Mr. Smith’s War Against Science

Further harassment of climate scientists from the House Science Committee.

Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, doesn’t believe in climate change.  Still, by current political standards, I guess we should be glad that he hasn’t accused them of cheering when the Twin Towers fell, as his party’s leading contender for the Presidency did to what he called “thousands […]

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You Have the Right to Generate Your Own Electricity

Rooftop Solar

Preserving an implicit right in the face of electric utility resistance

Do people have the right to generate electricity for their own use and still remain connected to the grid? Of course they do. You see it every day. Without prior registration or a background check, anyone can go into a hardware store and buy a diesel generator. Homeowners and businesses can install rooftop solar photovoltaics […]

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What Economists Don’t Get About Our Relationship With Nature

No, climate change isn't less of a problem if people get used to a devastated world.

People often adjust to problems that seem terrible upfront.  Some studies show, for instance, that people who who lose limbs are very unhappy for awhile but then start to adjust to their positions.  Some economists argue that something similar may happen with climate change — we might find that we don’t miss extinct animals or […]

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Could FDA’s Approval of GMO Salmon Actually Be Good for the Environment?

AquaFresh salmon

Farmed GMO fish could help reduce pressures on wild stocks.

FDA has — after more than two decades of consideration — approved the marketing of genetically modified salmon in the U.S.  As the NY Times reports, this decision has had push-back from the quarters you might expect . Says one critic:  “This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members […]

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Happy World Toilet Day!


For Billions of People, Sanitary Facilities Are No Laughing Matter

It may seem silly to observe World Toilet Day, but as the motto of the World Toilet Organization (which was founded on November 19, 2001) reads: it’s no joke. Literally billions of people lack proper toilet facilities, and it can have severe impacts. Consider this recent testimony from a woman who grew up without one: To […]

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NIMBYs Gone Wild!!

Know Your NIMBYs

New Proposed Initiative Would Make Los Angeles a BANANA Republic

Los Angeles is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis: the city’s renters pay on average nearly half of their disposable income on rent alone. This threatens the city’s social and economic health: you simply cannot have a great city and hollow out its middle class. But NIMBYs never rest, and in the midst […]

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The Mexican Energy Revolution


After decades of state control, Mexico opens its energy sector

November 20th is Revolution Day in Mexico – a national holiday celebrating the end of its ten year uprising against the dictator Porfirio Diaz. Also this month, Mexico will begin accepting bids on up to 6 million certificates for renewable energy, hoping to add up to 2,500 megawatts of clean electricity to its energy mix. […]

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Promises to Keep


In the run-up to the Paris talks, the major economies have all pledged carbon reductions.

With Saudia Arabia’s pledge last week to cut emission, all of the world’s major economies are now on board.  In a nutshell, here is what they are promising. Except as noted, the target dates are all 2030.  A number of countries have subsidiary promises in terms of percentage of renewable energy or of bigger cuts premised […]

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A gift from the Montreal Protocol parties to the Climate Convention

montreal protocol oewg meeting

Montreal Protocol parties agree to negotiate amendment to limit HFCs

Last week, the parties of the Montreal Protocol took an important step to broaden their treaty’s chemical controls to contribute to limiting climate change. The chemicals at issue are the HFCs, or Hydrofluorocarbons. (Like the other halogenated chemicals relevant to ozone depletion, the acronym tells you the chemical composition of the class of chemicals. The […]

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The Ninth Circuit Takes EPA to Task (Twice)

Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on food crops.

EPA's pesticide registration efforts trigger forceful response

Judge McKeown of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote of the EPA, “Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health.”  Yikes.  What did the EPA do to elicit such a reaction from a federal judge? The short […]

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What Is An Externality?

Dukeminier Property Text

And Could the Leading Property Text Have Gotten It Wrong?

The idea of an externality is fundamental to environmental law and policy — and indeed, to just about any aspect of the common law (at least outside criminal law, and maybe even there). When I teach first-year Property law, I have to introduce the concept pretty early on in the course, as I imagine most […]

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