Police often provoke protest violence, UC researchers find

Violent protests can often be unintentionally provoked by aggressive law enforcement tactics like approaching demonstrators in riot gear or the use of military-style formations, according to a team of researchers at UC Berkeley.

"Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he’s carrying an AR-15," said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science who leads the Deciding Force Project. "It just upsets the crowd."

The researchers found that some law enforcement agencies are taking less provocative measures to calm the crowd.

During the Occupy protests, for example, police in some cities deployed officers in small clusters rather than in skirmish lines. Such cities tended to see fewer clashes between demonstrators and police, the researchers said.

"When it’s two or three officers, protesters don’t get intimidated," Adams said. "They may even talk with the police."

Read more about steps some law enforcement agencies are taking to reduce protest violence


Federal Complaints:

  • Penn State University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard Law School
  • Princeton University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Amherst College 
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Southern California
  • Occidental College
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Swarthmore College
  • Hanover College
  • University of Connecticut
  • Cedarville University
  • Emerson College
  • University of Virginia
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Completed Investigations:

  • University of Montana
  • Yale University

Controversy over handling complaints:

  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Missouri
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Indianapolis
  • Florida State University
  • Columbia University
Is It Public Domain?

Berkeley Law just released a handbook on determining the copyright status of works created between 1923 and 1978:

Is It In the Public Domain? A Handbook for Evaluating the Copyright Status of a Work Created in the United States Between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1977

It’s a really great resource, though I can’t pretend not to be a bit saddened by the need for such a handbook at all. We’re basically living in a period of eternal copyright and it’s ludicrous to think that a significant chunk of our 20th century art and culture might never enter the public domain (if companies like Disney and Sony have anything to say about it). 

Redefining Mental Illness

This is a radically different vision of severe mental illness from the one held by most Americans, and indeed many American psychiatrists. …. Moreover, the perspective is surprisingly consonant — in some ways — with the new approach by our own National Institute of Mental Health, which funds much of the research on mental illness in this country. For decades, American psychiatric science took…

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Researchers Examine Emerging Market for Used Electric Vehicle Batteries

Researchers Examine Emerging Market for Used Electric Vehicle Batteries

A new report from UCLA and UC Berkeley shows that used electric car batteries could help California achieve its renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction and energy storage goals more efficiently — and could lower the cost of owning an electric car.

As California searches for cheap energy storage options, a new report by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative at the UCLA and UC…

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Hey, let's have fun, okay? Because soon I won't be able to.

This just in from Berkeley — the class schedule for my inaugural semester as a law school student!

  • Civil Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts
  • Legal Research & Writing

It’s getting real, people. 

A summer course for foreign lawyers interested in US environmental law

A summer course for foreign lawyers interested in US environmental law

By Eric Biber This summer Berkeley Law is providing an exciting opportunity for lawyers around the world who are interested in learning more about US environmental law. Our seventeen-day course in late June and early July provides a thorough grounding in all the major issues in US environmental law (ranging from air pollution to natural resources, water rights to environmental justice). The…

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California Fracking Activity Set to Mushroom

Friday, Berkeley Law released a new report on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in California, focusing on wastewater and potential water quality impacts. The report, “Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing in California: A Wastewater and Water Quality Perspective,” is an independent analysis produced by Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) through its new initiative, the Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy (Wheeler Institute).

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting fluids under high pressure to crack underground rocks and release tightly held oil or gas. The hydraulic fracturing process also yields byproducts, including wastewater, which must be properly managed in order to reduce any risk to human health and the environment.

Co-authored with Wheeler Institute associate director Michael Kiparsky, the report notes that while oil and gas producers have used fracking in California for many years, we are witnessing potentially alarming projections of dramatically increased fracking activity in California due to the availability of new fracturing techniques.

The report comes out at a time of intense activity and interest in California in fracking. On April 8, a federal judge issued the first major ruling in a California fracking lawsuit, finding that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to adequately consider the risks presented by fracking in its issuance of oil and gas leases on federal lands. And the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is currently undergoing a pre-rulemaking process with stakeholders, gathering information that will influence new and revised regulations. Nine bills on fracking have been introduced in California’s current legislative session, several lawsuits have been filed, and there is surging public attention on to the issue.

Contrary to its traditional role as a leader in environmental protection, California lags behind other states on hydraulic fracturing regulation. Wyoming, Colorado, and other states currently set stronger standards for transparency, safety, and environmental stewardship.

The risks presented by hydraulic fracturing include potential contamination of ground and surface waters from well casing failure, improper fluid handling at the well site, and improper treatment and discharge of fracking “produced water” that contains harmful substances. Additional risks include the potential for induced seismicity from injection wells, as experienced in other states, and potential air quality and climate change impacts, which are especially relevant to the development of oil-rich shale formations in California.

While some peer-reviewed studies on risks to the environment and human health from fracking exist, there is a need for additional research. In the face of such scientific uncertainty, our own report urges caution, greater transparency, and increased accountability for oil and gas operators.

First, to enable public participation and drive greater accountability, regulatory agencies and the public require comprehensive information on where, when, and how fracking will occur in the State. While the applicability of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review and public participation process is litigated in court, we support near-term changes to the current regulations, including:

  • At least 30 days advanced public notice of all fracking events, included the full list of chemicals to be used in fracking fluid;
  • Mailed notice to all property owners near planned fracking or injection sites;
  • Baseline testing of water quality in aquifers near oil and gas production activity, to enable tracing potential contamination to operators and assess pre-fracking water quality; and
  • Development of a formal process by which concerned citizens can respond to planned fracking events.

Second, we urge better inter-agency coordination and planning to prepare for and mitigate the harmful effects of fracking. We recommend:

  • Increased engagement among DOGGR, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), all of which have jurisdiction over some aspects of unconventional oil and gas development in the State; and
  • More peer-reviewed studies on the risks presented to California water sources from fracking, the risk of induced seismic events, and potential air quality and climate change impacts.

Third, we recommend better tracking and handling of fracking wastewater to protect against potential water impacts, including:

  • Requiring more extensive recordkeeping and reporting on the disposal of fracking wastewater;
  • Considering the use of unique chemical tracers placed into fracking fluid to aid in identifying potential contamination events and assessing liability;
  • Providing clear information on how fracking produced water may be safely reused or recycled to reduce pressure on California’s water supply;

  • Prohibiting the discharge of fracking wastewater to publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs), at least until EPA issues pretreatment guidelines; and
  • Requiring more stringent regulation and enforcement of fluid storage and handling at well sites.

Historically, California has set the bar for environmental protection and stewardship. With mounting public attention to the issue,we urge the State to take a proactive stance to protect our environment in the face of uncertainty.

Jayni Foley Hein
The Berkeley Blog

Saturday, 13 February 2013