California

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 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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The Economic Impact of AB 32 on California

New study suggests that the economic impact of cutting carbon is modest.

What is the economic impact of California’s climate change regulations? Will they reduce actual emissions or just shift them out-of-state? A new study by Resources for the Future addresses an important part of the puzzle. Reasearchers at RFF modeled the effect of compliance costs of $10/ton or $22/ton of CO2 on highly energy-intensive industries such as […]

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California Fines SoCal Gas for Corroded Pipe Casings

The CPUC issued the fine after finding dozens of violations

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a citation for violations of a federal regulation on Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas) totaling $2.25 million. The citation is based on forty-five violations of a federal regulation requiring that operators “take prompt remedial action to correct any deficiencies indicated by” external corrosion monitoring. According to the May […]

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Finding Least-Conflict Lands For Solar PV In California’s San Joaquin Valley — And Beyond

A PATH FORWARD May 2016 COVER

New CLEE report identifies 470,000 acres of ideal land for solar PV, with 4pm webex briefing with state officials

To achieve California and the post-Paris world’s climate goals, we’re going to need a whole lot more renewable energy. Given current market trends, much of it will come from solar photovoltaic (PV), which has gotten incredibly cheap in the last few years. But deploying these solar panels at utility scale will mean major changes to […]

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Should California Recover More Energy From Municipal Solid Waste?

Wasting Opportunities Cover

New Berkeley Law report explores policy options, with KALW radio show discussion tonight at 7pm

Every year, Californians send about 30 million tons of trash to landfills. While the state’s residents do their part to reduce, reuse and recycle, that’s still a whole lot of garbage. It’s not only a land use issue, it’s a climate change issue: as landfill waste decays, it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Many […]

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The Cap-and-Trade Auction: Still Not a Tax

Folks are talking again about whether California’s climate cap-and-trade auction is an unlawful tax, rather than a valid exercise of the state’s regulatory power to control pollution.  The news hook for the revival of this conversation is a recent order, discussed below, from the California Court of Appeal to the parties in the court case where […]

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Of sewage spills and citizen suits

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) spills out from beneath a manhole cover.  Photo: Mystic River Watershed Association, “Sewer overflowing,” www.flickr.com/photos/44914436@
N07/4438382741/.

New Berkeley Law report examines citizen actions addressing sanitary sewer overflows in California

(This post is co-authored with Nell Green Nylen and Michael Kiparsky.) Every day, Californians produce millions of gallons of wastewater. We tend to avoid thinking about what flows down our drains, but how we deal with sewage is a critically important aspect of public and environmental health. Most communities in California rely on an extensive […]

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