Attempting to Close the Floodgates of Litigation

Can Congress prevent state and federal courts from hearing WaterFix lawsuits?

The journey of California’s proposed delta tunnels project (also known as California WaterFix) has been anything but straightforward and already faces a slew of ongoing legal challenges.[i] Last week, Congress added a different kind of twist when the proposed Department of Interior budget for FY 2019 was introduced in the House Appropriations Committee. The relevant […]

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CRISPR Approaches to Environmental Problems

Breakthroughs in gene editing might open the door to improved environmental protections. Or maybe not.

CRISPR is a breakthrough gene editing method. (I can’t refrain from noting that a key role in the discovery was played Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley.) There are potential risks from gene editing to the environment, similar to other types of GMOs. But there may be environmental benefits too. Here are a few that have been […]

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Maladaptation

It’s not just that we’re slow in achieving resilience. It’s that often we’re moving in the opposite direction.

Some economic models of climate change come out with low damages because they assume smooth and effective adaptation efforts. That never made much sense. There’s a lot of inertia in social systems, and planning major projects can take a long time. Some of what we’re seeing lately is worse than that, however. We’re seeing cases […]

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Plastics and our Future

How to turn off the plastics spout?

Kudos to National Geographic for its stunner of an issue on plastics and the environmental harms they cause. As this latest report and many other recent stories make clear, we are drowning in plastics. Bits of plastic have been found in beer, in major brands of bottled water, in 75% of deep sea fish, in […]

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California’s New Rooftop Solar Mandate

The California Energy Commission’s new mandate receives mixed reviews.

The recent decision of the California Energy Commission to require the inclusion of rooftop solar photovoltaics on most new homes has engendered praise from some quarters, and criticism from others. Some see this new policy as a positive force, helping to reduce the cost of solar and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. […]

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Guest Blogger Cliff Villa: Es FEMA El Problema? Hurricane Maria and the Slow Road to Recovery in Puerto Rico

Strolling west on Calle Loiza from the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, you could miss the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last September.  Here in early May 2018, runners and walkers lap the track at Parque Barbosa while middle-aged men try to keep pace with younger guys on the sheltered basketball court.  […]

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Let a Hundred (Municipal) Flowers Bloom

Despite Trump, cities across the country are taking climate change seriously.

In the era of Trump, one bright spot remains what’s happening in cities across the nation. Here are some numbers: 402 U.S. mayors have endorsed the Paris Agreement and announced their intention of meeting its goals, while 118 have endorsed the goal of making their cities 100% renewable. A bit of quick research provides a […]

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Emergency Powers: A Two-Edged Sword

Trump is considering using emergency powers to save coal plants. Turnabout would be fair play.

The Trump Administration is considering using emergency powers to keep coal-fired power plants in operation even though they’re not economically viable. That would require an extraordinary stretch of the statutes in question. And if the statutes are interpreted that broadly, a future president could easily use them for the opposing purpose — forcing utilities to […]

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Automation Leads To Efficiency Gains But Job Losses At Southern California Port

Controversial issue to be discussed at upcoming UCLA conference on zero-emission freight at Southern California’s ports

Automation threatens to eliminate many manufacturing jobs around the world, as robots now perform factory line tasks that used to be done by humans. Now the technology is starting to be deployed through self-driving vehicles in places like ports, with similar results. It’s an issue we’ll discuss at the upcoming free UCLA/Berkeley Law conference on […]

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California Supreme Court Ruling Represents Big Win for State Water Board–& California’s Environment

Justices Uphold Water Board’s “User Pays” Fee System Against Constitutional Attack

The California Supreme Court has handed the State Water Resources Control Board a major legal win, rejecting an industry challenge to the “user pays”-based system of funding the Board’s water pollution control system.  In doing so, the Supreme Court has fended off yet another constitutional challenge to the manner in which environmental regulatory fees are […]

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Disastrous Inequality

Puerto Rico was hit much harder than Houston. But help was much slower coming.

Texas and Puerto Rico both got hit very hard last year by major hurricanes. But the federal government moved a lot more quickly to get help to Texas. In a new paper, I document the difference and explore the reasons. Although I won’t go into all the details here, this is a situation people need […]

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