Bar Association Environmental Law Section's 2012 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition for his article "After AEP: The Climate Change Tort and the Social Cost of Carbon."

Airhart will collect a cash award of $1,200 and his article will be published in the Environmental Law Section's newsletter. In his paper, Airhart proposes that the social cost of carbon, a metric currently used by federal agencies to calculate the costs and benefits of various government actions, also be accepted as a means to satisfy a key requirement of a successful tort lawsuit: a reliable method to establish a damages claim. His proposal is based on an analysis of the Supreme Court's 2011 decision in American Electric Power Company (AEP) v. Connecticut.
Airhart currently serves as treasurer of the Environmental Law Society. His interest in the intersection of climate change and tort law arose from discussions in a seminar class regarding regulation, compensation and fairness. He will graduate in May and join the environmental practice group at Baker Botts in Houston, Texas.
The TBA Environmental Section sponsors the Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition each year to promote a dialogue on important environmental issues and to strengthen relationships among environmental law professors, environmental law students and environmental practitioners in the state. The competition is open to any law student member of the TBA and of the section. Entries are judged by a panel of environmental law practitioners, members of the judiciary and/or professors selected by the section. 
The competition is named for Jon E. Hastings, a founding member of the TBA Environmental Law Section. Hastings was an attorney with Boult, Cummings, Connors & Berry in Nashville who died at the young age of 45 after a two-year battle with cancer.  Despite his health problems, Hastings found time and energy to devote to numerous philanthropic causes and civic groups, and contribute to the body of environmental law in the state.