The Car Industry’s Rollback Effort — Disappointing But Not Surprising

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The struggle to force the car industry to cut pollution goes back six decades.

The car industry is appealing for President Trump’s help against stricter carbon standards for cars. The industry’s action is disappointing for those who believed industry claims to embrace sustainability and technological innovation. There’s no good excuse for the industry’s about-face on a regulation it had originally agreed to.  As one of the architects of the […]

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Can California keep its federal lands public?

SB 50, introduced in State Senate, seeks to retain public ownership of federal lands in the state

There’s been a fair amount of national debate lately about whether federal public lands in the West should be transferred to state or private ownership. Rep. Chaffetz (R) from Utah had introduced a bill to transfer millions of acres of federal land in a range of Western states to private or state ownership – he […]

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“States’ Rights” and Environmental Law: California on the Front Lines

EPA’s Assault on Air Quality Protection Will Aim at California’s Standards, While Other States Have Given Up Their Authority to Protect Public Health and the Environment More Strictly

This article just published in the Atlantic explains well one of the many ways that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may attempt to deeply harm our environment for decades to come: through declining to grant, or revoking, the waivers that allow California to regulate air pollution from new motor vehicle engines more strictly than the federal government does. […]

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Trump’s Budget Cuts: Even Worse Than You Thought

budget cut

As you dive into the details, things keep looking worse.

Trump is proposing huge cuts to EPA and other agencies. That’s bad enough. We’re beginning to learn more details, and the message is grim.  While these cuts may not emerge from Congress at the end of the day, they do express the Administration’s goals. In particular, they demonstrate that the Administration is deeply hostile to environmental science and […]

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Will There Be Guerrilla War at EPA?

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Scott Pruitt’s invasion of EPA probably won’t be met with flowers.

Scott Pruitt has spent his career at war with EPA, and he has now invaded the homeland. What he encounters may look more like a guerrilla war than a bureaucratic surrender. To be blunt, it’s generally a mistake to expect an invading force to be greeted with flowers and hugs from the grateful inhabitants. Agencies like […]

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2050: The Challenges Ahead

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How will we cope with a huge population increase and climate change?

Let’s look past today’s political travails and think longer-range. What will things look like in 2050? There are more details below, but here’s the general picture. World population will probably grow by 2.5 billion people between now and 2050, with about half of the increase in Africa. Given historically weak economic growth in those areas […]

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Is the Endangered Species Act a success?

Why the number of listed species that are no longer endangered is not a good measure of the Act’s success

The Republican-controlled Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings a couple of weeks ago on “reforming” the Endangered Species Act.  (Coverage here and here, second link behind a paywall.)  An important theme of the hearing was arguments by Republican Senators that the ESA has failed because only a small fraction of species listed for […]

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The End of the Cost-Benefit State?

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Trump is targeting regulations for elimination even if their benefits exceed their costs.

Some scholars have proclaimed a vision of the regulatory state centering on cost-benefit analysis (CBA). They mean that quantitive comparisons of costs and benefits is now the foundation of regulatory decisions, arguably blessed by the Supreme Court in one of Scalia’s last opinions. Environmentalists weren’t convinced this was a good idea.  Neither, as it turns out, is Donald Trump.  He doesn’t seem […]

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Understanding why California housing costs so much

Is the problem CEQA, local land-use regulations, both or neither?

Housing costs in the Bay Area and Los Angeles continue to get a lot of attention in the press and academic literature.  This New York Times article highlights this recent paper from Ed Glaeser at Harvard and Joe Gyourko at Penn – the paper’s analysis concludes that land-use regulations have significantly increased the price of […]

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Conservatives as Environmentalists

Ronald Reagan, courtesy National Archives

Environmentalism isn’t an aberration in conservatives. It has deep roots going back to the 1960s.

Scott Pruitt’s appointment as head of EPA illustrates how conservatism has become synonymous with anti-environmentalism.  But that’s really a drastic oversimplification, as I explain in a new paper about the history of conservative environmentalism. There were moments of strong environmentalism in the earlier days of the conservative movement.  When he was running for mayor of New York City, William […]

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