Oak woodlands and wine

A recent controversy highlights the impacts of wine industry on native California oak woodlands

A popular San Luis Obispo county winemarker is suffering a backlash in restaurants after press reports that the winemaker bulldozed oak woodlands to expand production—possibly in violation of a county land grading ordinance. The dispute (as this Wine Enthusiast piece makes clear) is not a novel one.  There is a long history of winemakers in […]

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The National Park Service and Climate Change

Does the agency have the legal tools to respond to climate change?

This past weekend President Obama visited Yosemite, helping the National Park Service celebrate its 100th anniversary.  As part of his remarks, the President noted that climate change is already causing major impacts on the resources in National Parks around the country—for instance, causing the disappearance of the glaciers in Yosemite and increasing fire risks in […]

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The Clean Power Plan — Low Cost, High Benefits

coal pollution image

Despite claims by industry and conservatives, the CPP's costs are completely manageable.

The Supreme Court’s stay of EPA’s Clean Power Plan was a surprise, and a questionable action on many grounds.  It now seems clear that the stay — along with much of the political fuss about the CPP — was based on very questionable economics. In terms of the stay, a team of economists at Resources […]

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The End-game for Diablo Canyon?

Diablo Canyon

A landmark agreement supports the closure of a controversial nuclear plant.

Today’s announcement that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has reached an agreement with several environmental and labor groups to plan for the eventual shutdown of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is a stunning development, when viewed in an historical perspective. PG&E has agreed not to seek new licenses for its power plant that […]

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Let Us Now Praise Famous Plants

Lace Lichen

Taking environmental law education outdoors

Lawyers spend their lives among tree slices (using 20,000-100,00 sheets of paper per attorney annually), but distressingly little time among whole trees. This became evident when I hauled a class of bemused clinical environmental law students up a wooded slope near the UC Berkeley campus this spring for a lesson spanning ecology, agency jurisdiction, and […]

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Ronald Reagan – Environmentalist Governor

Ronald Reagan, courtesy National Archives

Reagan's record in California included major environmental achievements.

It may surprise you to learn this — it certainly surprised me. But Ronald Reagan has been called “the most environmental governor in California history — protecting wild rivers from dams, preserving a Sierra wilderness by blocking highway builders, creating an air resources board that led to the nation’s first auto smog controls.” This may […]

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The Irony of a Developing Nation’s Climate Agenda

AerialViewPhotochemicalSmogMexicoCity_2

The challenge of developing and decarbonizing at the same time

Mexico has been busy. Or at least, its energy and environmental ministers have been. Over the last several years, Mexico has held its first auction for renewable energy contracts, opened its energy market to private competitors, and increased its renewable energy capacity by more than thirty times the level in 2008. At the same time, […]

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Statutory Standing After the Spokeo Decision

supreme-court

A non-environmental case opens the door to new arguments about standing.

One of the recurring questions in standing law is the extent to which Congress can change the application of the standing doctrine. A recent Supreme Court opinion in a non-environmental case sheds some light – not a lot, but some – on this recurring question. The Court has made it clear that there is a […]

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Gaming Out Environmental Law: 2017-2019

2016 election

The heavens or the abyss? Or somewhere in between?

What happens after November? A lot depends on who’s the next President, but the congressional elections also matter. Basically, a Trump victory would mean at least a rollback of much of Obama’s environmental legacy, and perhaps passage of the current House deregulatory agenda into law. A Clinton victory would be likely to preserve or strengthen the […]

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Trump, Clinton, and the Environment

(Photos: Courtesy GOP.org, Democrats.org)

Your Handy Guide to the Differences

Here’s a handy chart comparing Trump and Clinton on environmental and energy issues. I’ve assembled the relevant statements by the candidates below the summary table. Issue Clinton  Trump Is climate change real? Yes, an urgent threat.  No, it’s a hoax. Support Clean Power Plan?  Yes.  No. Support Keystone XL pipeline?  No.  Yes. Drill in Arctic? […]

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Trump’s 2009 Call for Serious Climate Action

dottrumpad-blog480 (1)

No, I'm not making this up.

On the eve of the Copenhagen conference, business leaders published an open letter demanding urgent climate action. The letter was  signed by Donald Trump along with Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric.  Here’s some of the language of the letter: “We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate […]

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