Science Advocacy and the Legal System: Is Lifecycle Assessment Unconstitutional?

Science Advocacy and the Legal System: Is Lifecycle Assessment Unconstitutional?
New Trends in Earth-Science Outreach and Engagement (Jeanette L. Drake et al., eds., 2014), doi 10.1007/978-3-319-01821-8_4
(
with David Weiskopf)

Communication scholars and practitioners emphasize the need for scientists to reach out to the general public, the media, and policymakers. But one important audience is often left off of this list: judges. In this chapter, we describe a recent legal challenge to California’s climate policy, which applies life cycle assessment methods to evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of transportation fuels. In December 2011, a federal district court found that the policy’s use of life cycle assessment impermissibly discriminates against interstate commerce. The authors represented two groups of scientists on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, providing science-based arguments in support of the policy’s methodological approach. Using this experience as a case study, we identify strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration between the scientific and legal communities.

(Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, 730 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied.)